November 10, 2014

“According to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.

The current literacy rate isn’t any better than it was 10 years ago. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (completed most recently in 2003, and before that, in 1992), 14 percent of adult Americans demonstrated a “below basic” literacy level in 2003, and 29 percent exhibited a “basic” reading level.

We probably don’t need to spell out the benefits of reading and writing for you. Economic security, access to health care, and the ability to actively participate in civic life all depend on a individual’s ability to read.

According to the Department of Justice, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” The stats back up this claim: 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level, according to” (SALON, “The U.S. Illiteracy Rate Hasn’t Changed in 10 Years”)

In contrast, the training requirements of today’s workplace are intensifying. A recent National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) 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.

Whether we like it or not, our learning culture has changed. It is no longer, primarily, paper-based. Smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs have become the focal point for information-transfer.

As a result, there are available alternatives to combating illiteracy.

As we’ve noted in many previous blogs, video-based interactive instruction as well as gaming and simulation programs are some of today’s better answers.

And, yes, even reading, writing and math skills can be successfully improved with these newer learning technologies!

Media instruction works — and, can successfully link today’s learning culture to the literacy needs of many Americans.

More on Wednesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)