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Abstract

While new technology continues to develop and become increasingly affordable, and students have increased access to digital media, one might wonder if requiring such technology in the classroom is akin to throwing the car keys to a teen-ager who has not completed a driver’s education course. The purpose of this study was to develop a valid and reliable quantitative survey providing accurate data about the digital online media literacy of university-level students in order to better understand how digital online media can and should be used within a teaching/learning environment at a university. This study identifies core constructs of media literacy as recognized by noted researchers including ethical awareness, media access, media awareness, media evaluation, and media production. Because of the familiarity with media technology by today’s traditional higher education students and the expectation to incorporate these tools in the classroom, the digital divide that once was separated by socio-economic status may be shifting instead to divide generations. While this study is confined to the creation of the instrument, the survey – in the future – is intended to measure digital media literacy levels in both university students and faculty to determine if differences exist between those two groups and to better understand how digital media can and should be used within a teaching/learning environment at a university. Using a 12-step process, the study resulted in a 50-item instrument allowing a quantitative measurement of digital online media literacy. Results repeatedly showed a reliable instrument when viewed as a whole, with individual constructs indicating varying degrees of reliability on their own. The instrument was found to be reliable with a .919 overall coefficient.

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