The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

Digital Learning Day

February 1st was the first Digital Learning Day designed to encourage innovative use of tech in schools. Did your library participate today?

The initiative, sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, was designed to encourage exploration of how digital learning can provide more students with the opportunities to get the skills they need to succeed in life and showcase innovative teaching practices that make learning more personalized and engaging.

While the project is aimed at school libraries, there certainly MANY possibilities for public libraries to have participated. Somehow I missed the promotion for the event having been off the grid for a while or I would have tried to get more activity planned at my own library. I came across it through @ Your Library where one can find tool kits and other resources (as well as a few typos). The Digital Learning Day website toolkits are much more robust including information on Instructional Strategies, which I found particularly helpful since I don’t have a background in education.

Curious to know if any libraries participated and what you did?

“Multiple literacies”? Who really talks like that? (Survey)

You may recall that last February we highlighted a great article by Trudi Jacobson and Thomas Mackey introducing  ‘metaliteracy’ as a framework for understanding information literacy. The number of alternative “literacies” has seemed to explode over the past few years, and the article does a great job of reining competing literacies in and organizing them under a more manageable conceptual framework.  But, certain questions remain. In particular, how are terms like ‘metaliteracy, ‘transliteracy’, ‘information literacy’, and other literacies understood in the library profession? Well, to find the answer, Jacobson and Mackey have come up with a survey to find out how “librarians and faculty members worldwide who teach information literacy in some form conceive of information literacy” in light of the explosion of alternative literacies.

I’ll let Jacobson explain, from a message circulating on various listservs:

If you teach information literacy at an academic institution (in any format, such as a stand-alone course, a component of another course, or single sessions), I welcome your participation in a survey. The online survey is available at

The purpose of the survey is to learn more about the impact of the changing information environment and social media on the teaching of information literacy. This research follows up on my work with Dr. Thomas Mackey in connection with our article, “Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy,” which appeared in the January 2011 issue of College & Research Libraries. Data gathered via this survey will contribute to a book we are currently writing on the same topic, which will be published by Neal-Schuman in 2012.

Your feedback will be most helpful in getting a sense of changes that may be occurring as a result of the evolving information environment and emerging literacy frameworks. Learning what others are doing, through the information that will be presented in the book and through other venues, may be beneficial in considering your own teaching.

So, if you’re interested in transliteracy, metaliteracy, information literacy, or some other putative literacy (hyperliteracy, anyone?), please chime in on the metaliteracy survey. The more data they collect, the better will be the picture of multiple literacies in librarianship. Once again, the survey is available at:

As a bit of a bonus, Trudi Jacobson was kind enough to send me a selected reading list. Go ahead and check it out if you’re interested in the concept of metaliteracy (or of transliteracy).

Suggested Reading (thanks to Trudi Jacobson)

  • Bobish, Greg.  2011. “Participation and Pedagogy: Connecting the Social Web to ACRL Learning Outcomes.”  The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37, no 1: 5463.
  • Breivik, Particia Senn and E. Gordon Gee.  1989.  “Taking a New Look at Libraries,” In Information Literacy: Revolution in the Library, 1-29.  New York: Macmillan.
  • Dunaway, Michele Kathleen. 2011.  “Connectivism: Learning Theory and Pedagogical Practice  for Networked Information Landscapes.”  Reference Services Review 39, no. 4: 675-685.
  • Ipri, Tom. 2010. “Introducing Transliteracy: What Does It Mean To Academic Libraries?” College and Research Libraries News 71, no. 10: 532-567.
  • Mackey, Thomas P. and Trudi E. Jacobson. 2011. “Reframing Information Literacy as a  Metaliteracy.” College and Research Libraries 72, no. 1: 62-78. 
  • Siemens, George.  2004.  “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.” Elearnspace: everything elearning.
  • Society of College, National and University Libraries. 2011. “The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy, Core Model for Higher Education.” Society of College, National and University Libraries.
  • Thomas, Sue, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Mills, Simon Perril, et al.  2007.    “Transliteracy: Crossing Divides.” First Monday [Online], 12 no. 12.             

