What kids learn from digital media

A forum on digital learning was sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, the National Writing Project, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.  The hour webcast of the forum is a little long but presents some interesting big ideas about youth empowerment and digital media creation.  I’ve summarized some of the big ideas here:

  • With today’s technologies and applications, there is a low barrier of entry to create media as well as a world wide reach.  “Universal authorship” is the future.
  • The “potential” exists but need to be intentional in helping all kids become digitally literate.  We could see a “participation gap”.  The responsibility to help kids become digitally literate should not fall solely to schools but requires supporting students in all the spaces they learn (home, libraries, after-school programs, etc.).
  • Four core principles:
    • Re-think the definition of who are teachers – i.e. bring in new media artists into schools, existing teachers can not be expected to teach it all
    • Create bridges between all the spaces where kids spend their time to address students’ feeling of disconnect between school and “real-life”
    • Ensure students have the opportunity to showcase their work – by having real audiences, students will iterate and put forth effort
    • Help students understand the pathways available via digital media – taking a lesson from video games where it is very clear what is required to get to the next level
  • The role of the “adult” (whether that be the teacher, the parent, the mentor, etc.) in guiding and supporting youth in this space is essential and yet, hard to define, especially given the fact that norms and ethics change very quickly.

It’s a lot to digest… and because of this often gets pushed to the side.  However, the power of digital media creation and the overall changing ecology forces us, as educators, to be more thoughtful about engaging students in media creation.  Thinking about these big ideas is a start…