Digital Literacy

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Digital literacy is the knowledge and skills that we use to access, understand, and use technology – devices, software, the internet – to not only work or get things done, but to problem solve, pool knowledge, and understand the world around us as well.  Many adults do not have access to technology or the internet; many others do not have adequate skills to use the technology.

Examples of our current and past research projects in involving digital literacy include:

Do Information Technologies Help Reduce Discrimination? Public Sector Natural Field Experiments in a Developing Country (Alberto Chong, PhD). In this project, researchers take advantage of a natural experiment in Bolivia, a country were all adult citizens must have national ID cards.  While the authors show that staff that has access to information technologies is more productive, they also show that they are less prone to ask for bribes. The reason for the latter is that information technologies reduce discretionality of employees, for instance, they are unable to claim that the documentation “got lost” and that effort (and money) would be needed to find the documents.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Randomized Controlled Trials in Latin America (Alberto Chong, PhD). This is a book that collects a series of randomized controlled trials and quasi experimental exercises in several countries of Latin America. The authors provide a broad discussion of their ICT interventions, which range from radio programs in rural areas, to text messages to remind people to save money. This research shows the conditions by which ICTs can be useful in developing areas, and in particular in Latin America.

Adaptive Educational Technologies for Literacy Instruction (Scott Crossley, PhD). These projects focus on developing educational technologies that adapt to the students’ needs and abilities. The projects focus on providing strategy training to students to help increase literacy skills such as persuasive writing and text comprehension.

The Tool for the Automatic Analysis of Text Cohesion (TAACO): Automatic Assessment of Local, Global, and Text Cohesion (Scott Crossley, PhD). A number of natural language processing (NLP) tools have been developed at GSU to automatically analyze texts. These tools focus on linguistic features related to text cohesion, lexical sophistication, syntactic complexity, and sentiment analysis. The tools can be used to better understand qualities of text related to literacy such as writing quality, text readability, and text comprehensibility.

Doctor-Patient Discourse in On-Line Email Diabetes Care (Scott Crossley, PhD). The purpose of this project is to develop and validate a novel, automated linguistic complexity profile (LCP) to assess secure message content generated by English-speaking type 2 diabetes patients and their providers. The goal of the project is to create an automated, LCP-based prototype that delivers feedback to providers on the linguistic complexity of their secure messages in order to better align providers’ messages to their patients’ literacy.

Health information seeking behaviors in technology rich environments (Iris Feinberg, PhD). This paper presents data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies with a focus on the interrelationships among health information seeking behavior (HISB), and health status or use of preventive health measures for U.S. adults both with and without a high school diploma. A key finding is that the Internet appears to play a key role in both enhancing health status and enabling use of preventive measures for those with and without a high school diploma; although, individuals without a high school diploma who use the Internet for health information derive substantial benefit in health status.

Developing Instructional Approaches Suited to the Cognitive and Motivational Needs of Struggling Adult Readers (Daphne Greenberg, PhD). AutoTutor is an intelligent tutoring system on the web that delivers comprehension instruction. It includes conversational pedagogical agents that motivate and navigate the learner through learning lessons and activities. The system includes adaptive conversational trialogues with two animated conversational agents (teacher and student) that interact with the adult learner in each AutoTutor lesson. The curriculum has 35 lessons with trialogues that cover specific comprehension strategies. The system collects student performance on each item within each lesson for use by the students’ teachers. Click here to see a 5 minute YouTube video on AutoTutor: