Digital Literacy Accelerator
A strong democracy relies on an informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizenry. Technology and social media are rapidly changing the way that citizens consume, create, and share information.
To support the development of innovative edtech tools, OET—with help from WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency—established the Digital Literacy Accelerator (DLA), a project that ran from August 2021 to April 2022. The DLA recruited teams of instructional designers and edtech developers to create and pilot edtech innovations focused on digital literacy.
2021-2022 Digital Literacy Accelerator Participants
Fake News Fitness
Fake News Fitness (FNF) works towards combating mis- and dis- information by supporting students to determine the quality of an article making a claim in the context of a class inquiry within a content area (Science, Social Studies, ELA) or as a component of a digital literacy course. FNF includes a two-week instructional unit with accompanying Chrome browser extension, which pulls data from a page to help students evaluate the credibility of a website. It is designed to run as a partnership between a digital literacy/computer science teacher or library/media specialist and a content area teacher. The extension creates two versions of a sidebar form: simple (for initial exploration) and detailed (including claim-evidence-reasoning tracking). The extension saves the form data as a file for commenting to facilitate student discourse and collaboration.
Keeping It Real: Using Deepfakes to Combat Misinformation in Multiple Languages
Keeping it Real is an open-access educational website that will serve as a clearinghouse for information related to deepfakes (synthetic videos) and their potential impact on history and society. This innovation addresses the dangers of deepfakes by engaging the target audience in four main website features: a customized deepfake that warns viewers about the dangers of deepfakes, information that showcases how deepfakes can potentially impact the historical record, the impact deepfakes currently have in society, and resources to help discern and reject misinformation.
Katie Day Good, Catherine Rathbun
Little Tech is an educational and support service for adults seeking to moderate their use of digital technology. This innovation helps adults learn how to monitor and modify their use of social media and smartphones to support their online and offline wellbeing. Through online study and support groups, participants will complete weekly challenges and discussions to recognize and overcome the manipulative design features of smartphones and social media in their lives. Little Tech addresses the problems of digital overuse, persuasive technology, and the lack of digital media literacy services for adults by empowering learners to take control over when, where, and how they connect online while simultaneously cultivating community and collaboration for adult learners looking for accountability in their technology usage.
Media Literacy Collaborative
Jacob Steiss, Joseph Aubele, Daisy Martin, Nicole Freitag Gilbertson
Media Literacy Collaborative is a learning analytics dashboard that intends to support the teaching and learning of media literacy and civic reasoning in the secondary classroom. The dashboard displays student- or classroom-level data on key skills and dispositions related to media literacy and civic reasoning, gathered through specific classroom learning tasks. The initial prototype presents student-level data to teachers in order to facilitate teacher reflection on student performance and growth, inform subsequent instruction and lesson planning, and build teacher knowledge and efficacy for media literacy instruction. Because the innovation will be developed and piloted within a supportive partnership of university researchers and teachers committed to designing effective media instruction, the dashboard will help the partnership understand what works for improving students’ media literacy and civic reasoning.
Learning Beyond Grades
Frankie Kok, Brian Chien, Cali Nguyen
Learning Beyond Grades is a learning program that brings school leaders, teachers, and parents together to co-create with students and help them thrive in the digital age. Learning Beyond Grades is partnering with Miro to support education professionals in reimagining classroom learning experiences, using the workshops and toolkits provided by Learning Beyond Grades. This innovation helps students master digital literacy skills by partnering with school leaders to make their vision of learning into reality, empowering teachers to meet the learning needs of the students in the classroom, creating access to students’ progress so parents can foster deeper learning at home, and enabling students to take ownership in their learning to become lifelong learners. This innovation will also equip the teachers with the guidance, resources, and support to integrate digital literacy into the subjects they teach.
James Simpson, Carrie Leung, Twila Busby
SteamHead is a game-based approach to learning where students select and research topics of importance to them and then design a fashion tech runway garment to exhibit and raise interest for their advocacy cause. The MakeFashion Edu Advocacy Course teaches digital literacy by presenting students with high-stakes situations in which their advocacy topics are presented to a public audience, as well as a larger global online audience. The professionalism of the platform directly affects the student’s motivation to ensure that mis/dis-information is carefully avoided. The approach, training, and activity materials have been published online, for free, on a digital platform.
Agents of Influence
Anahita Dalmia, Jasper McEvoy, Alex Walter, Nick Griffth, Goutham Dindukurthi
Agents of Influence is an interactive game designed for middle school students to build habits which will last a lifetime and prepare them to deal with misinformation they will encounter in high school and into their adult lives. In this innovation, students engage with characters in a parallel world where they are emotionally invested in the problem of misinformation, complete with personalized performance feedback and recommendations on resources to improve their skills to combat misinformation. This game can currently be downloaded for use on a Mac or PC and there are future plans to develop paid web-based iOS and OS.
Ed Madison, Scott Landis, Maya Lazaro, Ross Anderson, Hans Boyle, Megan Denneny
Journalism Jumble is a digital application that generates real-world social media posts for teachers to use in classroom discussions. These examples allow students to compare and contrast online content and learn to better evaluate a social media post’s credibility, whether it’s a Tweet or Facebook post. Teachers can search for examples on the application based on topics like COVID-19 vaccinations, climate change, or election results. Teachers can also use the application to generate these examples before class time to insure their appropriateness for students. This innovation aims to teach digital literacy skills by pulling current examples from the news source that’s most popular with young people: social media. By focusing on this medium and the stories that students see in their news feeds every day, Journalism Jumble aims to make digital literacy content authentic, relevant, and engaging.
