Applying Critical Digital Literacy to Social Media Practice

Juliet Hinrichsen @juliet_hin – Sheffield Hallam University and
Antony Coombes – University of Greenwich  

Whilst there has been a great emphasis on the potential of social media for invigorating curriculum delivery, and for developing and promoting learner and professional networks, there has been less focus on the risks and challenges social media presents.  Reputational and psychological damage are just some of these risks. Further, the teacher’s duty of care and data protection responsibilities are often not made explicit by institutions and individuals may not have addressed these in their eagerness to innovate and enhance the learning experience.

This workshop introduces the Five Resources Framework of Critical Digital Literacy (5CDL), an approach developed as part of a national JISC-funded project (DLinHE). Derived from an established model of critical literacy used within the school sector this model has been adapted for the digital context.  It particularly addresses such risks in the fifth resource, ‘Persona’, defined as ‘Sensitivity to the issues of reputation, identity and membership within different digital contexts. The purposeful management and calibration of one’s online persona. Developing a sense of belonging and a confident participant role.’

The tools developed to support the 5CDL framework, which all have creative commons licenses, provide a mechanism to broach some of these issues with academic and other staff. They contribute to awareness-raising of the challenges of teaching with social media whilst supporting critical and reflective curriculum embedding. This embedding includes not only the use of activities with social media but, more unusually, also addresses curriculum content and discipline context. The tools are designed for educational and academic developers to use in institutional contexts but they can also be cascaded for use by academics with their students. They have been tested and evaluated with a variety of stakeholders including senior managers, employers, professional services and academic staff and with student groups.