Digital Literacy Portal Launch at ALA Annual #ala11

If you will be at ALA Annual in New Orleans you should attend!

Digital Literacy Portal Launch in the Networking Uncommons Convention Center

Date: Saturday 06/25/2011 Time: 12:00-1:00pm

Sponsored by: NTIA, IMLS, and ALA

WHAT: Roundtable discussion on NTIA’s

WHO: American Library Association Washington Office, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and Institute of Museum and Library Services

WHEN: 12:15 p.m.; Saturday, June 25, 2011

WHERE: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Networking Uncommons (Lobby Level 1)

Do you teach digital literacy skills at your library? Whether you teach the basics or hold classes on Web 2.0, there is a new resource for you to use– and a place to add your own content– Hear how can help you plan and design your classes. Learn how you can contribute your own resources. See how you can collaborate with peers.

Join Tony Wilhelm (NTIA), Susan Hildreth (IMLS), and Emily Sheketoff (ALA) in a roundtable discussion and interactive session about the portal.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the American Library Association’s (ALA) Washington Office will hold a roundtable discussion about at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2011, during the ALA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans. is a new online portal that brings together online learning tools, curriculum, job skills training and a host of other resources.

The program will include a question-and-answer session. Media and bloggers are encouraged to participate.

Media and bloggers planning to attend should contact Jenni Terry, press officer to the ALA Washington Office at

Read more about the Digital Literacy Portal

Posted in ALA, Digital Literacy. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Digital Literacy Portal Launch at ALA Annual #ala11

New National Digital Literacy Portal

On Friday the 13th of May the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the launch of their National Digital Literacy Portal at

While, I applaud these efforts I’m not sure that an online resource on digital literacy skills is going to reach the people who need it the most. The good news is it makes a great resource for those of us in libraries teaching these skills.  It includes sections such as Learn the Basics, Learn Job Skills that appear to be aimed at the general public (but also useful for us) in addition to educator specific sections such as Find Educator Tools and Browse Resources.

From the Press Release

“Technology is the key to jobs in today’s economy, but more people need access to computers and the ability to use them,” U.S. Senator Ben Cardin said. “Coppin State University’s community computer center is at the forefront of ensuring that Marylanders have the skills they need to succeed and find jobs. This computer center will help make technology more accessible, and the new website – – will provide people with the computer and Internet skills needed for the digital age.”

The FAQ sheet:

Fact Sheet: Digital Literacy

We Live in an Internet Economy

  • Global online transactions currently total an estimated $10 trillion annually.[i] In the United States alone, according to the U.S. Census, domestic online transactions in 2008 were estimated to total $3.7 trillion annually.[ii]
  • By one estimate, American jobs related to the Internet contributed an estimated $300 billion of economic activity to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2009.[iii]

Digital Literacy is Necessary for Today’s Jobs

  • Ninety-six percent of working Americans use new communications technologies as part of their daily life, while sixty-two percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs.[iv]
  • Between 1998 and 2008, the number of domestic IT jobs grew by 26 percent, four times faster than U.S. employment as a whole. By 2018, IT employment is expected to grow by another 22 percent.[v]
  • According to one estimate, as of 2009, advertising-supported Internet services directly or indirectly employed three million Americans, 1.2 million of whom hold jobs that did not exist two decades ago.[vi]
  • High-speed Internet access and online skills are not only necessary for seeking, applying for, and getting today’s jobs, but also to take advantage of the growing educational, civic, and health care advances spurred by broadband. For example, an increasing amount of activities – such as taking college classes, monitoring chronic medical conditions, renewing your driver’s license, tracking your child’s school assignments  – are now commonly conducted online.

