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 Technology & Social Change Group, along with our partners at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, has launched a new project, Mobile Information Literacy. The first output of the project is a six-module Mobile Information Literacy Curriculum for mobile-first users, which is now available for download, use, and adaptation.
The new project and curriculum are part of a larger program, Information Strategies for Societies in Transition. This program 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 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:
- Module 1: Introduction to Mobile Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
- Module 2: A Mobile Lens on the Internet
- Module 3: Basic Web Searching via Mobile Devices
- Module 4: Working Online and Using Information via Mobile Devices
- Module 5: Putting It All Together
- Module 6: Module 5 Project Presentations
All curriculum module guides and accompanying slidedecks can be found on the Mobile Information Literacy Curriculum Research Collection page.
The curriculum addresses various topics surrounding mobile information literacy, such as:
- Mobile ICT basics
- Affordances of mobile phones
- The difference between the internet and the World Wide Web
- Using search engines
- Using collaborative tools such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and Facebook Groups on mobile devices
- Online safety and privacy
- “Netiquette” and how to work with others and share information on mobile devices
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com, leave a comment and upload materials on the main Mobile Information Literacy curriculum webpage http://tascha.uw.edu/mobile-information-literacy-curriculum, and/or participate on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MobileInformationLiteracy.