URI digital literacy program recognized by the U.S. Department of Education

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KINGSTON, R.I., – December 22, 2015 – A graduate certificate program created by professors at the University of Rhode Island has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a model of teacher education. The Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy was singled out by the Office of Educational Technology in the 2016 National Education Technology Plan.


The national plan calls on American educators to ensure fair access to learning through technology. In particular, it urges schools to redesign teacher preparation programs from a single technology course to the use of technology throughout teacher preparation.


“By targeting a broad audience to participate in the program, URI is expanding the number of educators with the professional capacity to help students learn, access, analyze, create, reflect and take action using digital tools, texts, and technologies in all aspects of their lives,” the report said.


Since 2012, the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy has reached 400 educators from 25 states and 15 countries. The 4th annual program will be at URI’s Feinstein Campus, 80 Washington St., Providence, from July 24 through July 29. Thanks to a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Studies, Rhode Island librarians participating in the Media Smart Libraries program will receive scholarships to attend.


In the program, participants learn to use new digital tools involving literacy, including Storify, FlipGrid, Symbaloo, Padlet, Wikispaces, WordPress and Evernote.


URI professors Julie Coiro and Renee Hobbs launched the Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy in 2014. The program is co-sponsored by URI’s School of Education and the Media Education Lab at the Harrington School of Communication and Media. The program supports regional and national leaders in digital literacy education.


“We are thrilled to be recognized in the 2016 NET Plan,” said Coiro, co-director of the URI program and associate professor at the School of Education. “Today, all teachers need a solid understanding of how to use technology to support learning and literacy. Effective use of technology is not an optional add-on or a skill that we simply can expect teachers to pick up on their own.”


Participants get hands-on experience. “Participants are introduced to key theories of digital literacy in inquiry-driven learning and given time to experiment with and explore a wide range of digital texts, tools and technologies,” said Hobbs.


Many URI professors have participated in the summer institute including Mary Moen, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. Joyce 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, also spoke.


Among other speakers are: Kelly Mendoza, a senior curriculum specialist at Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization; Rhys Daunic, founder of Media Spot, a media literacy consulting firm in New York; Jill Castek, assistant professor of education at Portland State University; Kristin Hokanson, an independent educational technology consultant and leader in the International Society for Technology Education; Charlie Coiro, an instructor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Leadership Development Center; and Jonathan Friesem, a URI doctoral student in the School of Education and now on the faculty of Central Connecticut State University.


Click here to read the 2016 national plan.


Click here for more information about the URI Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy