Digital Literacy and Youth Civic Engagement

Episode 5

Social media sometimes reveals the worst of humanity. But we also see people—especially youth—using it for necessary change. Erica Hodgin and Joe Kahne talk empowerment and civic engagement through digital media. 

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Resources and Readings

Erica Hodgin and Joe Kahne
Civic Engagement Research Group, Graduate School of Education, University of California—Riverside




Monita Bell: I recently had to explain to my seven-year-old that sometimes people use the Internet to say mean things about other people, and this was our example. A dear family friend, who was an educator, sent out a tweet encouraging teachers not to use cultural appropriation to teach about Thanksgiving and to teach the truth about this country’s relationship with Native people.

Sounds straightforward enough, but it resulted in swift backlash, news headlines and personal insults directed at this educator. She was called a “loon,” a “socialist scumbag,” “Stalin” (as in Joseph Stalin) and “dumb,” among many other, more profane things. She was accused of wanting to teach students to hate the United States and indoctrinate them into leftist and Marxist, and Fascist agendas. It went on and on.

My child was concerned for our friend. Now, I didn’t give her the details I just gave you, but I told her other people were showing our friend support; more importantly, I told her that our friend was using her voice to speak the truth, and in that, I think there’s a significant lesson.

I’m Monita Bell, your host for The Mind Online, a podcast of Teaching Tolerance, which is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In each episode, we’ll explore an aspect of the digital literacy world, what educators and students alike need to know, and how educators can guide students to be safe, informed digital citizens.

Thank you for joining me for today’s episode on digital literacy and youth civic engagement. If I had carried the conversation with my little one further, and I will soon, I would’ve told her that we can all use our voices to speak the truth, including her. Young people have done it for generations. Look at the Children’s March in Birmingham and the young people of Selma who protested for their parents’ right to vote.

Look at the students who walked out of their East L.A. schools in 1968 to protest the inequitable conditions in their district. Look at the young people of Chicago and Parkland today who have been organizing to help stop gun violence in their communities. The broader reach of social media makes it possible to foment and publicize civic action in ways we haven’t been able to in previous generations.

And the Black Lives Matter movement is a prime example of that. Yet, some people have criticized it as leaderless and aimless. Others have said it’s not “real activism” or it’s what some have called “slacktivism.” Today I’m talking with Erica Hodgin and Joe Kahne about this very idea, and much more.

They work with the Civic Engagement Research Group at the University of California at Riverside. Educators are in such an important position to support young people in using digital media to lift their voices and affect change. And Erica and Joe are in the business of supporting educators in this work. Let’s get into it.

Erica and Joseph, thank you so much for joining me today; I’m really excited to speak with you both. First, can we just start by having you introduce yourselves and telling us a little bit about what you do. Erica, you can start first.

Erica Hodgin: Sure, and thank you for having us. We’re really excited to talk to you. My name’s Erica Hodgin and I work as the associate director of the Civic Engagement Research Group with my colleague Joe Kahne and we’re based out of the University of California at Riverside in the Graduate School of Education. And our group focuses on a combination of research, but also working in the field with young people, with schools, school districts and teachers.

And our focus is supporting youth civic engagement and also understanding and promoting digital literacy as it relates to civic engagement. And just a little bit more background on myself: I, also before coming to our group, was a high school and middle school teacher here in California and taught English and social studies.

I think I’ll turn it over to Joe to introduce himself now.

Joe Kahne: Hi, and again, thank you for this opportunity. My name’s Joe Kahne and as Erica said, we work together in the Civic Engagement Research Group. I have been a professor for a good number of years, but like Erica, before doing that, was a high school social studies teacher. And we do a lot of studies of young people’s civic and political engagement and of the ways educators can support that and I think one of the things in the last few years we’ve really been emphasizing is the role of digital media and the need to think about how to support young people’s use of digital media to be effective within the civic and political realm.

