A “Literacy Map” for the Internet

by Joan Sedita | 1 | 0 Comments

I am fascinated about how literacy skills are applied when using the Internet; one of my earlier posts (September 15, 2014: Online Reading Comprehension) addressed the similarities and differences between traditional reading comprehension text and online reading comprehension. So my interest was piqued when I read in the May, 2015 Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy about a “Web Literacy Map” that folks at the Mozilla Foundation have been working on (McVerry, Belshaw, O’Byrne, 2015).

During the past two years, a group of stakeholders from formal and informal education, industry, and the community at large has developed a framework to help define the skills and competencies required to read, write, and participate on the Web. Click Here to learn more about the project to create the Web Literacy Map. In addition, Doug Belshaw’s blog piece “A Brief History of Web Literacy and its Future Potential” provides an excellent summary of the history of web literacy.

McVerry, Belshaw and O’Byrne explain the Web Literacy Map this way:

“Many frameworks, such as digital literacy, media literacy, and information literacy have considered the skills required for the Web. However, these frameworks have attempted to make sense of the Web using previous metaphors, rather than understanding the explicit affordances of the Web as a networked medium. This is where we diverge… the Web Literacy Map attempts not merely to understand, but to build a better Web.

The purpose of the Web Literacy Map is to provide descriptive, as opposed to prescriptive, guidance to educators… It focuses on the notion of the Internet as literacy. This is to be contrasted with other approaches such as the Internet for literacy, literacy for the Internet, or literacy on the Internet.” (pp. 632-633, 2015)

The Web Literacy Map framework organizes literacy skills into three major components: Exploring, Building, and Connecting. Here is an outline of what’s addressed in the framework:

1. EXPLORING (reading the Web)

  • Navigation: using software tools to browse the Web
  • Web Mechanics: understanding the web ecosystem and Internet stack
  • Search: locating information, people and resources via the Web
  • Credibility: critically evaluating information found on the Web
  • Security: keeping systems, identities, and content safe

2. BUILDING (writing the Web)

  • Composing for the Web: creating and curating content for the Web
  • Remixing: modifying existing Web resources to create something new on the Web
  • Designing for the Web: enhancing visual aesthetics and user experiences
  • Coding/Scripting: creating interactive experiences on the Web
  • Accessibility: communicating in a universally-recognizable way

3. CONNECTING (participating on the Web)

  • Sharing: providing access to web resources
  • Collaborating: creating web resources with others
  • Community Participation: getting involved in Web communities and understanding their practices
  • Privacy: examining the consequences of sharing data online
  • Open Practices: helping to keep the Web democratic and universally accessible

The Web Literacy Map project is still in its infancy, and the Map itself is not finished. The outline above is what is proposed for the newest, 1.5 version.  I am impressed with the way it is being built – drawing on the creativity and background knowledge of many.

The Map has me thinking about literacy in much broader terms than I have in the past, including the “new” literacy skills that I have had to learn to use the Web, including starting and contributing to this Literacy Lines blog. I am also thinking about the many students who struggle with traditional literacy skills, and how we need to develop explicit instructional practices so that these students can experience the full benefits of the Internet as literacy.


McVerry, J.G., Belshaw, D., & O’Byrne, W. I. (2015). Guiding students as they explore, build, and connect online. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 58(8), pp. 632-635.

Joan Sedita

Joan Sedita is the founder of Keys to Literacy and author of the Keys to Literacy professional development programs. She is an experienced educator, nationally recognized speaker and teacher trainer. She has worked for over 35 years in the literacy education field and has presented to thousands of teachers and related professionals at schools, colleges, clinics, and professional conferences.

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