I am afraid that my ideas for my masters thesis will have to be based on old information. This bothers me because every article that I have found is based on information that is many years old. The concepts are generally unique, but as an integrated marketing specialist I have a hard time basing current knowledge and theories based on old data. I'm not sure of the answer to this problem and hopefully with think of something as I consider my ideas further. In the white paper: 'Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century' by Henry Jenkins (with Katie Clinton, Ravi Purushotma, Alice J. Robinson, Margaret Weigel,) most of the ideas are based on research by the Pew Internet & American Life project which states that ". . .more than one-half of all teens have created media content, and roughly one-third of teens who use the Internet have shared content they produced." Sure, when this white paper was created the increase in smart phone technology and usage was not considered. That is the problem with anything 'new media' related. The research becomes as outdated as the latest iPhone.
I fully agree with the general thesis of this paper in that teens today are a different 'participatory culture' but just as soon as one entry point is discovered and studied, it is no longer relevant. Current studies by PEW state that the numbers are staying about the same but acknowledge changes in behavior (even this updated report is a bit outdated, since the adoption rate to smartphones seems to grow exponentially on a daily basis!!)
I think the bigger issue at hand is that what happens when the student outpaces the educator in the digital realm? We discussed in our class that this generation will be the first to graduate high school and enter college in a time when the internet was always a tool for communication and convenience. More interesting studies should be focusing on how to educate the old die-hard educator who still writes checks and carries a filofax or dayrunner.
I am in full support of a fully digital integrated classroom. I have my problems with shared content and all things Web 2.0, mostly because it makes us all lazy and changes the way we think. Even at home, we still have yellow-pages sitting around. I'm not entirely sure why, and to be frank I could never really find things I wanted - the taxonomy always seemed off: to find a taxi, you had to know to look under automobile services, and then cab services, and then taxi. Today, I use an iPhone app and am on my way.
Shared content, participatory or not also makes things more prone to mistakes. It drives me crazy to look on a news web site and see typographical errors. Where's the editor? We rely too heavily on spellcheck features and not the old fashioned draft review. We have shortened our language to just a series of acronyms. Hell, even GOOGLE knows what I am searching for before I finish typing it. Let's not even discuss the Tea Partiers and the 'participatory' 'fixing' of wikipedia pages to alter historical facts.
Ok..off my rant and back to the article singing the praises of this new culture....this new modality. Teens and sharing content. It is true that teens are more ABLE now to make better jumps between concepts and ideas because they are able to think of things in more than one manner and make the connection between differing ideas quicker. But this was when myspace and online content sites were being used more, even the online gaming sites (WOW, etc...) seem to not be in favor much anymore in lieu of facebook and texting or the set-top game systems (Playstation, Wii (which admittedly is probably the best for shared learning), and Xbox) What does Gears of War and Vice City teach?
I do not see how texting and facebook is helping kids to focus more on their work and digital learning when they spend more time face down trying to secretly text a friend. This is no longer a participatory approach to existing and learning, it's more isolating...solitary. Borg-like. a shared mind that is only 'on' when connected to something else and if one knows...all know. Where is the learning in that culture of instant data-driven knowledge? The white paper gives great examples about digital learning, (the young man discussing what class systems are and how the kid interprets them - by how close he builds houses to the Senate in this game...) These are great examples, but I feel they are few and far between.
What most of this means to me and makes me worry about, as I mentioned before are the speed at which technology changes, leaving the slower behind (including the teachers) and then the accessibility to the latest and greatest gadget. I was one of those people that stood in line on the day the iPhone came out and paid $699 for this device. Not everyone can do this.
Until everyone is on the level playing field, and there is a general plateau of developing new systems and devices (it HAS to stop at some point, right?) then adapting educational guidelines based on the new, new, new, new, digital culture will never work.
This is NOT to say that integrating digital learning into the classroom as a mechanism to bridge curriculum and help the history teacher teach english and the english teacher teach art will never happen, or shouldn't happen. It IS to say that we need to make sure that everyone can speak the same language.