YDME: Exploring the Characteristics of Participatory Learning


Teachers play a monumental role in facilitating opportunities for students to become critical thinkers, proactive citizens, and creative contributors to the world around them. In our rapidly shifting digital and social landscape, unequal access to experiences that help build the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute in these evolving environments can prevent youth from meaningful participation in them. This “participation gap”, we believe, cannot be wholly addressed when teachers are not afforded these same opportunities to grow and learn.

New Media Literacies has recently started new research to build upon our professional development initiative for teachers. “Participatory Learning and You” (PLAY) is a participatory model of professional development focused on teachers as researchers. During this year-long program teachers are asked to personalize and integrate the new media literacies before integrating it into curriculum by rediscovering themselves as learners first.

DML workshop asks participants to explore educational design from the inside out. The five characteristics of participatory learning are fundamental to PLAY!’s approach. Discovered through New Media Literacies’ action research with teachers, these characteristics encourage teachers to embrace practices that help create:
 1. heightened motivation and new forms of engagement through play and experimentation; 
2. authentic learning scenarios; 
3. new forms of creativity with media, tools and practices; 
4. a community where knowledge is distributed across all participants; and 
5. a learning eco-system that addresses each learner holistically.

In large and small group constellations, participants will: design participatory learning-rich activities; identify these activities’ potential contributions to teaching and learning; reflect upon their own pedagogical practice; and discover intersections and practicable take-aways.