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A Push for Digital and Media Literacy

A new paper, "Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action," outlines specific steps that policymakers, educators, and community leaders can take to strengthen citizens' digital and media literacy skills. To check it out, you can either download the paper or read it online.

The white paper, written by Renee Hobbs, an education and communications professor at Temple University in Philadelphia and founder of its Media Education Lab, identifies 10 ways to beef up digital and media literacy, or "a constellation of life skills that are necessary for full participation in our media-saturated, information-rich society," as well as five challenges to its implementation. The effort will require participation from not only schools, but also libraries, community spaces, and policymakers, says the paper, which was released by the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit research organization.

There is a strong role to be played by formal education, says Hobbs. Digital and media literacy education should be incorporated into teacher preparation programs, she suggests, in order to educate teachers on how to teach children those skills. In addition, digital and media literacy programs should be coordinated at the district level in order to permeate the K-12 education environment. Schools should also partner up with media and technology companies to bring local and national media into education programs, says Hobbs. Another suggestion is creating a collection of online instructional videos about digital and media literacy instruction strategies as a resource for teachers.

Hobbs outlines a number of other steps that communities could take, such as creating a digital and media literacy public service announcement, launching an annual conference to discuss research and ideas around this subject, and offering small grants to community organizations that can help incorporate digital and media literacy into existing programs. In particular, such efforts should be adjusted to underserved populations, such as minority children and families, special education students, juvenile offenders, new immigrants, and senior citizens.

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