Datafying childhood. Can schools or families resist?

This event brought together scholars related to datafication, childhood, and privacy in order to address concerns around how the actions of children, both in and out of school, are becoming increasingly monitored and datafied using digital technology.

Some key, guiding questions were set out here: can schools and families resist the datafication of childhood?; what issues associated with the datafication are unique to children and young people?; what role can the nation state play in regulating multinational technology companies?; how does datafication change the process of schooling? What can or should schools do to ensure the ethical uses of data?; How can we ensure young people’s rights are protected without limiting the potential of digital systems and communication?

Further information on the day, including details on the program and speakers, can be found here and a link to the stream of the event can found here

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Platform Pedagogies

This new research initiative investigates the pedagogic dimension of digital platforms. It draws on older theoretical traditions that use pedagogy as a way of describing and explaining the relationships between individual and society, agency and structure. 

We want to explore what it means to conceive:

  • of the relationship between people and their platforms as a pedagogic relationship, 
    • and how such conceptualisations might advance study of platforms in general. 

And, additionally, using the term pedagogy in its more specifically educational sense:

  • to explore the relationship between learning, schooling and education systems as they are now moving into and across emerging platforms, 
    • thus, advancing scholarship about the uses of platforms in Education.

At the moment the initiative asks 4 kinds of questions.

  1. What kind of conceptual framing is most useful to make sense of “a platform”?
  2. Do platforms have a pedagogy? or What is the pedagogic relationship between people (often constructed as users or clients or citizens) and specific platforms?
  3. Do the new platforms now present in schools change the practices of education and the relationship between social actors in the school system
  4. What is the pedagogy of educational platforms

The initiative brings together a range of scholars from Australia and the US and as a dedicated PhD scholarship. The website for the project can be found here.

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Multiliteracies and Early Years Innovation: Perspectives from Finland and Beyond.

This new edited volume comes out of work I’ve been doing with the Playful Learning Centre at the University of Helsinki over the past few years can be found here.

The book brought together internationally renowned scholars to investigate and reflect upon the significance of introducing multiliteracies in the education of children (0–8 years old) and the challenge of enhancing professional development opportunities of early years practitioners. 

The collection brings together curriculum innovation and reform and the changing media ecology of young children’s learning lives in a single volume. It provides insights into Finnish early years education in terms of policy, practice, and research with a specific focus on the enhancement of children’s multiliteracies. Case studies from around the world explore co-developing practices between researchers and teachers, the development of communities and the ways in which different classroom interventions draw on new kinds of teacher knowledge.

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Young People’s Transitions into Creative Work: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

This new co-authored book has just been published and can be found here.

Based on original research the book explores how formal and informal education initiatives and training systems in the US, UK and Australia seek to achieve a socially diverse workforce, offering a series of detailed case studies to reveal the initiative and ingenuity shown by today’s young people as they navigate entry into creative fields of work.

Young People’s Journeys into Creative Work acknowledges the new and diverse challenges faced by today’s youth as they look to enter employment. Chapters trace the rise of indie work, aspirational labour, economic precarity, and the disruptive effects of digital technologies, to illustrate the oinventive ways in which youth from varied socio-economic and cultural backgrounds enter into work in film, games production, music, and the visual arts. From hip-hop to new media arts, the text explores how opportunities for creative work have multiplied in recent years as digital technologies open new markets, new scenes, and new opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovation.

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Young people’s learning in digital worlds: the alienation and re-imagining of education

Being educated is a particular cultural narrative central to growing up in our societies whilst only a part of the learning that we do is explicitly valued and conceptualized as such. We tend to think of learning as an activity that takes place within schools. Yet a returning issue with these institutionalized forms of learning is its failure to grab young people’s interest. Simultaneously, these young people spend their time (and money) voluntarily on actively engaging with digital media.To research the way in which learning is re-conceptualized in online communities, we will, through ethnographic research, attempt to capture young people’s own experiences as well as reflect on the workings of specific digital media platforms. This research project hence asks the question: how are young people through their engagement with online communities, re-imagining contemporary cultural narratives of learning?

This project is undertaken in conjunction with the University of Utrecht through a PhD scholarship. The project website can be found here.

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Towards a cultural history of digital autodidacticism: changing cultural narratives of education

This essay just published in the Brazilian journal, Perspectiva, here argues that the various new imaginaries of the connected, creative, autonomous, coding, motivated and making digital learner have their roots in diverse and older visions of a different kind education system (especially the craft learner working in communities of practice) than that promulgated by the human-capital inspired neoliberal governmentalised States in the world today. Tracing the histories of the older imaginaries in a cultural history of autodidacticism I examine how they become incorporated by, and thus recalibrate competing visions of the “new learner of tomorrow”.s

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Defining the limits and possibilities of progressive literacy education: lessons from schooled and out -of-school music-making in “The Class”

In this talk at the SIG ” Writing and Literacies at the April, 2019, AERA , Toronto conference, In this presentation I reflected on what’s involved in understanding learning from such a lifewide/lifelong perspective and described 4 cases of young people’s formal and informal music education from the middle class graded piano examinations through to self-taught use of Youtube videos. I examined these cases of music learning as “literacy events” showing how they can be understood in terms of tensions between both vernacular and high culture as well as progressive and traditional modes of teaching. The challenges of progressive literacy education – validating a whole range of out-of-school multi-literate social practices are brought into sharp relief through the stories of very different kinds of meaning making in music. 

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The non-formal arts learning sector, youth provision, and paradox in the learning city

The ‘learning city’ contains a range of non-formal learning economies. In recent years researchers have focused on, what has been termed, the non-formal arts learning sector, to document best practices, the emergence of new literacies and/or cultural practices, and to highlight interventions that support otherwise marginalised and underserved communities. Yet, for all of this attention, the non-formal learning sector has remained an opaque object, defined by hazy boundaries, diverse programme structures, and a presence in cities that is difficult to grasp. In this paper we develop an account of the non-formal arts learning sector for socially disadvantaged youth by treating it as a ‘socio-technical assemblage’ of the learning city. We draw on data from the Youthsites research project and examine the history, priorities, and tensions in the sector between 1995 and 2015, a period when the youth arts sector has become a significant feature of urban space. We trace the emergence of the sector in three global cities, analyse a series of paradoxes linked to income and property, the labelling of youth, and organisation aims, and show how these paradoxes shape the sector’s broader relationship with the state, labour and consumer markets, and related institutions that allocate support for young people.

This article comes out of the YouthSites project and can be found here.

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Crossing boundaries between home and school: teachers and the challenge of digital connectivity

In November, 2018, I was invited to visit South Korea and to give a talk at a conference jointly organised by the Reading Association of Korea and the Association of Korean language education at the National University in Seoul. A video of my presentation can be found here.

My talk described research examining the lives of secondary school students at home, at school, with their peers, in out-of-school activities and with families and friends showing how digital technologies are recalibrating personal social and civic relationships. It then reported on a project called “the everyday digital” which helps teachers learn about the lives that their students are now living on screen and online and how to transform that knowledge into appropriate and relevant knowledge, pedagogy and school policy.

I also visited ?#?opencampus_?????? a school for creative arts in the alternative school sector as well as the Geongyyi Research Institute for education at Suwon meeting colleagues and sharing experiences.

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Changing family cultures: the politics of learning with digital media

In October, I spoke at the YCC network ( young, creative, connected) in Madison Wisconsin. The aim of the symposium was to focus broadly on the ways that digital media may or may not be “changing” the nature of learning in the home. I co-authored a provocation paper for the event which you can find here.

My presentation was entitled “What counts as learning in the home?” And can be found on YouTube here.

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