Sunday, January 07, 2007

Participatory Culture

While catching up on my blog reading, a recent blog by Christopher Sessum on an essay entitled: Training Kids With Skills For Participatory Culture on the ProjectNML (New Media Literacy) made me realize how quickly students are moving toward a new paradigm of learning and how many educators are stuck in the old ruts.

The original article from the New Media Literacies, explains how todays media has evolved from presentations into participation. This term, participatory culture, describes the future we should be preparing our students to meet.
Isolated workers will no longer be successful. Collaboration, communication, and cooperation across the world are skills that we need to be mentoring. How can we do this? Certainly not by standing in front of a group of students with slide shows and lectures. I don't even watch TV anymore without my laptop ready to respond or blog a concept that comes by.
As educators, we need to promote cultural exchanges and demonstration of knowledge to wide audiences through video, blogs, wikis and more. The essay lists the following skills as necessary for kids to be full participants:

Preliminary Skills:
Basic Literacy -- the ability to read and write
Technical Skills -- the ability to operate core technologies and tools desired
for specific projects.
Multimodal Literacy -- the ability to process information across multiple
systems of representation.

Emerging Skills:

Play -- a process of exploration and experimentation.
Performance-- trying on and playing different identities.
Navigation -- the ability to move across the media landscape in a purposeful manner, choosing the media that best serves a specific purpose or need, or which might best provide the information needed to serve a particular task.
Resourcefulness -- the ability to identify and capitalize on existing resources.
Networking -- the ability to identify a community of others who share common goals and interests.
Negotiation -- the ability to communicate across differences as you move through a multicultural and global media landscape.
Synthesis -- pulling together information from multiple sources, evaluating its reliability and use value, constructing a new picture of the world.
Sampling -- mastering and transforming existing media content for the purposes of self and collective expression.
Collaboration -- sharing information, pooling knowledge, comparing notes, evaluating evidence, and solving large scale problem.
Teamwork -- the ability to identify specific functions for each member of the team based on their expertise and then to interact with the team members in an appropriate fashion.
Judgment -- the ability to make aesthetic and ethical evaluations of media practices and to reflect on your own choices and their consequences.
Discernment -- the ability to assess the accuracy and appropriateness of available information.

The key word here is participation. We are using participation as a term which cuts across educational processes, creative processes, community life, and democratic citizenship. At each level, the goal should be a move from the isolated, passive intake of information towards active engagement with others in reshaping the world around us. Our goals should be to encourage kids to develop the skills, knowledge, ethical framework, and self confidence needed to be full participants in the cultural changes which are taking place in response to the influx of new media technologies.

Are you prepared to prepare your students for participation?

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