NMC Releases Horizon Project Strategic Brief on Digital Literacy

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A new report, supported by Adobe, aims to establish a shared vision of digital literacy and serve as a call to action for higher education leaders across the United States.

Anaheim, California (October 25, 2016) — The New Media Consortium (NMC) has released Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief  in conjunction with the 2016 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference. Commissioned by Adobe, the special report explores the advancement of digital literacy, which is sparking new thinking in higher education about how to best prepare students for the demands of the global technological economy.

This project was launched because there is a lack of consensus across the field about how to define digital literacy and implement effective programs. A survey was disseminated throughout the NMC community of higher education leaders and practitioners to understand how digital literacy initiatives are impacting their campuses. The NMC’s research examines the current landscape to illuminate multiple models of digital literacy — universal literacy, creative literacy, and literacy across disciplines — around which dedicated programs can proliferate a spectrum of skills and competencies. These initiatives have the potential to generate more excitement around learning for students, especially as their growing fluency enables deeper connections with others and equips them with a new lens to critically evaluate the world around them.

In analyzing the progress and gaps in this area, the NMC’s report has identified a need for higher education leaders and technology companies to prioritize students as makers, learning through the act of content creation rather than mere consumption. Additionally, the publication recommends that colleges and universities establish productive collaborations with industry, government, and libraries to provide students with access to the latest technologies and tools. All four recommendations are summarized below.

“While institutions have become more adept at integrating emerging technologies, our survey data revealed that there is still a lot of work to be done around improving digital literacy for students and faculty,” said Samantha Becker, NMC Senior Director, Publications & Communications. “We hope the brief provides some clarity — even when it points out the tremendous complexities. Adobe’s support of this project is significant because we have observed how Adobe Creative Cloud is enabling more people on campus to develop 21st century skills that promote greater imagination, creativity, and innovation.”

Examples of successful digital literacy initiatives in the report detail how institutions are promoting deeper learning and hands-on experiences. While many formal efforts to increase students’ digital literacy are still relatively nascent, Clemson University, Abilene Christian University, and University of the Arts London are leveraging Adobe Creative Cloud to help students learn to present their knowledge in rich, compelling formats while developing critical skills for harnessing technology to accomplish their life goals. The hope is that this strategic brief will serve as a springboard for critical discussions around how to structure digital literacy initiatives to facilitate more meaningful learning while equipping college and university students with the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.

“Now more than ever, universities are realizing the importance of expanding digital content in teaching and learning, across all disciplines, to help students become modern visual and digital communicators — skills that are in high demand by employers,” said Karen McCavitt, Group Manager, Worldwide Marketing for Education Enterprise at Adobe. “We are excited that a number of leading institutions are already integrating the Adobe Creative Cloud as part of their digital literacy initiatives to enhance students’ creativity and communication skills, accelerating their students’ ability to stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape.”

Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief is available online, free of charge, and under a Creative Commons license to facilitate its widespread use, easy duplication, and broad distribution.

> Download the report (PDF)
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About the New Media Consortium (NMC)
Founded in 1993, the NMC is an international community of experts in educational technology — from the practitioners who work with new technologies on campuses every day; to the visionaries who are shaping the future of learning at think tanks, labs, and research centers; to its staff and board of directors; to the expert panels and others helping the NMC conduct cutting edge research. The role of the NMC is to help hundreds of member universities, colleges, museums, and organizations drive innovation across their campuses. This is accomplished by the NMC performing research that catalyzes discussion, convening people around new ideas, and building communities that encourage exploration and experimentation. To learn more, visit www.nmc.org.

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