Settings & Participants

The study will focus on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions utilized by educators as they embed digital texts and tools in literacy instruction. To respond to the research questions, we will use two methods: survey and semi-structured interviews. We will focus our sampling efforts broadly to identify educators across the globe who are authentically and effectively embedding these digital literacies into instruction as well as a cadre of educators whose practices may not yet align with their hopes or expectations for future practice in this domain.

A purposeful sample of survey respondents will be invited to participate in a follow-up interview. Participation for most will therefore include the completion of an online survey. We estimate this survey will take 60 minutes to complete. The survey will remain open for a year (January 2016-January 2017). During this time period, we plan to conduct interviews with survey respondents who represent a range of experiences.

We hope to conduct at least 60 interviews with no upper-limit prescribed. Although we plan to categorize interviews by geographical regions, we recognize that we many need to cluster our interviews around the regions represented by the survey respondents. We are aiming for a globally representative set of responses on the survey so that interviews can be clustered as outlined above.

Importantly, interviews will be conducted online and shared openly on the web. This methodological choice will make these data immediately available to research and educational communities who could benefit from these data, and from our analyses.

A purposeful sample

The target population for this research is literacies educators who teach Pre-K through higher education and, who integrate digital technologies to support their students’ learning. Sampling methods will therefore target these communities of educators. Participants will be invited to take the Teaching Literacies with Technology (TLT). Future posts will detail the construction and validation of the TLT survey. To recruit study participants for the survey and interviews, we will follow a three pronged approach.

First, the TLT survey will be shared openly online to attract participants with a range of digital literacies teaching experiences and skills. The link to the survey and information about the study will be shared broadly via education, literacy, and technology organizations or communities that normally attract educators with a range of experiences and skills. Local, state/provincial, national, and global-reaching organizations will be asked to distribute information about our survey. Given that we cannot approach organizations until we have ethics approval for this work, it is important to note that we would follow ethics policies outlined by the organizations themselves insofar as they align with the ethics policies of our respective institutions. As points of departure for the recruitment of participants, we will ask for distribution through networks including, but not limited to the International Literacy Association, the Literacy Research Association,, The National Writing Project, Mozilla, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association (OMLTA), the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, the Michigan Reading Association and several school boards.

Second, participant responses on the TLT survey will be reviewed. Using answers to questions about participants’ geographic location, the age of students they teach, and their self-reported competencies as technology-using educators, we will purposefully sample and invite candidates for a follow-up interview to better understand their skills and experiences as they relate to the research questions. This approach will ensure that follow-up interviews include participants who offer a range of perspectives and experiences.

Third, after our first round of recruiting, researchers will identify particular gaps in our survey and interview sample groups. To ensure representative perspectives, we will purposefully use snowball sampling (Biernacki & Waldorf, 1981) to reach out to a broader range of online communities of educators based on the data we initially collect. We will again invite survey participation and completion of interviews but cannot, at this time, accurately know which specific groups will be missing from our initial set of data.


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Statement of the Problem

Preparing teachers to integrate technologies strategically to support student learning is one of the most important issues facing teacher educators around the world (Dede, Jass Ketelhut, Whitehouse, Breit, & McCloskey, 2008; Edwards & Nuttall, 2015; Greenhow, Robelia & Hughes, 2009; Hwee, Koh, Chai, Hong & Tsai, 2015). Pre-service and in-service educators need to be well versed in the theory and application of diverse digital tools to support student learning so that, by extension, they feel equipped to prepare children to thrive in a complex, globally networked age (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

Although the Internet has become a central part of personal and professional life for the more than three billion people who access it daily (, the more challenging demands of digital and web literacies, especially for academic purposes, are little understood and seldom taught in school (Leu et al., 2011; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Castek & Henry, 2013). As teacher education programs work to redress existing skill and knowledge gaps in educational technologies for their teacher candidates, they must also be aware of the contexts into which their students will be graduating. Evidence suggests that new teachers are very much influenced by the ecology of technology integration that they find in their workplace (Zhao & Frank, 2003) and that generally, teachers experience a diverse range of resource support for technology integration (Hixon & Buckenmeyer, 2009; Lim, Lee & Hung, 2008; Ramorola, 2013).

