On digital literacy: we release a new report

digitalliteracycoverfinalOver the past three months I’ve had the privilege of working with the New Media Consortium to develop a new report on digital literacy.  Our research and writing were also generously supported by Adobe.

Today the report is live, and I encourage you to read it.  Over the next few weeks I’ll post about specific details and ramifications, but let me draw your attention to a few key pieces today.

First, a key part of our research involved surveying more than 400 NMC members.  We asked them about digital literacy definitions, implementations, “soft” versus technical skills, current support structures, emerging technologies, and more.  The results were eye-opening.  Two key takeaways: there was nothing like a shared sense of what digital literacy actually is, and few institutions are doing much to support it beyond the actions of individual faculty or staff.  One more point: respondents generally saw digital literacy as productive (students as makers), but most institutions were not taking that into account.

Second, in wrestling with the definition question, we came up with three different forms of digital literacy.  They have much in common: a sense of productivity (again, students as makers); multiple technologies; multiple “soft” skills beyond technologies.  They differ by degree and implementation.

So “universal literacy” is a baseline, what we can expect all students to have when they complete our programs.  This includes multimedia consumption and production, office and creative tools, and engagement with the social media world.  “Creative literacy” is an advanced version, including more challenging skills, such as coding, hardware, and animation.  We didn’t see this model as universally applicable, but well suited to certain academic fields and careers.  Lastly, we identified “literacy across disciplines”, which embeds specific technologies and soft skills within individual academic programs.
3 digital literacy models

We have recommendations for how academic institutions can engage with these, and much more.  Read it and let us know what you think.  The comment box awaits you.

Let me add that it was a treat working with NMC and Adobe.  These are bright, energetic people thinking and working through some of the major technological and educational challenges of our time.  I appreciated the opportunity very much.

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9 Responses to On digital literacy: we release a new report

  1. Bryan: I had written a paper in graduate school addressing this topic and came across the same difficulty in finding a solid definition of it. However, I was able provide some historical context that at least arrived at a tentative contemporary definition. I invite your readers to view it here: https://www.academia.edu/7935447/A_Review_of_Digital_Literacy_Assessment_Instruments

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  2. VanessaVaile says:

    still reading report but so far seems very higher ed centered… perhaps inevitable but exclusionary nonetheless. “universal literacy” that does not address broader usage or the general population isn’t, well, universal. disclaimer: I’m out of the academy and so are my digital literacy interests ~ now more community focused

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