Digital literacy assessments and other technologies are improving how we teach literacy.

Student using computerSince the first computer labs appeared in schools in the 1980s, technology has had a role in education. As that role has increased over the years, it has also become more specialized. Many teachers now have access to a wide range of software targeting a variety of educational issues and needs—including the needs of literacy education.

Perhaps more than any other skill, literacy is essential for daily life—which is why education researchers and technology companies have spent so much time finding ways to use the power of technology to help students learn to read and write. Some of the most common literacy-related technologies include:

Digital literacy assessments. While it’s still common for teachers to administer literacy assessments or reading assessments in person, multiple programs now exist that can augment the process, allowing for more frequent and more targeted assessments.

Visual learning. Literacy software routinely incorporates videos and illustrations that help link written concepts with visual cues.

Audial learning. Audio components within software can help students learn to differentiate oft-confused sounds and letters such as D and B.

Spell check. Perhaps the most commonly used form of literacy technology, spell check software can help students identify and correct their spelling errors.

Electronic references. Digital dictionaries and thesauruses offer students quick access to an extensive list of definitions and synonyms/word relations.

Text-to-speech. Software that converts text to speech can help students master difficult-to-learn words and can assist students with learning disabilities.

Voice recognition. Software that converts the spoken word into the written word can help students who struggle to write.

Each of the above technologies can be used individually, but schools often use software that incorporates several—or all—of them as part of a comprehensive learning program. These programs typically provide evaluative components that allow teachers and/or parents to track progress. Some even adjust lessons to fit specific student needs.

While these software programs can provide plenty of educational benefit, they do leave teachers with some questions. Primarily: How do you choose the right software for your classroom, and what are the best ways to incorporate that software into daily instruction? Each software developer provides its own recommendations, and most districts offer guidelines for using literacy technology—but is that enough? Or would you prefer to have the skills to evaluate literacy software yourself?

If you’re the type of educator who wants to conduct your own evaluations of literacy programs, then you would likely benefit from earning one of the many advanced education degrees focused on literacy. Of these degrees, three of the most popular are the EdS in Reading, Literacy, and Assessment; the Doctor of Education (EdD) with a specialization in Reading, Literacy, and Assessment; and the PhD in Education with a specialization in Reading, Literacy, Assessment, and Evaluation.

How are these degrees different? With the EdS degree (education specialist degree), you’ll learn how to influence growth in reading and literacy from a professional standpoint. The Doctor of Education (EdD degree) takes that professional knowledge to the doctoral level and helps you learn how to develop skills and strategies that can improve reading and curriculum outcomes across the educational spectrum. The PhD degree, on the other hand, will lead you in an academic direction, helping you learn how to develop literacy-related research projects and critique significant research.

Regardless of whether the EdS, EdD, or PhD degree program seems best for you, you may wonder how you can make earning an advanced degree possible. For many full-time teachers, the most convenient way to earn a degree is through online education. When you enroll in an EdS, PhD, or EdD program at an online university, you don’t have to worry about commuting to a campus every day. Instead, an online EdS program, an online EdD program, or an online PhD program will give you the freedom to study from home or from anywhere else you have internet access. Plus, most online learning formats allow you to choose which time of day you attend class—so you can align your teaching schedule with your learning schedule.

Technology is improving literacy education. And it’s also improving the way teachers like you can advance their skills. With an online degree, you can become a top-level educator.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an EdS in Reading, Literacy, and Assessment program; a Doctor of Education program with a specialization in Reading, Literacy, and Assessment; and a PhD in Education program with a specialization in Reading, Literacy, Assessment, and Evaluation, all online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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