Innovative Methods for Researching Connected Learning

I have edited a special issue of the international Journal of Learning and Media about the need to pay attention to innovative methodologies that could be used to research emerging forms of connected learning as a useful and important way of working out what is new about these kinds of educational settlements and what we do and do not know about the changing nature of learning. This special issue makes the case that bringing together the disciplines of media studies and education is a necessary way to approach any differences that might accrue from the digital—as medium and object of research. International comparative perspectives can play an important role in developing perspectives in social scientific research into these matters.

The journal is free online and can be found here.

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Signature Pedagogies

The website describing this project is now available. It is about the signature pedagogies of creative practitioners in schools and presents the results of a research project which examined twelve artists at work. Through our research, we came to see that there was something as distinctive about their creative practices as a handwritten signature.

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Webinar on Digital Makers

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Catalysts and Disconnects: mapping progression into creative careers

This project will map the interest-lededucational, 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:

  1. To map the progressions in skill and interest in all forms of digital creativity,
    1. 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;
    2. and leading to understanding of the role of the particular ‘social routes’ in individual learning.
    3. 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.

The project will track individual’s learning and creative episodes over relatively short and intense periods of time. Through interview and detailed biographical study we will capture key episodes and situate them within the individual’s longer-term career or interest trajectory as the individual reflects on the experience and its interrelationship (or not) with formal and other kinds of educational experience. We are interested in how digital creativity either conforms to or transgresses traditional disciplinary boundaries.

As the project gets going we will be blogging out thoughts and findings here.


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What (and Where) is the ‘Learning’ When We Talk about Learning in the Home?

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.

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Australian Teachers of Media

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.

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Blogging – Digital Media Learning

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.

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Maker Bridge Webinar series

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.

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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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