Digital Literacy Training is Needed

  • Despite the growing importance of the Internet in American life, 28 percent of Americans do not use the Internet at all.[vii]
    • Nearly one-third of U.S. households (32 percent) lack broadband service.[viii]
    • The two most commonly cited reasons for not having broadband Internet access at home are that it is perceived as not needed (46 percent) or too expensive (25  percent).[ix]
    • There are notable disparities between demographic groups: people with low incomes, disabilities, seniors, minorities, the less-educated, non-family households, and the non-employed tend to lag behind other groups in home broadband use.[x]
    • While there is no single solution to closing the broadband adoption gap, increasing digital literacy skills among non-users is key to bringing them online and opening doors to opportunity. Provides Easy Access to Free Resources and Tools

  • is an online portal that makes it easy to find resources and tools that teach computer and online skills. Practitioners in service-oriented organizations — such as libraries, schools, community centers, community colleges, and workforce training centers — can provide feedback on and share digital literacy content and practices. Anyone can use the web portal to identify the skills needed for various jobs, locate suitable training, and search for employment. Includes:

  • Workforce development materials such as tutorials, presentations, and reports that teach individuals how to find a job, create a resume, and use productivity software such as word processing and spreadsheets.
  • Curriculum materials such as lesson plans, student handouts, and class exercises that teach basic computer and online skills in formal and informal classroom settings.
  • Train-the-trainer materials such as presentations, handouts, and exercises used to teach individuals how to teach digital literacy skills to others.
  • Games and interactive tutorials that teach digital literacy skills to various audiences through active use.
  • Reports and articles on a range of digital literacy topics.

Interactive and User-Friendly Features

  • Easy Navigation: A user-friendly taxonomy and search feature helps visitors find resources by general topic, skill type, skill level, format, audience, user-rating, and keywords.
  • Collaboration: Discussion threads allow users to post comments and share ideas on a wide-range of digital literacy topics.
  • Rating System: A star rating system allows visitors to provide feedback on resources.

Digital Literacy Partners

  • was created by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in collaboration with the Department of Education and other federal agencies: the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Federal Communications Commission, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor.
  • augments NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, a Recovery Act grant program that is investing in projects to expand broadband access and adoption in America. Many of these projects are teaching digital literacy skills, and is a central location where grantees can upload and share content and best practices with other practitioners and the general public, leveraging the value of these projects. In launching, NTIA is building on knowledge gained from managing its broadband grants program in order to provide digital literacy resources to all Americans.
  • NTIA is partnering with the American Library Association and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to promote the use of the portal by the nation’s 16,600 public libraries where, in 2009, over 30 million people used computers to seek and apply for jobs.

[i] Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), The Internet Economy 25 Years After .com  (Mar. 15, 2010),

[ii] U.S. Census Bureau, E-Stats, May 27, 2010,

[iii] See John Deighton et al., Economic Value of the Advertising-Supported Internet Ecosystem (2009) at 12, available at

[iv] Pew Internet and American Life Project, Most Working Americans Now Use The Internet or Email at Their Jobs, Sept. 24, 2008,

[v] U.S. Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force, Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework, Green Paper (Dec. 2010),

[vi]Economic Value of the Advertising-Supported Internet Ecosystem at 6.

[vii]Digital Nation: Expanding Internet Usage, NTIA Research Preview (Feb. 2011) at 5,

[viii] Id. at 2.

[ix] Id. at 24.

[x] Id. at 2.

Read more

What is a Digital Literacy?

Mindbinders 08

In What Are Digital Literacies? Let’s Ask the Students Cathy Davidson talks about asking her students in “This Is Your Brain on the Internet” and “Twenty-First Century Literacies” (two classes I would love to take btw!) about digital literacies. Here is the list they came up with:

  • Using online sources to network, knowledge-outreach, publicize content, collaborate and innovate
  • Collecting, managing, and interpreting multimedia and online data and/or content
  • Appreciating the complex ethics surrounding online practices
  • Engaging successfully in an “Innovation Challenge,” an exercise in simultaneous multi-user, real-time distance collaboration, on deadline
  • Developing a diversity of writing styles and modes of communication to best reach, address, and accommodate multiple audiences across multiple online platforms
  • Demonstrating technical and media skills: Web video, WordPress, blogging, Google Docs, Livechat, Twitter, Facebook Groups, Wikipedia editing
  • Participating successfully in peer leadership (without an authority figure as the leader to police, guide, or protect the collaborators), peer assessment, peer self-evaluation; making contributions to a group on a coherent and innovative project
  • Cultivating strategies for managing the line between personal and professional life in visible, online communities
  • Understanding how to transform complicated ideas and gut reactions about technology into flexible technology policy
  • Learning how to champion the importance of the open Web and ‘Net Neutrality
  • Collaborating across disciplines, working with people from different backgrounds and fields, including across liberal arts and engineering
  • Understanding the complexity of copyright and intellectual property and the relationship between “open source” and “profitability” or “sustainability”
  • Excelling in collaborative online publishing skills and expertise, from conception to execution to implementation to dissemination
  • Incorporating technology efficiently and wisely into a specific classroom or work environment
  • Leading peers in discussing the implications and ethics of intellectual collaborative discourse and engagement online and beyond
  • Using the superior expertise of a peer to extend my own knowledge

So I thought I’d ask you, our readers, what do consider to be a digital literacy?

OITP Digital Literacy Task Force

OITP has recently formed a Digital Literacy Task Force ( OITP is the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy). The Task Force is composed of representatives from OITP, AASL, PLA, Committee on Literacy (OLOS), ACRL, LITA, OIF and OITP Staff

This is exciting on so many levels. As you know, I’ve expressed concerns about the digital divide, the failure of other institutions to recognize the role of libraries in the access to the technology and skills needed to bridge that divide, and think the formation of this Task Force is an important step  in the right direction. As if that wasn’t exciting enough I was asked to serve as the LITA representative on the Task Force

This is a new task force and we haven’t met yet so I don’t have much to share at this point, other than excitement that there IS a task force on digital literacy. Stay tuned for more details!

Digital Literacy Task Force Charge

An Emerging Issue

Dramatic shifts in how information and communications are enabled and disseminated via the Internet demand an expanded vision of literacy to ensure all people in the United States, regardless of age, native language, or intellectual capacity, are able to fully participate in the digital age. “Digital literacy” has emerged as a broad term to encompass information literacy abilities “requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information”, as well as competencies in creating content, reflecting on one’s own conduct and social responsibility, and taking action to share knowledge and solve problems. Digital literacy also is associated with the ability to use computers and other devices, social media and the Internet. Digital literacy itself is an emerging concept but there needs to be a common understanding of the parameters it covers.

The March 2010 release of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) brought new attention to digital literacy as an essential element to ensuring all Americans benefit from opportunities afforded by broadband access. According to the plan, about one-third of the population does not have a broadband Internet connection at home. Digital literacy-related issues were identified as key barriers to adoption in addition to access and cost.

Federal, state, and local government agencies; community-based organizations; educational institutions; public policy organizations; and foundations recognize that our society is at a critical juncture with regard to the changing information landscape and competencies needed to thrive in the digital environment. How we, as an organization and a nation, respond to the challenges will have lasting impact on education, economic development, civic engagement, and global competitiveness.

Our nation’s school, public and higher education libraries are an essential part of the solution. The American Library Association (ALA) reaffirms its position that developing the literacy capacity – including digital literacy – of the public is essential for the current investment in broadband to have any meaningful or sustainable impact. Additionally, ALA recognizes that today’s investment in infrastructure is not necessarily the focus of tomorrow’s technological advancement. Libraries must be part of an evolving national dialogue about how we marry robust access to technology resources with the 21st Century literacy skills necessary to ensure digital access for all.

