Intervention: MediaSmarts (Intervenor 219)

Document Name: 2015-134.223938.2393455.Intervention(1f@sv01!).doc
[image: MediaSmarts_Bilingual_Eng_Logo_w_tag_beside_CMYK]
Submitted electronically
July 13, 2015
Mr. John Traversy
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Ottawa, ON *** ***
**** Mr. Traversy:
Re: Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134: Review of basic telecommunications services. Phase 1
1. MediaSmarts wishes to take this opportunity to provide written comments on this consultation.

2. MediaSmarts was launched in 1995, as Media Awareness Network, through a CRTC initiative on television violence. We were initially supported through a start-up grant from Bell Canada and funding from Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage. Today we are recognized as Canada’s foremost national organization for digital and media literacy. MediaSmarts develops digital and media literacy programs and resources for Canadian homes, schools and communities. Through our work we support adults with information and tools so they can help children and teens develop the critical thinking skills they need for interacting with the media they love. Our work falls into three main areas: education, public awareness, and research and policy.

3. As noted by the consultation document, Canadians increasingly rely on telecommunications devices and services for a variety of everyday activities including banking, education, health, government services, shopping, entertainment and social networking. In this new environment, the idea of “literacy” as we once knew it only partially covers the communication capacities, competencies and comportments needed to fully participate in the digital economy and society. Being digitally literate is now essential to Canadians being able to fully exercise their rights of citizenship.

4. MediaSmarts is participating in this consultation because it is an advocate and resource for digital literacy for young people and adults. There is an opportunity in this hearing to ensure that MediaSmarts has an ongoing role to play in helping Canadians get the most out of their telecommunications services.

5. Digital literacy includes, but goes beyond, simple technology skills. Just as traditional literacy goes beyond comprehension to include the more complex skills of composition and analysis, digital literacy includes a deeper understanding of, and ultimately the ability to create a wide range of content with various digital tools. Established and internationally accepted definitions of digital literacy are generally built on three principles: the skills and knowledge to use a variety of digital media software applications and hardware devices, such as a computer, a mobile phone, and Internet technology; the ability to critically understand digital media content and applications; and the knowledge and capacity to create with digital technology. (The elements of digital literacy and the skills required are graphically represented in Appendix “A”.) 6. MediaSmarts believes that digital literacy should be positioned in the center of young people’s education experience, not only as a distinct curriculum area but also as a cross-curricular knowledge and competence domain that is the 21st Century addition to the “3 R’s”. Unfortunately schools face many barriers in successfully integrating networked communications technologies into the curriculum and teaching practice. One complicating factor of today’s digital landscape is the rapid and unsettling manner in which change has occurred and continues to occur. School systems in Canada are scrambling to catch up to the changes in the everyday ways of doing things that are predominant in workplaces, homes and community settings. In the first decade of the 21st Century, participatory social networking took hold. In the second decade, a whole new generation of mobile devices is again transforming the digital landscape, providing new challenges and opportunities. These challenges and opportunities can be encapsulated in the comments of two educators who participated in a 2015 national survey of over 4,000 Canadian teachers conducted by MediaSmarts and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF): “It is very frustrating to implement technology in the classroom. I feel inadequately trained and feel I don't use technology to respond to students' individual needs” and “When students integrate online information they’ve found into classroom assignments, I feel that the world is opening up to them” (Networked Technologies in the Classroom National Summary Report [not yet published]).

In short, technology and the resulting changes to education, business and everyday culture rarely stand still long enough for us to take stock of what just happened, to catch a deep breath in order to respond adequately. Even as education systems plan their next moves, the technologies continue to evolve.

7. Another issue for schools is the ‘digital divide’. Reducing this divide is an ongoing challenge that has implications on social cohesion. Within Canada there is a divide between rural and urban areas with respect to accessing broadband, making it difficult for teachers in more remote communities to integrate technology into their classrooms. This comment from a participant in the CTF/MediaSmarts survey reflects the sentiments of many respondents: “As we live in the ****, our Internet access at school is incredibly unreliable. In the past I have planned whole lessons using fantastic websites that went completely wrong” (Networked Technologies in the Classroom National Summary Report). Additionally there are concerns regarding access within marginalized diverse communities and vulnerable youth. Poverty is another key issue with respect to the digital divide: our education systems often assume that homes have access to telecommunications and digital tools and parents have the digital literacy skills to teach their children to use them. “The inequality of access to digital technology outside of the classroom means that students are at different places in the classroom in regards to comprehension on how to use them” (Networked Technologies in the Classroom National Summary Report). With higher income families, children may have many opportunities to access technology, however financially challenged parents may be unable to access these tools, which can impact their ability to assist their children in learning digital skills.

