Black Hills State University is one of ten universities in the nation selected to participate in a new civic information literacy program.
BHSU will take part in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Digital Polarization Initiative: A Project to Promote Online Civic Information Literacy. This initiative helps students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate online information environments.
Dr. Chris Crawford, BHSU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, says it’s an honor to be selected and noted that information literacy pertaining to civic information is an important topic for students and faculty, which fits with the University’s emphasis on civic engagement.
“As the campus began to explore civic engagement discussion, it became apparent that information/media literacy is an area of concern noted by campus stakeholders. So this invitation to participate in the AASCU project is perfect timing,” Crawford said. “We look forward to working with the other institutions to build learning objectives which can be immediately applied to our curriculum.”
Crawford said this project will help solidify BHSU efforts and meet the growing need to heighten students’ awareness, understanding and utilization of online information sources.
The AASCU American Democracy Project invited nine other institutions to participate in the new 18-month pilot project. Faculty involved with this project will:
- learn how to equip college students with the skills they need to sort fact from fiction on the web;
- help students identify and understand the potentially polarizing effects of social media and how they can mitigate these effects; and
- encourage students to make positive interventions in the online information environments they inhabit.
A description of the national AASCU program notes that democracy requires informed participants, but the world of web-based information has proven surprisingly hard for citizens to navigate. If the general public does not develop the skills and knowledge to navigate the web, the web is as likely to misinform us as inform us, and as likely to pull us apart as pull us together.
Some materials for teaching online civic literacy skills have been developed and will be provided while others will be developed by participating campuses. Faculty will be invited to find creative ways to work them into existing classes across a range of academic disciplines. Participating faculty members will also receive training in how to teach the new web literacies that informed, engaged citizenship now requires, as well as background in the various ways disinformation and personalization are pulling us apart.