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Circling the Cross: Bridging Native America, Education, and Digital Media

November 28, 2008

Part of the Volume on Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital MediaTo paraphrase a Native elder, any road will get you somewhere. The question for Native America is, where will the information highway take them? As Native Americans continue to face challenges from the legacy of colonialism, new media provide both an opportunity and crises in education. Standardized education policy such as No Child Left Behind and funding cuts in social services inadvertently impact Net access and Indian education, yet alternative programs and approaches exist. It is necessary that programs conceptualize new media learning strategies within a historical context by being sensitive to the political and cultural connotations of literacy and technology in Native American communities. By encouraging the use of new media as a tool for grassroots community media and locally relevant storytelling, this chapter asks educators to consider an alternative epistemology that incorporates non-Western approaches to ecology and knowledge.

Growing Up Digital: Control and the Pieces of a Digital Life

November 28, 2008

Part of the Volume on Digital Young, Innovation, and the Unexpected Digital media files have the potential to persist across time in ways that analog files of the same types do not. This persistence follows from the relatively new potential to learn of the existence of such files and to physically locate copies, and it means that such files may follow us across the whole of our lives, appearing and reappearing at the most inopportune moments. They are indexed, stored, and accessible due to the architecture of the digital age. This chapter shows how this persistence can be pernicious across time, with the potential for normal youthful experimentation to have long-lasting effects when embedded into digital media. It acknowledges that the law does not address this problem, and proposes both a broadening of our acceptance of the youthful acts that may be embedded in digital media, as well as giving more legal control to those whose youths are so embedded.

Mobile Identity: Youth, Identity, and Mobile Communication Media

November 19, 2008

Part of the Volume on Youth, Identity, and Digital MediaThis chapter, which is based on extensive empirical studies, focuses on the meaning of the mobile in young people's lives, specifically in relation to questions of identity and learning. First, the chapter discusses the concept of mobile media and the role of the mobile phone in the context of contemporary youth culture. The main themes are availability, always on, connected and available users; the experience of presence during mobile communication; the importance of the mobile as a personal log for activities; and networks and the documentation of experiences. Following on a discussion of these themes is an analysis of the mobile as a tool for learning social norms. The chapter suggests that young peoples' identities are in fact mobile, and that the use of digital media, in particular the mobile, facilitates and enhances mobility in praxis and virtually.

Why Youth (heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life

January 4, 2008

Part of the Volume on Youth, Identity, and Digital Media Social network sites like MySpace and Facebook serve as "networked publics." As with unmediated publics like parks and malls, youth use networked publics to gather, socialize with their peers, and make sense of and help build the culture around them. This article examines American youth engagement in networked publics and considers how properties unique to such mediated environments (e.g., persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences) affect the ways in which youth interact with one another. Ethnographic data is used to analyze how youth recognize these structural properties and find innovative ways of making these systems serve their purposes. Issues like privacy and impression management are explored through the practices of teens and youth participation in social network sites is situated in a historical discussion of youth's freedom and mobility in the United States.

Auto-Modernity after Postmodernism: Autonomy and Automation in Culture, Technology, and Education

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Digital Young, Innovation, and the UnexpectedThis chapter argues that in order to understand the implications of how digital youth are now using new media and technologies in unexpected and innovative ways, we have to rethink many of the cultural oppositions that have shaped the Western tradition since the start of the modern era. To be precise, we can no longer base our analysis of culture, identity, and technology on the traditional conflicts between the public and the private, the subject and the object, and the human and the machine. Moreover, the modern divide pitting the isolated individual against the impersonal realm of technological mechanization no longer seems to apply to the multiple ways young people are using new media and technologies. In fact, this chapter argues that we have moved into a new cultural period of automodernity, and a key to this cultural epoch is the combination of technological automation and human autonomy.

A Pedagogy for Original Synners

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Digital Young, Innovation, and the UnexpectedThis essay begins by speculating about the learning environment of the class of 2020. It takes place entirely in a virtual world, populated by simulated avatars, managed through the pedagogy of gaming. Based on this projected version of a future-now-in-formation, the authors consider the implications of the current paradigm shift that is happening at the edges of institutions of higher education. From the development of programs in multimedia literacy to the focus on the creation of hybrid learning spaces (that combine the use of virtual worlds, social networking applications, and classroom activities), the scene of learning as well as the subjects of education are changing. The figure of the Original Synner is a projection of the student-of-the-future whose foundational literacy is grounded in their ability to synthesize information from multiple information streams.

A Public Voice for Youth: The Audience Problem in Digital Media and Civic Education

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth.Students should have opportunities to create digital media in schools. This is a promising way to enhance their "civic engagement," which comprises political activism, deliberation, problem-solving, and participation in shaping a culture. All these forms of civic engagement require the effective use of a "public voice," which should be taught as part of digital media education. To provide digital media courses that teach civic engagement will mean overcoming several challenges, including a lack of time, funding, and training. An additional problem is especially relevant to the question of public voice. Students must find appropriate audiences for their work in a crowded media environment dominated by commercial products. The chapter concludes with strategies for building audiences, the most difficult but promising of which is to turn adolescents' offline communities -- especially high schools -- into more genuine communities.

