The Digital Literacy Faculty Learning Community (FLC) at Rowan University was formed in spring 2021. Group members have shared and explored teaching approaches and resources intended to help students further develop digital literacy skills and to deepen their understandings of digital environments and their engagement in those spaces. This resource serves as record of the Digital Literacy FLC's meetings and as a starting point for further work in digital literacy at Rowan. The guide pages include:
In this moment of heightened political polarization, when people are especially prone to separate one another into in-groups and out-groups, digital environments have become highly contentious and complex spaces. This frosty climate is entangled with phenomena like the online spread of misinformation, filter bubbles, and bias in search algorithms, all of which deeply influence public and academic discourse. In light of this, many people educators, students, and everyday citizens want to become more savvy about how to evaluate digital content and platforms and how to apply this understanding to engage more critically with online information and communities. This FLC will gather interested Rowan faculty to explore recent scholarship on teaching web literacy; to discuss, share and develop techniques that have worked for their disciplines; and to share them with colleagues.
Our FLC explored the following:
Equity and the digital divide:
Raising the Rowan community’s awareness of social and economic inequities that contribute to the digital divide and the effects that they have on people’s everyday lives.
With increased awareness of these inequities, actively seeking ways to cultivate more critical thought and engagement with digital information and environments
Shared understandings and many of the assumptions that surfaced during our conversations are outlined below.
The pervasiveness, impact and frequent imperceptibility of digital information systems:
The ubiquity of digital information and systems in everyday life and the profound influence that these have on society, culture, communities, and individual and collective thinking and actions, often not self-evident/in ways that we often do not recognize
Bringing a mindset of critical inquiry to investigating the advantages, limitations and potential dangers of the digital:
The challenge of at once taking advantage of the attributes of digital environments and information systems, while remaining inquisitive about and responsive to their potential limitations
(Re)contextualizing digital information and sources:
The need (and challenge) within online environments to (re)contextualize sources and information that has often been removed from its original rhetorical context in order to critically evaluate information
Equity and the digital divide:
The pandemic has made more apparent the inequities that arise when students do not have equal or adequate access to technology, time, and/or spaces for learning and for academic work. Digital literacy is a cornerstone of engaging as global citizens in democracy.
The importance of digital literacy to everyday life and society:
The value of learning to do Internet research and to critically evaluate online sources, activities that will continue to be essential outside of academic settings and in everyday life
The privileging of certain voices (e.g., academic sources) and the marginalization of others (e.g., indigenous knowledge, personal experience), and the continued need for a greater diversity of voices
The false dichotomy of “good” and “bad” sources (which is often synonymous with “scholarly” and “unscholarly” sources)
Recognizing that not all false or misleading information is the same or equally sinister in intent. Distinguishing between categories like misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation is an important part of critically evaluating information and understanding it in relationship to a larger information landscape.
The myth of technological neutrality: Recognizing that bias is embedded in information systems in ways that are often rendered invisible, and developing habits and practices that help us to examine assumptions and biases both within ourselves and in the systems, structures, and information sources with which we engage
Traditional methods of source evaluation: Unlearning the methods for source evaluation from the past (checklists including CRAAP) and asking more targeted questions to understand the contexts of sources.
The close reading and analysis associated with critical thinking is not always useful for identifying for false or misleading information. Because it can be difficult to identify inaccurate information if you don’t have deep knowledge of a subject area, it’s often more effective to see what others who have more knowledge of a topic or have done more in-depth investigation into the topic.
Andrea Baer (Facilitator), Rowan Libraries
Dan Kipnis (Facilitator), Rowan Libraries
David Cheatham, Public Relations & Advertising
Tiffany DeRewal, Writing Arts
Melissa Tuckman, English
Karen Brager, Communication Studies
Nicole Cesare, Writing Arts
Michael Fisher, Writing Arts
Kristine Lafferty, Writing Arts
Amanda Haruch, Writing Arts
Jason Luther, Writing Arts
Ted Howell, Writing Arts
Jennifer Nicholson, Marketing & Business Information Systems
Tim Donaldson, Writing Arts
Jaclyn Partyka, Writing Arts
Karyn Tappe, Psychology
Emily Blanck, History
Yuanmei (Elly) Qu, Management and Entrepreneurship
Roberta Reavey, Writing Arts
Jude Miller, Writing Arts
Renee Watson, Marketing and Business Information Systems
Cherita Harrell, Writing Arts