Multi-Literacies in the Digital Age

Catalog Description:
This course will explore the many literacies under the umbrella of digital literacy. Specifically, the course will explore media and news literacy, visual literacy, and social literacies. Participants will also learn how these literacies intersect with crucial 21st Century learning skills of creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. 

Allow 5 - 7 hours per session for completion of all requirements.

Participants are expected to have regular access to computers. In addition, participants should be proficient with using email, browsing the Internet, and navigating to computer files.

Goals and Objectives:
During this course, participants will learn skills and strategies to:

  • Understand about the complex and multi-faceted nature of digital literacy and explore examples to help understand how these skills can be integrated into the classroom across different levels and disciplines.
  • Reflect on the challenges and climate inherent in today's world and how this relates to students as learners.
  • Learn about the principles and foundations of media literacy and explore resources available for integrating media education into the classroom. 
  • Learn about an emerging and increasingly important type of media literacy (news literacy).
  • Gain an understanding of what Visual Literacy is, and why it is important in K-12 education. 
  • Learn about social literacy and the role it plays in a participatory culture. 
  • Explore ideas for creating meaningful opportunities for students to take part in a participatory culture in an educational setting. 
  • Understand how the digital age multi-literacies intersect with critical 21st century learning skills.
  • Use a digital literacy planning tool to develop and identify a digital literacy learning experience that you already implement, or could implement in the future, and utilize a digital literacy planning tool to help you develop a successful plan.

Course Outline:
Orientation: (1-2 hours)
Participants will prepare for the course with an introductory reading and icebreaker activity. Participants will read tip sheets for participating in online discussions, credit information, and complete an orientation survey.

Session One: The Multi-Literacies of the Digital Age (5-7 hours)
Digital literacy is more than technological know-how: it includes a wide variety of ethical, social, and reflective practices that are embedded in work, learning, leisure, and daily life. The term “multi-literacies” is often used to describe the various aptitudes and abilities that are needed for us to use, understand and create digital media. Given this, it’s helpful to think of “digital literacy” not as a concrete set of skills, but as a framework that draws from and expands on numerous literacies and competencies. Under the “digital literacy umbrella” are a wide range of interrelated skills that traditionally fall under media literacy, technology literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, communication literacy and social literacies. This session will focus on the areas of digital literacy that rely heavily on critical thinking skills. These include media literacy, visual literacy, information literacy, and social literacy.

Session Two: Media Literacy (5-7 hours)
According to Media Smarts, "Media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy to include not only reading and writing, but speaking, listening, viewing, creating, and sharing through all of the media in our lives. Media literacy education strengthens our ability to access information, analyze media messages, create thoughtfully, reflect on our experiences with and through media, and using many forms of media to make our voices heard in the world." Digital media is ubiquitous in today's world. It is important that we support students as they learn the critical thinking skills necessary to decode and deconstruct media messages. This week's module will introduce you to media literacy foundations, and strategies for teaching critical evaluation in the classroom.

Session Three: Digging Deeper with Media LIteracy-News Literacy (5-7 hours)
News literacy education has the potential to engage students and ignite their critical thinking. More importantly, it can empower them to make better-informed choices in their lives as they move beyond the classroom and into the world. Not only can these ideas be adapted to explore a range of relevant issues in a variety of academic subjects and grade levels, they also embody the principles of 21st Century Learning and are aligned with Common Core State Standards. Participants will learn about an emerging and increasingly important type of media literacy (news literacy). In addition, learners will learn strategies and explore resources for implementing critical evaluation of news into the classroom. Participants will practice critically evaluating news using media literacy strategies and reflect on their learning.

Session Four: Visual Literacy (5-7 hours)
We are a visually illiterate society. … Three R’s are no longer enough. Our world is changing fast—faster than we can keep up with our historical modes of thinking and communicating. Visual literacy—the ability to both read and write visual information; the ability to learn visually; to think and solve problems in the visual domain—will, as the information revolution evolves, become a requirement for success in business and in life. Participants will learn about various visual literacy strategies by reading and watching video resources. They will share their understanding of a topic by using a visual comprehension strategy of creating an infographic. Participants will critically evaluate a visual photograph by utilizing a visual literacy strategy. They will use ideas and knowledge gained from the module to create a simple visual literacy activity for a colleague to complete.

Session Five: Social Literacy—Engaging Students in a Participatory Culture (5-7 hours)
Change comes to schools from unexpected directions. As a society, we need our schools to help a new generation of learners acquire new sets of knowledge and skill as well as the ability to use what is already known to build a better world. Our schools will need to support learners who are creative and innovative, have the ability to consume and create information in new media environments, and who are flexible enough to develop new life and career skills (Partnership for 21st Century Learning, n.d.). As educators we can address this need by supporting students as they develop social literacy. Students can learn how to engage through social communication and engage in ways that make a positive impact on their world.  Participants will learn about social literacy and the role it plays in a participatory culture by reading various articles and watching video resources. Participants will identify different activities that they can implement to support a participatory culture in the classroom.

Session Six: The Intersection of Multi-Literacies of the Digital Age and 21st Century Learning (5-7 hours)
In the final week, students will look at multi-literacies of the digital age from a different perspective and explore how they intersect with critical 21st century learning skills including creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. You will also identify a digital literacy learning experience that you already implement, or could implement in the future and utilize a digital literacy planning tool to help you develop a successful plan.


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