A new research report released by the Connected Learning Research Network is a call for educators, parents, youth, media-makers, geeks, creatives and intellectuals everywhere to work together to make the learning riches of the online world accessible to everyone. The researchers provide evidence of the importance of making, tinkering, exploration, collaboration, and problem-solving in learning to thrive in today's networked world. They also cite growing equity gap between young people who are highly connected and activated 21st Century learners and those who are subject to no-frills education and have little support for enriched, socially networked, or inquiry-based learning.
'We're seeing the tremendous potential of new media for advancing learning,' said says lead author Mimi Ito, a professor of anthropology, informatics and education at UC Irvine. 'But, right now, it's only the most activated and well-supported learners who are using connected learning to boost their learning and opportunity. We believe many more young people can experience this kind of learning, but there's no question we're at risk of seeing yet another way privileged individuals can gain advantage — even though the Internet and digital technology has the potential to even the playing field and multiply the opportunities for all youth to find their place and achieve.'
Mimi Ito is one of the world's leading experts on how young people use technology. The Digital Youth Project she led is a spectacular must-read, even now, years after its publication. This new report advocates technology in the classroom, but not as a mere means of cutting costs or standardizing curriculum — rather, as a way of giving young people and teachers the power to do individually tailored, passion-driven learning. It's a humane, sensible, evidence-based approach that is a welcome tonic for the stupid technology good/technology bad debate. Must-read.