Establishing a Research Agenda for the Digital Literacy Practices of Young Children

I have co-authored a white paper outlining the context and research questions behind a Europe-wide project investigating young children, digital technologies and changing literacies. It can be downloaded here.

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A Manifesto for Playing with Learning

I have helped write a Manifesto for Playing with Learning as part of my work at The Playful Learning Centre in Helsinki. It can be downloaded here.

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From playful learning to playing with learning: Rules, carnival and anarchy

I gave this talk at The Playful Learning Centre in Helsinki, Finland. I argued that although play has  always had a role in many theories of education and child-rearing,  we now seem to live in an era where playfulness, especially in the form of games, penetrate many  aspects of domestic, civil and  social life. Perhaps because of this, play in schools is now a highly serious and formal demand which has found its way into the range of digital toys now being bought by  parents for their children. I tried to mock why we take play so seriously in education and argued that  educators need to find a way to constantly stay close to the edge in a world becoming more hidebound, controlled and constrained.

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The Class; Living and learning in the digital age

This co-authored book exploring the learning lives at home, at school and with friends of a class of London 13-14 year olds is now in production. It can be found here on the publishers website. It will be published free online at the same time as it is available in book format. It is the result of a year’s fieldwork 2011-2012.9781479824243_Full

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The Last Mile: Remaking the Pathways to Opportunity

I participated in a webinar, discussing  how to think about the world that young people are transitioning into, how we might begin to develop a research agenda and conversation that addresses the challenges posed by the ongoing shifts in our society and economy?  The CLRN has framed this challenges as the “Last Mile”, a reference to the ongoing struggle to connect learning (wherever it happens) and schooling to real world opportunity, especially among youth from resource-constrained schools and communities.

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From validating subaltern cultures to pedagogicizing everyday life: the dilemmas of researching out-of-school learning

I gave this talk at North Western, Chicago 9th April. For over 25 years I have been interested in bringing together students’ out of school cultures and academic learning. Starting in media education classrooms the challenge was to find ways to build upon students  every day consumption of popular media in order to build critical  and political understanding of the role of mass media in  their lives. I then followed through studies of emerging digital technology exploring how domestic  and amateur  technologies may or may not support forms of creativity. I have examined semi-organised community-based out-of-school learning  institutions as well as ethnographic investigations of everyday making and learning.

At the same time, the politics of education have changed radically with their emphasis on outcomes driven standardised testing and a drive to colonise children’s lifewolrds as in some ways  ” educational”.

Drawing on this range of experience and concluding with details from  informal music  playing from a recent year-long ethnography of 13 to 14-year-olds, I  reflected on why we are interested in learning out-of-school: what’s at stake in our investigations and in whose interests such endeavours take place in order to tease out  some of the pitfalls in the current focus on out-of-school learning experiences.

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Mapping & Evaluating Research on Young People as Visual Culture Producers

This book is available in Spanish and English and brings together a range of international contributions exploring a critical approach to young people as producers in the digital age. It includes my piece “What (and Where) Is the “Learning” When We Talk About Learning in the Home?”

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Cultural Pedagogies and Human Conduct

I have a chapter in this book, which has just been published. My chapter is entitled “Negotiating the pedagogicisation of everyday life; the art of learning”, and explores the often contradictory and tense relationship between pedagogy in the home and pedagogy at school as a way of investigating whether the idea of ‘cultural pedagogy’ can be considered distinct from dominant notions of pedagogy as fundamentally residing in forms of schooling.

I describe a discussion between two young people about the way that they ‘do’ art out of school and offer a series of possible interpretations of their differing attitudes to these practices. I am interested in how their differing understandings of the nature of the learning involved in these practices might indicate the creeping pedagogicisation of their everyday lives. The chapter concludes by reflecting on how claims made about pedagogy and its effects need to be considered over longer timescales and contexts.

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Playful Learning

I have been appointed visiting professor at The Playful Learning Centre, University of Helsinki, Finland. The Centre will provide a ‘living lab’ interdisciplinary approach to the making and testing of a range of playful and educational products and experiences. It is also committed to investigate the theoretical and conceptual developments in our changing understanding of the nature of learning itself and therefore deeply interested in how we might define and use the idea of playful learning both in the Academy, the marketplace and in popular discussions with families, children and young people.

‘Playful learning’ is a banner, a provocation and a heuristic. Whilst the education system of Finland has an international reputation, its practices are rooted in a particular set of attitudes towards childhood and preschool learning within a special emphasis on the nature of play as well as approaches to formal education which include a highly educated teacher workforce capable of articulating and mediating play with education.

The centre aims to bring together a diverse set of internationally renowned theorists and practitioners in order to understand more deeply what a phrase like playful learning might mean in the context of changes in childhood, developments in the education market place and theoretical understanding about the agency of young people themselves.

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Becoming a Filmmaker

I am beginning a piece of work exploring how young people become filmmakers. I will be focusing on young people who are reaching the end of their school careers through periods of other kinds of training and formal study and into the early years of employment and/or work in filmmaking. I am interested in young filmmakers who have accessed organisations and projects, which support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the creative workforce; and I am particularly interested in young people from minority communities, who learning in interest-led communities enter the labour market via non-traditional routes and often without conventional qualifications.

This project is based at the LSE and is part of the second stage of work associated with the Connected Learning Research Network and aims to find out:

  • what kind of support and structure needs to be available during these more protracted periods of instability and part-time employment?
  • how can young people learn about and take advantage of progressions between and across these different forms of social structure, qualifications infrastructure and institution to be able to develop organised careers in this kind of economic landscape?
  • how and in what ways do the generic properties of ‘digital creativity’ create different kinds of opportunity for employment and movement across traditional work roles?
  • what notions of learning identity and continuous ‘professional’ development support or hinder entry into work?

I will produce a series of ‘creative biographies’ drawing on interviews I have already conducted with students of the BfI’s Film Academy and comparing the trajectories of young filmmakers with the digital creative I mapped in the Catalysts & Disconnects projects both from last year.

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