Mobile Information Literacy Curriculum

The Mobile Information Literacy curriculum is a growing collection of training materials designed to build information literacies for the millions of people worldwide coming online every month via a mobile phone.

Most information and digital literacy curricula were designed for a PC age, and public and private organizations around the world have used these curricula to help newcomers use computers and the internet effectively and safely. The better curricula address not only skills, but also concepts and attitudes. The central question for this project is: what are the relevant skills, concepts, and attitudes for people using mobiles, not PCs, to access the internet? As part of the Information Strategies for Societies in Transition project, we developed a six-module curriculum for mobile-first users. The project is situated in Myanmar, a country undergoing massive political, economic, and social changes, and where mobile penetration is expected to reach 80% by the end of 2015 from just 4% in 2014. Combined with the country’s history of media censorship, Myanmar presents unique challenges for addressing the needs of people who need the ability to find and evaluate the quality and credibility of information obtained online, understand how to create and share online information effectively, and participate safely and securely.

The curriculum is made available through a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license to allow others to adapt it for other countries and contexts. Please share any modifications back to the community by emailing tascha@uw.edu, leaving a comment and uploading materials on this page below, or participating on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MobileInformationLiteracy.

About the Curriculum

As millions of people come online across the globe through mobile devices, mobile information literacy is vital for those who have leapfrogged from traditional media to digital devices that provide instant access to information. Mobile information literacy is necessary to help people learn how to find and evaluate the quality and credibility of information obtained online, understand how to create and share online information effectively, and participate safely and securely. Mobile information literacy is critical to help people better consume, generate, and disseminate trustworthy information through both digital and traditional media.

The curriculum focuses on critical thinking in a digital environment of smart phones, mobile phones, and tablets, filling a critical gap in digital information literacy curricula. Existing curricular models assume people learn on a personal computer (PC). While this has been the case historically, the next billion people coming online will most likely learn on a mobile device. This has huge implications for how people get online, how they access and experience the internet, how much they produce in addition to consume information, and even how they conceptualize the internet itself. For instance, research shows that in Myanmar (and many other countries) more people use Facebook than the internet. Mobile-specific practices, such as zero-rating, mean people are coming online much more frequently through a handful of “walled garden” applications without an understanding of and similar access to the broader internet. Also, some mobile applications and websites don’t offer the full functionality of their PC counterparts. The curriculum aims to address these differences and empower mobile internet users to be equal participants in the online world.

The curriculum includes the following six modules (click on the text to be taken to each module page that has the full description of each module and links to module guide and accompanying slidedeck):

Curriculum Development

Our initial efforts sought to combine several frameworks in creating a comprehensive mobile information literacy curriculum: EU DIGCOMP, SCONUL, and Empowering 8. At the time of our review there were none that explicitly addressed all of the skills, concepts and attitudes for mobile-centric users. The EU DIGCOMP framework explicitly acknowledges that no curriculum for the mobile environment has been developed. Nevertheless, once we identified our target group as beginner-level participants with no knowledge of the internet, World Wide Web, and mobile technology use, the EU DIGCOMP proved to the most appropriate framework for designing a basic beginner-level curriculum. SCONUL and Empowering 8 were more appropriate for those with at least a minimum baseline digital information literacy.

How Others Can Implement the Curriculum

The curriculum and training guide were designed to be flexible and customizable, depending on the baseline skills of those being trained, and translated into other languages. In countries and contexts like Myanmar, where for many using a mobile phone marks their first experience with the internet and digital technology, these training materials can be used by various organizations, such as libraries and NGOs, to both train their staff and to build knowledge, skills, and mobile information literacy competencies within the populations they serve. In Myanmar the materials have been translated into Burmese, and master training sessions have been conducted to train library staff to further train their colleagues, as well as library patrons. Our partners in Myanmar have also conducted training sessions at the Ministry of Information.

Use, Adapt, Share

The curriculum materials are offered here with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, so others are free to use, adapt, and share the materials with attribution. We are also available to help organizations create customized materials based on their particular country or regional contexts and literacy training needs.

If you have questions on the curriculum or would like more information on how we can help, please email us at tascha@uw.edu. We also encourage individuals and organizations that use and adapt this curriculum and training to provide us with any feedback, ideas, and adapted materials. There are many ways you can do this: email tascha@uw.edu, leave a comment and upload materials on this page below, and/or participate on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MobileInformationLiteracy.

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