Digital and Media Literacy

Relevant Courses: COM 613 Constructing Messages and Audiences, COM 624 Communication and Culture in a Networked Society, COM  655 The Mediated Self and Changing and Relationships, and COM 658 Creativity and Networks.

Digital and media literacy demonstrated by the ability to create and evaluate content on at least one digital or media platform related to a specific communication initiative and audience.

WHAT has been my experience with digital communication using digital and media platforms is very extensive. In today’s digital world, it is not what is being communicated as much as it how it is being communicated. When describing the types of media and platform, it refers mainly to that of social media, as it is principal to everyone’s personal communicative practices (or almost everyone, except for those living under a rock). However, it is just not about posting something to a social media platform but about the type of information this is appropriate for such platforms. Content that would be more appropriate for a certain digital platform must be the main consideration. For example, it would not be appropriate to post an entire strategic plan, to Facebook or Twitter, because those formats are designed for broadcasting short bits, however, posting links to portions of the plan such as a PDF or even WORDPRESS would be the best avenue to deliver that information while still using popular platforms.

Another perspective to consider is that how digital media influences digital behavior and how indivdiuals and entities portray themselves in an effort to present their best “digital selves” The role of digital media is congruent through several courses which compose the Master of Arts program. Therefore, the major themes explored throughout this program include these specific HOWS:

  • How digital connectivity in a networked society has changed and transformed culture.
  • How specific digital and mediated platforms affect our understanding of essential interpersonal constructs such as relationship development and engagement, image management, the tensions of work-life balance and the challenges and opportunities of creating private and public identities in a mediated landscape.
  • How we compose our multiple and sometimes conflicting digital and media selves and how the presentation of our “work” self affects conceptions of our “private” self.
  • How organizations and individuals use right-brain approaches to organizing and open innovation using digital and mediated tools.
  • How special attention is given to digital technology, including how to best consume, filter, create and critically analyze messages. These five points emphasize the correlation between digital technology and daily communication. 

SO WHAT did I actually learn from these experiences described previously? That digital and media literacy is not about being good at posting things on social media, or making videos and posting them for friends and family to view and “like” on Facebook or YouTube. It is about how to properly use these digital tools to communicate important information and get it to the masses in the manner they are most apt to receive it. When communicating digitally, the media available is also crucial, it is almost impossible to effectively communicate digitally without the latest devices and equipment, as well as some short-term training or experience: “SKYPE, anyone”? In that same vein, the experience with digital media literacy also displayed the generational gap that can occur in communication, especially when it comes to my personal experience in teaching traditional and non-traditional students. Students who have graduated from high school the last fifteen to twenty years ago, were exposed to working with computers while students who graduated prior to that did not have that experience Even for myself, having graduated eighteen years ago, from high school, versus someone who graduated from high school five years can represent a large gap in the computer technology experience due to how rapidly it changes and evolves. I have also learned that everyone who is a participant becomes a “digital version” of themselves, it can actually be compared to the displaying of the life a person would like to project as having as opposed to the life a person is living. 

NOW WHAT is to be learned from the overall experience, and that means that not being afraid to embrace how digital literacy can improve our communicative lives. All generations often balk at new technology and ways of living life that they were not used to growing up, however, it is all part of the cycle life and the evolution of technology. But it is intimidating though, especially to the older generations. Personally, it is not too far advanced as I am very adept at using social and digital media, although not until I entered this program did I have much experience with platforms such as WORDPRESS (since I am not much of a blogger), and SOUNDCLOUD (I used other mediums for my outside musical interests) but none the less, I quickly became acclimated and see the importance of such tools! Therefore, it has become a mission for me as an Instructor to find easy and innovative ways to incorporate digital and media literacy into my students’ learning in a non-evasive and threatening way so that they too can learn how to effectively communicate in the twenty-first century with tools that no longer seem foreign or threatening in order to make communication possible and easier between generations. On the personal level I also learned that these tools also have the ability to create a powerful “online persona” for an individual but at the same time, can create a potentially harmful implications for an individual’s real-life persona. This leads to the topic of the paper linked below for the COM 624 course Communication and Culture in a Networked Society in regards to the “digital masquerade” that we as a society partake in on a daily basis.

LINK TO:Communicating the Online Life A Digital Masquerade