digital literacy

5 examples of stellar digital literacy in higher ed

New research highlights the need for education leaders to incorporate digital literacy initiatives across all disciplines.

Colleges and universities hoping to help students hone their digital literacy skills should look to strategies that emphasize creative thinking and problem solving across a range of areas, according to a new brief from the New Media Consortium.

A new brief examines how higher education educators and administrators view digital literacy and reveals the approaches that shape how students learn, create and communicate digital content.

Digital Literacy in Higher Education, Part II: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief, sponsored by Adobe, examines the principles of digital literacy as a multi-dimensional framework and identifies exemplars that universities and colleges can look to in developing programs that empower students to hone their digital literacy skills in preparation for joining the workforce.

The report reveals the need for higher education leaders to prioritize students as creative thinkers and storytellers and build out the learning competency and creative problem solving skills in a wide range of subjects, including sciences, humanities and business courses.

(Next page: 5 examples of higher-ed digital literacy)

“The meaning and impact of digital literacy can get lost in the sea of technophile soundbites we hear every day. There is an implicit understanding that more or better digital literacy skills are needed in order to effectively participate in education, business, commerce, and other aspects of contemporary society. But what does it really mean to be digitally literate, and which standards do we use?” said Dr. Eden Dahlstrom, NMC Executive Director. “This report sheds light on the meaning and impact of digital literacy using cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary approaches, highlighting frameworks and exemplars in practice.”

The NMC’s research examines the current landscape of digital literacy frameworks to illuminate its multiple dimensions — technical, psychological, and interpersonal — around which students’ ability to produce new content generates a sense of empowerment. Further, within the context of certain disciplines, learner commitment based on these levels of engagement is more readily established when paired with authentic digital experiences based on skills considered vital for workplace success. Four disciplines are examined in the graphic below.

The report series identifies and expands upon three models of digital literacy:

  • Universal literacy: A familiarity with using basic digital tools such as an office productivity software, image manipulation, cloud-based apps and content, and web content authoring tools
  • Creative literacy: Includes all aspects of universal literacy and adds more challenging technical skills that lead to the production of richer content, including video editing, audio creation and editing, animation, an understanding of computational device hardware, and programming-along with digital citizenship and copyright knowledge
  • Literacy across disciples: Diffused throughout different classes in appropriate ways that are unique to each learning context, e.g. sociology courses can teach interpersonal actions online, such as the ethics and politics of social network interaction, while psychology and business classes can focus on computer-mediated human interaction

This latest brief delves more deeply into the subject matter, examining digital literacy through global and discipline-specific lenses to uncover new contexts and applications that are shaping the way learners discover and create content.

It also explores how digital literacy looks in certain disciplines, such as the humanities, business, computer science, and general education/introductory courses.

A number of higher-ed digital literacy programs and initiatives are featured as exemplary, in the hopes they will serve as best practices and models for other institutions.

1. Colgate’s Digital Learning and Media Center
Colgate University’s Digital Learning and Media Center (New York) is a flexible multi-use learning space housed in the Case Geyer Library. It is staffed with student media mentors to provide student and faculty support and workshops on utilizing new tools or implementing them into courses.

2. The Digital Fluencies Project
The Digital Fluencies project initiated by Penn Libraries at the University of Pennsylvania consists of workshops open to faculty and students across all disciplines and schools. They focus on understanding, producing, and legally distributing digital media.

3. Domain of One’s Own
The Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) initiative at the University of Mary Washington provides a series of adaptable modules related to digital identity and fluency while giving students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to register their own domain name and hosted web space to
work in free of charge.

4. Media and Digital Literacy Academy of Beirut
The Media and Digital Literacy Academy of Beirut is a short bootcamp-style summer training that provides media and digital literacy mentoring to academics and students in the Arab region along with training in digital content creation. This includes photo manipulation, audio and video editing, data visualization, and social network analysis.

5. The University of Edinburgh’s 23 Things for Digital Knowledge
Modeled after the University of Oxford’s open digital literacy curriculum, 23 Things Oxford, the University of Edinburgh has developed its own course, guiding participants through 23 digital concepts and practices that involve sharing out blog posts upon completing each section; each student’s blog is submitted at the end to receive an Open Badge.

There are 23 total examples; click here to access them all.

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Laura Ascione

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.