Integrating Digital Literacy Into English Language Instruction: Issue Brief

This issue brief, one of the resources in the suite of materials “Integrating Digital Literacy into English Language Instruction,” presents a broad overview of digital literacy as it relates to adult learners in English language acquisition programs.

Kathy Harris
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Portland State University
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type

This Issue Brief synthesizes current research and presents perspectives on digital literacy in English language acquisition. It includes an introduction to the definitions of literacy that are expanded to include digital literacies. The concept of “digital divide” is reframed as a continuum of digital skills, including the language, technology and problem-solving skills required for participation in everyday digital contexts.  Because technologies and their uses continually change, requiring different skills, everyone is a learner with respect to digital literacy. This shifts the role of the teacher to that of a co-learner, in addition to orchestrating learning. Although the Brief can be used as a stand-alone resource, it also provides the foundation to the other resources in the suite of materials “Integrating Digital Literacy into English Language Instruction.”

Benefits and Uses

The benefits and uses section will include the:

  • Reasons the resource has implications for the adult education field;
  • Resource’s potential use; and,
  • Most significant or useful features to the target audience(s).

 This Issue Brief draws from scholarship and highlights the current issues in the topic for adult educators and other relevant audiences including professional development specialists, policymakers and researchers.  

The Issue Brief describes four components of digital literacy and ways to integrate digital activities from each into the classroom.  It also describes how activities can be integrated into a wide range of topic-, project- or problem-based approaches to develop:

1. Basic digital literacy skills,

2. Skills to create and communicate information to extend English language acquisition,

3. Skills needed to find and evaluate information online, and

4. Skills in solving problems in technology-rich environments. 

The Brief includes multiple examples and links to relevant resources. The Brief can serve as an introduction to its Companion Learning Resource or as a stand-alone overview of the topic.

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