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University of North Dakota to Require Digital Literacy Classes

Starting this fall, incoming students will have to take a class in digital literacy, defined as the ability to use technology to find information, evaluate sources, create content and communicate with others effectively.

digital literacy
(TNS) — First-time students entering UND in the fall will be required to complete coursework in digital literacy to graduate.

University Senate members signed off on a proposal to include a course in digital information literacy among undergraduate students' general education requirements, known at UND as Essential Studies.

Transfer students entering the university in fall 2025 will also be subject to the requirement.

The course will help satisfy a mandate passed by the State Board of Higher Education last year to educate students in digital literacy, which the board defines as "ability to use technology to find information, evaluate sources, create content, and communicate with others effectively."

Per the board's mandate, the digital literacy requirement will be added into existing courses instead of adding another required general education class.

"What we're trying to do through this is infuse the idea of digital literacy throughout the curriculum," said Lori Robison, steering committee member and English department chair. "I love the idea that this isn't going to be the property of one particular discipline."

Faculty will need to participate in training and submit their revised courses for approval to fulfill the digital literacy requirement.

A handful of faculty will be "fast-tracked" so their courses can fulfill the digital literacy requirement beginning in the fall, but Robison said the "vast majority" of classes fulfilling the digital literacy requirement will not be available for incoming freshmen until their second or third year of college.

Incoming students will also be required to complete onboarding modules in cybersecurity, email and messaging safety and password practices.

Not all North Dakota University System institutions will require digital literacy courses — the NDUS policy allows for schools to require students to complete online modules or designated courses through Dakota Digital Academy — and students transferring from other state schools who have completed that school's digital literacy requirement will not have to do so at UND.

"We think we've gone above and beyond what the state asked us to do," Robison said.

Ultimately, 87 percent of the University Senate's members signed off in favor of the proposal, with 7 percent opposed and 5 percent abstaining.

Mark Jendrysik, a political science professor, was against adding to the "bloated" Essential Studies requirements and suggested the university should drop one of its existing general education requirements as a trade-off.

"We've been adding things to ES since ES was started," he said. "Are we adding more burden?"

©2024 the Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, N.D.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.