STUDENT SAMPLE – Digital literacy narratives by first-year writing students in Fall 2010

I don’t often teach WRTG 1150, but the last time I did (in Fall 2010), we focused on digital literacy as a topic and a practice. Students composed digital literacy narratives, which they recorded as audio essays.

I’ve included a small selection of these essays below. Scroll down the page for more information on the concept of a digital literacy narrative.


To listen to the narratives below, click on the play button or click on the title to download the MP3.

Growing Up to Be a Digital Native, by Mollie Starr

(download mp3)

Digital Literacy from Generation to Generation, by Colleen Waterhouse

(download mp3)

Discovery, by Mia Debakker

(download mp3)

My Experience with Digital Literacy, by Helen Zell

(download mp3)


The “literacy narrative” is a very popular genre among writing teachers, as it encourages students to reflect on their relationship to reading and writing in general, but the genre has also grown in popularity beyond the classroom, largely in response to the work of the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. The DALN gathers literacy narratives from all kinds of people, in a variety of multimedia formats, and while some of them do focus specifically on “digital literacy,” most focus on traditional print literacy — or reading and writing in the medium of alphabetic text.


In the Fall of 2010, I asked my WRTG 1150 students to write their own digital literacy narratives, focusing not on how they learned to read and write print texts but how they learned to “read” computers and the internet — and how they learned to “write” in/through them. I thought it might be helpful to them to consider how communicating online requires a certain set of literacy skills — reading and writing skills — which is why we were focusing on those skills in a writing class. I also thought it might be kind of interesting to hear stories from the perspective of so-called “digital natives.”

The projects were pretty enlightening, so in the Spring I gave the topic as an option for my WRTG 2090 students, who also produced some enlightening narratives. Then I started thinking that it might be interesting to gather “digital literacy narratives” from a variety of people, not just students but people of all ages and occupations. So I bought a fancy digital camcorder, registered this domain name, and set out to find volunteers.