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Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action

Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
February 16, 2011

In 2009, The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy released fifteen recommendations for creating healthy and informed communities. Three of the fifteen recommendations address digital and media literacy in education. Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, by Renee Hobbs, Professor at the School of Communications and the College of Education at Temple University and founder of its Media Education Lab, is the second in a series of policy papers from the Aspen Institute focused on implementing the Knight Commission’s recommendations. (Read online or Dowload the PDF)

Hobbs describes digital and media literacy as a set of skills necessary for full participation in society today. She defines digital and media literacy as 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
  • 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                                            (p. vii-viii)

To make digital and media literacy part of mainstream education in the United States, Hobbs offers a ten-step action plan for policymakers, educators, and community advocates to be implemented at the local, regional, state, and national levels. The plan argues that digital and media literacy for all citizens will require a community-wide education movement. 

Challenges
The report identifies and thoughtfully discusses five issues to consider when implementing digital and media literacy programs:

  1. Moving beyond a tool-oriented focus that conflates having access to media and technology with the skillful use of it
  2. Addressing risks associated with media and digital technology including those of content, contact, and conduct
  3. Expanding the concept of literacy
  4. Strengthening people’s capacity to assess message credibility and quality
  5. Using news and journalism in the context of K–12 education

Hobbs provides extensive discussions of these issues, underscoring the complexity of digital literacy education. 

Plan of Action
The Ten Recommendations for digital and media literacy education fall within four areas of focus:   

  • Community Initiatives include the creation of mini grants for existing community programs, the development of a national network of summer learning programs in charter schools, and the creation of a Digital and Media Literacy Youth Corps.
  • Partnerships for Teacher Education include district-level initiatives, partnerships with media and technology companies, and the integration of digital and media literacy education principles into teacher education programs.
  • Research and Assessment recommendations support the development of online assessment measures and video documentation of digital and media literacy instructional strategies.
  • Parent Outreach, National Visibility, and Stakeholder Engagement recommendations include a statewide youth-produced PSA competition to support digital and media literacy education, an annual conference and educator showcase competition in Washington, D.C., and an entertainment-education intitiative. 

The plan also defines specific roles for all stakeholders, from the executive branch to local community centers.

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