Mapping Digital Makers: a review exploring everyday creativity, learning lives and the digital

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.
It was commissioned by The Nominet Trust and is available here. You can hear a podcast of the launch event held 12th March 2013 here and a webcast here.
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Connected Learning Synthesis Report

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.
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Webinar – 5th December 2012 – Learning in out of school contexts

A recording of this event is available here.
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Revisiting Learning Lives: longitudinal perspectives on literacy in educational research

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[1] 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.


[1] Lemke, J. (2000). Across the scales of time: Artefacts, activities, and meanings in ecosocial systems. Mind, Culture and Activity, 7 (4), 273–290.
 
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From Creative Learning to Creative Lives: Contextualising the Youth and Community Non-Formal Education Sector

I gave this talk at the Vancouver Digital Media Ecologies Research Symposium. I argued that the place of 'not-school learning organisations is firmly if unequally established as part of the 'ecologies' of educational provision in many cities across the developed world. In many of these initiatives there is an interest in and commitment to a range of creative actives, art , drama and forms of media making. There is a small if problematic research literature describing and characterising learning in such centres and spaces. In this talk I reflected on what it means to talk about learning out side of the school and explored the significance of some 'creative biographies' - examining the effect over time on people who participate in such initiatives when young and what difference it might make to them from a life-long perspective.
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Dis/connected Learning: the social worlds of young people in the digital age

This is the title of a talk I recently gave  in Vancouver at the Harbour Centre to a joint audience from Simon Fraser University and University of British Colombia. I explored three aspects of 'The Class'. (1) learning in the home (2) learning music outside the school and (3) the social and learning capital made visible through social network analysis.
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Identity, Community, and Learning Lives in the Digital Age – New Publication

This book co-edted by myself and Ola Erstad has just been published by Cambridge University Press. You can order it here.
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Learning at ‘not-school’ publication

My study of the research, theory and advocacy for and about learning in out-of-school settings is now available here.
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The class: social networking and the changing practices of learning – Learning outside the school

This was the title of a talk I gave in the Department for Creative and Cultural Arts,   Hong Kong Institute of Education 27th August 2012. In the talk I reflected  on two linked themes emerging from The Class project. - I questioned what it means to talk about the home as a site for learning describing the ‘educational bricolage’ that goes on in domestic environments as parents and children negotiate the pressures of commercial interests in opening up these spaces amidst an intensification of the pedagogicization of every-day life. - I reported on  the processes, patterns and meanings of how some young people learn music outside of formal education.  Music means different things to the young people and they exhibited a range of different modes of learning to play an instrument and become proficient in musicmaking. These modes challenge, complements, supplement and in some cases suborn the practices of musicmaking we observed at the school.
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The Class: reflecting on a year- long multi-method project

I shared ongoing thoughts from the current research project, The Class, part of the Connected Learning Research Network funded by The MacArthur Foundation as part of its Digital Media Learning program at a seminar for the new centre for Children, Youh and Media at QUT, Brisbane on 24th August, 2012. Working with an 'ordinary' London school, I have been following the 'learning 'networks within and beyond a single class of 13-14 year olds at home, school and elsewhere over the course of an academic year – observing social interactions in and between lessons; conducting interviews with children, parents, teachers and relevant others; and mapping out-of-school engagements with digital networking technologies to reveal both patterns of use and the quality and meaning of such engagements as they shape the learning opportunities of young people. In the talk I reflected  the range of methods, methodologies and heuristics we have used to collect and make sense of a project of this nature and at this scale. I will describe the range of data we have collected, the different methods we used to collect and access it and how we are working to code and interpret it.  
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