The challenges for teacher education programs are therefore multifaceted. These programs have a responsibility to prepare novice teachers to both acquire and learn to teach advanced digital literacies (that are not especially well understood).  Plus, they must equip these teachers to continue to use and teach digital literacies skills once they are hired into professional contexts, many of which cannot (yet) provide adequate technology support or mentorship in situ.

Given these complexities, teachers and teacher educators would benefit from research that accurately portrays both the nature and scope of digital literacies teaching and learning in schools. These data would provide a much-needed point of departure on which future curricula and professional learning programs could be based. Even more essential to this conversation are global perspectives that could enable important comparisons and inform policy. Despite the transformative possibilities associated with the inclusion of the Internet and other communication technologies (ICTs) in instruction, relatively little is known about the regular use of these technologies in classrooms across global settings, or how promising practices that work to support students in one country might be adapted for others (OECD, 2015). For literacies educators in particular, understanding how best to teach using digital and web literacies comprehension on the Internet is central to our future, yet it is surprisingly under developed as an area of research.


Dede, C., Jass Ketelhut, D., Whitehouse, P., Breit, L., & McCloskey, E. M. (2008). A Research Agenda for Online Teacher Professional Development. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(1), 8–19.

Edwards, S., & Nuttall, J. (2015). Teachers , technologies and the concept of integration. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(5), 375–377.

Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age: Web 2.0 and Classroom Research: What Path Should We Take Now? Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246–259.

Hixon, E., & Buckenmeyer, J. (2009). Revisiting Technology Integration in Schools : Implications for Professional Development Computers in the Schools, 26(2), 130–146.

Hwee, J., Koh, L., Chai, C. S., Hong, H., & Tsai, C. (2015). A survey to examine teachers ’ perceptions of design dispositions , lesson design practices , and their relationships with technological pedagogical content knowledge ( TPACK ). Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(5), 378–391.

Internet live (2015). Internet users in the world. Retrieved from

Leu, D. J., McVerry, J. G., O’Byrne, W. I., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., Kennedy, C., & Forzani, E. (2011). The New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension : Expanding the Literacy and Learning Curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1), 5–14.

Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J., Castek, J., & Henry, L. A. (2013). New literacies: A dual level theory of the changing nature of literacy, instruction, and assessment. Theoretical models and processes of reading, 6, 1150-1181.

Lim, W. Y., Lee, Y. J., & Hung, D. (2008). “ A prophet never accepted by their own town ”: a teacher ’ s learning trajectory when using technology. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 36(3).

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054.

OECD (2015). Students, computers and learning: Making the connection. OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264239555-en Retrieved from

Ramorola, M. Z. (2013). Challenge of effective technology integration into teaching and learning. Africa Education Review, 10(4), 654–670.

Zhao, Y. & Frank, K. A. (2003). Factors Affecting Technology Uses in Schools : An Ecological Perspective. American Educational Research Journal, 40(4), 807–840.


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Purpose and Research Questions

The Digitally Literate research project seeks to document instructional use of digital texts & tools in global classrooms.

This study will focus on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions utilized by educators as they embed digital texts and tools in literacy instruction. We are sampling broadly to identify educators across global settings who are authentically and effectively embedding digital literacies into instruction. Our focus extends from early childhood to to higher education settings.

This research asks four questions:

  • How do educators working in K-16 classrooms around the world use digital texts and tools in literacy instruction?
  • What themes and patterns exist as educators embed digital texts and tools in literacy-based instruction across global classrooms?
  • What professional development experiences do these educators typically receive on issues related to the instruction of digital literacies?
  • In comparison, what professional development experiences do these educators express wanting or needing to receive?


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