8. In the national survey teachers noted the many barriers they face in successfully integrating digital technologies and digital literacy into their teaching practice. These included issues relating to network performance including slow speed, intermittent access or connections being overwhelmed by too many students using them. Limited or no access to networks was also cited as a problem in many schools and students’ homes.

9. [bookmark: _GoBack]Access to connectivity and tools alone, however, is not sufficient to provide the wide range of skills students and adults need, including accessing online information, creative expression, information management, etc. Building networks doesn’t ensure people will use them: while over 99 percent of Canadian households have “access” to fixed and mobile broadband, almost 25 percent do not take advantage of this (Communications Monitoring Report, CRTC, 2013). The majority of reasons cited by non-users of the Internet can be combined into a broad “lack of digital literacy” category, which includes: no interest (36.8 percent); no need/not useful (20.7 percent); and, lack of skills or training (20.1 percent). (Canadian Internet Use Survey, Statistics Canada, October 2011.) 10. Digital literacy is essential to maximize the investments already made in telecommunications infrastructure and to ensure that Canada continues to move up the productivity ladder and develop a digitally‐savvy citizenry. Digital literacy is that next step which gives Canadians the adaptive skills they need to advance their interests as citizens and consumers, and guarantees they will benefit from the digital economy and society and derive new opportunities for employment, innovation, creative expression and social inclusion.

11. A CRTC-commissioned paper on convergence trends notes the important function of regulators in supporting the development of digital literacy skills: “Governing bodies and regulators have a role to play in promoting digital literacy and encouraging citizens to access and utilize digital information, communications, and technologies,” and “[i]ncreased digital, mobile and social media literacy in Canada will contribute to the co-creation of a diverse and richly connected culture benefiting all members and participants." (Environmental Scan of Digital Media Convergence Trends: Disruptive Innovation, Regulatory Opportunities and Challenges, 2011.) 12. We thank the Commission for specifically referring to MediaSmarts as a potential recipient of social benefits under the proposed new model for tangible benefits resulting from an acquisition of broadcasting assets (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-558, para 24, 2013). MediaSmarts always welcomes funding received from benefits packages but they cannot be relied on as a primary source of funding as it is impossible to predict when there will be an acquisition and whether MediaSmarts will be considered for social benefits spending.

13. MediaSmarts plays a critical role in our telecommunications system by working to ensure Canadians have the digital literacy skills necessary to fully participate in the digital economy and society. We urge the Commission to ensure that any decisions through this public hearing take into consideration the importance of digital literacy in providing opportunities for Canadians and to help MediaSmarts find ongoing stable funding from the Canadian telecommunications industry so that it can continue to provide digital literacy resources to all Canadians.

Thank you for the opportunity to express our views on this important matter. We look forward to discussing these points further in Phase 2 of this consultation.

Yours sincerely,
[image: ****_Wing_sig]
**** Wing
Co-Executive Director
Appendix “A”
ALT Text for the following graphic image:
Digital literacy achievements:
ICT innovation (in ICT/with ICT)
Constructive social action
Critical/creative thinking
Digital literacy opportunities and competencies:
Understand and Create:
* Rights and responsibilities
* Social awareness and identity
* Pooling knowledge
* Judgement
* Problem-solving
* Reflection
* Cultural empowerment
* Citizenship
* Research/information fluency
* Distributed cognition
* Appropriation
* Creativity
* Networking
* Simulation
* Decision making
* Navigation skills
* Assessing skills
* Multi-tasking
* Input/output skills
* Tools and text skills
Access to distribution, infrastructure and tools
[image: digital-literacy-model]

950 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 120, Ottawa, ON *** *** Canada │Tel: *-***-***-**** │Fax: *-***-***-**** │******@***.com3


950 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 120, Ottawa, ON *** *** Canada │Tel: *-***-***-**** │Fax: *-***-***-**** │******@***.comm INNOVAYION :oNswuchE cnchL/cnsmv:

(m ucr/wmucn socuLAcnoN mmxma
«AvleAnoN mus
USE mow/own" mus
Accnsme mus
vooLs s vsxv sum
MedIaSmarts aifili'fi.'lés:c”3

Intervention: MediaSmarts (Intervenor 219)

Document Name: 2015-134.223938.2393456.Intervention(1f@sw01!).html

Copie envoyée au demandeur et à tout autre intimé si applicable / Copy sent to applicant and to any respondent if applicable: Non/No