This commissioned research report is a continuation of the Media Literacy Case for Educators project, which was introduced in April 2023 in the article: Media Literacy Case for Educators: Empowering Educators to Lead Media Literacy Initiatives in Europe and referenced in: An Assessment of the Needs of Educators and Youth in Europe for a Digital and Media Literacy Education Intervention.Two phases of exploration have been conducted, involving two rounds of desk research. The result of the second phase can be seen in the annotated bibliography included at the end of this report. Recommendations which resulted from the research include: combine methods and make learning fun; use evaluation and other key elements in the curriculum. Additional observations and considerations which require further exploration include: give attention to teachers’ and educators’ skills; and develop “patchwork blankets” and alliances.
In the dynamic landscape of the digital era, mastering digital and media literacies (DML) has emerged as an indispensable skill; one that needs to combine knowledge coming from different areas and amalgamate the old and the new. The definition of DML itself and many other surrounding concepts continue to evolve and be debated, but what is certain is that it involves the ability to comprehend, evaluate, and create content through digital tools and platforms, including mobile devices and social media.
DML expands on the skills that form the foundation of traditional literacy, while also sharing many defining principles with other fields. Part of what makes it an exciting field is that it is wide enough to include other topics, while also being a subject in and of itself. In other words, many of the learning subjects and spaces of today are called upon to find and connect to DML elements, both as a means to an end, and as an end as well.
This report is based on an exploration of resources and experiences aimed at supporting the Media Literacy Case for Educators (MLCE) project. The goal of the MLCE is to develop a set of learning materials for adolescents (13 to 19 year-olds) with additional supporting resources for both formal and informal educators with varying degrees of confidence in implementing the materials in their classrooms, community centers, institutes, and libraries.
In addition to this report, an annotated bibliography was produced. The bibliography collects and analyzes tools coming from academic research, institutional publications, community projects, and other sources facilitated by researchers and practitioners, all surrounding experiences in DML. Although most of the reviewed research centers on this population, research work taking other ages into account as studies tackling DML in schools—even if they were not specific to the ages that are at the center of the project in process—were included.
Given the nature of the field and how dynamic and diverse DML experiences tend to be, brief sections explore ideas around learning, both formal and informal. These conceptual explorations go beyond the age limits of the project, but we thought it important to include them, given their important connection to learning phenomena and the ways they tend to occur regardless of age. Relevant observations coming from conversations with researchers and practitioners via email, as well as discussions that took place during online international convenings, have also been incorporated.
Assessing DML can be challenging due to the lack of consensus on measurable dimensions and the continually evolving nature of technology. That is why part of the discussion proposed here tackles the research questions with which we started this exploration and how they have evolved to become more refined and useful.
Two phases of exploration have been conducted, involving two rounds of desk research. The result of the second phase can be seen in the annotated bibliography included in this report. The collection process paid special attention to experiences that put learners at the center of the experience, rather than a piece of equipment or software. Attention was also given to case studies and research articles that tackled problems related to lack of resources and access, and that also took into consideration a variety of environments (beyond schools) to help young people learn independently.
Notes on learning: conversations with researchers and practitioners
In the world of DML, there are many avenues for learning. It is fair to say that, just as DML itself, learning is also complex and difficult to assess. However, a brief exploration of the ideas shared to date by researchers and practitioners can be a great deal of help in designing resources and learning experiences. In particular, these ideas can help educators look beyond technology and steer clear of outdated or less effective teaching and learning models. Keeping students at the center while designing learning interventions and programs, rather than tools or teachers, is an effective methodology that is likely to result in personalized experiences for the learners.
Observations around formal and informal learning can be helpful in order to understand young students’ independence when using digital technologies (2). Marcia Conner’s models (3) can help explain the difference between formal and informal learning, as well as the various learning opportunities that could arise in different groups and spaces. In the first diagram, Conner illustrates how learning can be formal or informal, intentional or unexpected, and how these types of learning can interact with one another.
Diagram from “Introduction to Informal Learning” by Marcia L. Conner (3).
Formal learning mainly refers to institutional structures, facilitated by experts or educators, following a curriculum or a plan (like schools and universities). Informal learninghappens beyond those structures, and often has the learner as the main vehicle of the experience (at home, surfing the web, reading, watching online videos, visiting museums, etc.). In both spaces, learning can happen intentionally or in unexpected ways. Some experts talk about ‘invisible curricula’ and how students can experience learning that is not part of the main educational plan(4) or even about ‘serendipity learning’(5) in which certain learning experiences come as a ‘happy accident’ of sorts.
Another of Conner’s models points to non-formal spaces, which could be seen as halfway between the formal and the informal experience. Non-formal experiences can be structured and have a clear objective but they don’t tend to belong to institutional curricula. Oftentimes, these experiences take place within different kinds of communities and in collaboration with various groups. Digital security trainings, which tend to be fairly common within the digital rights community, could be an illustrative example of this kind of learning environment.
