Civic Engagement

Seeing the Classroom as a Hub of Technology-enabled Social Change

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 Comment students sitting together in classroom working as a learning hub

Antero Garcia, who teaches English at a high school in South Central Los Angeles, is a PhD candidate, focusing on critical literacies and civic identity through the use of mobile media and game play. He utilizes his classroom as a center of youth participatory action research. His students assess and address real-life needs in their South Central community. Garcia is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Garcia is heading up one of four important sub-themes in the


Four Questions about Civic Media

Monday, June 27, 2011 Comment man holding up sign saying Egypt using social media icons during protest

The civic media field is often better defined by example than in abstractions. The field is so nascent and fluid that any comprehensive, conceptual definition will likely miss key aspects of the field. For those of us who believe civic media – the various ways communities create, find and share actionable information – is transforming media and civic life, exciting examples are always an opportunity to think about the future of the field.


Digital Learning and the Arab Spring

Thursday, June 23, 2011 Comment close up of computer keyboard

As revolution and revolt spreads across the Arab world, Americans often see social networking sites and online video as playing a starring role. Whether it is testimony about police brutality or jubilation in the squares, examples of so-called witness journalism captured by cell phone cameras, webcams, and other mobile devices have made many citizens feel more engaged with the political plight of those struggling against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.


How does Digital Media impact Youth Political and Civic Engagement?

Thursday, May 26, 2011 Comment women with pink hair taking a photo on digital camera

There’s a lot of conversation about young people’s use of digital media and how it impacts their engagement — or lack of engagement — in civic affairs and politics, but not a great deal of empirical work has been done. Until now. Joseph Kahne is the chair of a newly-formed research network, Youth and Participatory Politics (YaPP), that is looking at the ways youth are using digital media and the Internet to engage in meaningful ways in civic affairs and social issues. I had an opportunity to talk with Kahne about his latest research findings and


What Should Civic Learning Look Like in an Age of Social and Technological Change?

Monday, April 25, 2011 Comment 2 kids working on computer together in classroom

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her iCivics team recently convened a thought provoking conference, Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age. In partnership with the Aspen Institute, Georgetown Law, and the MacArthur Foundation the conference raised a number of questions regarding the state of civic education. Concerned about the declining state of civic education in American schools, Justice O’Connor assembled a team to create a digital platform, iCivics, for use in formal and informal learning environments. iCivics is a games-based platform and civic curriculum designed to meet students where they are—in the gaming


Hacking Higher Education

Friday, March 18, 2011 Comment green graphic of shot injecting brain representing hacking higher education

Times of crisis are times of change and provide an opportunity to imagine alternative educational futures. Following the UK’s winter of protests about cuts to education budgets and rising tuition fees, students and staff are raising questions about what kind of education they are fighting for. Even before tuition fees were introduced, access to higher education was exclusive, with young people from well off backgrounds disproportionately represented. With the value of higher education increasingly framed as a financial investment that pays off against future earnings, there is much about the current system that many would not


Is the Virtual World Good for the ‘Real’ One?

Thursday, March 10, 2011 Comment person sitting on the ground using flip phone

In a cartoon depicting the evolution of Good Samaritanism in the digital age, a man walks by a homeless person lying on the street and does nothing. In the next frame, he is at his computer — “What’s this?!! Sally needs a bag of fertilizer for her Farmville farm? I better get right on it!” Many are struck by the amount of time some people spend in online communities — and concerns have been raised that our attention to virtual communities may be distracting us from the tangible needs of those around us. Frankly, when it


Social Learning, Literacies and Recommended Resources

Thursday, January 13, 2011 Comment teaching helping students with art project in classroom

Paleontologist from American Museum of Natural History shows I Dig Brazil kids images of ancient animals. Editor’s note: Global Kids does a great job each month pointing us to excellent new resources. Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan for Action (report)This report by media literacy scholar Renee Hobbs for The Aspen Institute and the Knight Foundation is a call to arms. It begins with the declaration that “the time to bring digital and media literacy into the mainstream of American communities is now.” These literacies include the ability to make responsible choices, analyze messages, create content,


UK Student Protests: Democratic Participation, Digital Age

Monday, January 10, 2011 Comment screenshot of google maps and icons representing student protest

The stereotypical characterization of young people as politically apathetic, interested only in using digital media for socializing and gaming, has been punctured by recent events in the UK. University and high school students took to the streets to protest against the tripling of tuition fees for higher education, reductions to grants for 16-18 year olds, and cuts in government university funding. During November and December, students, staff, parents and the wider public marched in London and other UK cities and many universities had buildings occupied, with University of Kent staying in occupation over the Christmas and


Student-led Curriculum: Demanding, Digital, Compelling

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 Comment students and teacher sitting in college classroom smiling at the camera

At November’s University of California Institute for Research in the Arts conference, the emphasis was on college courses that couldn’t be planned out according to set syllabi and fixed course objectives, because students were expected to be co-creators of the classes in which they often found themselves enrolled. Whether capitalizing on emergent interactions with online or offline communities, such courses defy predictability, because the students on the class roster aren’t the only participants in a new generation of service learning courses that take advantage of social media technologies. For example, at the Otis College of Art