This qualitative, ethnographic case study investigates digital literacy practices and perceptions of students at an urban public high school in the Boston metropolitan area comprising a racially, ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse student body, an under-studied demographic. The study compares in-school and out-of-school literacy practices and posits the role schools might play in preparing learners. The study examines digital literacy practices among student based on information gathered through focus groups, survey methods, and interviews. Three controlling questions guided the study:

  1. What digital literacy practices are students in Washington High School engaging in outside of school?
  2. What purposes do these youth have for engaging in these digital literacy practices? What role do these digital literacies play in youths’ lives?
  3. How are students asked to use digital literacies within the school setting? How do these compare to students’ life world uses? With Web 2.0 conceptions of digital literacies?


digital literacy, digital literacy practices, urban high school, consumerist, Web 2.0



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