Digital Literacy and Adult Learners: An experiment in hypermedia reading

Steven Weiland
Nathan Clason


The abilities and dispositions required by today’s information and communications technologies are often referred to as “digital literacy,” one of the “new literacies” presented by the advent of digitalization across virtually all conditions of living and learning. In postsecondary and adult learning digital literacy is nowhere more evident than in distance education. For instructors and programs there is the task of reconciling the boundless optimism about the digital literacy of the “Net Generation” with empirical studies of just what today’s students can do in applying it to academic tasks. A study of students completing a hypermedia-based assignment showed that despite claims for their practices in online reading their performance in writing about the results failed to display effective use of online resources. In order for students to meet high expectations in using the Web they must be equipped with skills that are foundational to genuine digital literacy.



Digital literacy refers to not only writing and reading online, but also learning in electronic format. This trend require learners to search, interpret, write, and collaborate using online resources. Empirical studies on hypermedia based assignment and students’ writing ability indicated students’ insufficient ability to navigate despite their preference for online learning. Also, age plays a significant role in students’ digital literacy. Instructors should not expect practice/effect of hypermedia based learning solely from students’ attitude.

APA Citation

Weiland, S., & Clason, N. (2010, September). Digital Literacy and Adult Learners: An Experiment in Hypermedia Reading. In 29th Annual Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference In Adult, Continuing, Community and Extension Education (p. 262).

About the Study

Links to Article
Mode Technology-enhanced, Blended or Hybrid, Online
Publication Type Conference Presentations/Contributions
In Publication In 29th Annual Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference In Adult, Continuing, Community and Extension Education
Type of Research Review of literature
Research Design Not applicable
Intervention/Areas of Study Course design, Course organization, Digital lecture, Multimedia, Student readiness
Level of Analysis
Specific Populations Examined Age groups, Graduates, Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed Unknown
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest 2-year institution, 4-year Institution, Associates-granting, Bachelors-granting, Masters-granting, Doctorate-granting, For-profit, Not-for-profit, Private, Public
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Arts and humanities, Formal sciences, Natural sciences, Social sciences, STEM
Outcome Variables of Interest Academic achievement or performance, including assessment scores and course grades, Institutional effectiveness, Instructional effectiveness, Learning effectiveness, Program effectiveness
Student Sample Size
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