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Inaugural Digital Gardener Summit tackles digital literacy

Digital literacy critical to preparing students for increasingly digital environments

On October 1, 2021, the IU Digital Gardener Initiative brought together more than 120 IU faculty, staff, and other thought leaders for the first Digital Gardener Summit held in a hybrid format at IUPUI’s Hine Hall and online.

The Digital Gardener Initiative is a newly formed, faculty-driven commitment to connect members of the IU community working in digital literacy. The initiative aims to share best practices and grow successful programs across the university to prepare IU students with digital skills and related competencies to work in an increasingly digital world. Research shows that attaining digital skills is critical to Indiana’s economic growth.

“I am extremely excited about launching the Digital Gardener Initiative at Indiana University,” said Jay Gladden, associate vice president, UITS Learning Technologies. “This program will bring faculty together from across the University and across disciplines to talk about creative ways to enhance the digital fluency and digital skills our students develop.”

The summit shared the digital literacy work being done on IU campuses and related success stories from universities with digital literacy initiatives. It inspired academic leaders to prepare students and provided networking opportunities for attendees.

This program will bring faculty together from across the University and across disciplines to talk about creative ways to enhance the digital fluency and digital skills our students develop.

Jay Gladden, associate vice president, UITS Learning Technologies

Summit co-leads Adam Maksl, faculty fellow and principal, eLearning Design & Innovation, and associate professor of Journalism & Media, IU Southeast, and Justin Hodgson, associate professor of English at IU Bloomington, share an enthusiasm for its potential to build community and support students.

“What I want people to take away from this event is the notion that we all have a role to play in planting the seeds and then helping them to nurture and grow,” said Maksl.

“When we talk about digital literacy from a faculty standpoint, not only can it enhance their own work, but it can improve the courses, the learning outcomes, and the engagement and by extension, put digital technology in the hands of students and better prepare them for the future,” Hodgson said.

“The Digital Gardener Initiative here at Indiana University is right on key to what we need to do to inspire and help faculty integrate digital literacy into their curriculum,” said keynote speaker Melody Buckner, associate vice provost of digital learning for the University of Arizona.

“To get along in the world, literacy has always been [about] making meaning from text and now, text has become more than just that,” said summit panelist Pamela Morris, assistant professor of Communication Studies, IUPUC.  “So, it's a very basic skill for our students to be able to understand media, understand where it comes from and how it's made, and be able to put their voices out there as citizens in a digital nation.”

Faculty members interested in digital literacy can now apply to be a Digital Gardener Faculty Fellow, a semester-long opportunity to learn to integrate digital literacy into courses and teaching. Applications are being accepted until December 5, 2021 for spring 2022.

Learn more about the Digital Gardener Initiative.

View video recordings of the keynote and panel sessions.

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