Digital Media and Learning

digitial media

Digital media applications for learning represent a pragmatic approach to moving our education system forward. These applications are used both in and out of the classroom to make learning relevant, foster critical thinking skills, and empower students to be active participants in knowledge creation.

The primary communication challenge for digital media and learning proponents is to shift the focus from risks and recreational dimensions to opportunities and skills for lifelong learning. To this end, FrameWorks Institute has engaged in a multi-method research project, with support from a grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to design and advance more effective ways to communicate the field of digital media and learning.

Below, you will find FrameWorks Institute research reports (Research & Recommendations), a link to the DML Framing Toolkit, and a video of the cultural models research.

Our Funders

FrameWorks research on Digital Media and learning was funded by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Research & Recommendations

A Hands-on Approach to Talking About Learning and Digital Media: A FrameWorks MessageMemo (2012).
This new MessageMemo summarizes the findings from FrameWorks’ research and provides front-line communicators with a communications map for improving the public’s understanding of digital media and learning both in and outside of the classroom, and for increasing support for digital media and learning opportunities in education.

The Stories We Are Telling: How Digital Media and Learning is Communicated by Ed Reformers (2012).

This study uses a Field Frame Analysis approach to identify whether and how DML issues are presented in the education reform field. One of the most important findings of this study is that there are prominent supporters of DML in the education reform field. However, the ways in which these organizations discuss DML, and learning and technology issues more generally, may actually hinder rather than build wider support for DML programs.

Valuing Digital Media and Learning: A FrameWorks Research Report on Values (2012).

The experiment assessed the ability of seven candidate values to promote more productive thinking on three dimensions related to DML. Progress and Pragmatism were the highest scoring values in: (1) creating more favorable views for a role for digital media in learning, (2) increasing respondents’ acknowledgement of the benefits of digital media that experts cite, and (3) expanding support for policies that implement the kinds of interactive and experiential learning proposed by DML experts and advocates. We suspect that combining the values of Progress and Pragmatism will provide a potent “one-two” punch that could cause significant changes in the way people orient themselves toward this issue.

Faster and Fancier Books: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Digital Media and Learning (2010).
This report lays the groundwork for the larger reframing project by comparing expert discourse on this topic with the ways that average Americans talk and think about digital media and learning. Data from interviews with members of these groups are compared to examine gaps in understanding that can ultimately be addressed through strategic communication strategies.

Where’s the Learning? An Analysis of Media Stories of Digital Media and Learning (2011).
This report examines the explicit and implicit messages embedded in the media’s presentation of issues related to digital media and learning in the nation’s newspapers, radio and TV news sources. When mainstream news outlets discuss issues related to digital media and learning, the focus is mainly on uses in the business and political sectors, ignoring the potential of digital media as interactive pedagogical tools for K-12 children. The report underscores significant opportunities to shift public understanding of this issue by framing digital media as an interactive, hands-on and engaged approach to student learning.

Informational not Pedagogical: Peer Group Perceptions of Digital Media and Learning (2011).

This report shares the results of peer discourse sessions conducted with diverse groups of civically engaged people about digital media and learning. This research demonstrates the utility of explanatory metaphors in translating the expert discourse on digital media and learning to lay audiences and the necessity of both explanatory metaphors and values for garnering support for social policies that can show people how the mentored use of digital media can be used to produce better outcomes in American education.

Information Is the Main Ingredient: Using Metaphor to Enhance Understanding of Digital Media and Learning (2012).
This report presents the results of metaphor development research based on the use of qualitative and quantitative methods with over 2100 members of the public, as well as a usability test drive with DML advocates themselves. Our research yielded two productive metaphors: (1) Cooking with Information and (2) Information Driver. Cooking with Information is an effective metaphor in expanding the public’s understanding of using digital media as a hands-on, interactive tool for lifelong learning. Information Driver is another successful metaphor for opening up opportunities for productive discussions on teacher mentorship and the facilitated learning process.

Framing Toolkit

Talking About Digital Media and Learning
Our toolkit offers a suite of empirically-based application tools to help experts and advocates build public support for digital learning policies and programs. These communication tools include talking points, frequently asked questions, sample op-eds, and key framing guides.


In this video we look at findings from Cultural Models interviews FrameWorks conducted with everyday Americans to find out how they think and talk about digital media, learning, and how the two are related. This video shows us the "pictures in their heads."

This video is a final summary of FrameWorks' research findings and communications recommendations on Digital Media and Learning.

FrameWorks Institute

  Updated: 02/02/15