College Leaders Show Growing Interest In Teaching Information Literacy

College Leaders Show Growing Interest In Teaching Information Literacy

Interest in teaching digital and information literacy at colleges seems to have spiked since the political rise of Donald Trump, according to a new survey.

The survey, of more than 900 college officials, was conducted by the Educause Learning Initiative during the first weeks of November, as Trump won his surprise electoral victory. Respondents were asked to rank sixteen “key issues in teaching and learning” by order of importance, and “digital information literacy” rose to third place, up from the eleventh rank last year. In the survey, the term was defined as: “identifying and developing new student competencies in finding, evaluating, creating, and managing digital information in the 21st century.”

That was the most notable change in the annual survey of key issues, which tends to stay pretty consistent from year to year.

One example of a college-led digital literacy project started since the election is the Digital Polarization Initiative, run by Mike Caulfield, director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University Vancouver, with support from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’s American Democracy Project.

“This is not just about information literacy, by the way. It’s not about digital literacy either. Certainly, those things are involved, but that’s the starting point,” writes Caulfield, in a blog post. “The point is to get students to understand the mechanisms and biases of Facebook and Twitter in ways that most digital literacy programs never touch. The point is not to simply decode what’s out there, but to analyze what is missing from our current online environment, and, if possible supply it.”

The survey was released at the group’s annual conference, which runs through Wednesday in Houston.

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