Public School Classrooms: Incubators for Social Learning

What does it mean to be a teacher in the 21st century? It’s a question educators like Antero Garcia have been looking to answer since the digital media and learning initiative launched in 2006. Prior to joining the English department at Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an assistant professor, Antero spent eight years teaching high school English and ESL in South Central Los Angeles. While teaching at the majority-minority school, Antero took note of his students’ social connection to digital media. By incorporating mobile media devices and social media platforms into his formal curriculum, Antero opened up his students to a new learning experience, one that connected their academic, social, and networked circles. Garcia was one of a dozen graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who participated in the DML Hub’s Research Associates Summer Institute. In the video below, he talks about how his students were able to develop a sense of civic identity by engaging with two alternate reality games he created, “Ask Anansi” and the “Black Cloud Game.” Here are just a few highlights from the video, but the full interview (below) dives deep into the design and functionality of today’s public high school classrooms.

I need to figure out spaces for my classroom to be both academic and social…recognizing the space that the students felt was important to them socially and that, as an adult myself, I know is important to me socially. How do I balance that with what I expect to happen in a 9th grade English classroom?

What we need is for the classroom to look similar to what’s happening in society. The way we are interacting with media and the way society treats consumption and production of media is very different than what it was in the past. Schools haven’t figured out how to catch up with that.

What I want to replicate are the big pedagogical shifts I used in my practice that I think should be what other people are thinking about over time. I want to engage in that conversation, and I want to work with teachers and teacher development around getting people prepared to work with kids in the second decade of the 21st century. That’s the space we need to be thinking about.

Antero Garcia – DML Summer Institute 2012 from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

Video production credit: Marc Bacarro

Banner image credit: Courtesy of Antero Garcia