(Melbourne, Australia) Today I delivered a provocation at the University of Melbourne’s Digital Literacy Symposium. “Digital Literacy: not drowning, waving” was an effort to detail the benefits of a media production approach to literacy competencies. This was from the perspective of the wider project of the Curriculum Design Lab which is to build capacity within Arts Teaching & Learning community and by virtue of this process Arts graduates.
The symposium was a partnership initiative between The Melbourne School of Graduate Education and University Library, which posed the question: “How are we developing the digital literacy of those in the University’s community and what can we learn from each other to improve our practice?”
Not Drowning, Waving
The buzz around digital literacy seems a rather one-sided affair, in which students develop skills in research and communication methodologies that merely support the negotiation of university systems and academic frameworks. Meanwhile, the digital objects and platforms that underpin modern life are becoming increasingly complex and ubiquitous, whether that be in the home, the urban publics or in the work place. Understandably, the parameters of digital literacy programs due to financial and logistical necessity are practically targeted and narrow in their focus. However, this ignores the embeddedness of digital media processes in the contemporary interdisciplinary work environment. This is an environment that is driven by data and is rich in digital media that operates on both physical and virtual platforms.
The concepts presented here will have utility across most, if not all, disciplines and hopefully encourage subject coordinators and tutors to further explore technology options in their curriculum development pipeline. I am not just talking about the basic core skills here – such as the productive use of library databases, or the leveraging of Microsoft and Google products or common LMS apps and plug-ins. This is about the integrated use of media production tools to build capacity in graduates so they can navigate a sophisticated job market that is evolving technologically and expects an engagement with digital media and at least a familiarity with the mechanics of its construction.
The paper poses the following provocation: Is it enough to ask students to pursue digital literacy skills that are representative of academia and the functioning of the institution while ignoring the rapid development and spread of digital media in the work place and wider society?
Adobe Systems (2017) Gen Z in the Classroom
FYA (2016) The New Basics: Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order http://www.fya.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/The-New-Basics_Web_Final.pdf
Hayles (2012) How We Think, University of Chicago Press
Lowgren & Reimer (2013) Collaborative Media, MIT Press
Lowgren & Reimer (2012) Designing collaborative media: a challenge for CHI?. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference extended abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts (CHI EA ’12). ACM, New York, p31-40.
McCullough (2004) Digital Ground: Architecture, Pervasive Computing, and Environmental Knowing, MIT Press https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/digital-ground
Rodgers (2017) Ordinary Digital Humanities: The everyday life of digital technologies in pedagogy, Birkbeck Arts Week event outline
University of Melbourne (2017) Scholarly Digital Literacy Framework
University of Melbourne (2017) Harnessing Virtual Infrastructure
Wyatt, McQuire & Butt (2015) Public Libraries in a Digital Culture