The Future of Literacy

dv1212087Certainly, the training requirements of today’s workplace are intensifying.  A recent National Adult Literacy Survey undertaken by the Department Of Education has reported that, “Growing numbers of individuals are expected to be able to attend to multiple features of information in lengthy and sometimes complex displays, to compare and contrast information, to integrate information from various parts of a text or document, to generate ideas and information based on what they read, and to apply arithmetic operations sequentially to solve a problem.  The results from this and other surveys, however, indicate that many adults do not demonstrate these levels of proficiency.” 


Obviously, it is no longer enough to simply stand on the assembly line and push one button over and over.  Today’s workplaces — and the global economy — have rendered much of this rote activity obsolete.  And where repetitive task labor is still required, the corresponding remuneration allows only for a life bordering on subsistence.


An even more recent CBS News report under the lede, “U.S. Faces Less-Literate Workforce” warned that by 2030 American workers may be significantly less literate than they are today. 


It doesn’t have to end up that way.


Whether we like it or not, our learning culture has changed.  We must realize that we are no longer a nation of avid readers.  It may be that we never were, but reading today continues to shrink as the most effective way by which the majority of us can assimilate knowledge and form opinions.


But ours is not a stupid nor uninformed society.  On the contrary; only our primary means for communicating information has changed.  Media-based industrial skills training, PC skills training and safety training can all attest to that.


Stop and think for a minute.  Where do most of us get the majority of the information we assimilate today?  From television and computer screens, of course!  And yet, for all of the advances made in linking technology with learning, most organizations today still rely on the old traditional methods of stand-up lecturing and reading.  The result is that the learning needs of nearly two-thirds of our citizens are being largely ignored through the exclusive use of these traditional methods. 


Just one more reason why online learning (e-learning) and interactive CD-ROMs can expand the traditional definition of “literacy,” liberating it to include additional learning tools in our constant struggle against illiteracy.  People learn best when multiple senses are involved.


— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning