GLS day 2, early morning

Henry Jenkins and Alice Robison presented a talk about identity play and participatory culture this morning. Check out their current project at

alice robison

The assumption that kids are digital natives is a false notion since lots of kids don’t have the cultural access and sponsorship needed for new media literacy, even some who have physical access to technology. So the idea of digital natives is problematic in that it hides inequalities among kids and it presupposed a generation gap between kids and adults. Here are three challenges:

  1. participation gap: the idea of one laptop per child (or Jim Gee would argue the idea of putting a whole bunch of computers in libraries, etc) isn’t enough to address a gap in the way different kids from different backgrounds use technology and the skills and experiences they have access to. Certain kids are being exposed to these experiences where other kids are being left behind.
  2. transparency: kids are swimming through the new media landscape but they are not reflecting and thinking critically about their experiences and the role of media in their lives.
  3. ethics: no one is talking about the ethical challenges kids have to face as media creators. In real high school journalism, for example, there is a lot of adult mentoring. With LiveJournal (which has the same age range of media creators) no one is there to guide them and mentor them.

What do students need to know?

  1. traditional print literacy — that’s not to say that writing isn’t changing and that “LOL” is not a legitimate way of writing in print
  2. research skills
  3. technical skills — not just things like data entry and keyboarding
  4. media literacy — systems of representation, genres, etc.

But all of this by itself is not enough. We also need [long list… wonder if some of the points could be merged together…]:

  • play: the capacity to explore while solving problems [adaptive? innovation?]
  • simulation: the ability to interpret and construct models
  • performance: the ability to role play
  • appropriation: mash-ups and remixing — Homer, the Sistine Chapel, etc. were all mash-ups.
  • multitasking: ability to attend to the salient things in a dynamic environment; the ability to scan
  • distributed cognition: using tools and information from various sources
  • collective intelligence: ILoveBees, Flickr, [Photosynth,] etc.
  • judgement: ability to assess validity of information
  • transmedia navigation: moving across modalities
  • social networking [this could be tied to dcog, maybe? no, because Henry is looking mostly at tools and artifacts side of dcog…]
  • negotiation: the ability to navigate different communities–diversity is needed to be able to efficiently interact and function rather than just tolerated as it is being taught

This will only work if we paradigm shift the way schools function and what is taught; this stuff cannot just be inserted into existing curriculum.

Alice shared with us a bunch of videos of exemplar games and techs/activities that they have available on their project’s website. Specifically, she showed us the Big Games project featuring Cruel 2 B Kind (see chapter 3) and the DJ Culture project that features mashups/remixing of songs and lyrics.

This was a great talk and summarized a white paper on participatory culture they published earlier this year.

“Play is a way of mediating conflict.” one theory of play… true?

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