by Elizabeth Dobler
What do students need to know to effectively read online? When discussing effective reading of print texts, teachers generally focus instruction on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Certainly these concepts also apply to online reading, but additional skills and strategies are needed to locate, evaluate, and understand information found online.
Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map describes the core skills and competencies required to read, write, and participate effectively online. This site’s development is led by digital literacy leader Doug Belshaw and Mozilla, a global nonprofit that “uses a community-based approach to create world-class open source software and to develop new types of collaborative activities.” You may be familiar with Mozilla’s web browser, Firefox.
Many educators have contributed to the ongoing development of the Web Literacy Map. This knowledge and feedback help to refine the understanding of the online reading process. Ian O’Bryne, a leader in the field of digital literacies, created a video, Web Literacy Map 1.5, to describe how the Web Literacy Map was created and why it’s important:
The Web Literacy Map is organized into three strands: Explore (Reading the web), Build (Writing the web), and Connect (Participating on the web). For each strand, five competencies are identified as sub-skills that more clearly describe the actions of a Web-literate person who is able to successfully participate in our digital society.
Teachers can use the Map to guide curriculum development and classroom instruction. Lately I have been toying with the idea of a web literacy curriculum – a scope and sequence of skills across grade levels that would build the knowledge and skills our students need to be successful now and in the future, when they are no longer students. For further help in understanding how to teach web literacy skills, Mozilla has also created instructional resources and podcasts that teachers may find helpful. These useful tools, along with the Web Literacy Map, encourage us to “think forward” as we teach.