Monita Bell: Thank you. Thank you both. I think the fusion of these two things—digital media and civic engagement—are so important, that fusion is so important. It’s something that’s certainly important to us and that we look forward to engaging our community about. You two are the perfect folks to talk to.

With that, I just want to jump right in. I think sometimes when we hear the terms “digital literacy,” different things come to mind to different people. So, I’d just like to know, how do you define digital literacy? What does it mean to you?

Joe Kahne: That is a great question, because I think one thing we found, and I can speak for myself where I started off with when I would hear a term like that was a focusing on the ability to sort of consume content that’s out there online or in different digital forms, to consume it thoughtfully, which means both to have enough background to understand what’s being discussed, but also how to do things like judge the credibility of what’s out there.

The more, though, that we’ve delved into this, the more we realized of course, that part of what makes the digital revolution so important is that it creates opportunity for all of us and in some ways especially for young people because they’re on the cutting edge of so much of this, not just to consume content, but also to remix content, to produce content and definitely to circulate content.

What that means is that a lot of the literacies that are needed go far beyond consumption, as we think about literacy like the ability to read a book. It goes far beyond consumption and it includes production, circulation, remixing, all of that.

Monita Bell: That’s a lot to think about. It’s a lot to grapple with because of the advancements we’ve made in the course of the digital revolution, as you were saying. I think sometimes people find it hard just to keep up, let alone teach about it in the various ways they can, I guess, get down to what’s most important when we’re teaching young people. That said, how do you think teachers can best convey these skills in their classrooms, especially when their time is so limited and there are so many demands regarding standards, et cetera? How can they approach it?

Erica Hodgin: Yeah, it’s such a great point. We know that time is limited and teachers are juggling so many different priorities and demands. And what we have seen in our work with educators across the country is that it works best when teachers are able to integrate digital literacy into their core curriculum in ways that extend their core aims and their goals.

How we like to think of it is that digital literacy is a core literacy for our world today. It’s incredibly important for young people to know how to navigate digital information, to be able to know how to express themselves in digital spaces and to be able to use those kinds of tools—not only to learn, but also to communicate.

We have really seen digital literacy as a thread that can be woven into many different content areas. Of course, across social studies and English, but also we’ve seen in math and science the ways in which it can help to extend and expand the curriculum. Ideally, it’s not an add-on or an extra piece but instead is woven throughout. And we know also that young people really benefit from multiple opportunities to engage with digital media and to also learn about and to build their kinds of skills and capacities in digital literacy.

It’s really important for young people to have opportunities to use digital media in a variety of projects, and also I would say, too, that it’s really helpful for them to have just lots of practice as any of us, to really have opportunities to practice when the stakes are not so high. And then also to have projects, sort of higher stakes, deeper projects, but that combination is really important.

And I know that it, for many folks that are just starting out and thinking about how to integrate digital literacy, it can feel overwhelming or daunting and so, I always recommend that teachers pick one thing that will help to further expand their curriculum and what they’re already doing in the classroom and basically just start small and try one thing and then to sort of build from there and to really then learn alongside your students. I think that’s one way for teachers to really think about how to integrate it.

Monita Bell: Thank you for that. And I just want to go back to something you just said, actually, which was this idea of teachers learning alongside their students. Certainly, there are those of us who have more of a facility with using new tools and technologies than others. And so, do you have any thoughts about some good ways teachers can increase their learning on their own or any particular ... I was gonna ask you about resources later, but I think this is a good part to talk about that for those who are trying to build up their own knowledge.

Erica Hodgin: Yeah… No, I think it’s a great point and I mean, we can kind of speak to that throughout the conversation, but one thing I would say now, is that what we’ve really found is that it’s important for teachers to give themselves, to the extent that they can, time and space to really use the tools themselves.

If you’re wanting to, for example, have your students create or build an infographic, then it’s really helpful if you can give yourself some time to try to create an infographic yourself and see what comes up for you as you are learning, because that is in many ways the ways in which you can scaffold and support your students in learning it.

