This story is from the category Education
Date posted: 30/11/2009
Digital media use is transforming the way young people learn, UCI researcher Mizuko "Mimi" Ito has found, and schools should take note.
There's a learning revolution under way in the U.S., but it's not inside the classroom. Technology is changing how young people acquire knowledge, play and participate in community life, says UC Irvine's Mizuko "Mimi" Ito.
A researcher in humanities and information & computer sciences, she's studying kids' use of the Internet, digital media and social networking sites - supported by $2.97 million from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The grant funds the new digital media & learning research hub in the Irvine campus's UC Humanities Research Institute. Findings are expected to help schools, libraries and museums plan programs to better prepare students for the workforce.
"Kids today are learning outside the boundaries of formal education," Ito says. "Technology is allowing them to access information and craft their own identities in unprecedented ways, without interference from parents or teachers."
In a recent study, Ito and 28 other researchers interviewed more than 800 teens and spent thousands of hours observing them on social networking sites over a three-year period. Their research forms the basis of a new book, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media, which examines the intricate dynamics of youth culture in a digital age.
Ito's team found that - contrary to what adults may think - adolescents develop important life skills when using the Internet or such gadgets as iPods and cell phones to play games, socialize with friends or search for information.
They're able to grapple with social norms, explore interests, hone technical abilities and experiment with self-expression. And teens have embraced the digital world, Ito says, because it facilitates self-directed learning and independence.
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