URI digital literacy program for educators & librarians, July 13-18

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – July 8, 2014 – Here’s the way most of us choose our reading material today: Someone posts a link, and then we click on it. When we get there, we spend about 2.6 seconds skimming before we focus on a specific portion to read. On average, users read only about 62 words per page. Today we share far more content than we actually read.


Changes in literacy have inspired two University of Rhode Island professors to help educators, librarians and college faculty learn about the opportunities and challenges involving reading and writing in the Internet age. They are launching a new graduate certificate program in digital literacy, co-sponsored by URI’s School of Education and the Harrington School of Communication and Media.


URI’s new 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy supports the development of regional and national leaders in digital literacy education. The program aims to give educators, librarians and others the skills they need to help people ask the right questions, make good choices about content and synthesize information from many sources, says Julie Coiro, co-director of the institute and an associate professor at URI’s School of Education.


More than 100 educators from 15 states and 10 countries will participate in the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy from July 13 through July 18 at URI’s Feinstein campus, 80 Washington St., Providence. The program also features Joyce Valenza, a national expert in technology in school libraries.


Thanks to a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, 11 Rhode Island teachers and librarians have received scholarships to attend.


“We hear from employers that digital literacy is a core component of work readiness,” says Jessica David, vice president for strategy and community investments at the Foundation. “We’re pleased to support teachers in helping students access technology and use it to engage in new ways.”


Recipients of the Rhode Island Foundation’s scholarship program include: Dana Hall, English teacher, Chariho High School; Susan Rose, librarian, Cranston public schools; Leah Lubman, librarian, Paul Cuffee School, Providence; Jillian Belanger, English Language Learning director, Paul Cuffee School, Providence; Tina Brownell, teacher, Newport public schools; Beth Gorter, library media specialist, Hanaford Elementary School, East Greenwich; Art Searle, teacher, Exeter-West Greenwich public schools; Michelle Steever, media specialist, Chariho public schools; Gillian Buckler, teacher, Exeter-West Greenwich public schools; Cassie Souto, reading specialist, North Providence High School; and Amanda Murphy, social studies teacher, Westerly High School.


“We want our students not to just have access to technology, but to use it to access and analyze information, creating content and sharing it with others,” says Deborah Gist, commissioner of education for Rhode Island. She will participate in a question-and-session at noon Friday, July 18.


“It’s important for educators and librarians at all levels to integrate digital literacy into their existing programs,” says Renee Hobbs, co-director of the institute and a professor at URI’s Harrington School of Communication and Media. “Journalists, media and information professionals also benefit from programs like this as a means to hone new skill sets.”


Participants learn to use new digital tools including Storify, FlipGrid, Symbaloo, Padlet, Wikispaces, WordPress, Evernote and many others. With these tools, “Everyone can be an author and learn to express compelling ideas through language, image, sound and interactivity,” says Hobbs.


Participants who are just beginning to explore digital literacy will work alongside those with more advanced skills. The certificate program includes a special leadership program for returning participants who attended the 2013 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy.


During the sessions, leading experts in digital literacy will join Hobbs and Coiro as faculty, including Valenza, one of the nation’s leading experts in technology integration in school libraries and a professor of library and information studies at Rutgers University. She will give a talk, “Leading Through Curation,” at 8:45 a.m. July 16 in Paff Auditorium on the Providence campus.


Other faculty include Kelly Mendoza, a senior curriculum specialist at Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco; Rhys Daunic, founder of the Media Spot, a media literacy consulting firm in New York City; Jill Castek, assistant professor of education at Portland State University; Charlie Coiro, an instructor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Leadership Development Center; Jonathan Friesem, assistant director of the Media Education Lab and an expert in youth media; and Mary Moen, school library media specialist at Chariho High School.


For more information, visit www.mediaeducationlab.com/summer-institute-digital-literacy.


Photo above: Participants at last year’s digital literacy conference sponsored by the University of Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of URI.