In the field of education, technological information has been used as an important tool facilitating learning for students in the classroom. However, there has been a shift of attention towards the conventional method of literary interest towards online genres. This in turn creates the advent of digital literacy; a practice that is currently absent in the academic realm. Operating under the sociolcultural theory of literacy, the idea operates on the assumption that it can both emanate and be manifested both inside and out of the school boundaries. Given the increase in informational capabilities, this media is more accessible among students in this generation.
Despite this insight, the problematic part lies in the academic realms difficulty in creating and linking this in classroom setup as far as literacy on in-school is concerned. Due to this, the overall question now lies on the hurdles faced by children in reading academic material while having easier grasps when it comes to complex texts found on the website. The article of Stone tries to link this problem and point out the lacking elements that constitutes such recognition.
Jennifer Stone examines the link and preference between children’s patronage towards online literary text compared to the conventional textbook based readings presented in school. Popular culture has helped influence this idea as more and more seek to update and identify themselves with the changes happening within a particular genre while undermining their educational competence. Due to this, Stone began to develop a study that sought to screen and point out their relationships by using numerous and diverse information available. By doing this, she can then connect and establish appropriate actions available for the educational realm. Using the certain elements such as (1) genre, (2) sentence length, (3) vocabulary, (4) modalities, and (5) intertextuality, she was able to establish the relationship between the two related ideas (Stone, 2006). After analysis, she pointed out the direct relevance of these elements supplement within the parameters of educational literacy instruction. Likewise, the practice enables individuals to engage in higher form of analysis and expand their horizons in the level of literary practice. In addition, there must be a realization among educators about the need to look into possibilities of applying and capitalizing these websites for future use and instruction (Stone, 2006).
Stone presents a strong argument for the need to reexamine students’ out-of-school literacy practices and proves that there are perhaps other ways to engage students rather than mere traditional texts. An example of this would be the occurrence of overlapping literary contexts found in websites that is mostly facilitated in different subjects in a normal classroom setup. These characteristics which are defined to be multi-modal in nature, exhausts various additional tools such as images and audio.
The argument was strengthened and solidified by Stone’s comparison and example between web texts and the conventional textbooks. In here, there is a discrepancy with the effort and willingness to exert in understanding a complex structure presented in ‘Baby’ towards the usual textbook term that exemplifies simplified sentence structure (Stone, 2006). This is considering that the respondents that the study used were characterized as “poor readers” in the classroom.
Responding to the case pointed out by Stone, it can be admitted that there is indeed a shift happening among the children of this generation towards the way they handle literacy practices outside school. It has been noted that there are social groups and norms that were the main catalyst in shaping this kind of practice. Though this may seem to be evident, it must not be taken into sitting or just expose it. On the other hand, it must create awareness among educators to showcase and promote further study of such incidents.
However, some of Stone’s conclusions can be called into question as rather vague. While Stone makes a strong argument for the complexity of texts found in these websites, her analysis seems to lack precise analysis of to what extent the students understand what they are reading, and to what extent they interpret the text they are reading. Moreover, the sites that Stone draws upon showcase very different audiences and content. It can be seen that some are more multimodal while others are specifically designed for reading and writing. It is the lack of specific scope and determining its related outcomes is one important critique of Stone’s study.
In addition, her conclusions also raise the question of whether her presence affected her students’ participation in the site and whether they made an extra effort to understand the text. A study must be able to share and focus on objectivity and fairness of values and data used. It can be that some way, the results have been tampered by subjectivity and prevalence of the respondents used.
To conclude, the study is an important contribution in the realm of literary textual analysis as it opens the horizon on the increasing developments happening in technology and how the current generation is responding to these new sets of trends. However, it is also a wakeup call for educators to realize the possibilities available of increasing proficiency and competency among students. This is something that need be addressed rather than ignored. While Stone’s research does bring up valuable points, her article calls for the need for further analysis and case studies into this area the use of websites and their affect on students’ literacy skills. By advocating new avenues for research, better initiatives, programs, mechanisms can be in place and help teachers facilitate a renewed commitment towards effective and efficient school-based literary practice.
Stone, Jennifer C. (2007). Popular Websites in Adolescents’ Out-of-School Lives: Critical Lessons in Literacy. In M. Knobel & C. Lankshear (Eds.), A New Literacies Sampler (pp 49-65). New York: Peter Lang.