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Free-range Thoughts

Marinating in the Mooc

These are the highlights that I made from the Jenkins blog post:

“Rather than dealing with each technology in isolation, we would do better to take an ecological approach, thinking about the interrelationship among all of these different communication technologies, the cultural communities that grow up around them, and the activities they support.”

  • young people are already part of this process through:

    Affiliations — memberships, formal and informal, in online communities centered around various forms of media, such as Friendster, Facebook, message boards, metagaming, game clans, or MySpace).

    Expressions — producing new creative forms, such as digital sampling, skinning and modding, fan videomaking, fan fiction writing, zines, mash-ups).

    Collaborative Problem-solving — working together in teams, formal and informal, to complete tasks and develop new knowledge (such as through Wikipedia, alternative reality gaming, spoiling).

    Circulations — Shaping the flow of media (such as podcasting, blogging)

  • The structures that sustain informal learning are more provisional, those supporting formal education are more institutional.

  • Informal learning communities can evolve to respond to short-term needs and temporary interests,

  • Affinity spaces are also highly generative environments, from which new aesthetic experiments and innovations emerge Andrew Blau’s 2005 report on The Future of Independent Media argued that this kind of grassroots creativity was an important engine of cultural transformation:

    The media landscape will be reshaped by the bottom-up energy of media created by amateurs and hobbyists as a matter of course. This bottom up energy will generate enormous creativity, but it will also tear apart some of the categories that organize the lives and work of media makers…A new generation of media-makers and viewers are emerging which could lead to a sea change in how media is made and consumed.

  • Politics, as constructed by the news, becomes a spectator sport, something we watch but do not do. Yet, the new participatory culture offers many opportunities for youth to engage in civic debates

  • Beck and Wade conclude that gamers were more open to taking risks and engaging in competition but also more open to collaborating with others and more willing to revise earlier assumptions.

  • the focus on negative effects of media consumption offers an incomplete picture. These accounts do not appropriately value the skills and knowledge young people are gaining through their involvement with new media, and as a consequence, they may mislead us about the roles teachers and parents should play in helping children learn and grow.


Based on the points made above, how can we pull some of this reality into our institutional classrooms? Can we find ways to create informal learning opportunities. I have long felt that students are teaching themselves to use technology and gaining more benefit than we are giving them in overly structured courses which push content.

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