Diagram from “Introduction to Informal Learning” by Marcia L. Conner (3).
Non-intentional learning happens without the learner setting out to acquire knowledge. It is not easily measurable and it tends to happen while another experience is taking place. Some authors call it "unintentional" and others link it to "invisible learning" or even "incidental learning", because it happens in conjunction with the circumstances surrounding the experience. It is not in the program, or the title, but people still 'leave with it'. For example, at school, students learn how to socialize, how to read hidden tones, and how to treat their peers. Another nice example comes when watching series and movies, language and cultural learning can happen there, even though the person watching is not actually setting out to learn any of those things. Non-intentional learning happens when the individual is not coming with the intention of acquiring any new skill or with a conscious intention to learn.
Many researchers in education sciences agree that both informal and non-intentional experiences are key, with many of them arguing that most of the knowledge we actually acquire comes from experiences in informal atmospheres(6).
We can take these ideas into account and cross them with observations from DML experiences and assessments made by institutions like Nominet and their 2022 Digital Youth Index(7), which highlights how young people have strong self study skills—that is, the capacity to teach oneself—and a tendency to learn through a combination of formal experiences (in school, with their teachers) with informal ones (at home, with peers).
Other studies and experiences shared and commented on by researchers and practitioners José Luis Mendoza(8) and Adrián Carrera Ahumada(9) revealed the importance of considering the non-formal and the informal, highlighting that the most successful learning experiences in their work happened when “[learners] didn’t notice”(10)—that is, in an informal, non-intentional, or unexpected way.
Some of these practitioners made learning spaces out of their social media pages and started sharing key tools and insights about DML with their followers. After a while, according to the practitioners, followers started creating and sharing useful and interesting content themselves, suggesting that the passage from information consumers to creators could be a way to assess learning(11). At the same time, researchers like Linn Friedrichs, for example, stress the importance of observing how young people can use social media to engage with and promote causes that are important to them, as well as build meaningful connections online with communities that share their values(12).
In parallel, it would be useful to analyze these experiences and ideas in combination with approaches coming from critical literacy while taking into account the ways some learners around the world are bound to develop some of these skills in tense digital environments marked by censorship or authoritarianism, where actors need to constantly respond to various limitations(13).
Crossing these ideas together points at the importance of taking into account informal and non-intentional learning experiences. This could help in the design of programs and spaces that can work as “patchworks” of experiences that can be combined in different ways. For example, a program could combine lessons in the classroom with individual study time at the library, as well as diverse assignments students can do in groups or alone. Another example could be a collaboration between a school and an organization that integrates non-formal programs (a data privacy or digital security training) into a wider DML program taking place as part of the formal school curriculum. The idea is to combine and integrate activities inside and outside the school, online and off, as a way to ‘capitalize’ on students’ learning capacity in autonomy while being guided by educators.
Notes on the research question: from “what works?” to “what did they learn?”
As highlighted before, evaluating results and identifying effective methods in the realm of digital literacy, as with many other educational experiences, can be quite challenging. A multitude of variables, such as access to technology, social and economic contexts, resources adapted to the age group, attitudes to technology and information, and the digital literacy level of teachers themselves, all play a crucial role in the success of any given program. It is important to keep in mind that there is no single formula for success, and that any learning program should be adaptable to its specific context.
These ideas helped us move our quest from trying to find “what is working” to a more focused observation around researchers’ ideas and recommendations after a given experience. Instead of looking for a single formula for success, the research question was fine-tuned in order to explore the elements that contribute to a certain amount of success in each experience.
Assessing digital literacy can also be challenging due to the lack of consensus on what constitutes measurable dimensions of digital literacies. Various concepts are used to describe what is understood as information technology literacy, which encompasses skills with tools, computing concepts and abilities, and cognitive capabilities toward solving real-world problems using technology. At the same time, constructing assessment and measurement instruments that consider the ever-changing nature of computers and the internet can be a daunting task. Emerging digital literacy analysis models are constantly developing and strive to reflect a specific range of competencies likely to be developed in children living in low and middle-income families.
With these observations, the complexity and variability of digital literacy experiences, which depend on multiple factors including the social, economic, and educational contexts, are underscored. It is important to highlight the need for adaptable and flexible learning materials and the challenge of measuring success.
For these reasons, the annotated bibliography collects descriptive works around experiences in different environments, programs with the learner—and not the tools—at the center of their strategies. Both institutional and independent publications that compile thoughtful analysis on the question as well as resources that can be further used and adapted by other practitioners have been included.
