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Renee Hobbs


About Renee Hobbs. Professor Hobbs is an internationally-recognized authority on digital and media literacy education. Through community and global service and as a researcher, teacher, advocate and media professional, Hobbs has worked to advance the quality of digital and media literacy education in the United States and around the world. She is Founder and Director of the Media Education Lab, whose mission is to improve the quality of media literacy education through research and community service. 

Leadership. Renee Hobbs is Professor of Communication Studies at the  Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island. She is the founding co-editor of the Journal for Media Literacy Education, an open-access peer reviewed journal that advances scholarship in the field. With her colleague Julie Coiro, co-directs the URI Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy, a 12-credit graduate program for K-12 and college faculty, librarians and media professionals. The program's signature professional development program is the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, now in its 8th year. From 2012 - 2014, as the school's Founding Director, she helped develop a distinctive identity for the new school and increased visibility for departments and programs in Journalism, Film/Media, Communication Studies, Public Relations, Writing & Rhetoric and a graduate program in Library and Information Studies. During that time, she also served as Interim Director of the URI Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, leading that program through a major curriculum renewal process and helping it retain accreditation by the American Library Association. 

Research. Renee Hobbs maintains an active research agenda that examines the intersections of the fields of media studies and education. She has published over 150 articles in scholarly and professional journals and in 2018, she was recognized for research productivity by receiving the Research Excellence Award from the University of Rhode Island. Her current research examines approaches to teacher education in digital and media literacy education, with a focus on measuring how teacher motivations shape their practice of integrating digital tools and media literacy concepts into the curriculum. She has also developed and validated measures of media literacy competencies for adolescents and she has evaluated the impact of media literacy programs implemented in American pubic and charter schools. In 2019, she published The Library Screen Scene: Film and Media Literacy in Schools, Colleges and Communitiies (Oxford University Press). In 2018, she published The Routledge Companion on Media Education, Copyright and Fair Use. In 2017, Create to Learn: An Introduction to Digital Literacy was published by Wiley Blackwell.  In 2016, Hobbs published Exploring the Roots of Digital and Media Literacy through Personal Narrative (Temple University Press), an edited book that identifies some of the "intellectual grandparents" of media literacy education from the point of view of a variety of leaders in the field. To learn how children activate media literacy competencies in formal and informal learning, Hobbs wrote Discovering Media Literacy: Digital Media and Popular Culture in Elementary School (Corwin/Sage) a book that chronicles a three-year partnership with the Russell Byers Charter School in Philadelphia, written in 2013 with David Cooper Moore. Her 2011 book, Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom (Corwin/Sage) offers portraits of how secondary educators integrate critical thinking and communication skills across the curriculum. Her bestselling 2010 book, Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning (Corwin/Sage) helps teachers understand copyright law as it applies to the use of digital media in education. Reading the Media: Media Literacy in High School English (Teachers College Press) provides the first large-scale empirical evidence of the impact of media literacy education on reading comprehension skills. She also co-authored Elements of Language (Harcourt), the first secondary English language arts textbook to incorporate media literacy. Hobbs also offers program evaluation services for multimedia education with clients including PBS Student Reporting Labs and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Advocacy. Renee Hobbs works to increase visibility for digital and media literacy at the national level. In 2019, she assisted in the development of the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act which was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar. If passed, it woud authorize $20 million bi-annually for media lieracy in elementary and secondary schools. In 2012, she served as a Fellow for the American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy. As a field-builder, she helped found the Partnership for Media Education, which evolved into the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), the national membership organization for media literacy. She has sought and received exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to advance the benefits of digital learning for all teachers and students. She is also active in helping educators understand their rights and responsibilities when using mass media, popular culture and digital media in education. Her white paper, Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action offers a blueprint of pragmatic actions to bring these competencies to all Americans. It was released in Washington D.C. in November, 2010 and published by the Aspen Institute and the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

Community and Global Service. Hobbs provides media literacy learning experiences to the local community. In 2019, she offered a digital citizenship workshop for teens enrolled in a summer leadership program sponsored by the Providence Housing Authority. She developed Powerful Voices for Kids, a university-school partnership that offers a comprehensive program for K-12 schools including a summer enrichment program for children, staff development program, hands-on mentoring and curriculum development, and parent and community outreach. She has worked in Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, France China and other countries to help bring media literacy education to students and teachers worldwide.  

Media Production. Renee Hobbs is a multimedia producer and has developed numerous award-winning resources for K-12 students and educators. Mind Over Media: Analyzing Contemporary Propaganda is a user-generated content website for teaching and learning about propaganda.  Assignment: Media Literacy was developed with support from the Maryland State Department of Education and the Discovery Channel. The U.S. Office on Women's Health provided funding for Hobbs to create My Pop Studio, an award-winning online edutainment game that introduces tween girls to media literacy concepts and takes girls "behind the scenes" of popular music, television, magazines, and online media. She also created an online education program for integrating social media into the teaching of the 2008 Presidential election, with support from PBS Teachers.  Access, Analyze, Act: A Blueprint for 21st Century Civic Engagement is an interactive website for teachers designed to strengthen their ability to use social media tools developed by the PBS community. Her documentary video, Tuning in to Media, won the Parent's Choice Award in 1994.

Teaching. Hobbs offers graduate and undergraduate courses in mass media, children and adolesents; propaganda; digital and media literacy education; youth media culture; children and youth service in librarianship; information competencies of youth; digital learning; educational multimedia production; and research methods. She supervises graduate students in the fields of library and information studies, media studies, and education. Hobbs uses inquiry learning practices in her teaching and emphasizes the role of students as researchers and content creators using digital multimedia. She explores the use of open network learning environments in teaching fully online and blended courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. As an experienced teacher educator, Hobbs offers staff development programs for school districts and educators across the United States and around the world. In the early 1990s, she created the first national teacher education program in media literacy, the Harvard Institute on Media Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Renee Hobbs received an Ed.D in Human Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an M.A. in Communication from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. with a double major in English Literature and Film/Video Studies from the University of Michigan.

Click here to access her current CV and read more about her early work to develop the field of media literacy education. 

Renee offers presentations, keynote addresses, workshops and seminars. Contact Renee Hobbs directly at for more information.