And then I would also say to find colleagues or people within your network, whether it’s in your building or outside of your building or online, to find teachers that are also learning and extending their practice in these ways and to really connect with them. And then, the other thing I would say is that, while young people are frequent ... many young people are frequent users of digital media, that doesn’t mean that they know necessarily how to use digital tools for academic purposes.

I think it’s really important that we don’t make assumptions that they do always know more than adults. I think the argument around the “digital native” is true in many respects, but in other ways, young people still really need support and we found through our surveys that young people want adult support in learning how to, for example, judge the credibility of information that they find online.

And we also know that in many ways, young people will use digital tools for social purposes, but that doesn’t mean they know how to pivot those kinds of skills that they’ve built up for a civic purpose or an academic purpose to really get their voice out there in those kinds of ways. It’s different than in social contexts.

Monita Bell: That’s really a great point. And we know studies have come out in the last year and change just about how much all of us really don’t know how to properly evaluate the information we see online, and that certainly applies to young people too. Thank you for stressing that.

We know that in some cases, people might be a little hesitant to dig into this in classrooms, so I’m glad you really spoke to keeping it simple when you’re starting out. I would say some of that hesitation also might lie around the age of the students or what grade you’re teaching.

Is there such thing as it being too early to start teaching these digital literacy skills?

Joe Kahne: You know, it’s a super interesting question. I think as with most aspects of learning, one needs to figure out what are the right things to talk about at different ages and what are the right ways to do it. But, increasingly, and I think going forward, it will just be true that a great deal of the information all of us get is gonna be coming through these forms of media and social media. That will be true and is true for, say, elementary-aged kids just as it’s true for high school students, just as it’s true for adults.

I think there’s no time that’s too soon in the same way that there’s no time that’s too soon in terms of what we might think of as conventional forms of literacy. But, that said, one has to think about how to do it with young kids in ways that is age-appropriate. A nice thing about starting early is I think as both you and Erica have highlighted, these are challenges that all of us face and struggle with and that are gonna take multiple opportunities to get better at.

It’s not something like you do a one-week or a three-week unit and then “bang”: people are digitally literate. Rather, it’s something that over time is gonna both need reinforcement and deepening. I think it’s great if folks can start in elementary school. But let me just highlight a couple things that you might want to think about as a teacher and that we’ve seen teachers thinking about when they do this in elementary school.

One big thing is to think about the question of audience. It may be that at the elementary school level, it’s more important to control and vet what kids see than you would do at the high school level. Those will always be concerns at any level within a school system. But it could well be that in an elementary school classroom if students write a blog, it would be released so that only other members of the class could comment on the blog or members of the class plus, say family members, could comment on the blog.

You might not do what you would do in a high school, where the blog might be much more live and there might be opportunities for other students in other districts or around the country to comment or where people might blog for a truly public, open audience. That might not be as appropriate at the elementary school level.

I think we’re always thinking about, and you need to always be thinking about what’s appropriate given the age of the kids. But, no doubt, these are issues that we’re all gonna have to deal with at all ages.

Monita Bell: Let’s take just a quick break. When you’ll learn about more ways and resources to make your practice and curriculum more equitable.

Did you know that Teaching Tolerance has other podcasts? We’ve got Teaching Hard History, which builds on our framework Teaching Hard History: American Slavery. Listen as our host, history professor Hassan Kwame Jeffries, brings us the lessons we should have learned in school through the voices of leading scholars and educators. It’s good advice for teachers and good information for everybody.

We’ve also got Queer America, hosted by professors Leila Rupp and John D’Emilio. Joined by scholars and educators, they take us on a journey that spans from Harlem to the frontier West revealing stories of LGBTQ life that belong in our consciousness and in our classrooms. Find both podcasts at and use them to help you build a more robust and inclusive curriculum.

Next, Erica, Joe and I talk empowerment in supporting young people in fusing their social and political lives.

