Mobile literacy, what is it?

Because the Internet is no longer dependent on the good old home computer, rooted and secluded, we are now facing a new need, mobile literacy. It is a macro-literacy, because the user has to be print and multimedia literate, as well as information (see information literacy and search literacy) and network literate.

Everyday objects and devices can now be smart, even houses, letting you know if your fridge has been left open or allowing you to turn on your coffee machine from your bed. More and more house thermostats will give you the opportunity to choose from work how warm your house or apartment will be when you go home, by using your phone or any internet enabled technology. But beside all this, more and more smartphones, tablets, phablets, smartwatches, smart-bands and even smart key chains are purchased every year, connecting people and creating the internet of things (IoT).

The real world and the web overlap in other ways to, thanks to augmented reality (AR). Augmented reality allows you to use visual items of the real world as triggers to display contextual web-based information. Those real life items can be QR (Quick Response) codes, two-dimensional bar-codes or even text, pictures. By scanning them with a smart mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet, the user is offered web-pages, media files and/or text-based information (Winter M., 2011, Scan Me: Everybody’s guide to the magical world of QR codes, Napa, CA: Westsong).

Mobile technology offers limitless opportunities for the language teacher. Walls can talk (see Chinese immersion and augmented reality below); we can learn and teach from anywhere, anytime; learners can interact, collaborate and learn together; the tension of not recalling what the teacher said evaporates: learners can access learning as many times as they want to; learners can become proactive actors in and out of the classroom; communication is enhanced: students can communicate/discuss through forums/emails, etc.


On completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • define key concepts pertaining to mobile literacy
  • understand how mobile Internet can be implemented in and enhance the language class
  • select resources for the classroom and design mobile literacy tasks for your students


What is mobile literacy?


Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum (2014: 14) define mobile literacy as “the ability to navigate, interpret information from, contribute information to, and communicate through the mobile internet, including an ability to orient oneself in the space of the internet of things (where information from real-world objects is integrated into the net) and augmented reality (where web-based information is overlaid on the real world).

Useful links


What’s next

Print literacy 

Texting literacy 

Hypertext literacy 

Visual media and multimedia literacy 

Gaming literacy 

Code literacy 

Network Literacy 





Source/attribution:  Digilanguages     Author:  Alexandre Jacquot

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