Recommendations from the selected resources
Resources combining academic research, presentations, reports of projects and experiences as well as institutional publications containing practical material and conceptual discussions have been included. The list also includes a brief text aimed at introducing each of the resources, with longer notes for those in Spanish. In general, case studies and experience reports are descriptive and avoid arguing in favor of one method or another. At the same time, many researchers and practitioners encourage collaboration among teachers whose subjects can overlap(14) (for example, having a digital literacy program that can combine history and communication classes).
Recommendation 1: Combine methods and make it fun
Most authors encourage the integration of multiple methods, learning strategies, and environments, instead of concentrating only on one space, software, or device. At the same time, in some of the resources the authors highlight the interest of working on more “classic” literacies (reading, writing, text comprehension) with digital tools as a way to connect both literacies. In Lenguajes y literacidades en contextos digitales: Prácticas para lenguaje y comunicación, for example, the authors propose creating a space of intersection between formal literacy practices, mostly anchored in printed textual supports, and vernacular practices, those that occur outside the institutional context of the school.
Nohemí Lugo’s Story and Play: Designing Alternate Reality Games to Promote Reading and Cross-curriculum Competencies also promotes this collaborative approach (with language study, for example) and proposes the use of games, stories, and narratives to create resources that make sense for students while being attractive and fun. Lugo presents Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as interactive fictions that unfold in the realm of reality. Based on a detective plot, a script is generated with clues and riddles found in different media formats, both digital and analog, which require an aligned effort to be solved. The idea is to create a digital ecosystem of applications, tutorials, and articles that facilitate the creation and circulation of this type of game within a collaborative logic(16). The author also recommends working with narratives that students are already familiar with (in ages 13 to 19), instead of creating one from scratch (as an example, she mentions the use of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games).
For Lugo, transmedia literacy can only work (and we could think of DML in this same argument) if students are given room for co-creation in their own learning journey. She highlights that it is also imperative that students' experiences, motivations, and interests are taken into account in the conception of programs, which is why it is fundamental to think about them with flexibility. It is necessary to empower learners as creators and designers of their own pedagogical content.
These strategies and experiences can be read in combination with Tim Schoot Uiterkamp’s exploratory study on how 13-to-14 year-olds critically engage with online content. The study proposes different learner profiles (“safety seeker”, “awareness raiser”, “entertainment junkie”, “dedicated fan”, “socializer”, and “scroller”) . The study also shares important insights on the development of critical attitudes for students to ask their own questions, instead of having teachers and parents closely monitoring their behavior online.
At the same time, Reijo Kupiainen’s Young People’s Media Production can serve as a useful exploration of the realities in the implementation of digital and media literacy in formal education environments. The article shares important ideas about the overlaps between formal and informal learning, the use of school spaces, and the challenges that come from young students’ attitudes towards educational programs based on media production. This is also an interesting experience of action-based learning that invites several subjects within the curricula and places students at the center of the strategies.
Recommendation 2: Use evaluation and other key elements in a DML curriculum
Part of the material also tackles the question of assessment and offers certain models of evaluation. They also offer a certain structure highlighting the most important elements in a DML learning curriculum. At this point it is important to remember the difficulty of evaluating learning experiences linked to DML; especially as they seem to depend on a wide variety of elements and also be the result of a combination of experiences, strategies, and resources that tend to be visible in the mid-to long-term.
The resources in the bibliography tackle these questions, while also proposing key elements that should not be left behind in the elaboration of a DML curriculum. UNESCO’s Global Standards for Media and Information Literacy Curricula Development Guidelines shares links to other resources that can be used for teachers, and also highlights the importance of designing resources for students' autonomous experiences(18).
On this same line,The youth Digital Skills Indicator: Report on the conceptualisation and development of the ySKILLS digital skills measure shares a tool for measuring digital skills and knowledge that can be used for large student populations(19). The report also highlights four areas that are crucial in building digital literacy programs: technical and operational skills, navigation and information processing skills, communication and interaction skills, as well as content creation and production skills. The report stresses that these four dimensions require a distinction between functional aspects (like being able to use the devices' functionalities) and critical aspects (like understanding why these tools are designed or why content is produced in a certain way).
The report shares relevant resources and pinpoints the most important elements of any kind of DML program (including privacy and cultural literacy). It links to other resources that can be used for teachers, and also highlights the importance of designing resources for students' autonomous experiences.
Finally, our list concentrates on recommendations for the creation of programs aimed at young people and their experiences, with one article focusing on teachers’ DML skills, given their importance in the implementation of a program. As will be exposed in our recommendations, the experiences and learning processes of teachers deserves an exploration on its own. The choice of this resource serves as a first step in that direction, and as a useful reminder of one of the most important elements in the constellation of educational strategies devoted to DML.
The list of resources has sub-categories to highlight their most important ideas and potential use. However, many of these materials also overlap with other categories. The main categories are: guidelines and resources, reports on experiences, academic research, and teachers as learners.