I think I kind of wanna segue into the work around empowerment that is central to the work you’re doing. You’re focused on empowering students to translate digital literacy into civic engagement. And, I’d like you to kind of flesh out the link between the two, and I’m particularly interested in how this might apply to younger students.

Joe Kahne: You know, it’s a really interesting question. Just as literacy overall is being transformed by the digital revolution, there are amazing and significant changes to the ways in which the practice of politics have changed in the digital age, as well as the practice of other forms of civic engagement.

The Internet and digital media are now central to the political process. The features of social media and digital media more broadly are central to the way money is raised, to the way people get their information, to help people [mobilize] to act, to the ways those of us who have significant concerns might try to mobilize others.

Social media and the Internet more broadly structures through which people share perspectives and discuss issues. These changes have created powerful opportunities and I think particularly powerful opportunities for young people at the same time that they’ve created a lot of challenges.

Part of the reason that it’s made such a big difference for young people, which I think is part of your question, is because many of the practices they use almost constantly in their social lives are practices that also work very well in their political lives. And that’s actually a bit different than what we might think of as traditional forms of political activity, right?

For example, commenting or using memes, and circulating information through social media is very much parallels what they’re doing anyway around their interests, around their social engagement, around their interest in entertainment, things like that. But, young people didn’t do things like write op-eds as part of their social lives.

A lot of the traditional forms of political participation are really quite different than what kids do in their social lives, but that’s not true for digital. That really does align, and therefore kids can use some of the skills and practices and norms that develop through that social activity in the service of being involved civically and politically.

At the same time, this creates a lot of challenges. It’s true now that young people are more likely to get information about politics through social media than through institutional mechanisms like news broadcasts or reading the newspaper. But it’s also true that those forms of social media have less vetting and gatekeepers and as a result, there may be more misinformation, there may be more disrespectful interactions—a whole wide range of forms of dysfunction are common.

These are also challenging times for young people who are engaged in these ways and indeed, of course, they are challenging times for all of us when we engage in politics through these media.

I think one key question, then, is how can educators support youth to learn about these issues, to reflect on the dynamics that are new and emerging and to develop strategies for dealing productively with them.

Monita Bell: So, something that just occurred to me is, this notion that we hear a lot about young people and how they’re using, say, social media to advance activist causes. And that it’s not as effective as the activism we saw in the past like the ’60s and ’70s. It’s less cohesive. How do you address those kinds of sentiments in the work that you’re doing as you try to empower young people through those means that are being criticized?

Erica Hodgin: Yeah, I think that’s a question we all ask ourselves, is like, “What is the impact of these new forms of participation?” Especially as we compare them to historical and traditional forms. And I think as many people, the term “slacktivism” is often used to sort of talk about these various online forms of engagement and I think ... We have a colleague Jenn Earl at the University of Arizona who really tries to kind of flip the framing around slacktivism and instead she calls it “flash activism,” to be able to indicate that this is a form of engagement.

And instead of thinking about there’s engagement that has impact and there’s engagement that doesn’t, instead we think about a sort of spectrum of various ways you can engage that have different types of impact. It really, for something like flash activism where you get high numbers of people involved very quickly in a very specific way, can be very impactful, depending on the audience that you wanna reach and depending on your aim.

For example, you wanna impact one particular sort of corporation, for example, and you want a bunch of people to sort of come out and say, “We’re no longer gonna buy these products until they sort of shift their message or they shift their relationship around something.” Then, that can be really impactful. If you’re wanting people to be engaged over time, then you may use a different kind of strategy.

I think the other really important thing, and this connects to what Joe was saying is that, because many of the online and digital forms of civic engagement that we see young people using now, because it aligns so well with many of the ways that they engage generally, it creates these very important pathways into civic engagement that we didn’t have before.

If a young person may engage on a very quick, specific way around an issue that matters to them, then it creates a pathway to be engaged more in the future, and it creates an opening for them to sort of think about “What are other things I could do to sort of have an impact on this issue?” I think we have to reimagine the ways in which we think about that kind of spectrum of engagement and the different pathways that can really be significant for young people.

