Digital Fluency in an “Information Age”

The past year has brought us many examples of the need for students (well, for the public), to be able to evaluate sources, to identify how and why knowledge is produced in all of its many media and forms, and to suggest the ways in which verifiable, authoritative sources can be produced using the tools of scholars.

The focus of Digital History and Digital Humanities on consumption, analysis, and production of knowledge in many digital forms allows practitioners and novices to address and help demonstrate to students and the public how digital production works and why we should be skeptical of it.

That’s not a simple process however.  As Mike Caulfield of Washington State University, Vancouver, has been writing lately (such as in “Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One?“), curriculum for information literacy is not new, but that such programs are not sufficiently grounded in either specific content areas or the structures of the Web to keep up with the blizzard of problematic content.  And as my colleague at UMW, Kris Shaffer, has noted in a recent article (“Truthy Lies and Surreal Truths: A Plea for Critical Digital Literacies“) the issue isn’t just misinformed content, but intentional misleading content.  As he notes,  “The future of digital culture ― yours, mine, and ours ― depends on how well we learn to use the media that have infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives.”

So, I propose a session in which we talk about strategies to address issues of Digital Fluency (or Fluencies) at our schools and in our departments, to share existing resources on Digital and Information Fluency, and to describe what an idealized curriculum would address.

Categories: Digital Literacy, Session: Talk, Teaching |

About Jeffrey McClurken

I've taught at UMW since 1999 and I am Professor of History and American Studies and Chief of Staff to the President of UMW. I am the former Special Assistant to the Provost for Teaching, Technology, and Innovation. I am affiliated faculty with programs in Museum Studies, Digital Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies. I am also the Digital History Review Editor for the Journal of American History. My current research areas include the history of the Civil War, veterans, families, the Pinkertons, mental institutions, the 19th-Century American South, and the digital humanities. I've taught classes on a wide array of US History topics, including Civil War and Reconstruction, American technology and culture, digital history, women's history, history & film, and the history of the Information Age. I am particularly interested in the scholarship and practice of digitally enabled pedagogy. My postings, classes, and other projects can be found at

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