This changes everything! What ‘the digital’ means for the purposes and practices of education

I recently gave a talk on this topic which can be found on YouTube, here.

The argument is that schools and education systems are caught in the headlights of the digital era.

Educational reformer, John Dewey, created the principles of education for democracy as America was emerging as a new nation during a time of violent industrialisation, rapid urbanisation and unprecedented social change. Now, the global effect of computers and the digital era are going to transform education systems in liberal democratic societies.

This webinar aimed to inspire debate about the changing function and practices of schools, the wider purposes of digital literacy, and the limits of Education as principles and practices strain in an increasingly competitive and unfair world. Il also discussed the changing nature of civic changing nature of civic participation in an increasingly digitalised and datafied society.

This webinar will draw on recent research projects and offer principles to build a critical approach to digital media and culture, structured around principles of social justice.

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Learning beyond the School

Following a seminar in Oslo in 2016 this book is now out. It explores the argument whilst whilst learning is central to most understandings of what it is to be human, we now live in a knowledge society where being educated defines life chances more than ever before.

Learning Beyond the School brings together accounts of learning from around the world in organisations, spaces and places that are schooled, but not school. Exploring examples of learning organisation, pedagogisation, informal learning and social education, the book shows not only how understandings of education are framed in terms of local versions of schooling, but what being educated could and should mean in very different social and political contexts.

With contributions from scholars based in Australia, Europe, the USA, Latin America and Asia, the book brings together accounts of learning outside of school. Chapters contain rich and detailed case studies of innovative projects, new kinds of learning institutions, youth, peer-driven and community-based activities and public pedagogies, as well as engaging with the dimensions of an argument about the place and nature of learning outside of the school. It challenges dominant versions of school around the world, whilst also critically discussing the value and place of non-institutionalised learning.

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Researching the Everyday Digital in Children’s Lives

This new project based at Deakin University offers a structure and a process to support teachers to learn about their students’ every day digital experiences with the aim of developing appropriate curriculum and school based policy responses. We want to develop a genuinely critical future oriented way of doing school – that builds on the extraordinary knowledge and social practices that young people and their families are already developing at speed.

The project website is here.

An interview about the project can be heard here and here.

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Digital Ethics, Political Economy and the Curriculum: ‘this changes everything’

This chapter co-authored with Allan Luke, Phil Graham, Doug Kellner and Jim Ladwig is published in The Handbook of Writing, Literacies and Education in Digital Culture. [eds] K. Mills, A. Stornaiuolo & J. Pandya-Zacher, New York: Routledge. It makes the case for a refocusing of teaching and learning across the curriculum on foundational questions about ethics in digital culture – and, hence, for reframing classroom practice around critical digital literacies.

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Representing learning lives: what does it mean to map learning journeys

The paper:

  • Reviews vocabulary used to make sense of learning across contexts and over time.
  • Argues representing learning depend on narration, the filmic gaze and visual frame.
  • Argues reconceptualising mapping learning has implications for educational research.

‘Learning lives’, a double articulation both describing lifelong and life wide learning and the role learning plays in developing identity, relies on a process of portrayal. The vocabulary used to make sense of learning across contexts and over time is spatial in origin and metaphorical in application. Key terms include: mapping, connecting, navigating, tracing, pathways, vectors and networks. I suggest that we are now developing ways of representing learning that depend significantly on forms of narration, the filmic gaze and a visual frame making the concept of a “learning journey” more visible. Yet as we appear to capture and represent complicated forms of learning in “non-educational” contexts so the paradigm of studying such learning as movement is thrown into question.


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Pedagogicizing the 21st Century: global research into learning beyond the school

I am currently at this seminar held by the University of Oslo on this theme with colleagues from the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, China, India, South Korea and Australia.

We have brought together a diverse international collection of scholars from Europe,in order to compare research into out-of-school learning with the aim of reflecting on global concerns with the pedagocization of everyday life. We will bring together accounts of learning outside of school which differ theoretically not only in how they conceptualise learning, but how each account relates to a normative presumption about the institutional nature of education within a range of societies. The seminar is structured to ensure full and proper debate of the meaning of the home/out-of-school sector within each country in order to produce comparative and contrasting analyses.

There will be more to follow on this theme as it develops.

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Learning Identities, Education and Community: Young Lives in the Cosmopolitan City

This co-authored book is now out.

Based on a four year project it offers a case study of children and young people in Groruddalen, Norway, as they live, study and work within the contexts of their families, educational institutions and informal activities. Examining learning as a life-wide concept, the study reveals how ‘learning identities’ are forged through complex interplays between young people and their communities, and how these identities translate and transfer across different locations and learning contexts. The authors also explore how diverse immigrant populations integrate and conceptualize their education as a key route to personal meaning and future productivity. In highlighting the relationships between education, literacy and identity within a sociocultural context, this book is at the cutting edge of discussions about what matters as children learn.

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I am working with colleagues in Canada on a SSHRC (Canadian Social Science Research Council)  funded project about the non-formal learning sector, The YouthSites project examines the creative arts sector for youth from socially excluded backgrounds in Vancouver, Toronto and London over the last 25 years. We map the youth participation in out-of-school arts learning and investigate the structural relationship between the development of this sector and the changing role and meaning of creative education, as training for employment in the creative and cultural industries has become a priority across the sector.

The project website is here.

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The Class: living and learning in the digital age – Book published

The book is now published. It is part of a new series at New York University Press and can be found on the publisher’s website, on Amazon and in bookshops. The free open access version can be found here.

There is a blog about the series here and more about the book itself  can and will be found here and here.


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Researching ‘learning lives’ – a new agenda for learning, media and technology

In this article, my co-author Ola Erstad and I revisit the history of our interest in the term, ‘learning lives’ in order to explicate the meaning(s) of the phrase and to set up a series of challenges for research into young people’s learning. We suggest that a learning lives perspective depends on three areas for investigation. First of all is the challenge of how to capture, theorise and describe the travel and trajectories if researchers are truly to ‘follow’ learners through, around and in their learning across everyday life. Secondly, it means refusing what seems to be the most apparent levers of change, namely media and technology. And thirdly, learning lives approaches need to address the pedagogicization of everyday life and the schooled society. Learning lives approaches help us see the changing place of the meaning of education and institutional pedagogies across all the nooks and crannies of everyday life.

The full article can be found here. 50 free copies can be downloaded here.

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