What happens at Ashley Park School during the next couple of years will have a significant impact on strengthening levels of digital and media literacy in Charlotte.
Nine organizations begin collaborating with the school on March 21, 2014 – the Second Annual Digital Media Literacy Day. The goal of their work is to identify what works and what doesn’t when it comes to digital media literacy in the school’s neighborhood.
They started this collaboration after a new research index identified the neighborhood as having the lowest levels of Internet use in Charlotte. The new DML Index, developed by the Knight School of Communication at Queens, is designed to rate a city’s abilities in digital and media literacy, and can be adapted to score the literacy level of any city, county or statewide ecosystem.
The index will enable the organizations to examine results and develop programs in and around Ashley Park School, and then adapt and apply them toward a model for the city. The organizations have already identified two critical components required to address the digital divide: literacy and access. The nine organizations fall roughly into these two categories: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Project LIFT, Discovery Education and the Knight School address education. One Laptop Per Child, Mobile Beacon and EveryoneOn address access. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides support throughout the initiative, and the City of Charlotte celebrates and recognizes the work of all of them.
“If we can understand what strategies are most effective in the subset of Ashley Park, we can scale our efforts to engage in a city-wide campaign,” says Eric Freedman, dean of the Knight School. The organizations are beginning their work by conducting an online survey of parents of Ashley Park students, which will assess technology needs, Internet access, patterns of usage, skill levels, preferred training format, and household size. They’re providing free, in-home fourth-generation (4G) Internet modems and broadband services to 100 school families, who will also learn online skills in digital literacy workshops.
As the partners work to strengthen Ashley Park’s and Charlotte’s levels of digital and media literacy, the end goal is to provide cities across the country with a toolkit that will help other municipalities “move the needle” along the digital and media literacy continuum, helping citizens engage in civic activities that improve their lives and their communities.
“In the information economy we live in, digital and media literacy is essential,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation. “If everyone had access to cyberspace, just imagine how that would impact their overall quality of life.”
Photographs: Top, Ashley Park School teaches about 575 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.The new Digital Media Literacy Index assesses essential competencies of digital and media literacy and can be adapted to fit city, county or statewide geographies. Below, parents at Ashley Park School complete surveys that will shape future workshops in digital and media literacy.