This project will map the interest-led, educational, training and vocational routes and trajectories taken by young people as they navigate pathway choices into specialisation, career choice and employment in digital creativity. It is funded for 10 months beginning September 2013. It is funded by Nominet Trust. We know that many young people engage in forms of digital creativity (defined broadly both as working with computers and as a dimension of other creative disciplines), such engagement is frequently episodic and intense. We also know that many young people exhibit seemingly haphazard erratic interests and engage with digital creativity at various stages of their early academic life and, often irrespective of age, they go through different levels of participation from informal out-of-school play to serious hobbies, to GCSE, ‘A‘ levels/BTEC and into undergraduate and postgraduate courses and even professional certification. However, we have very little knowledge about how capabilities (including skills and knowledge), interest and knowledge of possible vocational goals might intersect to determine pathways for further study and how decisions to progress in certain directions are made or rejected. We do not know specifically whether external circumstances or key demographics have any particular influence on pathway decisions in the digital creativity field. We do not know how learning progression are developed with in- and out-of-school/college knowledge and experiences. The project will identify the key determining influences on study/interest –led choices and how young people mediate these push factors with the pull of market and career opportunities. It will pay particular attention to unpicking the mix of interest-led informal activities and opportunities for formal training/education. This pathways analysis is necessary to underpin social, educational and vocational progressions in digital creativity and has implications for the recruitment and development of the creative labour force, as well as for curriculum debate. There are two key areas of enquiry:
- To map the progressions in skill and interest in all forms of digital creativity,
- focusing in particular on the interconnections (or lack of) between informal, peer sustained and directed activities and the opportunities and developments provided by formal courses of study and accreditation;
- and leading to understanding of the role of the particular ‘social routes’ in individual learning.
- To understand better how capability in digital creativity relates to domain specific expertise (i.e. Art or Music) and cross-disciplinary generic competence and imagination through tracing the growth of individual creative mastery over time.
I have an article on this topic in the Bankstreet Occasional Papers. I show how a number of families—the subjects of The Class research Project —adopt and use folk “theories of learning,” and I consider, in particular, how such theories relate to dominant discourses around learning in school. Second, I explore how media technologies—and in particular, how the ways that they are purchased and how they are located in the home—also contribute to dominant conceptualizations of learning and at times almost seem to stand for a proxy measure of it. Third, I draw on observations and accounts of how learning is enacted as a discipline and as a habit within the ebb and flow of family life.
In July earlier this year I spoke at this conference. My talk was called: The Media in Everyday Life: Learning and the Dis/Connected Home and drew on the year –long ethnography into the ‘learning lives ‘ of 13-14 year olds in London. Focusing on the everyday, quotidian, domesticated and routine uses of media in the home, I described how learning is constructed, mediated and enacted in six families showing how these families adopt and use folk ‘theories of learning’ in the home, and how such theories relate to dominant discourses around learning in school. I examined how media technologies – especially how they are purchased and how they are located in the home – also contributed to dominant conceptualizations of learning and at times almost seemed to stand for a proxy measure of it. Thirdly, I drew on observations and accounts of how learning is enacted as a discipline and as a habit within the ebb and flow of family life. I aimed to question assumptions about how we talk about learning in the home by showing that who defines learning in domestic contexts, and on what basis, is subject to a series of class-based, inherited and aspirational discourses and imaginaries.
I am now blogging for the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. I will be covering a range of topics and themes relating to informal learning, digital making, media education and digital culture. My post are available here.
Today is the first of three webinars exploring digital making and maker communities. The website for the series can be found here. This series s brings together initiatives, experiences, academic understanding and practitioner expertise around the field of digital making. We will host three online events during May and June 2013 to develop resources and conversations that are explicitly international and bring together expertise and experience from the US and the UK. The Series asks: what is new about digital making now? Why is it important? How does digital making relate to other forms of creativity? How can we best organise digital making for children and young people? Is digital making difficult to teach? What is happening in digital maker communities and how can we link schools and young people to them? My report about the series is available here.
This review maps the theory, practices and policies that underpin our understanding of digital makers and digital making in relation to young people. It investigates what we know about the relation between what young people do today with digital technologies and what they then might do when they grow up, and when they join the workforce. It explores: creative and making experiences undertaken by young people by themselves or with their friends and in production-focused communities; an analysis of theories of learning underpinning digital making interventions across the full spectrum of educational provision; and formal policy documents and public pronouncements around digital creativity. It offers three key recommendations:
- exploring, anatomising, and theorising digital creativity as an integrated concept across, as part of, and as discrete from other creative production disciplines;
- modelling growth, developments and progression in creative people (or people engaged in making and devising) as they move across and between different life- course experiences;
- and the need to invest in and share systematic accounts of learning digital creativity in a range of educational locations (at home, in the community, at school, college, university and at work), including case studies and quantitative measures in order develop a more consistent evidence base to support on-going initiatives.
The Connected learning ResearcH Network, of which i am a member has now produced a synthesis report exploring the principles and design of connected learning. It is available here. The press release for the report can be found here. The Digital Media Learning Research hub is here.
A recording of this event is available here.
Jennifer Rowsell from Brock University and I recently led this SSHRC funded symposium in Toronto, November 7th-9th 2012. Working with participants from Canada, the UK, the US and Australia we explored the theoretical and practical challenges involved in revisiting broadly defined literacy research subjects and /or sites from the past. Our starting point was that it would be interesting and generative to revisit research subjects who we worked with over the last 10/20 years. We invited about a dozen well-known and early career scholars in broadly speaking case study accounts of literacy (loosely defined in New Literacy Studies frame) to participate in the seminar. We suggested that participants needed to be able to locate and meet up with the ‘actors’ who peopled their account(s), or a least one of them and review with them: - either the longer term nature of current literacy practices seeking to contextualise your contemporary accounts - and/or their current reflections on the kinds of intervention or project you worked with them in the past - and/or how lifecourse experiences may have shifted some of their earlier literacy practice orientations - the travel and traversal of their literacy practices - and/or how the current digital regime have may have offered new and different opportunities for those earlier literacy practices - -and/or how revisiting these research subjects may reveal underlying trends about current literacy practices in general. We will be publishing and disseminating our work in the near future.
 Lemke, J. (2000). Across the scales of time: Artefacts, activities, and meanings in ecosocial systems. Mind, Culture and Activity, 7 (4), 273–290.