Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project

Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project I found this report via Vinnie Vrotney's blog.[Multifaceted Refractions] He is the Technology Director of Northshore Country Day School.

Vinnie highlighted a dozen or so ideas from the larger White Paper from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning | November 2008.

Through participation in social network sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo (among others) as well as instant and text messaging, young people are constructing new social norms and forms of media literacy in networked public culture that reflect the enhanced role of media in their lives. The networked and public nature of these practices makes the “lessons” about social life (both the failures and successes) more consequential and persistent.

Young people use new media to build friendships and romantic relationships as well as to hang out with each other as much and as often as possible. This sense of being always on and engaged with one’s peers involves a variety of practices. This keeps friends up-to-date with the happenings in different people’s lives.

In addition to changes in how romantic relationships develop, the integration of Friends into the infrastructure of social network sites has transformed the meaning of “friend” and “friendship”.

Although young people tend to avoid their parents and other adults while using social network sites and IM programs, much of their new media engagement occurs in the context of home and family life.

Some activities that we identify as messing around include looking around, searching for information online, and experimentation and play with gaming and digital media production. Messing around is often a transitional stage between hanging out and more interest-driven participation.

Online sites for storing and circulating personal media are facilitating a growing set of options for sharing. Youth no longer must carry around photo albums to share photos with their friends and families; a MySpace profile or a camera phone will do the trick.

This then leads to the following conclusions and implications:

1) Participation in the digital age means more than being able to access “serious” online information and culture; it also means the ability to participate in social and recreational activities online.

2)Rather than seeing socializing and play as hostile to learning, educational programs could be positioned to step in and support moments when youth are motivated to move from friendship-driven to more interest-driven forms of new media use.

3) In addition to economic barriers, youth encounter institutional, social, and cultural constraints to online participation. Fluent and expert use of new media requires more than simple, task-specific access to technology.

4)Sporadic, monitored access at schools and libraries may provide sufficient access for basic information seeking, but is insufficient for the immersed kind of social engagements with networked publics that are becoming a baseline for participation on both the interest-driven and the friendship-driven sides.

5) Networked publics provide a context for youth to develop social norms in negotiation with their peers.

6)Young people are turning to online networks to participate in a wide range of public activities and developing social norms that their elders may not recognize.

7)On the interest-driven side, youth turn to networked publics to connect with like-minded peers who share knowledge and expertise that may not be available to them locally.

8)The problem lies not in the volume of access but the quality of participation and learning, and kids and adults should first be on the same page on the normative questions of learning and literacy.

9)Youth are developing new forms of media literacy that are keyed to new media and youth-centered social and cultural worlds. It is important to understand the diverse genre conventions of youth new media literacy before developing educational programs in this space.

10) Peer-based learning has unique properties that suggest alternatives to formal instruction. Peer-based learning is characterized by a context of reciprocity, where participants feel they can both produce and evaluate knowledge and culture. When these peer negotiations occur in a context of public scrutiny, youth are motivated to develop their identities and reputations through these peer-based networks, exchanging comments and links and jockeying for visibility.

11)These efforts at gaining recognition are directed at a network of respected peers rather than formal evaluations of teachers or tests. In contrast to what they experience under the guidance of parents and teachers, with peer-based learning we see youth taking on more “grown-up” roles and ownership of their own self-presentation, learning, and evaluation of others.

12) In contexts of peer-based learning, adults can still have an important role to play, though it is not a conventionally authoritative one. Rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, what would it mean to think of education as a process of guiding kids’ participation in public life more generally, a public life that includes social, recreational, and civic engagement?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Google Docs now has a "Forms" Component

Check it out! I love it. Go to Google Docs and click on New --Form. You can create surveys, quizzes,etc. and when respondents hit "submit", the results go into an automatically generated spreadsheet. Very cool! We see many applications for library use such as gathering info on progress with projects, evaluation of projects, easily gathering what titles students have selected or are considering for Jr. Theme readings.

Learn how to create Google forms.