There is a growing “digital participation gap” between young people in our schools and communities today. This gap is caused by many things, but IGNORANCE and FEAR continue to be significant reasons many parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, and others involved in education shy away from conversations about digital media and social networking both inside and outside schools. Scholar Henry Jenkins addresses this and our need to bridge this gap (through more balanced approaches to content filtering and other strategies) in this 9.5 minute video shared by EduTopia.

Jenkins also addresses the issue of how as teachers, we need to be comfortable NOT being the expert (or the only expert) on topics we discuss and tackle with students in our classrooms. This is embedded in the concept of co-learning and co-learners, which unfortunately remains a foreign instructional approach some classrooms.

The augmented reality, GPS-enabled games built for learners at MIT like “Environmental Detectives” which Jenkins discusses sound FANTASTIC! I’ve heard Chris Dede discuss these “out in the community” GPS and virtual reality games previously at conferences. I wish we had games like this available for learners in the Oklahoma City area. If you know of anyone building this sort of thing in the OKC metro area please let me know. This would be a GREAT project for a summer class or summer workshop to take on.

How are you practically addressing the issues of the “digital participation gap” NOW in your school? Two of the best ideas I’ve encountered are sponsoring a local Scratch club at your school or elsewhere in your community, and becoming a Storychaser with others in your school. Seven upcoming workshops offered by Storychasers are being held in Oklahoma and Kansas during June and July 2011. If you’d like to host a Storychasers workshop in your local area, more information about volunteering your site is available.

If you have not yet read or added to your “read soon” list Jenkins’ book with Douglas Thomas, “A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change,” do so soon! This is one of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time about learning and its intersections with technology as well as schools.

I encountered this video of Henry Jenkins via Jackie Gerstein‘s outstanding recent post, “Kids Are Learning . . . Just Not in Ways We Want Them To.”

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  • ebujak

    I agree with Dr. Jenkins in principle, but stop blaming the teachers.
    Teachers do NOT shut down technology.  Maybe you should rephrase that and say school administrators shut down technology.
    Teachers do NOT frighten parents.  Where did that come from?  Almost all of the teachers I know welcome parental engagement/involvement and invite it.
    Teachers do NOT tell students that what they learn outside of school does not belong in the school.  I have never heard that one.
    Teachers do NOT know technology so they do not use it is very wrong for many reasons.  There are MANY teachers who know technology very well.  There are MANY teachers who do not use technology because they do NOT have any technology.  There are MANY teachers who learn technology to do their job because they are professionals.
    You also equated the teacher’s generational gap with the teacher’s technology gap.  That is insulting to any teacher.  There are MANY young PEOPLE(in age and and in teaching years) who are clueless with technology and technology integration.  At the same time there are MANY old age teachers who are extremely technologically and technically competent and will run rings around any tech person or question you throw at them.
    I am glad the last half of Dr. Jenkins video is not insulting and addresses focuses on his topic.

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