Launching a Digital Literacy Accelerator
A strong democracy relies on an informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizenry. Digital technology and social media are rapidly changing the way that citizens consume, create, and share information. Many learners spend significant time each day online, yet they have never received training on how to engage meaningfully with the information they encounter. Our country’s civic present and future depend on our ability to strengthen learners’ digital literacy skills, particularly in relation to combating misinformation and promoting civil discourse in digital spaces.
The Office of Educational Technology (OET) at the U.S. Department of Education is actively looking for ways to promote digital literacy. OET believes that one effective way to support digital literacy is through innovative educational technology (edtech) tools created by a diverse array of developers who have a range of different backgrounds, life experiences, and education.
To support the development of these 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. Specifically, the DLA was established to surface innovative edtech ideas and strategies to support middle school, high school, and postsecondary learners in (a) evaluating and combating misinformation and (b) promoting civil discourse in digital spaces. The DLA supported teams in developing their edtech innovations through ongoing access to convenings, experts, and resources to strengthen their skills in design thinking and early phase development.