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PISA on the changing nature of literacy

… the nature of reading has evolved significantly over the past decade, notably due to the growing influence and rapid evolution of technology.

Reading now involves not only the printed page but also electronic formats (i.e. digital reading). Moreover, readers must now engage in a greater variety of tasks.

In the past, when students did not know the answer to a question, they could look it up in an encyclopaedia and generally trust that the answer they found was accurate. Today, digital search engines give students millions of answers, and it will be up to them to figure out which are accurate, true and relevant and which are not.

Now, more than ever before, literacy requires triangulating different sources, navigating through ambiguity, distinguishing between fact and opinion, and constructing knowledge.

The rapid digitalisation of communication is having a profound impact on the kind of information literacy that young adults will need to demonstrate in their future jobs and in their wider social interactions. Evolving technologies have, for example, changed the ways people read and exchange information, whether at home, at school or in the workplace.

Students now spend about 3 hours on line outside of school on weekdays,
on average, and almost 3.5 hours on line on weekend days. In parallel, students seem to read less for leisure and to read fewer fiction books, magazines or newspapers because they want to do so (as opposed to needing to do so).

Instead, they read more to fulfil their practical needs, and they read more in online formats, such as chats, online news or websites containing practical information (e.g. schedules, events, tips, recipes)
(Figure I.1.1). More students consider reading “a waste of time” (+5 percentage points, on average) and fewer students read for enjoyment (-5 percentage points) (Table I.B1.59).

As the medium through which people access textual information expands from print to computer screens to smartphones, the variety of the structure and formats of texts has also expanded. Reading remains a practical necessity, and perhaps more so than in the past, it requires the use of complex information-processing strategies, including the analysis, synthesis, integration and interpretation of relevant information from multiple sources.

PISA 2018: Complete Results, Vol 1 (p. 32)

None of these skills are new – but the need for them is more widespread and urgent than ever. Deep Literacy is the foundation skill of the information age.

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