Thematic Areas


The DLRP offers tools around several areas of youth life important to understand as one navigates connected learning environments and the broader digital world. Each DLRP tool is tagged with its primary thematic area. Given the highly interconnected nature of the areas provided below, the vast majority of tools fall under a secondary theme(s).


Artificial Intelligence: Understanding of the AI systems one encounters on a daily basis, the algorithms involved in the platforms one interacts with, and the ethical conversations happening around the development of these technologies.


Civic and Political Engagement: The ability to participate in public matters and advocate for change — using digital and non-digital tools — ideally to promote the quality of life in one’s community, from micro to macro levels. (e.g., LGBTQ rights; peace building; addressing hate speech) (Levine, 2007).


Computational Thinking: The understanding and application of computational concepts, practices, and perspectives. Computational concepts include concepts designers leverage as they program (e.g., “sequencing,” or identifying a set of steps for a task; “loops,” or running the same series of steps multiple times). Computational practices represent the practices designers cultivate while they program (e.g., “experimenting and iterating;” “reusing and remixing,” or creating something by building upon current ideas/projects). Finally, computational perspectives refers to the perspectives designers develop about themselves, their connections to others, and the technological world more broadly (e.g., “connecting,” or understanding the power of developing content both with and for others) (Brennan & Resnick, 2012).


Content Production: The capacity to produce content using digital tools.


Contextual Literacy: The ability to interpret/understand/be aware of the contextual factors of relevance (e.g., cultural, social, local/regional/global) in a given situation — with a particular emphasis on the perspectives of underrepresented groups, whether in terms of age, ethnicity, race, gender and sexual identity, religion, national origin, location, skill and educational level, and/or socioeconomic status — and effectively engage in it.


Data Literacy: The technical ability and critical thinking skills to create, collect, represent, evaluate, interpret, and analyze data from traditional and digital sources.


Digital Access: Knowing how to connect to and access the Internet, individually or collectively (e.g., mesh technologies).


Digital Economy: Knowing how to navigate economic activities online and offline to earn different forms of economic, social, and/or cultural capital (e.g., earning money; increasing social connections; building personal brands).


Digital Literacy: The cognitive and technical ability to use the Internet and other digital tools/platforms effectively to find, interact with, evaluate, create, and reuse information (Palfrey & Gasser, 2016). The ability to comprehend and work through conceptual problems in digital spaces (Carretero, Vuorikari, & Punie, 2017).


Identity Exploration and Formation: The ability to use digital tools to explore elements of one’s own identity, and understand how the communities one is part of shape one’s identity.


Information Literacy: The ability to find, interact with, evaluate, create, and reuse information (broadly speaking; e.g., news, health information, personal information) effectively (Palfrey & Gasser, 2016).


Legal Literacy: Knowledge of the legal frameworks/concepts/theories surrounding the Internet and other digital tools (e.g., copyright; fair use), and the ability to apply these frameworks to one’s activities.


Media Literacy: The set of competencies and sociocultural practices that allow one to analyze, evaluate, circulate, and create content in any media form (e.g., print, visual, interactive, audio), and to participate in communities and networks.  “Media literacies,” in plural, include both “media literacy” (Hobbs, 2010), and what some researchers have conceptualized as “new literacies” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2007) and “new media literacies” (Jenkins et al., 2006). That is, they encompass literacy approaches that not only focus on individual engagement with media (media literacy) but also competencies that address community involvement and participatory cultures. Additionally, “media literacies” also include traditional literacies such as reading and writing.


Positive/Respectful Behavior: The ability to interact with others (both individuals and the larger collective) online in a respectful, ethical, socially responsible, and empathic manner.


Privacy and Reputation: The knowledge and skills to protect one’s personal information online, and that of others. An understanding of the digital ‘trail’ left behind as a result of the activities one engages in online, the short- and long-term consequences of this trail, and how to properly manage one’s virtual footprint.


Safety and Well-being: The knowledge and ability needed to counteract the risks that digital tools present to protect one’s physical and mental well-being (e.g., guarding against Internet addiction, and repetitive stress syndrome). Online risks can be classified along three main dimensions: conduct (e.g., cyberbullying; sexual harassment/unwelcome ‘sexting’), contact (e.g., face-to-face meeting after online contact; communication with individuals pretending to be another person), and content (e.g., exposure to pornographic content; violent/aggressive content/harmful speech; content about drugs; racist content) (Livingstone et al., 2013).


Security: The knowledge and ability needed to protect the integrity of one’s information, IT systems, and digital assets.