Digital Youth – informal learning

Last Wednesday at Stanford University I attended a great presentation about the digital youth project. It was the first major public presentation of the outcomes of their research. Near at the end of three years of ethnographic work on 22 different case studies of youth engagement with new media.

The project has three general objectives. The first objective is to describe kids as active innovators using digital media, rather than as passive consumers of popular culture or academic knowledge. The second objective is to think about the implications of kids innovative cultures for schools and higher education, and engage in a dialogue with educational planners. The third objective is to advise software designers about how to use kids innovative approaches to knowledge and learning in building better software. This project will address these objectives through ethnographic research in both local neighborhoods in Northern and Southern California, and in virtual places and networks such as online games, blogs, messaging, and online interest groups. Our research sites focus on learning and cultural production outside of schools: in homes, neighborhoods, after school, and in recreational settings.

This project is sponsored by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The results are impressive. I will upload 2 of the presentation later in the day.

The discussion after the presentations was also very promising. Deborah Stipek, Dean Stanford University School of Education, admitted that the results are more than weak signals in order to redefine the educational system. The biggest challenges she mentioned were:

  • providing the kids with appropriate content
  • the integration of technology
  • changing the learning environment
  • teachers as coaches, teacher teams
  • clustering the kids by age seems to be “old-fashioned”

So let’s see what will really happen and how long it will take …

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