Welcome to Talking About Digital Media and Learning – a compendium of framing research and application tools on how Americans think about the role of digital media in education. This toolkit helps advocates and experts increase public support for educational initiatives to make learning relevant, foster critical thinking skills, and empower students, both in and outside of the classroom.
A decade of FrameWorks’ research demonstrates that effective communications can help activate the public’s thinking and engagement with issues as complex as American education and digital learning. Below, we provide research findings from several multi-method studies, as well as application guides and resources, to front-line communicators for deploying recommended framing strategies to shift the public conversation about digital media and learning.
This toolkit is complemented by an ongoing project to develop a Core Story of Education, based on research of public attitudes on skills, testing, and learning. To access these additional materials, please visit the FrameWorks Institute’s website issue page on Education.
The following research and framing tools were developed by the FrameWorks Institute for The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of the Digital Media and Learning Initiative.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 simplifying models in translating the expert discourse on digital media and learning to lay audiences and the necessity of both simplifying models 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Pictures in Their Heads: Digital Media and Learning
This 12-minute video will take you through 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 short flash presentation provides a quick overview of the research findings, drawing from on-the-street interviews and interactive group discussion to demonstrate the challenges communicators face, and the power of the reframing tools for DML.
This section provides a variety of framing tools intended to help advocates understand and apply the research findings and recommendations on how to talk about digital media and learning.
- Talking Points
Serve as reminders of the core frame elements needed to communicate effectively about digital media and learning. These can be used in preparation for media interviews, editorial board visits, or other public communications.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Highlight a few common questions about digital media and learning, with examples of effective and less-effective responses to each.
- Sample Op-Eds
Provide three examples of how to apply the framing strategies on digital media and learning to the format of guest editorials in a newspaper.
- Mentoring Students to Be Knowledge Producers in Today’s World
- To Improve Children’s Learning, Add Key Ingredients: Information Technologies
- Remodeling Our Education System with Digital Media
Key Framing Guides
- Navigating the Swamp
This is a supergraphic representation of the “swamp” of dominant patterns of the public’s thinking about digital media and learning. This visual serves as a reminder of the already existing themes in public thinking that front-line communicators must address.
- Basic Message Template
This template is an outline of a message frame for communicating about digital media and learning as an integral part of education and education reform efforts. The Talking Points, FAQs, and Sample Op-Eds also in this toolkit show a variety of ways to apply this basic message template.
- You Say, They Think
Provides an analysis of a series of frame clashes – you say one thing and the public thinks another – and shows how common communication frames about digital media and learning can get “eaten” in the swamp.