Digital literacy and media literacy are prevalent terms bouncing around educational discourse in schools, curriculum development offices, and education research, but the implementation and understood definitions are just as varied as the contexts in which they are discussed. I’ve personally witnessed every interpretation and representation on the spectrum from teachers implementing excellent examples of digital literacy instruction in the classroom to certification programs labelling their ICT programs as ‘complete digital literacy curriculums’. I’ve had conversations with journalists on the importance of understanding the implied meaning of media messages, and then met instructors who are only focused on the production values of media literacy. Buckingham (2008) addressed this range of interpretations in his description of the common practice of media literacy instruction being focused on production and composition. As Buckingham points out, media literacy instruction is often lacking focus on the sociocultural practices, influences, and implications in digital spaces and media production/consumption.
But there’s something missing from Buckingham’s (2008) article: How do we create a change in classrooms? Buckingham explicitly identifies an issue with a focus on ICT and how to use tools to produce, but he does not bridge the gap between this identification and the actions needed to address this. How do we implement the broader definitions of digital literacy or media literacy to include the sociocultural aspects? What creates the bridge between theory and practice?
In Create To Learn, Hobbs (2017) defines literacy as “the sharing of meaning through symbols” (p. 5). If we consider this definition, along with Buckingham’s (2008) call for inclusion of social practices in digital and media literacy education and practice, we see how multimodal practices of communicating, to include digital platforms and media production, can be identified as literacy. Where I’m stuck now is how to position these practices as literacies of value in a text-focused educational culture. I’m hoping my experiences in my current course with Renee Hobbs, Digital Authorship/EDC 534, will allow me to promote the practice and value of digital and media literacy through my own modeling, reflections, and sharing.
Buckingham, D. (2008). Defining digital literacy: What do young people need to know about digital media? In C. Lankshear and M. Knobel (Eds), Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices (pp. 73 – 90). New York: Peter Lang.
Hobbs, R. (2017). Create to learn: Introduction to digital literacy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.