The Knight Commission recognized that people need tools, skills and understanding to use information effectively, and that successful participation in the digital age entails two kinds of skills sets: digital literacy and media literacy. Digital literacy means learning how to work the information and communication technologies in a networked environment, as well as understanding the social, cultural and ethical issues that go along with the use of these technologies. Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, reflect upon, and act with the information products that media disseminate.
Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, a new policy paper by Renee Hobbs, Professor at the School of Communications and the College of Education at Temple University and founder of its Media Education Lab, proposes a detailed plan that positions digital and media literacy as an essential life skill and outlines steps that policymakers, educators, and community advocates can take to help Americans thrive in the digital age. (Download PDF or Read online)
I haven’t had time to read and digest the whole thing but I’ve skimmed it and here are some of my favorite bits
Full participation in contemporary culture requires not just consuming messages, but also creating and sharing them. To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities.
The report defines a digital and media literacy and outlines necessary skills:
In this report, we define digital and media literacy as a constellation of life skills that are necessary for full participation in our media-saturated, information-rich society. These include the ability to do the following:
- Make responsible choices and access information by locating and sharing materials and comprehending information and ideas
- Analyze messages in a variety of forms by identifying the author, purpose and point of view, and evaluating the quality and credibility of the content
- Create content in a variety of forms, making use of language, images, sound, and new digital tools and technologies
- Reflect on one’s own conduct and communication behavior by applying social responsibility and ethical principles
- Take social action by working individually and collaboratively to share knowledge and solve problems in the family, workplace and community, and by participating as a member of a community
These digital and media literacy competencies, which constitute core competencies of citizenship in the digital age, have enormous practical value. To be able to apply for jobs online, people need skills to find relevant information. To get relevant health information, people need to be able to distinguish between a marketing ploy for nutritional supplements and solid information based on research evidence. To take advantage of online educational opportunities, people need to have a good understanding of how knowledge is constructed and how it represents reality and articulates a point of view. For people to take social action and truly engage in actual civic activities that improve their communities, they need to feel a sense of empowerment that comes from working collaboratively to solve problems.
The report calls for a plan of action
These action steps do more than bring digital and media literacy into the public eye. Each step provides specific concrete programs and services to meet the diverse needs of our nation’s citizens, young and old, and build the capacity for digital and media literacy to thrive as a community education movement.
Support Community-Level Digital and Media Literacy Initiatives
1. Map existing community resources and offer small grants to promote community partnerships to integrate digital and media literacy competencies into existing programs.
2. Support a national network of summer learning programs to integrate digital and media literacy into public charter schools.
3. Support a Digital and Media Literacy (DML) Youth Corps to bring digital and media literacy to underserved communities and special populations via public libraries, museums and other community centers.
Develop Partnerships for Teacher Education
4. Support interdisciplinary bridge building in higher education to integrate core principles of digital and media literacy education into teacher preparation programs.
5. Create district-level initiatives that support digital and media literacy across K–12 via community and media partnerships.
6. Partner with media and technology companies to bring local and national news media more fully into education programs in ways that promote civic engagement.
Research and Assessment
7. Develop online measures of media and digital literacy to assess learning progression and develop online video documentation of digital and media literacy instructional strategies to build expertise in teacher education.
Parent Outreach, National Visibility, and Stakeholder Engagement
8. Engage the entertainment industry’s creative community in an entertainment-education initiative to raise visibility and create shared social norms regarding ethical behaviors in using online social media.
9. Host a statewide youth-produced Public Service Announcement (PSA) competition to increase visibility for digital and media literacy education.
10. Support an annual conference and educator showcase competition in Washington, D.C. to increase national leadership in digital and media literacy education.