Maybe getting involved the first time around something by using digital media.

Monita Bell: How can teachers merge these two and encourage civic engagement through digital literacy? What are some things they can actually do in their classroom practice to encourage this?

Erica Hodgin: I think there, we found a number of different ways that teachers can make a difference and I think as we’ve all kind of spoken to, it really is important, we find, for teachers to integrate this combination of civic learning and digital literacy learning opportunities, that teachers really can play an important role. And as we’ve talked about, young people can be really frequent users of social media, but that doesn’t mean that they know how to sort of take their skills around texting or tweeting and then doing it for a powerful civic purpose.

There are four things that we’ve found from our research and also from our work with teachers that are ways that teachers can integrate this. The first one is around investigation. We’ve found that it’s really important for educators to find ways to support young people to analyze and evaluate the range of information and media that they can find online.

This is what we were talking about earlier that’s really helping young people, not only be able to judge the credibility and the accuracy of information, but particularly around social and political information for them to be able to also reflect not only the author’s bias or maybe political leaning, but also their own and how that might cloud their judgment of the accuracy of that information.

Then, the second thing is around dialogue. So, of course, civic dialogue has always been very important to democratic life and democratic education. But the digital world has sort of opened up all of these amazing opportunities to be able to engage in dialogue around pressing issues, around controversial issues that you wouldn’t normally have connected with before.

It can expose you to a range of perspectives and opinions. But at the same time in the online setting, it’s really important that we help young people know how to sort of navigate online civic dialogue in ways that can be productive and also respectful.

Then the third thing that we think is really important as you think about civic and digital literacy is to really help young people build the skills to be able to produce media, so to be able to produce content around a civic or political idea or content, and then to be able to circulate that in very strategic and impactful ways to the audience that you want to circulate it to.

Whether that’s you wanna raise awareness about an issue, you wanna kind of change the broader narrative or the story and bring in a new perspective, or if you really want to push back and give feedback around something.

Then, the final thing I would say is that we do find that it’s really important for young people to be able to learn effective strategies to work for change. If they do want to make a difference around an issue, for them to be able to understand, “What are the kinds of tactics and strategies that I can use?” and, “Where and when and to what extent is digital media gonna be helpful?” In many ways, we find that young people are using a combination, and also adults are using a combination of face-to-face strategies as well as digital media.

How do we help young people identify, “What are the ways in which I can be most effective and strategic and thoughtful as I’m learning about these issues and then wanting to respond to them?”

Monita Bell: I was—just a second ago, and … what you just said also is kind of playing into this question that I want to ask, which is about, I guess it’s the combination of the second, third and fourth points you were making. We see—I would say increasingly—uncivil discourse across the world, but certainly online, and we wanna be able to encourage young people to respond in respectful, productive and effective ways.

I’m wondering how—when you’re encouraging young people to engage in these respectful, civil ways, how does that focus translate into what they’re also producing online? Does that make sense?

Joe Kahne: Yeah. It does. Maybe a couple thoughts related to it. One of the things that we’ve seen a lot of, is that part of why digital engagement is very engaging for kids and why they sometimes are very well positioned to leverage the power of it, is it connects with things they do in their social lives.

But the flip side of that, or the related challenge associated with that, is many things kids do in their social lives and certainly many of the things they see when they watch how other people behave in these contexts aren’t what we might view as ideal when it comes to ways to interact either socially or politically.

There can be big incentives, for example, to say inflammatory things because that’s how you get attention and if you wanna see what you say circulated, sometimes you get positive feedback for doing things that as educators, we might not think are helpful, not think are civil, not think are appropriate. And so, it’s really important, as Erica was saying, for teachers not just to model appropriate behavior, but to talk with kids about it.

