Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

Featured / Harrington School-Wide

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – July 9, 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 an average of 2.6 seconds skimming before we focus on a specific portion of it to read. On average, users read about 62 words per page, according to Chartbeat, a data analytics company. Today, we share far more content than we actually read.


Screenshot 2014-07-07 08.57.56The changing nature of literacy today has inspired two URI professors to help educators, librarians and media professionals to address the opportunities and challenges associated with 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 is designed to support the development of regional and national leaders in digital literacy education. The program aims to give educators, librarians and others the knowledge and skills they need to help learners be more effective in asking the right questions, making good choices of content, and synthesizing information from multiple sources, said Dr. Julie Coiro, co-director of the institute and associate professor at URI’s School of Education.


Learning with MediaMore than 100 educators from 15 states and 10 countries will participate in the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, which will be held on the URI Feinstein campus, 80 Washington St., Providence, July 13 through July 18. Thanks to a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, eleven Rhode Island teachers and librarians will receive scholarships to attend. Forty other Rhode Island educators are paying tuition to attend the program.


“We hear from employers that digital literacy is a core component of work readiness,” said 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 HS;  Susan Rose, librarian, Cranston Public Schools; Leah Lubman, librarian, Paul Cuffee School, Providence; Jillian Belanger, ELL director, Paul Cuffee School, Providence; Tina Brownell, teacher, Newport Public Schools; Beth Gorter, library media specialist, Hanaford Elementary Schoo,, 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 HS; and Amanda Murphy, social studies teacher, Westerly HS.


“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,” said Dr. Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Education, who is scheduled to address the participants on Friday, July 18 at 12 noon.


“It’s important for educators and librarians at all levels to integrate digital literacy into their existing programs,” explained Dr. 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 skillsets,” she said. 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,” said Hobbs.


Participants who are just beginning to explore digital literacy will be working alongside those with more advanced skills, notes Coiro, as the certificate program includes a special Tier 2 leadership program for returning participants who attended the 2013 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy.


This summer, leading experts in digital literacy will be joining Hobbs and Coiro to serve as faculty members at the institute, including Dr. 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. Other members of the faculty include Dr. Kelly Mendoza, a senior curriculum specialist at Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization; Rhys Daunic, founder of the Media Spot, a media literacy consulting firm in New York City; Dr. 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.


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