A Rule Set for the Future

January 1, 2008

This volume, Digital Young, Innovation, and the Unexpected, identifies core issues concerning how young people's use of digital media may lead to various innovations and unexpected outcomes. The essays collected here examine how youth can function as drivers for technological change while simultaneously recognizing that technologies are embedded in larger social systems, including the family, schools, commercial culture, and peer groups. A broad range of topics are taken up, including issues of access and equity; of media panics and cultural anxieties; of citizenship, consumerism, and labor; of policy, privacy, and IP; of new modes of media literacy and learning; and of shifting notions of the public/private divide. The introduction also details six maxims to guide future research and inquiry in the field of digital media and learning. These maxims are "Remember History," "Consider Context," "Make the Future (Hands-on)," "Broaden Participation," "Foster Literacies," and "Learn to Toggle." They form a kind of flexible rule set for investigations into the innovative uses and unexpected outcomes now emerging or soon anticipated from young people's engagements with digital media.

Challenges to Teaching Credibility Assessment in Contemporary Schooling

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Digital Media, Youth, and CredibilityThis chapter explores several challenges that exist to teaching credibility assessment in the school environment. Challenges range from institutional barriers such as government regulation and school policies and procedures to dynamic challenges related to young people's cognitive development and the consequent difficulties of navigating a complex web environment. The chapter includes a critique of current practices for teaching kids credibility assessment and highlights some best practices for credibility education.

Changing Citizenship in the Digital Age

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth. Even as it is clear that participation in online communities is important for most young people, it is less clear how, or how often, this translates into public voice or political participation. In addition to learning how online networks and communities may be able to rekindle conventional political participation, scholars and practitioners must also learn how creative uses of digital technologies by young people are expanding the boundaries of politics and public issues. In what ways do protests in gaming communities, music file sharing, or fan petitioning of music companies constitute political behaviors? Do the communication skills and action patterns in these familiar areas of online life transfer to more familiar political realms such as voting and public protest? Perhaps most importantly, what can we learn about civic life online that might help young citizens make these transfers more effectively and more often? Learning about these issues is addressed in this chapter and in the larger volume from numerous standpoints: what scholars and practitioners have learned about the political orientations of younger generations (e.g., aversion to conventional government and politics, but strong interest in making contributions to society), and how politicians may learn to use online tools to address these generational developments; how educational settings can offer young people more appealing civic education experiences and more useful communication skills; and how effective civic engagement networks are built, and what NGOs and educators have learned about what works; and how young citizens can be encouraged and empowered to find effective ways of networking and acting in society. Above all, this chapter, and the volume as a whole explore what scholars, practitioners, and policymakers in the future need to learn about public life in the digital age.

Chicana/o Artivism: Judy Baca's Digital Work with Youth of Color

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media Astounding digital murals have emerged from the minds and souls of Chicana artist Judy Baca and the youth of color who have collaborated with her over the past ten years. Their workspace is SPARC, the Social and Public Art Resource Center, founded by Baca in 1996 and dedicated to the creation and support of community and public art in Southern California. But the digital art they produce is not only located in SPARC -- it can be found in virtual installations globally, as well as on the walls of Los Angeles barrio housing projects and in the hybrid spaces of the Internet. We call their activity "digital artivism," a word that is itself a convergence between "activism" and digital "artistic" production. The digital artivism we find expressed through SPARC, we argue, is symptomatic of a Chicana/o twenty-first century digital arts movement. This digital artivist movement also advances the expression of a mode of liberatory consciousness that Chicana feminist philosopher Gloria Anzaldua calls la conciencia de la mestiza, i.e. the radical consciousness of a mixed race peoples. Chela Sandoval and Guisela Latorre call attention to this mode of digital artivism enacted by Baca and young people who are vested in the convergences between creative expression, social activism, and self-empowerment.

Civic Identities, Online Technologies: From Designing Civics Curriculum to Supporting Civic Experiences

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth.Youth today are often criticized for their lack of civic participation and involvement in political life. Technology has been blamed, amongst many other causes, for fostering social isolation and youth's retreat into a private world disconnected from their communities. However, current research is beginning to indicate that these might be inaccurate perceptions. The Internet has provided new opportunities to create communities that extend beyond geographic boundaries, to engage in civic and volunteering activities across local and national frontiers, to learn about political life, and to experience the challenges of democratic participation. How do we leverage youth's interest in new technologies by developing technology-based educational programs to promote civic engagement? This chapter explores this question by proposing socio-technical design elements to be considered when developing technology-rich experiences. It presents a typology to guide the design of Internet-based interventions, taking into account both the affordances of the technology and the educational approach to the use of the technology. It also presents a pilot experience in a northeastern university that offered a pre-orientation program in which incoming freshman designed a three-dimensional virtual campus of the future and developed new policies and programs to strengthen the relationship between college campus and neighbor communities.