Below is a year-old memo I wrote for the Transmission Project was later polished into a more general statement on media literacy:
Synopsis: Digital Literacy Training should not continue the skills-based approach of the basic Computer Literacy that forms its foundation. To effectively prepare participants for 21st employment, Digital Literacy Training must focus upon the motivations and context for using new media and social networking technologies within business, nonprofit and community environments
Internet technologies—and the methods in which individuals and organizations utilize them—have undergone a paradigm shift over the past decade. Broader computer literacy skills coupled with high-speed broadband and the mobile internet have altered the barriers to becoming technology users and technology creators. The skills necessary to create modern internet technologies—rich media and interactive websites, custom social networks and mobile applications—have become professionalized: the education and experience necessary for their creation has moved beyond the scope of a community-centered training program. Meanwhile, those same technologies have undergone a process of consumerization, making their usage accessible to those with only basic computer literacy training. Today, millions of people every day create online, interactive, and rich-media experiences (for example, by embedding YouTube videos on their Facebook profile). yet do not have the skills necessary to build a basic website, nor do they need those skills to engage through these modern technologies.
While Basic Computer Literacy skills form the foundation for a Digital Literacy curriculum, an effective Digital Literacy Training will provide participants with the motivations and context for utilizing modern internet technologies and applications within business, nonprofit and community environments. This educational model requires a broader focus upon training participants in community building, decision making, and team facilitation. Training participants to apply digital technologies within these given contexts will best prepare them for 21st century employment. The job interview of tomorrow will not ask “What new media tools can you use?”, but rather “Given a business problem, how would you use new media tools in its solution?”
…of course, “you’re burying people at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy” is a pretty easy criticism to make about many things.