From their inception, libraries of all kinds have had the development, promotion, and advancement of literacy at the core of their mission. During the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) advisory committee retreat at the 2011 Midwinter Meeting, the group participated in a discussion with Renee Hobbs, author of Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, and Charlie Firestone director, of the Aspen Institute Communication and Society Program that commissioned the publication. This discussion – coupled with reports from individual meetings with several ALA committees, offices, and divisions – prompted the advisory committee to authorize further inquiry into how ALA could leverage and expand the wealth of knowledge and experience related to information and digital literacy.


As part of meeting the ALA mission to provide leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services in a dynamic and increasingly global digital information environment, OITP will convene a task force comprising members of key ALA units and affiliates to identify and document local digital literacy efforts in order to identify promising practices, gaps in services, and emerging issues. Based on these findings and lessons learned, the task force will formulate a response to address future technological advances and the evolving skill sets needed to access, use, create, and engage with information resources. OITP will use this information to raise national awareness about digital literacy both within and beyond the library community. By so doing, OITP will engage in efforts that influence national policy related to supporting a digitally literate population and encourage other stakeholders to support digital literacy initiatives.


ALA should advocate for more significant national recognition and support for libraries from federal agencies, foundations, and other national institutions involved with digital literacy initiatives and the related broadband agenda. ALA should collect and share effective practices underway in individual libraries that could be replicated and tailored to needs that vary community by community. Partnering where appropriate with community based organizations with expertise in working with specialized populations could also enhance many library efforts, further target digital literacy training, and extend its effectiveness. Libraries know that a healthy and informed community depends on a rich and sustainable support ecosystem where foundations, municipalities, for-profit businesses, and not-for-profit service organizations develop partnerships — extending the reach of any one entity.

OITP Digital Literacy Task Force


Including America’s libraries in national, regional and local digital literacy initiatives will ultimately enhance the information [and literacy] capacity of individuals so that they can fully engage in a democratic society.


  • To gather, develop and share information, resources and best practices related to library engagement in promoting and supporting digital literacy, in order to:
  • Continuously improve library services and practices that support digitally literate communities
  • Enable libraries to anticipate and respond effectively to the impact of emerging technologies on information literacy
  • Influence federal policy related to supporting a digitally literate population.

Task force members will regularly communicate task force activities back to their member groups and seek input from these groups as necessary. In addition, the task force will actively seek input and feedback from the ethnic library associations and ALA affiliates. Task Force members may elect to add representatives from other groups as specific work and projects emerge.

Time commitment/scope

  • March 2011-June 2012
  • Monthly conference calls and in-person meetings at ALA conferences
  • Contribute expertise from representative body and coordinate communications back to representative constituency.

Task Force members will prioritize activities and determine products through regular communication and in-person meetings. Such initial activities may include:

  • Collecting information about current digital literacy activities and programs in school, academic, and public libraries, as well as library and/or information schools;
  • Identifying national digital literacy partners/audiences for library collaboration;
  • Developing and disseminating materials related to how libraries of all kinds are helping to create a more digitally literate population, what gaps may exist and recommendations to strengthen library digital literacy efforts;
  • Developing mechanisms [tools] to help library practitioners share effective [digital literacy] practices and to test new strategies to promote information [digital] literacy

Target outcomes for the taskforce could include but are not limited to:

  • Information sharing and cross-pollination across library types to establish a profession-wide approach to supporting digitally literate communities that will result in:
  • A report (or series of brief reports) outlining libraries’ vision and approaches to digital literacy, including case studies and a view to the future.
  • A model (or multiple models on specific topics) toolkit that would include resources for practitioners to develop digital literacy programs for use in their individual libraries.
  • A national convening of experts representing a variety of disciplines (e.g., LIS, education, technology) to help determine ALA strategy for anticipating and meeting the next phase of literacy so that ALA can develop a sustainable response. and OITP Staff.

Some Helpful Links

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