In an earlier post at the beginning of DML2010, I recalled a number of questions raised for reflection throughout the conference and from this I added a fourth. However I heed the onus from Sonia Livingstone that perhaps we are asking the wrong questions and from her talk, a number of the questions/statements she raised [that I tweeted] I include here – as reflections from my DML 2010 experience (and no doubt clouded by my own societal and institutional influences).
No, we don’t, and probably given the many number of disciplines from which DML is informed (be it education, literacy, languages, arts, digital communications, political science, psychology, anthropology etc), we probably never will.
- There are many sides to digital media and specifically, digital media learning in that we can learn a) about digital media (as in skills and knowledge of the technologies); b) from digital media (as in its impact on society); c) through digital media (in that it is a channel to share information); and/or d) with digital media in that it is participatory learning we do everyday as we use digital media and as through emersion in simulations of real-world situations.
- Digital media participation is another concept for interpretation. At DML 2010 we referred to participation with others and participation with digital media and in this raises the differentiation – is it just about behaviour and usage OR a bigger idea of being ‘part’ of something, part of the digital media space. OR as raised by Sonia Livingstone, is it actually not about participation at all – but engagement with digital media?
In this can we actually have a concise definition or really should we define participation, engagement and learning … for fear it might constrain us?
2. What do youth struggle with, with respect to Digital Media?
I’d say a lot more than we actually know or can dream of ever knowing.
A number of issues were raised relative to race, access and resources – such as time and money accessibility and availability. But this was only on the surface of the issues of what youth struggles. What about their feelings as to what is expected of them in this space, to be more responsible and mature, to have the skills of what as been labeled a ‘digital native’. Rising societal concerns about digital access, digital divide, digital literacy, time, money and resources all paint an all but dark and confusing space of youth digital media participation.
Yet more often than not we see reports of how a great many youth are online? How their skills are more advanced than other cohorts given their emersion in digital media based on year of birth. And in this we ignore the socio-cultural conditions within which youth learn, use, talk about and engage with digital media.
I wonder, can we really look through their eyes, and paint a picture of how they see the world … or are we forever misinterpreting it with labels, themes, and our interpretation of their words and behaviour in talks and presentations based on our world view … and in this where is the child’s voice! Why are they not part of this discourse …
That actually was another notable omission from the conference – youth, as where teachers, parents … perhaps by being more inclusive next year we can see more of the picture as others paint it … through MORE video, audio, and their active participation in the DML2011!
3. What does the Internet add to everything in a childs life?
In this I think is an important question not just relative to traditional learning or educational formats, but what does it add in all facets of a childs life – be it socially, emotionally, education, fun and creativity, learning and social bonds …. It is possible it can add so much but in as much as it adds, it also detracts … but in this I don’t just think of children or youth. I think we should think of the many members in our communities … parents, teachers, researchers … for they too play a critical role in youth education, learning and digital media engagement.
But like the wide adoption of the many innovations, be it technological or not, often the benefits and negatives of innovation are often only realized in hindsight, through adoption, usage and reflection of societal, community and system evolution because of these technologies.
4. What does youth digital engagement [not participation] look like?
One view. In psychology the notion of involvement is discussed, wherein individuals have a differing propensity to being interested (or engaged) with a domain (e.g., football). With this individuals may be more or less enduring or situationally involved.
- Enduring: In that they love an area and thus talk about it, read about it, and participate in it often and with great intensity and attention. A professional football player or avid gamer might be an example.
- Situational: Where as others are influenced by a situation or context that may not be ongoing, but in arising influences the level of attention, interest and activity of that individual toward the domain. For example, a college student who only occasionally plays football when the summer tournament arises or the father who takes his son to football every Saturday not because he ‘loves’ football but his son does, or the friend who doesn’t really like a video game but plays it because his/her friend wants to.
In this the motives for interaction and participation differ with intensity and duration, but stem beyond simple considerations of behaviour e.g., ‘how frequently they play football’ or ‘play a game’ to include a more wholestic view of an individuals involvement, feelings, perceptions, view and use of the domain – such as digital media.
In essence though this is but one view. Engagement is a much deeper and richer and in that more complex than participation, and in that more important to learning and the exploration as to what fosters digital media engagement in youth.
5. What is it we want youth to learn?
In this it is dependent on the perspective taken, the world view adopted and the domain of specific interest. In brief:
- Perspective: How is digital media positioned within the notion of learning? In this, they can learn from many differing perspectives – such as learning from, through, with or about digital media.
- Discipline/Field: From which disciplines could their learning be situated in (be it one or many): sociology, education, learning, literacy, psychology, arts, literacy, communications, anthropology, digital media, information technology … and I’m sure I’ve missed many more
- Domain: What is it we want them to learn about – privacy, security, social networks and social intelligence, emotional intelligence, behavioural skills, technical design, communication skills, creativity and innovation etc ….
6. Are we overestimating a child’s digital skills?
Perhaps we are overestimating a child’s digital skills and in many spaces not even considering the digital skills (as much) for other members of our community – such as young adults, teachers, parents, lecturers, researchers, business and wider community … we all being influenced and expected to use/interact or learn about digital media and therefore we all have digital media literacy needs and we are all connected …
7. Are we as academics in this space and digital media professionals advocate DM too much? Do we not have a responsibility and a need to be more critical?
Perhaps in this (similar to the doc com crash of the 90’s) we are focusing too much on the hype and promised opportunity of a technological innovation; our access to the plethora of data and subjects; and driven by the endless need to publish – due to institutional expectations – and stay informed and up-to-date.
With this comes normative behaviour to conform and to agree in order to survive and NOT to be left behind. These questions above and more critical questions we most certainly should be asking, not just of ourselves, but of the designers and engineers of the digital media space, and the markets/communities that adopt, use and ESPECIALLY promote them (i.e., the marketing and business profession), not just us that research and study them.
It is with this that the next post refers to why as a marketing academic in a business school I made the trek to DML 2010, to explore differing approaches and meet like mind colleagues, who although see the world through a different lense, can afford me the questions to help explore further why Digital Media Learning – and specifically knowledge, skills and literacy is critical for not just youth, but also for the business and marketing community of the 21st century!