Mia Kim Williams, Letha Mellman, Kali McCrackin Goodenough, James Kapptie
Critical Players is a prototype tabletop game with supporting curricular materials that promote players’ development of digital literacy skills through the content of the game, mechanics of gameplay, and class dialog. The game explicitly engages players in behaviors that mirror social media use to build awareness of how information is privileged and shared. It is intended that critical discourse takes place during the game; however, a curriculum guide provides scaffolding for deconstructing gameplay, describing and questioning experiences, and engaging in difficult conversations in order to promote more formalized critical discourse in the classroom. As development of this game prototype continues, there will be both an augmented reality overlay to the physical game that will allow for current event information to be incorporated, and a game design component so that youth can participate in critical conversations about digital literacy as they participate in collaborative design.
Alija Blackwell, Jessica Yoo
YAS! is a cooperative game to foster agency for youth digital rights. This innovation engages players on an adventure through Enchantedland to collaboratively create a healthy digital ecosystem. By completing tasks that bring to life the community as a classroom using augmented reality, players learn how their decisions create digital footprints that shape the health of Enchantedland’s environment. The goal of this innovation is for players to understand how their digital footprint is created and to combat misinformation through data protection.
Applications are closed. Information is here for reference.
Many learners spend significant time each day online, yet have never received training on how to engage with the information they encounter. Our future depends on our ability to strengthen learners’ digital literacy skills, in order to combat misinformation and promote civil discourse in digital spaces. Your innovative idea could be part of the solution.
The Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education is announcing the Digital Literacy Accelerator. The Digital Literacy Accelerator calls upon interested participants to design, prototype, pilot, and refine an educational intervention aimed at helping students and adults learn crucial skills related to strengthening digital literacy, particularly around civil discourse and identifying and combating misinformation. Those selected to participate will have a chance to receive support from leading experts in both digital literacy and design thinking as well as support from peers and leaders.
Key Dates & Deadline
- September 16, 2021: Entry form opens
- September 23, 2021: Pre-submission webinar (View recording)
- October 14, 2021: Submission deadline
- October 8-21, 2021: Submission review period
- October 22-25, 2021: Final selection and announcement of teams
Goals of the Digital Literacy Accelerator
The Digital Literacy Accelerator has one overarching goal — to identify interventions that have a pathway for improvement and success in the school driven digital literacy space. The interventions should target one of three user groups: Grades 6-9; Grades 9-12; and Adult Learners.
The Digital Literacy Accelerator hopes to accomplish this goal through these specific aims:
- Surface innovative ideas and strategies that support learners in evaluating and combating misinformation and promoting civil discourse in digital spaces, while allowing the most innovative ideas to start a path to success beyond the Digital Literacy Accelerator.
- Provide diverse teams with an opportunity to develop and demonstrate a “proof of concept” of these ideas, by providing teams with access to convenings, experts, and resources to strengthen their skills in design thinking and early phase development.
- Provide tangible early proof points of success in either of two forms: 1) either showing signs of promise for school-driven (in-school, after-school, or at-home) interventions or tools that can move the needle on learners’ digital literacy or 2) key learnings for future iterations for improving skills related to digital literacy.
- Engage and motivate a diverse cadre of postsecondary students and young professionals to address issues related to digital literacy and pursue work in educational technology.
The Digital Literacy Accelerator
The Digital Literacy Accelerator will offer participants a hands-on opportunity to iterate on new ideas that can be applied to innovative educational interventions related to digital literacy.
- What is your idea for an intervention to support digital literacy?
- What are the strengths and skills your team will use to design, prototype, and refine your idea?
Each team (2-5 members per team) will have a chance to win a minimum of $2,000 in prize money by completing 4 milestones in the design process. Teams will receive a minimum of $500 for each milestone associated with their acceptance and convening activities.
Who Can Apply?
Any member of the general public at least 18 years of age is eligible to apply. We recommend that teams consist of 2-5 people who have skills related to design thinking, coding, curriculum development, user testing, or other related fields. Preference will be given to diverse teams of postsecondary students or young professionals who are partnered with an advisor. For additional information on team composition, please see the Scoring Rubric.
Timeline for the Digital Literacy Accelerator
- October 22-25 – Selected entrants are notified
- Early November – Orientation
- Mid-November – Convening 1
- Mid-December – Communities of Practice 1
- Early February – Convening 2
- Late February – Communities of Practice 2
- Mid-March – Communities of Practice 3
- Late April – Convening 3
These activities are designed to support participants in turning their ideas into final prototypes over the course of the Digital Learning Accelerator. The convenings will gather teams together to share and learn from one another, to workshop ideas and troubleshoot problems, and to learn from experts in the field. We hope to create a supportive learning environment in which participants are engaged, inspired, and informed, and we hope to create a community where teams can deepen relationships, generate ideas and solutions, raise challenges, and identify lessons learned.
Need More Info?
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
- Check out the OET blog for resources and information on providing a strong submission.
Click here for the official rules, terms, and conditions.