The MacArthur Foundation launched a five-year, $50 million digital media and learning initiative in 2006 to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. Understanding how young people do this is critical to developing the educational content and processes that can meet the needs of this and future generations.
What caught my eye was an interim report, released in 2006, titled titled “Confronting the Challenge of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century“. The report is available via a 72 page pdf file here.
One of the main insights discussed in that report is that our young people are growing up in a much more participatory culture than those of us in the current workforce. According to the report, “participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to community involvement”. I see this enabled, in part, by the power of Computers, Instant messaging, Online and Console Games, Cell Phones, etc., but also in the explosion of all sorts of activities our kids are involved with today.
The report says that young people must learn a whole new a set of cultural competencies and social skills that they will need in the new media landscape. These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom. The new skills include:
- Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving.
- Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery.
- Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes.
- Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content.
- Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
- Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities.
- Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal.
- Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources.
- Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities.
- Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information.
- Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.
Much more detail on each of these skills can be found in the 2006 report here. Note…In December of 2007, the Foundation released a series of six documents that those of you really interested in this topic might want to go take a look at. For more information, go here.
For more information
For more information, visit www.digitallearning.macfound.org. To engage in conversations about these projects and the field of digital learning, visit the Spotlight blog at www.spotlight.macfound.org. For general information about the foundation or to sign up for a monthly electronic newsletter, visit www.macfound.org