Kids Are Learning . . . Just Not in Ways We Want Them To.
Kids are learning . . . just not in the ways expected of them through formal education. Young people have always engaged in informal learning based on their interests and passions. Kids have found and initiated these opportunities in the past through school clubs, reading, local community centers, and neighborhood kids’ ballgames and performances. These informal learning opportunities have taken an astronomical metaphorical leap due to social networking and ease of access of interest-based information via online means. I am that not sure if those involved in the institutionalized education of young people are unaware or choose to ignore that young people are often learning more outside of the school than within that learning environment.
Major researchers such as Mimi Ito, Constance Steinkuehler, Danah Boyd, and Henry Jenkins have been documenting these trends. Here is what they’ve discovered:
Mimi Ito on Interest-Based Learning
Networked media offers an unprecedented opportunity to support learning that is highly personalized and learner-centered, driven by passionate interest and social engagement. But very few learners and educators are taking advantage of this opportunity. And the reason for this is that too often we separate the worlds of young people and adults, play and education. We hold onto the old boundaries between schooling, peer-culture, and home life, between what looks and feels like learning and education that we grew up with, and what looks and feels like socializing, hanging out, and playing. Even if those boundaries were never that real to begin with, in today’s networked world, they are even more untenable. My argument is that we need to engage with kids’ peer cultures and recreational lives outside of school if we want to tap into the power that today’s networked media offers for learners (http://www.itofisher.com/mito/publications/peerbased_learn_2.html)
Full Reference: Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/report
Constance Steinkuehler on Creating Powerful Learning Environments Through Games
Collective information literacy emerges in which the communal rather than individual participation is the defining feature of online play spaces such asmassively multiplayer online games. In In online social contexts such as World of Warcraft, information literacy is contingent on the presence and availability of other people. Peers are often the first line of inquiry because, simply put, storing information across one’s social network and then querying that network when a need arises is far more efficient and adaptive than storing copious amounts of information in one’s own head. In such spaces, the fact that the Internet is a communication device and not merely a collection of semi-static information resources becomes difficult to ignore.
Martin, C. & Steinkuehler, C. (2010). Collective information literacy in massively multiplayer online games. To appear in eLearning and Digital Media, 7(4), 355-365.
Constance Steinkuehler’s Publication Page: http://website.education.wisc.edu/steinkuehler/blog/?page_id=222
danah boyd on Teenagers who are Living and Learning with Social Media
We all know that youth are searching for information in totally new ways so I’m going to skip over that. But they are also sharing differently. Sharing of information is very different in a world of bits where it’s easy to make a duplicate and still retain what you originally had. Pointers have value and sharing information can create memes. Needless to say, youth are leveraging social media to share with their friends and peers. Now, most of what they share might be pure gossip, but teens also share links, references, ideas, and original content.
Henry Jenkins on Learning in a Participatory Culture
Outside their classrooms, today’s children learn by searching and gathering clusters of information as they move seamlessly between their physical and virtual spaces. Knowledge is acquired through multiple new tools and processes as kids accrue information that is visual, aural, musical, interactive, abstract, and concrete and then remix it into their own storehouse of knowledge. (http://www.henryjenkins.org/2009/05/what_is_learning_in_a_particip_1.html)
Henry Jenkins’ Blog: http://henryjenkins.org/index.html
Progressive educators have always asked, “How can we provide students with the opportunities and skills to learn how to learn?” Now, given the tools and access, the role of educators should be primarily to assist students is leveraging the numerous online resources so that they become their own self-motivated, passionate, and self-directed learners.
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