It’s All Digital!

New MacArthur Foundation report looks at how young people interact online (pdf).  It’s, of course, interesting because it’s new and different and powerful.  But, whenever I read these studies I’m always left wondering about all the students and communities where technology is not yet ubiquitous.  The digital divide seems to have fallen out of favor but it’s still there and by definition those young people are not interacting online or able to leverage these new mediums.

One Reply to “It’s All Digital!”

  1. I’m glad you liked that MacArthur report. I personally found it fascinating.

    I think your concern about access misses the forest for the trees, however.

    The fundamental message of the MacArthur report is that in the (essentially) last element of children’s lives that has not been colonized by formal education in schools, the most dynamic learning takes place. The whole report is an argument in technological congruence with democratic education theorists: there need be no force applied for children to want to learn. No one forces kids to spend hours ‘geeking out’ on the origins of the universe by following link after link through Wikipedia, developing social opinions through their Newsfeed on Facebook, or testing political arguments in chatrooms and blog comment sections.

    It seems, rather, that BECAUSE these acts largely remain outside the realm of formal education, BECAUSE they derive their meaning and authority from their personal usefulness rather than their being “21st century skills for a 21st century workforce”, BECAUSE the Internet respects freedom of movement (from one site or topic to another), doesn’t judge the bored as stupid, and never assesses its users, all that children learn on the Internet is held closer, remembered longer, and respected much more than what they are required to learn/attempt-to-remember-in-time-for-the-test in school.

    I think this is the first of many reports that are going to lead to the marriage of democratic education theory (which valorizes the skills that underpin the Internet such as creativity, innovation, community-building, knowledge sharing, and freedom of thought) and Web 2.0 which provides the essential technology for children to effectively take responsibility for their own knowledge, expertise, and social network.

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