One of the things that we’ve seen when this happens, and it can be surprising, is how many students haven’t given a ton of thought to, and frankly ... this is probably true of all of us, of adults as well ... haven’t given a ton of thought to the consequences of some of the things we post or say. And the consequences can in many ways be more severe because you don’t have the face-to-face context that you might have in a classroom discussion where you can read how the audience is experiencing something.

It also can be worse because it can appear anonymous. In some ways, it can be for young people, and again, frankly, for adults as well, problematic because the shelf life of those comments can be forever. Unlike something you might say in a classroom that was inappropriate and then disappears, the things that you say that are inappropriate that are online can show up 10 years later.

All of this, I think, underscores the need that I think your question was getting at—to help students be reflective and thoughtful before they do some of those things. One thing we can say from both research on this, but research in general, is that not all students will take away those lessons when it’s talked about, but many, many students will; that they find explicit conversations about what are the pros and cons of handling a situation in this way versus that way super-helpful in shaping the way they then behave outside of the classroom setting.

To the extent that other students or the teacher can help them imagine new ways to respond to challenging situations, many students will use those methods or those approaches, or modify them for their own use, going forward. We think it can make a big difference.

Monita Bell: Speaking of making a difference, I was just reflecting on the fact that you both are former K– through 12 teachers. Erica, I believe you said you were ELA and English, do I have that right?

Joe Kahne: Yeah, and social studies.

Monita Bell: And social studies. And Joe, you taught social studies. I’m wondering with the research that you have done over the years through CERG and the other work you’ve done in your academic life, what do you know or understand now about how to integrate digital literacy into your work that you didn’t know back when you were teaching social studies or when you were teaching those other classes?

Erica Hodgin: I think I would say that when I was in the classroom, I think similar to what Joe said at the beginning of our conversation is that I really saw digital literacy as more about consumption and less about also helping my students to really think about production and circulation.

I think that’s one thing. I think the other thing that I didn’t necessarily see initially was that there is an aspect of engaging students with digital media and with digital tools and also opening up your classroom to this wider audience that stretches beyond your classroom walls.

I think I was maybe more overwhelmed or daunted by that than I may be now. I think that there’s an element of this that there can be some unpredictability; some things that come up that are kind of unknown.

But, I think there’s also an incredible power to that and incredible power to really letting your students lead and really letting students be ... letting their voices and the ways in which they identify tools that they might use that they’re very familiar with to really be okay with letting young people have a little bit more of the reins, I think in the classroom—especially as it comes to these types of tools or these platforms where they can really have a much more powerful and expansive voice and reach.

I think it’s very exciting and I think those are the things I didn’t quite maybe see when I was in the classroom before.

Monita Bell: Thank you for that, Erica. Any thoughts on your end, Joe?

Joe Kahne: When I was teaching high school, it was in the ’80s and the typical assignment related to this kind of thing would be “Can you look at a political cartoon?” Can a kid look at a political cartoon and figure out what the message was? That was what it meant to educate someone to engage with those kinds of media.

And of course, if they were doing research, “Can you go to the library, find magazine articles that speak to the issue you care about and take information down from those without plagiarizing?” It was so far from what would happen today if any of us were going to be researching an issue. We never showed kids political cartoons that were inappropriate. We never said, “Would this cartoon be something you’d want to circulate?” There was no way for kids to circulate.

They’d have to go to a photocopy machine or something and then hand them out. It would be absurd. I think there are just tons of ways in which this revolution around the ability to circulate, to remix, to create and to share as prime ways of influencing what people in their peer group are aware of, is both exciting and daunting.

Another thing that is very different, I think, and is also challenging for those of us in an academic space is many of the most productive political forms of communication are not five-paragraph essays. They are potentially tweets. They’re potentially posts on Instagram.

We don’t want to let the academic norms that we all grew up with, to be imagined as the only productive, important, way to communicate. To be fully literate in today’s world means knowing how to leverage all of these forms of communication. Those kinds of issues were never something I considered as a teacher.

