Technology and Family Literacy

Emily Kirkpatrick and Sharon Darling from the National Center for Family Literacy

Emily Kirkpatrick and Sharon Darling from the National Center for Family Literacy


We’re excited to participate in the  Cooney  Center’s upcoming Forum. Families of all socio-economic classes are using technology in their daily lives. The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) is on a quest to crack the code on helping families—particularly families struggling with low literacy skills—use technology to further education and their well-being. Parents and children must be equally adept at using technology if we are to realize its full potential for learning.

The opportunity to draw upon the nation’s brightest minds in education and technology to further these goals is one that can’t be missed. For us, it’s about exploring the rapid advancements possible to drive literacy-building activities into the hands and minds of children and families with lightening speed.

In the past, literacy was about reading and comprehending the written word. Reading a book and talking about it. Access to information in linear ways: libraries, newspapers and the like. Today literacy encompasses much more and children are exposed to information very quickly. We must find and deploy new advances quickly if we are to retain our competitive edge. And we must ensure parents are aligned to support these advancements in the home and with supervision to maximize the opportunity and provide a safe environment with technology.

A recent MIT study concluded that  technology closes the gap between students’ individual skills and background differences. NCFL has capitalized on this potential by furthering approaches that capture the motivation of at-risk families to use technology to drive learning. If we can harness their interest in technology to achieve educational progress, amazing things can happen.

Working with the Cooney Center, NCFL is embarking on a new frontier for families in this country. We look forward to the dialogue at the Forum and, even more, marveling at our progress of the past 20 years—just as many do today regarding the power of Sesame Street in using television to support education.


This post originally appeared on the Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age blog.