Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

Matt Richtell, in his New York Times article, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” raises the concern that computers and smart phones pose “a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.” He opens with the story of Vishal Singh, a seventeen-year-old high school student who prefers YouTube to books because, as he says, “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.” Richtell paints the usual portrait of students too distracted to succeed in school, but he also raises many poignant issues.

He writes that

even as some parents and educators express unease about students’ digital diets, they are intensifying efforts to use technology in the classroom, seeing it as a way to connect with students and give them essential skills. Across the country, schools are equipping themselves with computers, Internet access and mobile devices so they can teach on the students’ technological territory.

Richtell does not portray technology as an evil but as a tool that can be harnessed for educational purposes and relates many of the complex tensions that arise between traditional ideas of education and more recent thoughts which attempt to utilize newer technologies.

The article also looks at some of the science behind distractions, pointing to various research, including this finding that was published in the journal Pediatrics:

The researchers looked at how the use of these media affected the boys’ brainwave patterns while sleeping and their ability to remember their homework in the subsequent days. They found that playing video games led to markedly lower sleep quality than watching TV, and also led to a “significant decline” in the boys’ ability to remember vocabulary words.

The article ends with the story of Singh’s passion for and success in video editing and points to this as his desired career. The article subtly argues that the nature of academic success is changing. He states one major reason why Singh succeeds with video editing: interactivity. Richtell writes, “As he edits, the windows on the screen come alive; every few seconds, he clicks the mouse to make tiny changes to the lighting and flow of the images, and the software gives him constant feedback.”

Richtell’s thoughtful article succeeds in humanizing some of the issues facing students who are exposed to a wide-range of technology and doesn’t shy away from examining the complex and changing nature of how we need to address learning.

Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action from the Knight Commission

Today the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy announced a new policy paper

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.

You can read the Executive Summary or browse the sections online or download the entire pdf

Eli Pariser on the Future of the Internet

Salon posted an interview with Eli Pariser of Moveon.org fame in their series “The Influencers.” Pariser introduces the idea of “the filter bubble,” which is an important concept to consider when thinking about how people interact with various web services. He discusses how web services such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, are creating highly individualized experiences which undermine the idea of a shared Internet community. He defines this filter bubble as “a personal ecosystem of information that’s been catered by these algorithms to who they think you are.”

He explains why he thinks this is dangerous:

We thought that the Internet was going to connect us all together. As a young geek in rural Maine, I got excited about the Internet because it seemed that I could be connected to the world. What it’s looking like increasingly is that the Web is connecting us back to ourselves. There’s a looping going on where if you have an interest, you’re going to learn a lot about that interest. But you’re not going to learn about the very next thing over. And you certainly won’t learn about the opposite view. If you have a political position, you’re not going to learn about the other one. If you Google some sites about the link between vaccines and autism, you can very quickly find that Google is repeating back to you your view about whether that link exists and not what scientists know, which is that there isn’t a link between vaccines and autism. It’s a feedback loop that’s invisible. You can’t witness it happening because it’s baked into the fabric of the information environment.

This type of individualized encounter with the Internet and with social networking is an important concept to consider since everyone’s experience is growing more and more unique.

Pariser also delves into his thoughts about net neutrality in the interview. The entire article can be found here.

Posted in 21st Century Literacies, Digital Literacy, New Literacies, Social Media. Tags: . Comments Off on Eli Pariser on the Future of the Internet

Free eBook from Center for Digital Literacy Includes Lesson Plans for AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

From the Creative Minds of 21st Century Librarians is CDL’s first e-book project made possible in part through an IMLS grant awarded to CDL in 2008 to update the AASL standards in the S.O.S. for Information Literacy database.

This 275-page free downloadable resource contains dozens of lesson plans that implement AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in the context of the curriculum. Contributing authors include more than 30 teacher-librarians. The book, edited by Marilyn P. Arnone, Ruth V. Small, and Barbara K. Stripling, was more than a year in the making and features a foreword by Barbara Stripling and graphic design by Marguerite Chadwick-Juner. If you are looking for creative ideas that target the standards to implement in your school library, this book will help you jumpstart the process.

The Center for Digital Literacy (CDL) is an interdisciplinary, collaborative research and development center at Syracuse University dedicated to:

(1) understanding the impact of information, technology and media literacies on children and adults (particularly those from underserved populations) in today’s technology-intensive society.

(2) studying the impact having or not having these literacies has on people, organizations, and society.

This interdisciplinary approach allows us to look at issues from a variety of perspectives and to exchange ideas that broaden and enlighten approaches to research in this area.

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Digital Literacy from Google

Google has put together a great resource for staying safe online. The Digital Literacy Tour includes instructor booklets and student handouts plus some great videos on YouTube

At Google, we support the education of families on how to stay safe online. That’s why we’ve teamed up with online safety organization iKeepSafe to develop curriculum that educators can use in the classroom to teach what it means to be a responsible online citizen.

The curriculum is designed to be interactive, discussion filled and allow students to learn through hands-on and scenario activities. On this site you’ll find a resource booklet for both educators and students that can be downloaded in PDF form, presentations to accompany the lesson and animated videos to help frame the conversation.

Workshop 1: Detecting Lies & Staying True

Workshop 2: Playing and Staying Safe Online

Workshop 3: Steering Clear of Cyber Tricks

The YouTube Videos

via Adventures In Corporate Education

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