3 April 2019

404 Error? The European Democracy network delves into digital literacy and its role in democracy

The European Democracy network Spring Meeting on the 18th March plunged its participants and members of the network into a multitude of discussions on what digital literacy is, its links to democracy, and the ways and means by which philanthropy could act in improving digital literacy.

The day long meeting at Philanthropy House, conducted in conjunction with Civitates, featured 3 main discussions with a host of speakers, both from the philanthropic sector and from organisations involved in digital literacy training and support, illuminating the topics of discussion at hand to members of the network.

The opening discussion featured Catherine Miller of Doteveryone and Attila Rausch of Eötvös Loránd Universitydiscussing the importance of digital literacy to modern democracy, and the impact that the current severe lack of digital literacy and understanding has upon society today. With increased digital inclusion providing a majority of people with basic digital skills, more than 90% in the UK for example, the need for an increased understanding of the digital landscape is a key challenge facing society at the moment.

How philanthropy can aid in remedying this issue and the means by which they can enter into solving it provided the topic of the second discussion of the day. Gina Eibner of the European Association for the Education for Adults, Hans Martens of the European Schoolnet, and Matthias Spielkamp of AlgorithmWatch each delivered their experiences on the matter from the point of view of teaching and training adults, and the youth, in digital literacy and understanding.

One potential point of entry was increased research, for example into the impacts of advertising on social media platforms, another focused upon improved education and regulation, and another on infrastructure, with the main theme being that systemic problems need systemic solutions and that there is no simple path forward in this matter. A multidisciplinary approach is needed.

The final discussion of the day was opened to the floor for the participants to discuss at length the points raised at the earlier two discussions and share any issues, thoughts, or ideas they had identified earlier.

For further information on the meeting or the work of the European Democracy network please contact Jennifer Fitzsimons.