What is digital media literacy?

As the internet has become more and more a part of education, civic life, and every day life, we've been forced to rethink what's important in media literacy education. At Reclaim the Media, we've been talking a lot about what we call digital media literacy (and so have other folks). But what is changing in media literacy education? And what does digital media literacy mean exactly?

Media literacy educators typically define media literacy as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media (or some variation of that). Recently, some (check out the Center for Media Literacy's curriculum) have been adding to that list skills related to social media and the increasingly interactive nature of media production and consumption - namely, the ability to collaborate and participate using a variety of media.

Digital media literacy means more than just understanding how to use Facebook or conduct an effective Google search - it means being able to use and create digital media to participate in civic life and collaborate around the issues that matter to us. It also means changing the way we think about accessing, analyzing, and evaluating media, as the web provides us with an increasing number of choices for information, news, and entertainment and complicates our media landscape with new advertising and marketing tactics.

As we talking about digital inclusion, closing the digital divide, and broadband policy, it is important not to leave the issue of literacy out of the conversation. In addition to ensuring that everyone has access to the web, we need to make sure everyone has the skills to use it to it's full potential.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey