Communities

What Digital Media Literacy Day means to Charlotte

Above: A class at the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. Photo credit: Knight Foundation on Flickr. The James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte is unlike the nation’s other 500 journalism and mass communications programs: We have taken on the role of helping raise the digital media literacy rate in our community.

One of the ways we keep this on the mind of our community is through an annual Digital Media Literacy Day, on which our mayor and county commissioners recognize the importance of digital media skills in 21st century America.

Today, on the second annual Digital Media Literacy Day, the Knight School is partnering with Ashley Park Elementary School, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, One Laptop Per Child, Mobile Beacon and EveryoneOn to provide digital access and support for parents and Ashley Park students.

Knight School students and faculty are spending the day at Ashley Park with parents, to assess their technology needs. Mobile Beacon is donating 100 modems and is providing free in-home Internet access for the remainder of the school year to participating families. Knight Foundation, in support of Project LIFT, has already paired students with laptop computers designed by One Laptop Per Child.  

In addition, the Knight School has created a Digital Media Literacy Index, the first tool of its kind, to measure Charlotte’s progress. The index provides a measure of digital media literacy competency across the city, but also by ZIP code, ethnicity, age, income, and education levels. It reveals areas of need and opportunity in our efforts to bridge the digital divide.

The Digital Media Literacy Index looks at the elements of this new literacy – which we break down as the ability to access, share, analyze, evaluate, create, reflect and act using digital media – and rates performance in each area. It can be adapted to score the digital literacy level of any person or group, from a local neighborhood organization to the entire state.

The community surrounding Ashley Park scored the lowest on the Knight School’s Charlotte Index. The neighborhood has the lowest Internet use, contains the highest percentage of adults without a high school degree, and has the highest percentage of households with an annual income less than $40,000. Helping people in Ashley Park learn to drive on the information superhighway and access public information is, we believe, just as important to their success in life as being able to drive a regular car or access public transportation.

Eric Freedman, dean of the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, and Susan Patterson, Charlotte program director at Knight Foundation