Monita Bell: That’s such an important point: this idea of, as you just put it, not getting caught up in what we consider to be traditionally appropriate academic texts or texts for exploration in a classroom because the world we live in—that just doesn’t make sense anymore. Tweets are kind of essential to the news that we’re seeing every day. A lot of things break over Twitter, and young people need to be aware of that and have opportunities to explore that in class. Thank you for that.

I think we’re just about ready to wrap up now. Do you have any resources that you would recommend to educators as they build up their own knowledge; as they consider new ways of approaching both civic and digital literacy and engagement in the classroom? Any go-to’s?

Erica Hodgin: Yeah, well, if it’s okay to say some go-to’s that are things that we’ve created, then I’ll kind of mention a couple others, but I think one—

Monita Bell: You can totally do that.

Erica Hodgin: One thing that we are really excited about is that we just wrote an article called “Misinformation in the Information Age,” and it just came out in the September issue of the magazine Social Education. That’s through the National Council [for] the Social Studies on N-C-S-S.

Monita Bell: Oh, wonderful. Congratulations.

Erica Hodgin: If folks want to look at that ... Thank you. And that article speaks to much of what we’ve talked about and it also has some classroom examples of some ways in which teachers have integrated these things into their classrooms, so some projects and lesson ideas. And that can be found on the website, or on our website. So our Civic Engagement Research Group website is

Then the other two other resources I would mention, one is that we’ve worked in collaboration with the Teaching Channel, which many people may be familiar with, to develop a curated collection of videos of lessons and teachers doing this work in the classroom. So, if people are interested in seeing what can this actually look like in the day to day, there are some great videos there.

Then there are also other educational resources, readings, blog posts, some relevant research that people can look at. And that, on the Teaching Channel, it’s called “A Deep Dive on Educating for Democracy.” That’s one resource. Then, myself and two colleagues of mine, Carrie James and Sangita Shresthova, just developed, drawing on much of the research that Joe and I have talked about and then research of other teams we’ve worked with, developed something called The Digital Civics Toolkit and that’s just

That toolkit has a number of modules with lesson ideas and resources around how to engage around these kinds of practices that we just talked about and then, of course, we are tweeting out through a handle that we can share, which is @ed4democracy and the “for” is the number 4. So, it’s “E-D,” the number 4, and then “democracy.”

Monita Bell: Excellent. Excellent. Just, thank you again, both of you so much. This is so important. We know that throughout our history, young people have really led the way toward necessary change and speaking up for really important issues, or speaking up against injustice or just things that needed to change socially.

The work you’re doing is so important and the way you’re encouraging educators to encourage that engagement is so important. All right. Thank you for sharing your expertise, your resources and just all your fabulous work. Thank you so much.

Erica Hodgin: Thank you. We’re so glad to be able to have the conversation today.

Joe Kahne: Yeah, definitely. This has been great. So thank you very much for this chance.

Monita Bell: That was Erica Hodgin and Joe Kahne at the Civic Engagement Research Group at the University of California at Riverside. Thank you for tuning in to The Mind Online, a podcast of Teaching Tolerance, which is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. And special thanks to our guests, Erica Hodgin and Joe Kahne.

I am your host, Monita Bell, Senior Editor for Teaching Tolerance. This podcast was inspired by Teaching Tolerance’s Digital Literacy Framework, which offers seven key areas in which students need support developing digital and civic literacy skills, and features lessons for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms.

Each lesson is designed in a way that can be used by educators with little to no technology in their classrooms. The Digital Literacy Framework and all its related resources, including a series of student-friendly videos and a professional development webinar, can be found online at That’s

This episode of The Mind Online was produced by Jasmine López with help from Laura Flynn. Production was supervised by Kate Shuster. Teaching Tolerance Deputy Director Adrienne van der Valk and Senior Writer Cory Collins assisted with the script. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard, then share this podcast with your friends and your colleagues. And remember to rate, review and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen.