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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Impact of New Technology on Literacy Practices: An Urban Perspective
by Hoff, Martha J., Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2014, 374; 3621206
Abstract (Summary)

Over the past ten years mobile communication technology has become ubiquitous. Computers, phones, still and video cameras have evolved into an all-in-one device with Internet access providing access to any information, whenever, and wherever the individual wants it. Wireless mobile phones and tablets allow the Internet and its digital affordances to flow into every hand, everywhere, in every circumstance. Powerful, convenient, multi-purpose, mobile phones and tablets are the two key players in the fast growing world of mobile computers. With mobile communications being more affordable, youth from low socio-economic households and communities have greater opportunities to engage in the digital world.

This case study used connective ethnographic methods to address two questions: What are the literacy practices of six lower socio-economic status urban youth aged 16 to 18 years in north-eastern USA while engaged with mobile technology? How and what mobile technologies were being used by these urban youth and how did these influence literacy practices?

The goal of this dissertation was to better understand the influence of mobile technology on literacy practices when used by a particular group bounded by age, time, ownership, and place. The participants were six students aged 16-18 years old, attending an urban low socio-economic situated high school in the northeastern United States. Literacy practices were observed in both on- and offline spaces through observations, interviews, literacy logs, and through the use of remote monitoring software, loaded on participants' smart phones and laptops for a two-week period. A focus group was conducted at the end of data collection. Tablets, while owned by participants were deemed redundant by participants and often given away to other family members.

Analysis of the extensive data set led to five critical findings that will add to the current understanding on how mobile technologies influenced the literacy practices of these urban youth: (1) choice of mobile technology, (2) creation of meaning/social semiosis, (3) communication hierarchy and the critical role of connectedness, (4) the impact of trust on communication and engagement in on- and offline communities, and (5) the concept of tinkering bounded by technology, mistrust, and non-public participation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Larson, Joanne
Commitee: Knobel, MIchele, Lammers, Jayne C.
School: University of Rochester
Department: Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Secondary education, Literacy, Reading instruction, Educational technology
Keywords: Literacy, Mobile technology, New literacies, Social networks, Tinkering, Urban youth
Publication Number: 3621206
ISBN: 978-1-303-92205-3
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