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Digital literacy initiatives emerge on ACM campuses

Digital literacy initiatives emerge on ACM campuses November 19, 2018
Digital literacy initiatives emerge on ACM campuses

Staff from eight ACM colleges convened at Macalester College in July to explore developing digital literacy frameworks at their institutions, and to form vision statements and plans for the initiatives. The participating colleges—Beloit, Carleton, Grinnell, Knox, Lake Forest, Luther, St. Olaf, and Macalester—also discussed potential collaborations. The idea for the workshop originated last April during the ACM Library, Information Technology, and Chief Information Officers’ meeting. 

The colleges came to the workshop with varying degrees of experience surrounding digital literacy, including some with already existing programs and others considering creating new initiatives. “The workshop promoted the sharing of resources, expertise, and potential collaborations,” said Ed Finn, ACM’s Liaison for Innovation and Collaboration in Teaching and Learning.

“Participants with existing programs shared their experiences, successes, and challenges with those just beginning to frame new initiatives,” he said. “Those new to the conversation provided constructive feedback on current approaches toward digital literacy that their colleagues have implemented.”

Another key component of the workshop was to review frameworks outside the ACM, like the Bryn Mawr framework, that already exists around digital literacy, and explore what that means for ACM campuses. The Bryn Mawr digital competencies framework consists of five overarching themes: digital survival skills; digital communication; data management and preservation; data analysis and presentation; and critical making, design, and development.

The attendees initially worked in mixed institutional groups to brainstorm ideas about digital literacy core issues, the concept’s importance, and how to create opportunities for development. Same-school groups then began creating a draft vision and plan for their specific institutions.

Workshop activities included developing a definition for digital literacy, reviewing opportunities and how to measure success. Additional activities included exploring the “why” behind developing a digital literacy plan for each campus, identifying stakeholders, and viewing the plan from different institutional perspectives.

According to Brad Schaffner, College Librarian and Senior Lecturer at Carleton College, who participated in the workshop, “The Macalester workshop provided an excellent opportunity to explore the growing importance of digital literacy programs on our campuses. The discussions and brainstorming sessions were enlightening and helped to focus my understanding of digital literacy. The workshop provided an excellent venue to interact with, and learn from, ACM library and IT colleagues.”

The group agreed to hold a virtual follow-up meeting within six months, and a second in-person workshop within a year, with Grinnell serving as host. An email list is available for anyone wishing to participate. To subscribe, contact acm-digital-literacy-group@macalester.edu.

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