A. Norris

University of California, Berkeley (UNITED STATES)
As digital resources diffuse through United States' society many question the validity of these tools as a resource for literacy development. Scholars have found that both in school and out of school contexts young people must act as agents for their own edification with digital tools in the midst of a hierarchical model fashioned by society that deligitimizes them. This hierarchy which positions print over digital text is one that appears consistent with other literacy debates throughout history in which the diffusion of literacy was deemed problematic.Today's youth struggle to obtain digital literacy skills without penalty within spaces which are orchestrated by adults.Despite the obstacles to digital literacy development youth have taken up these tools in unprecedented ways. Therefore, youth must often become digitally literate through what Gee (1981) termed acquisition: Gee distinguishes acquisition from learning as he posits that the former is necessary for mastery and performance. Learning, however is essential to the development of meta-knowledge and critique. Learning is precipitated through secondary institutions which include schools. These institutions serve the purpose of providing individuals with opportunities for practice. Young people today obtain digital literacy through acquisition in digital discourse communities. However without learning vis a vis schools and other secondary institutions it appears difficult for them to develop meta-knowledge.

This is a research study of the digital literacy practices of junior level high school students whose goal was to matriculate to four-year universities. This study analyzes the relationship between the academic achievement and mobile literacy practices of fourteen low-income urban youth from the United States who were enrolled in a rigorous afterschool and summer residential college preparedness program. This research examines the skills and knowledge these youth developed through mobile literacies, the relationships that existed between their mobile literacy skill development and those necessary for academic achievement, and the impact of acquisition and learning on their literacy practices.