One in four European adults has problems with basic numeracy, while the reading skills of 55 million are no higher than primary school level. Meanwhile around half of all adults in Europe have only basic levels of computer proficiency.
You probably take these skills for granted – if asked how you got where you are today, they probably wouldn’t even feature in your list. Yet they ensured your place in society, connecting you with others and empowering you – both professionally and personally.
You have no problem reading job announcements, searching online for interesting opportunities, checking bills or payslips, or filling out an online form.
Share your views on improving literacy skills during a live panel discussion 8 September. This discussion has been organised by EPALE – the ePlatform for Adult Learning in Europe – to celebrate International Literacy Day.
The internet is celebrated for its ability to open up access to knowledge, but is it the best way to reach those struggling with literacy, be it reading and writing, numeracy or computer literacy?
Online campaigns on computer literacy are probably about as helpful as leaflets targeting those who cannot read. But while the internet may be of limited use in reaching out in this case, it offers numerous opportunities for those looking for help to upgrade their skills, as the number of resources shared on EPALE makes clear.
For example, a report posted by EPALE member Zoltan Varkonyi suggests that gamification could offer a novel way to boost literacy skills within the gaming population: Gamification and adult literacy – Investigating the history, impact, and execution of gamification principals in adult education
Other resources include insights into Harnessing the Potential of ICTs for Literacy Training and Learning, and an online literacy screening tool. And there are countless online courses, many free, designed to improve literary skills.
A mine of information
Perhaps where the internet really comes into its own here though, is in bringing people together to share ideas, best practices and indeed resources on improving literacy. On EPALE alone, posts range from a handbook on the professionalisation of literacy for practitioners to a database of effective literacy practices and a blog post on the principles of effective adult literacy work.
What is the best way to improve literacy skills among adults? Is the internet THE answer? I suspect a more blended approach would be more effective – online tools when available and appropriate, alongside more traditional face-to-face lessons and study packs. What do you think?