Recommended Reading, Viewing, Clicking

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a stellar job each month pointing us to key resources.

We are not Waiting for Superman, We are Empowering Superheroes (Presentation)
Social entrepreneur and learning researcher Diana Rhoten, at a recent conference, presented, “Design for Learning: We Are Not Waiting for Superman, We are Empowering Superheroes,” a response to the recent film about the failures of American education, “Waiting For Superman.” Interested in re-designing the face and the future of learning, Diana laid out three assumptions and three aspirations that offer a great summary (with much better articulation) of how we at Global Kids approach digital media and learning.

* Assumption 1: The future of education is about learning not schooling.
* Assumption 2: Technology is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and that end is better learning.
* Assumption 3: The power of technology to advance learning depends on context of use.

* Aspiration 1: We want to be disruptive in our work.
* Aspiration 2: We see our work as taking place on the edges.
* Aspiration 3: We want to work with thinkers and doers, makers and movers beyond the “usual suspects.”

Youth Media Reporter Interview: danah boyd (online interview)

Great interview with danah boyd, a social scientist at Microsoft Research and a research associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In this interview for youth media professionals, she draws connections between her research on youth practices with digital media and how it overlaps with the concerns and interests of youth media professionals. For example, she said “Many teachers want to use social network sites for classroom purposes, but kids who are working on a project together at school aren’t necessarily friends and forcing kids to collapse their social worlds and their school worlds can have serious social consequences. Educators need to identify exclusionary dynamics in the room and keep in mind that these will probably play out online.” danah’s perspectives on youth practice with digital media are invaluable tools for youth media practitioners.

Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world (video)

Innovator and technologist Seth Priebatsch, in this frequently-shared TED video, talks about something we are hearing more and more about: the ludification of life, which is to say, how understanding life as a game offers valuable insights to help us to, say, improve the rules so more people can “win.” We see this with Foursquare, which turns our mundane daily movements into strategic game play. A few years ago, game designer and academic Eric Zimmerman began speaking about our entering a “Ludic Century,” which inspired Global Kids’ Living La Vida Ludic talk about the power of virtual worlds to erase the line between “work” and “play.” Last month saw The New York Times Magazine feature about the new games-based public school in New York City, Quest to Learn. And last week we went to a meeting to promote a new device that detects motion and uses game-like rewards to motivate physical activity amongst youth. So back to Seth Priebatsch, whose talk brilliantly frames this transition, arguing that the last decade was the decade of the social, “the decade of where the framework in which we connect with other people was built,” while the current one will be the one one in which “the motivations that we use to actually influence behavior, and the framework in which that is constructed, is decided upon.” For example, “School is a game. It’s just not a terribly well-designed game, right. There are levels. There are C. There are B. There is A. There are statuses. I mean, what is valedictorian, but a status? If we called valedictorian a ‘white knight paladin level 20,’ I think people would probably work a lot harder.” 

Technology Trends Among People of Color (research)
A senior research specialist at Pew Internet spoke to the Center for American Progress’ Internet Advocacy Roundtable about three trends in minority technology use:  

* Trend #1: The Internet and broadband populations have become more diverse over the last decade, although key disparities do remain.

* Trend #2: Access to the digital world is increasingly being untethered from the desktop, and this is especially true for people of color.

* Trend #3: Minority Internet users don’t just use the social web at higher rates, their attitudes towards these tools differ as well.

Other fascinating details emerged such as: both African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos are more likely to own a mobile phone than whites; and, minority adults use a much wider range of their cell phones’ capabilities, and are more likely to post content online or use their phones to make a donation.  These figures mean a lot for Global Kids youth leaders; for example, if cell phones are increasingly a primary entry point into the participatory culture of our digital age, what is the effect on the “participation gap” when New York City public schools make them illegal rather than support their educational application?

The Internet Generation Prefers the Real World (article)

Spiegel Online International had an article about how teenagers, while users of the Internet, “are not Web-saavy digital natives.” For example, while they are using social media to socialize and communicate, they still don’t know how to use Google search properly. Articles like this are always useful to us by reminding that all digial natives are not created equally, and there is a crucial role here that educators ignore at youths’ peril.

Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted (article)

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point, examines social media and its role in activism, its use of weak ties, and its effect on participation and motivation: “The evangelists of social media…seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960.” While at times no more than setting up a strawman just to knock it down, the piece is nonetheless an interesting perspective on social media and its potential for social change (in over 140 characters). An excellent response comes from entrepreneur and blogger Anil Dash, who critiques the article and contrasts the emerging movement of “makers” with the Tea Party. “The problem with Gladwell’s premise is that it’s wildly anachronistic to think that the only way to effect social change is to assemble a sign-wielding mob to inhabit a public space…However: There are revolutions, actual political and legal revolutions, that are being led online. They’re just happening in new ways, and taking subtle forms unrecognizable to those who still want a revolution to look like they did in 1965. Gladwell is absolutely right to say that political action today takes place in the form of many smaller, simpler steps than it did when one used to have to put livelihood, liberty, or even life on the line to make change happen. That doesn’t mean it’s ineffective, just that it’s a million small protests instead of one visible act.” Interesting to compare and contrast both perspectives.

For The Win by Cory Doctorow (novel)

Cory Doctorow’s latest book, For The Win, is a youth-oriented novel that is more economic-fiction, if such a term exists, than science-fiction. Focusing on the real-world implications of the virtual economies growing every year within global virtual worlds and massively multiplayer games, Doctorow spins a global tale connecting youth around the world in an economic struggle for workers’ rights – all based on youth play, work and, yes, union organizing within these virtual spaces. It is a fascinating read for those new to the implications of these virtual economies and an excellent vehicle to engage teenagers in a discussion of the global economy. Oh, and the whole thing is available for free, under Creative Commons, with an encouragement by the author to remix and share.

Image credit: Holy Meatballs