Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media

"Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures" is a three-year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, the digital youth project explores how kids use digital media in their everyday lives." (link)

The Final Report of this 3 year study is available at the Digital Youth website, in 3 formats: "The two page summary incorporates a short, accessible version of our findings. The White Paper is a 30-page document prepared for the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Series. The book is an online version of our forthcoming book with MIT Press and incorporates the insights from 800 youth and young adults and over 5000 hours of online observations."

The study focused on four areas: genres of participation, networked publics, peer- based learning, and new media literacy. In examining these different areas, it drew from existing theories in literacy studies, new media studies, learning theory, and childhood studies that are in keeping with their ethnographic approach. The frameworks drawn from focus on social and cultural context rather than on individual psychology in understanding learning and media engagement. (Living and Learning with New Media | The MacArthur Foundation Section 1:9)

Among other finding, the summary describes how "youth engage in peer-based, self-directed learning online. In both friendship-driven and interest-driven online activity, youth create and navigate new forms of expression and rules for social behavior. By exploring new interests tinkering, and “messing around” with new forms of media, they acquire various forms of technical and media literacy..." (Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project)

"To stay relevant in the 21st century, education institutions need to keep pace with the rapid changes introduced by digital media. Youth's participation in this networked world suggests new ways of thinking about the role of education. What, the authors ask, would it mean to really exploit the potential of the learning opportunities available through online resources and networks?"

photo by pdcawley