ERIC Number: EJ842179
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
The Kids Are All Right
Waters, John K.
T.H.E. Journal, v36 n3 p38-42 Mar 2009
When the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation launched its $50 million digital media and learning initiative three years ago, the expectation was that research in this area would expand people's understanding of the impact of digital media and communications technologies on how young people will learn in the future. By the time the first study funded by this initiative was underway, that expectation had shifted dramatically. The results of the first study, entitled "Kids' Informal Learning With Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures," were published earlier this year. As an ethnographic study, it was anthropologic in nature, inquiring into the texture and culture of youth life, and billed as "the most extensive ethnographic study of youth and new media to be conducted in the United States." As one aspect of the study, researchers explored the concept of media ecologies, which are collections of interconnected technologies and activities involving new media. Within these ecologies, they identified three "genres of participation," which they labeled "hanging out," "messing around," and "geeking out." They used these genres to describe students' varying "levels of investment"--that is, participation--in new media activities. This article reports that the researchers found that the internet is empowering a tech-savvy generation to pursue a central element of 21st century education--self-directed learning, performed on kids' own terms and time schedules. It is a finding that compels educators to disregard any lingering notions that the internet is strictly unproductive playtime. The researchers contend that the challenge for educators is to recognize the value of these levels of participation, to stop seeing them as distracting from school, and to find ways to exploit them in the classroom.
Descriptors: Expectation, Informal Education, Ethnography, Education Work Relationship, Internet, Youth, Researchers, Anthropology, Student Interests, Mass Media Effects, High School Students
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; United States