Mobile Information Literacy – Net Inclusion Lightning Talk

Research Coordinator Stacey Wedlake is attending the 2018 Net Inclusion Summit in Cleveland, Ohio organized the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). While at the conference, she’ll present a Lightning Talk on TASCHA’s Mobile Information Literacy Curriculum. Here are her prepared remarks and slides.

Hi, my name is Stacey and I’m a researcher at the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington Information School. I’m going to give a very brief overview of our work on mobile information literacy.

First of all, we define mobile information literacy as the combination of digital, internet, and information literacies needed for smartphone-centric populations. We argue that it’s important to think about MIL separately  from traditional, PC-based digital literacy. We believe the different affordances and limitations of different devices shape how people interact with information, and even one’s conceptualization of the Internet itself. We think that using a smartphone doesn’t just require different operational skills but distinct informational skills as well.

In response, we created a MIL curriculum.It was designed to support individuals in reaching their personal goals, whatever they may be, using mobile devices. We’re not arguing that smartphones are replacements for PCs – just that if that’s the device they have – what skills support their needs?

The curriculum covers how to minimize mobile data usage, how to safely search for apps and identify what permissions the apps request, mobile-specific search strategies – including how to fact-check images, staying safe from online scams, and using locally relevant apps. It’s structured to be done as part of a multi-day training but can be easily broken into smaller chunks. The curriculum is shared on our website – – available for implementation and adaptation. (Although our latest adaptation isn’t up yet. It will be soon!) The approach emphasizes social learning (hands on, peer-to-peer, and is project based).

The curriculum was first created for and adopted in 2016 for Myanmar public libraries in collaboration with the Myanmar Book Aid Preservation Foundation (MBAPF). Another adaptation was just completed in partnership with EIFL and the Kenya National Library Services for public libraries in Nakuru, Kenya. The first two iterations were done in a training of trainers format. Librarians receive the training and then they will train their community members.

Now, we’re looking for opportunities to adapt the curriculum to US audiences. According to Pew, in the US a little more than 1 in 10 are dependent on smartphones (no home broadband). Although people with higher incomes are more likely to have smartphones, people with lower incomes are more likely to be smartphone dependent. (This is 2016 data. I just learned yesterday that 2018 data will be coming soon, and these trends are holding.) Reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, non-whites, and lower-income Americans.

We want to keep this growing. So please, download, adapt, and share the curriculum. Please connect with us if you’re interested in the curriculum or would like to join us in exploring MIL. Thank you.