Friday, February 3, 2017

Digitally-mediated learning is more often competitive than creative

How is digital technology – now occupying the eyes and ears, pockets and pillows of so many children – shaping children’s personal, social and learning lives? Does it bring the collaborative and creative benefits often hoped for? And how much do the use and consequences of digital media depend on the structures and practices that have the most power to shape children’s opportunities – notably, family, school and peer group?
These questions guided my recent year-long ethnography of a multi-ethnic, socio-economically diverse class of 28 students, all 13-14-years old, called ‘The Class. Living and Learning in the Digital Age’, which I conducted with Julian Sefton-Green as part of the Connected Learning Research Network. We found that parents are often unclear about the possible benefits of digitally-mediated learning opportunities on offer, so they tend to follow the lead of their child’s school; meanwhile, schools are often under pressure to use digital media (or educational technology) for measuring, standardising and ranking children’s achievement. As a result, we concluded, at neither home nor school are alternative, non-instrumental or creative forms of informal learning sufficiently supported by digital media...

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