Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action
Hobbs has spent a lifetime helping educators around the nation and around the world to integrate digital and media literacy into education through research, curriculum development and advocacy.
She is a Professor of Communication at Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater, where she founded the Media Education Lab in the Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media. Over her career, she has contributed dozens of scholarly articles, multimedia curriculum resources and professional development programs to advance the quality of media literacy education in the United States and around the world.
Hobbs is a field builder. She created the first national-level teacher education program for the media literacy movement in 1993 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She helped create the Partnership for Media Education, which evolved into the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), the national membership organization for media literacy. She served as president in 1998. She is co-editor of the Journal for Media Literacy Education, an open-access, online, peer-review journal. She also created Assignment: Media Literacy, a comprehensive K–12 curriculum and staff development program for media literacy sponsored by Discovery Communications and the Maryland State Department of Education.
In 2008, Renee collaborated with Philadelphia school leaders to create Powerful Voices for Kids, a university-school partnership to address the needs of low-income and minority children in terms of media, technology and digital learning. Powerful Voices for Kids is a comprehensive program for elementary schools that offers a summer enrichment program for children, staff development for educators, hands-on mentoring and curriculum development support for teachers, and a program of research designed to develop alternative assessment methodology to document the development of children's critical thinking and communication skills.
Hobbs’ scholarly work explores the intersection of the fields of media studies and education. Her book Teaching the Media: Media Literacy in High School English (Teachers College Press, 2007) provides the first large-scale, empirical evidence of the impact of media literacy education on reading comprehension skills. Exploring the value of online games for learning, and with support from the U.S. Office on Women's Health, she created My Pop Studio, a free, award-winning multimedia edutainment website that introduces tween girls to media literacy concepts by taking them “behind the scenes” of popular music, television, magazines, and online media where they can compose their own music, comics, and movie trailers.
In 2007, Renee became the recipient of a research grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation with her colleagues Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi at American University in Washington, D.C. to work on copyright and fair use issues in media literacy education. Her book Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning (Corwin/Sage, 2010) helps teachers understand their rights and responsibilities under copyright law as it applies to digital learning.
Teachers benefit from instructional strategies that help them explore the power of mass media and social media as tools for learning. With support from PBS, she created Access, Analyze, Act: A Blueprint for 21st Century Civic Engagement, an interactive website for teachers designed to strengthen their ability to teach about the 2008 presidential election using news and social media tools developed by the PBS community.