Other important observations and recommendations on the practice of digital literacy
As expected, most studies and resources related to DML need constant revision and updating. It should be stressed that the ideas and resources that nourish this report focus on the experiences and learning potential of young people ages 13 to 19, and also keep in mind the constant evolution in studies aimed at understanding how this population behaves in digital environments, especially if we take into account how digital environments and young people’s attitudes towards them influence each other. This said, centering learning strategies around learners’ experiences seems to be the most appropriate way to produce resources that make sense to their users as well as expanding their adaptability and sustainability.
As this report is developed, new tools powered by artifical intelligence (AI) and new complexities pushed by global political landscapes, access, and misinformation are demanding DML to include more ‘critical skills’. It is important that the development of such skills takes place thanks to learning resources that don’t remain idle and continue to grow and complexify for users to become better readers, editors, and even fact-checkers.
Amidst the debates surrounding DML, it is important to note that there are more perspectives rather than strong disagreements. The elements that constitute DML are incredibly broad and continually expanding. Many times, the discussions revolve around the focus of the learning experiences (which tools to include, find solutions to access problems) and their environments (at school, with teachers, in autonomy). In parallel, some experts view DML as a fundamental aspect of exercising citizenship, while others see it as a resource that equips students with valuable skills for their future employment, aligning with the demands of the job market.
Taking this into account, as well as the many references and ideas explored and presented thus far, the following lines aim to serve as recommendations for Tactical Tech and their collaborators as they embark on a co-created project aimed at young students in formal learning environments (that could combine experiences in non formal and informal spaces).
Teachers and educators’ DML skills are key in the development of the process
At the beginning of this exploration, intergenerational learning was an area of interest. Despite its important role in formal education experiences, references that could be considered relevant at this stage of the study were not found and it is concluded that the question itself should be the center of a whole exploration.
A critical aspect to consider, however, is the notion of "digital natives" and "digital non-natives" that continues to be present in the discourse around DML. These labels do not seem to be helpful in understanding how young people and adults learn, nor how they can learn from each other(20). Teachers and students both bring unique experiences to the table, and it is essential to recognize the value of each perspective. While young people tend to be more comfortable with digital environments and devices, they may lack critical thinking skills when it comes to the content they encounter online. In contrast, some teachers may struggle with digital tools but have a mature and critical perspective on the information they find online. At the same time, with the passing of time, there will be fewer people in the workplace that have known a time before heavily digitalized environments and the main intergenerational difference may arise in terms of the kind of digital tools they’re familiar with, not with whether or not they are digitally literate.
It is, however, of crucial importance to take teachers’ and practitioners’ experiences in DML to be able to work on robust learning programs for younger participants that can be well adapted and sustainable in time. Such an exploration needs to also take into account learning resources for teachers and educators, as well as training spaces and strategies for these groups. It is not about having teachers that “know it all” in terms of technology, but rather it is key that they are open to learn and evolve in a universe of change. Teachers’ and practitioners’ own DMLskills need constant developing and updating, and it is they who will ensure that whatever program is developed could be adapted and updated as new tools arise and new students join the group.
There is a need to expand DML training programs for teachers and explore ways for teachers to learn continuously and informally, both among themselves and with their students. Some of the most important challenges are related not to technology itself, but to the recognition of students’ and teachers’ learning abilities, lack of access, and the need to surpass certain misconceptions about learning and evaluation (like the fact that the only valuable learning experiences happen inside of the school or that learning can only be measured through quantitative methods). Most of the skills educators are aiming for—reading media critically, being able to write and read comprehensively, and develop a certain independence when interacting with different digital environments—remain similar to those of the past and continue to be necessary to be able to take advantage of the new powerful tools we see rising today.
DML benefits from “patchwork blankets” and alliances
When developing DML programs, it is important to remember that digital literacy is not a singular concept but instead encompasses various other important literacies and skills. These skills also call for the inclusion of areas of critical knowledge such as gender and intercultural communication. Gender, in particular, plays a significant role in digital literacy (and digital safety) conversations, as an important number of online violence cases are linked to online harassment and hostile environments against girls, women, and people who are LGBTQIA+.
At the same time, digital rights organizations globally can provide updated and important information for educational purposes. As a certain gap seems to exist between the world of digital rights and the world of formal education, DML projects can help build a necessary bridge between these two worlds.
Furthermore, cultural elements and power imbalances in online representations must be considered when building resources. Using and adapting community-produced(21) media from other parts of the world can help promote cultural exchange and avoid bias. To this end, curricula should be accompanied by the use of resources developed by different organizations aiming to encourage better internet policies based on a combination of values(22).
With this multiplicity of issues and elements, working on a DML program that is coherent with the people that use it could translate into a tool that can be structured and restructured by its users. For example, a program might be designed to focus on certain areas (like comprehensive reading, media production) and include information on other DML areas (like online safety and misinformation, for example). That way, the focus of the program can be more adaptable to current contexts. We could think of a model that works as a “patchwork blanket” combining autonomous strategies (like work at the library, research on a particular subject, or content creation) with activities in class, as well as various school subjects, allowing it to become a collaboration with different teachers.
These initiatives can also be supported by the creation of spaces online and offline with a focus on certain areas (as tends to be the case with digital security communities); or even the reconditioning of libraries or community centers that can enhance independent learning while still counting on support and guidance from educators.
Guidelines and resources
A robust compilation of theoretical approaches that includes curriculum samples as resources to be used by educators and practitioners. It covers many elements inherent to DML, discusses definitions, and presents case studies. Some of the focus is put on the need to develop critical skills to interact with content coming from various media sources through different devices. The authors also point to other kinds of literacies that tend to intersect with DML, such as news, film, games, AI, data, and network literacies (among many others).
- UNESCO. “Global Standards for Media and Information Literacy Curricula Development Guidelines.”United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2022.
This publication draws from robust discussions and efforts of experts, researchers, and practitioners from many countries. It covers important elements behind DML while underlining the complex character of this type of learning (which does not take place in the short term, nor with only one resource).
The report shares resources and elements of any kind of DML program (including privacy and cultural literacy). It links to other resources that can be used for teachers, and also highlights the importance of designing resources for students' autonomous experiences. Section 5 addresses media and information literacy curriculum elaboration, and it focuses on evaluation and assessment.
The appendix on the last page shares a list of recommendations related to media and information literacy by UNESCO and partners globally over the past four decades.
- Hobbs, Renee.Media Literacy in Action Questioning the Media. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2021.
A robust conceptual exploration of DML as well as the skills and the subjects that intersect with it. The book notes the opportunities brought by DML programs for interactive and intercultural learning experiences. The book aims to provide a solid base to understand DML, connecting with experiences and discussions that have been taking place for decades, and it provides a website (https://www.mlaction.com/) with additional resources for educators.
- Tools and Resources. National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
This webpage of NAMLE has a list with an important variety of resources to build curricula, explore reports on experiences, and observe results. Some of the resources focus on digital resilience, misinformation, and guidelines to be used by parents. The association also publishes a journal and welcomes members to join their activities.
- Kimera.El planeta es la comunidad: Aprendiendo con el celular y la Red Local. Fundación Karisma. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
Translation of the title: “The planet is our community: learning with the mobile phone and through local networks”. This program was designed for young people living in remote and rural areas in Colombia who lack access to computers and fast internet. The website shares basic information for students and it is designed in a way that can be accessed by people with low internet access or having a phone as the only resource to access the internet. The program was designed in collaboration with Colombia's Fundación Karisma, a regionally recognized digital rights organization.
- “Alfabetización en datos. Habilidades para una ciudadanía digital ampliada”. Centro de Estudios en Tecnología y Sociedad (CETyS), de la Universidad de San Andrés (UdeSA). Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
Translation: “Data literacy. Skills for an expanded digital citizenship.” The website aims to document the work experience and provide resources to teachers and students to integrate the work with data in their teaching and learning. The resources are classified in databases related to health, human rights, environment, economy, and culture (with data coming from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay). These resources are provided for educators and practitioners to organize workshops about how data behaves and how it can be used.
Not all of the categories have the resources they offer, but the project offers guidelines and references to integrate data literacy into learning programs. Other resources can be accessed by emailing the team behind the project.
- Helsper, E.J., Scheider, L.S., van Deursen, A.J.A.M., van Laar, E. The youth Digital Skills Indicator: Report on the conceptualisation and development of the ySKILLS digital skills measure. KU Leuven, Leuven: ySKILLS, 2020.
A tool for measuring digital skills and knowledge that can be used for large student populations. The report claims that it is a much more precise measurement tool than existing ones and suggests that it could be useful in diagnosing and identifying areas that need to be strengthened in the digital literacy process.
The report also highlights four areas that are crucial in building digital literacy programs: technical and operational skills, navigation and information processing skills, communication and interaction skills, and content creation and production skills. The report stresses that these four dimensions require a distinction between functional aspects (like being able to use the devices' functionalities) and critical aspects (like understanding why these tools are designed or why content is produced in a certain way). The yDSI instrument is available in multiple languages.
- Project Censored, Media Revolution Collective et al.The Media and Me: A Guide to Critical Media Literacy for Young People, Seven Stories Press, 2022.
Targeted at young adult readers, this book expands on the necessary elements to ask questions to the media and the content that can be found online. Some of the chapters (2 and 3) focus on the development of critical thinking and expand on 'critical media literacy' through questions young people can ask of the media they interact with. Chapter 5 explains how literacies intersect and complement each other in digital and media environments. Chapter 4 deals with representation, how stereotypes tend to be used and reproduced online. The chapter "Deeper reading" shares a well nurtured list of references that go from analysis on news and media production in general, to the use of data and its lack of representation.
- Nohemí, L. “Story and Play: Designing Alternate Reality Games to Promote Reading and Cross-curriculum Competencies.” Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
Based on a detective plot, a script is generated with clues and riddles found in different media formats, both digital and real, which require collective intelligence to be solved. In educational and social participation contexts, ARGs have served as an effective tool for conveying pedagogical content and conducting civic education campaigns on various topics such as disability or sustainability.
This website proposes a project that seeks to encourage the creation of ARGs for educational purposes and provide the methodological and technological resources to do so. The idea is to create a digital ecosystem of applications, tutorials, and articles that facilitate the creation and circulation of this type of game within a collaborative logic. A detailed technological proposal is included, which is currently in beta version. Three previous experiences involving both students and game development associations are also shared on the website.
The project authors report that they yielded excellent results and addressed topics as diverse as promoting reading or exercises in transversal citizenship.
These types of initiatives work because participants have an active role in the creation and dynamics of the game, and the plot derives from topics and/or narratives that are important to the players themselves. In this way, motivation and creativity form a duo that explains the success of these ludic forms. The website also provides other resources such as an explanatory video about these types of games and links to websites where further information can be found. It also provides a link to an academic text by the authors on the use of ARGs in civic education.
- Friedrichs, Linn. “What is the digital literacy curriculum we need?”, YouTube, uploaded by re:publica, 7 June 2023.
A summary of general strategies and ideas around digital literacy for young students (13 to 19 years old) together with recommendations from the European Council. Minute 28 onwards concentrate on Artificial Intelligence.
- Meneses, A., Báez, G., Canales, P., Catipillán, P., Maturana C.L., Molina, P., Ow, M., Peralta, G., Claro, M. “Lenguajes y literacidades en contextos digitales: Prácticas para lenguaje y comunicación entre 4 y 6 básico”, 2022.
A detailed guide to integrating digital literacy into primary school teaching in the language and literature area. The authors propose creating a space of intersection between formal literacy practices, mostly anchored in printed textual supports, and vernacular practices, those that occur outside the institutional context of the school. They also propose seven practices designed to be integrated into language teaching.
Reports on experiences
- Mursidi, A., Buyung, B., Murdani, E., “Student Digital Literacy in Singkawang School Through 5M Activities for Independent Learning.” Journal of Educational Science and Technology, vol. 8, no.3, 2022, pp. 165-171. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
A study observing the experiences of different schools using strategies based on digital literacy skills described as the “5M”: M1: searching and selecting information; M2: processing information; M3: analyzing information; M4: using information; M5: sharing information. The authors highlight positive results, regarding in particular the strengthening of independent learning in students (although results varied from school to school).
- Uiterkamp, T.S., “Keeping it Real An exploratory study of how 13-14-year-olds critically engage with online content.” Free Press Unlimited, 2020.
This multi-country study with students aged 13 and 14 offers important insights into young people’s critical engagement and key findings in experiences with co-creation of resources. There are also interesting learner profiles and ideas around lack of access. The material concentrates on the development of critical attitudes for students to ask their own questions (instead of having teachers and parents closely monitoring their behavior online).
- Kerkhof, S.N., Makubuya, T., “Professional Development on Digital Literacy and Transformative Teaching in a Low-Income Country.” Reading Research Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 2, 2021. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
Important lessons with experiences coming from device-centered programs in low income contexts. The researchers call for more creative solutions for groups with lack of access (beyond stressing the need for more devices). The study also tackles teacher’s attitudes toward technology. In particular, the challenges teachers face when confronted to the need to share control in the classroom, an essential element for collective, peer supported, and learner-centered strategies.
Some of the solutions presented in these experiences were based on the use of smartphones. They also highlighted overloaded curricula and lack of tech (with no help when devices stop working) and cultural support (most resources are only available in English) as important challenges. The article also offers very interesting insights in the decolonization of curricula in non-European education.
- Kupiainen, R., “Dissolving the School Space: Young People’s Media Production in and outside of School”. Sage Journals, vol. 11, issue 1, 2013. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
An observation of the realities of implementation of DML in formal education environments. The article shares important ideas about the overlaps between formal and informal learning, the use of formal education spaces, and the challenges and realities of young students attitudes towards educational programs based on media production. This is also an interesting experience of action-based learning that invites several subjects within the curricula and places students at the center of the strategies.
- Lugo, N., “¿Qué es el aprendizaje transmedia y cómo promoverlo?” Alfabetización Mediática e Informacional y el Diálogo Intercultural (Amidi). Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
The report uses transmedia learning as a methodology to contribute to digital literacy in the context of educational and cultural projects. It also offers examples of successful applications based on the design of learner-centered models, incorporating their cultural references (narrative or otherwise), and collaboration to create educational itineraries.
From this perspective, existing narratives serve as a seedbed and guiding thread for learning in a creative and dialogic dynamic that emphasizes participation and the relevance of cultural content as non-institutional vectors of knowledge. Another mentioned strategy is the use of transmedia documentary narratives of an autobiographical nature with high school students.
The author also identifies in this approach a helpful tool in informal learning contexts, such as the testimonies shared by mothers and families of neurodiverse children. The text also recounts the author's experience using games in the classroom based on the notion of ARG.
For transmedia literacy to work, it is essential to give students room for co-creation in their own learning journey. It is also imperative that students' experiences, motivations, and interests are taken into account in the conception of programs, hence the importance of thinking about them with flexibility. Naturally, the plurality of channels, media formats, content, and platforms is integral to the construction of a complex and transmedia paradigm of learning. In the same vein, it is necessary to empower learners as creators and designers of pedagogical content.
This allows for a deeper understanding of the learning process since "Design always involves understanding and then analyzing." Finally, this material refers to other resources (texts, scientific articles, reports, and videos) on transmedia literacy, media education, transmedia documentaries, and transmedia narratives applied to the teaching of foreign languages.
- Aguerre, C., Gruffat, C., Martínez, M.F.,“Alfabetización en datos. Habilidades para una ciudadanía digital ampliada.” 2022.
This project studies the development of abilities related to data literacy. The researchers expand on strategies taking place in multiple environments and taking into account technical, cognitive, and socio-emotional skills.
Academic research (conceptual notes)
- Garrels, V., Zemliansky, P., “Improving Student Engagement in Online Courses through Interactive and User-Centered Course Design: Practical Strategies.” Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, vol. 17, no. 2, 2022, pp. 112-122. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
Strategies to increase student motivation and engagement in the context of online classes. The authors offer practical examples tested in Norwegian schools and emphasize the need to consider the specificity of digital teaching spaces and their differences from face-to-face teaching. The research highlights three pillars to build online classes that keep students feeling motivated and playing an active role in their own learning processes. These pillars are: 1) the importance of student participation, 2) the need to design for social interactivity, and 3) apply a user-centered approach (which involves personalizing materials and content).
- Moravec, J., Cobo, C., Invisible learning: toward a new ecology of education. Col·lecció Transmedia XXI, Laboratori de Mitjans Interactius / Publicacions i Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, 2011.
A compilation of experiences in formal and informal education aimed to explore non-intentional learning in digital environments.
- Van Noy, M., James, H., Bedley, C., “Reconceptualizing Learning: A review on the literature on Informal Learning.” Rutgers, 2016.
An important list of academic references that study and explore how learning works outside of formal education structures. An useful resource to build experiences that make sense in many kinds of environments.
- Lugo, N.,De las narrativas transmedia al diseño de aprendizaje transmedia, Universidad Iberoamericana León, 2022.
This material presents a rich theoretical framework and several fieldwork studies related to transmedia narratives in the educational context. It is an expansion of their text "What is transmedia learning and how to promote it?". One of the main premises of the book is the construction of a polyphonic dialogue between entertainment narratives and formal education content to promote learning. In this way, students' cultural interests can be integrated into didactic sequences of different subjects or even in civic education actions. The work includes a first part dedicated to the design and production of transmedia narratives.
Here, it reflects on contemporary literacy and proposes a new definition of "transliteracy" and a model of competencies required in these learning and teaching scenarios. In its definition, it is essential to consider the diversity of contexts, practices, and resources involved in the process of transliteracy, considering the multimodal and hybrid nature of students' own life experiences. In the second part, the author focuses on transmedia logics, emphasizing the importance of the student and their motivations, creative capacity, and collaborative forms of knowledge creation and learning.
The case studies, described ethnographically, are detailed in chapter 3. Throughout the work, literacy recommendations are given, including the training of school staff so that they can produce and create transmedia pedagogical approaches themselves.
Another key piece of the puzzle is alternate reality games that involve collaborative work, the use of multiple media and platforms, and the resemantization of public spaces transformed into narrative spaces. The work also includes an extensive bibliography on digital literacy.
- Glotov, S., Film Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue: Focus on Cultural Representation. 2023. Tampere University, PhD dissertation.
This dissertation addresses cultural misrepresentation within audio-visual media and works with the concept of 'film literacy'. At the same time, it focuses on intercultural education and the ways it can support open and respectful intercultural dialogues. The dissertation also discusses the different dimensions that also make up intercultural dialogues, such as gender and intergenerational exchange.
The first chapters, devoted to conceptualization; and the last one, devoted to the discussion of conclusions can support the creation of resources aimed at the analysis of representations in the media or critical use of online media in digital and media literacy programs.
Teachers as learners
- Hankins, K., Nicholas, M., “Digital Literacies in Middle Years Classrooms: Teachers’ Perspectives and Self-reported Practices.”The International Journal of Learning Annual Review. Vol. 24, No. 1, 2018, pp.13-33. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
This study is small and calls for further, larger-scale research. However, it presents useful ideas related to teachers' attitudes in the integration of digital technologies and new literacies. Findings from this study suggest that teacher perspectives, attitudes, and personal teaching practices had a significant influence on the way that teacher participants interpreted and used new curriculum documents. This article can help articulate further research aiming to observe educators' digital literacy attitudes and skills.
Researched and written by Laura Vidal in spring 2023. Thanks to Safa Ghnaim, Louise Hisayasu, and Christy Lange for their edits, comments, and reviews. This report was commissioned by Tactical Tech with co-funding from the European Union.
Thanks to Aysel A. for publishing the piece online and Ana Maria Salinas and Chiara Di Maio for their work to outreach this piece. Thanks to Yiorgos Bagakis for the designs.
The research here was focused on the sources listed in the annotated bibliography. If you’d like to bring further research and findings to our attention, we welcome you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
1.See Cobo and collaborators’ “Empowering educators and learners: Insights and strategies from the EdTech Readiness Index”, World Bank (2023).
2.See Van Noy and collaborator’s “Reconceptualizing Learning: A Review of the Literature on Informal Learning”, Rutgers (2016).
3.See Conner’s “Informal Learning” (1997-2013).
4.Invisible or hidden curricula has also been explored as part of the educational experience, with studies on what schools mean to teach, but not openly; and also what is taught without educator’s intentions. Some of these works aim to highlight some of the values that come ‘hidden’ in different curricula. See Perera’s “Hidden Curriculum in Education: Definition & Examples” (2023).
5.See Anna Dabrowska’s “Serendipity In Learning: Is Planning For Everything Ideal For Learners?” (2015).
6.These ideas have been spread in the corporate world as the as the 70:20:10 model, in which only 10% accounts for what happens in formal trainings.
7.See Nominet’s “Digital Youth Index”, pp. 47-50 (2022).
8.José Luis Mendoza is an academic and a consultant in digital environments and works at the “Centro Latinoamericano de Investigaciones Sobre Internet”.
9.Adrián Carrera-Ahumada is a graduate student in Communication Studies at the University of Guadalajara and is part of the team behind AMIDI, a group devoted to the study and promotion if digital and intercultural literacy.
10.These discussions took place at the 2023 Mozilla Festival and over email exchanges before and after the festival. See the details of the session devoted to the subject (in Spanish): https://es.slideshare.net/JoseLuisMendozaMarqu/alfabetizacion-digital-mozilla-festival-2023pdf.
11.The experience of these practitioners was particularly interesting as they worked in collaboration with NGOs that facilitated knowledge and resources to learn more about digital rights, data privacy, and online violence. They provided opportunities for individuals to create content using digital media with resources that had been shared before. Their regional context is also important: the experience took place in Venezuela, where access to the internet and government surveillance and information censorship are significant challenges. Visit Centro Latinoamericano de Investigaciones Sobre Internet’s Twitter page.
12.These and other ideas and recommendations are present in Friedrichs’ talk at re:publica 2023. Watch the talk on YouTube.
13.These ideas are part of a presentation I delivered at re:publica 2023. Watch the talk on YouTube.
14.See Lugo’s De las narrativas transmedia al diseño de aprendizaje transmedia(2022); Reijo Kupiainen’s Young People’s Media Production(2022).
15.See Meneses and collaborators’ Lenguajes y literacidades en contextos digitales: Prácticas para lenguaje y comunicación (2022).
16.A detailed technological proposal is included, which is currently in beta version. Three previous experiences involving both students and game development associations are also shared on the website.
17.The study shares ideas around lack of access, although the solutions proposed don't seem to go beyond asking funders and governments to provide with material resources to students who lack them. See Uiterkamp and collaborators’ “Keeping it Real An exploratory study of how 13-14-year-olds critically engage with online content”(2020).
18.Section 5 addresses media and information literacy curriculum elaboration, and it focuses on evaluation and assessment. See UNESCO’s “Global Standards for Media and Information Literacy Curricula Development Guidelines” (2022)
19.The report claims that it is a much more precise measurement tool than existing ones and suggests that it could be useful in diagnosing and identifying areas that need to be strengthened in the digital literacy process. The yDSI instrument is available in Estonian, Finnish, German, Italian, Polish and Portuguese, Dutch and English. See Helsper and collaborators’ “The youth Digital Skills Indicator: Report on the conceptualisation and development of the ySKILLS digital skills measure” (2020).
20.See USC Rossier’s blog: “11 Digital Literacy Myths, Debunked.”
21.An example could be guidelines, good practices or even events designed by grassroots organizations devoted to privacy rights, gender, internet freedom or human rights online in general. Some teachers and university professors, for example, bring their classes to events like the Mozilla Festival or use their material (like the Internet Health Report) to be used in class.