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Adolescents’ New Literacies with and through Mobile Phones


Julie Warner

This book provides a deeper understanding of the phone-based composing practices of youth and their implications for literacy learning. In the United States, smartphone use among teens is nearly universal, yet many youth who are avid digital composers still struggle with formal schooled literacy. The widespread and rapid embrace of smartphones by youth from all income levels has had a substantial impact on the way that young people approach the act of composing, yet to date, little to no work has explored digital photography and text curation through popular apps like Twitter and Instagram and their impact on literacy, including formal schooled literacy. As more schools are moving to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models and lifting classroom bans on cellphones, classroom teachers need information about the affordances of phones for formal literacy learning, which this book provides.

This book will also be of interest to those in courses in the fields of education, new literacies, cultural studies/youth culture, literacy studies, communication arts, and anthropology of education/social sciences. This book could be used in a course on online/Internet ethnography. It could also be used in a more general research methods course to illustrate the combination of online and offline data collection. Outside of research methods courses, it could be used in courses on literacies, digital literacies, youth culture, popular culture and media, or mobile learning.

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Thanks first and always to my mentor, Marjorie Siegel, for giving me the encouragement and direction needed for this work to take root and for being one of my most treasured friends. To John Broughton, who gave me the frameworks for thinking about composing with technology, and to Chuck Kinzer, who pushed me to think about why this work matters. To Sheridan Blau, who offered support all along the way, even long before I arrived at Teachers College.

Of course, this inquiry would not exist if not for the generosity of Ms. Harrison, who opened her classroom to me and sparked my thinking about teaching with technology and indeed teaching in general. Much love to you for letting a doc student add one more thing to your already overflowing plate.

Likewise, to the three young people who agreed with no reservations to take part in this research; my deepest gratitude goes out to you.

Michele and Colin, thank you for believing that this work was important enough to find a place in this series, which I read before even entering my doctoral studies and continue to read with the same sense of curiosity and delight. To write this book is a dream come true.

To Kurt Morris for always generously offering substantive reads and edits that allow me to get my ideas out in the world.←xxiii | xxiv→

To David Cook for sparking my thinking about new media...

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