The mLiteracy project intends to promote information literacy and digital fluency via mobile devices. Whether accessing reading materials, searching for information about economic opportunities or avoiding misinformation and debunking disinformation, the project sets out to challenge librarians to have an informed opinion and critical perspective on social goods, available via our devices.
The mLiteracy initiative is being run by the Goethe-Institut and Weblearning. After having paused during the pandemic, we recently relaunched, spending a week in Johannesburg and three weeks in Ekurhuleni, running day workshops for public librarians. Here we explored the new opportunities and challenges offered by the combination of free WiFi and widespread ownership of mobile devices.
Covid-19 has confirmed the important roles that digital connectivity plays in economically peripheral areas. And data and devices are either amplifying existing inequalities, barriers, and constraints, or allowing these disadvantages to be breached. During the workshops, our focus was on the complex reality of devices, data and information. We explored how librarians might build relationships and learn together with their library patrons and support their use of phones to read or backtrack Fake News. During the sessions we looked at social publishing projects that are offering digitized mobile friendly reading materials as social goods, that can be accessed via mobile devices. If your first language is not English, then the storybooks available to young readers is limited, expensive and often not representative of the readers cultural heritage or family structure. Social Publishers (SP), like African Storybook, Bookdash, Fundza, Na’li Bali and Bula Bula are five projects who create reading materials for “neglected audiences”. Rather than operate on a profit basis, these publishers are driven by a mission. They see their books as a social goods, to be directed where they are most needed.