Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with Digital Media

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out was written as a collaborative effort by members of the Digital Youth Project, a three-year research effort funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.

Conventional wisdom about young people’s use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today’s teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networks sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youth’s social and recreational use of digital media.

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out fills this gap, reporting on an ambitious three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media in varied settings-at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces.

This project was one of many funded by the MacArthur Foundation to explore digital media and learning. New projects in this area are being aggregated through the Digital Media and Learning Hub.

Weekly Wrap: Slacktivism, Open Source Social Innovation, Boomers & Social Media, Helping Google Get Social, Sundance 2010 Round-Up, Texting Party in the USA, Steve Jobs' Wardrobe & More!

Barking.robot.iconA Time and Place for 'Slacktivism': Slacktivism; (v.) action 4 social change w/o much effort beyond a click/text. Known causes: social media, cellphones. [Ypulse]

Baby Boomers Get Connected with Social Media: Boomers are turning to social media, where they keep up their offline social connections and make new ones. Online marketing messages that help them build on their connections—and foster other online relationships—will get their interest. [eMarketer]

Lady GaGa's Lessons for the Music Business: Underneath Gaga's haystack wigs is a case study of what it takes to succeed in the music business today. Gaga, 23 years old, has made shrewd use of new digital platforms, while still leveraging the clout of a major label, an institution deemed obsolete by many proponents of DIY culture (Thanks Ypulse!). [WSJ]

Conan O'Brien's Fate a Sign of the Times: While the "Tonight Show" ratings fell under O'Brien's tenure as a whole, ratings amongst the younger demographics were better than those of Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." According to the New York Times, the median age of "Tonight Show" viewers fell by 10 years, from 55 to 45, in O'Brien's first month alone. [Colorado Daily]

Social Media Marketing, How Pepsi Got it Right: Social media marketing campaigns are proving to be goldmines rich with customer engagement and insight that companies wouldn’t likely have otherwise. Companies like PepsiCo are going to extensive lengths to foster this type of collaboration with fans, and the payoff has been big. [Mashable]

Will Creating a SWAT Team Help Google Get Social?: As successful as Google has been with plenty of other things — including a little thing called search-related advertising — it has struck out big-time in virtually every attempt at the social side of the web. [GigaOM]

Reflections from the Sundance Film Festival: Lois Vossen, ITVS vice president and Independent Lens series producer, shares her reflections on this year’s festival, which wraps up this weekend. [Beyond the Box]

College Students Hate Email: In fact, the student joked that she only uses her email to “communicate with her boss and adults.” She uses Facebook as her preferred method of peer-to-peer communication – she has had a Facebook thread running between the three of them for three years now. [Off Campus Media]

Tweet O' the Week: Can someone please buy Steve Jobs a new outfit! The man has more money than God and Oprah! A simple button down will do!" (via Scott Nevins) [Twitter]

Americans Sending 4 Times as Many Texts as Brits:There was a turning point a couple of years ago when it was suddenly undeniable: It was either text message or be left behind. If you were paying for it by the message, you suddenly had to find a plan, because you started having more and more friends that wouldn't talk any other way. Well, we're wondering if it has finally reached that point in the U.K. - or if it's yet to come. [ReadWriteWeb]

Teen Drinking May Cause Irreversible Brain Damage: For teenagers, the effects of a drunken night out may linger long after the hangover wears off. A recent study led by neuroscientist Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego compared the brain scans of teens who drink heavily with the scans of teens who don't. [NPR]

Open Source Social Innovation: Last week Bill Gates entered the digital publishing world by establishing the Gates Notes - an online evolution of his now annual January letter sharing his thoughts on the progress of the issues central to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s interesting and symbolic that the next chapter of his life story would include an “open source” platform for sharing IP on social innovation. [Cheskin]

Introduction to Using Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.

The Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.

This printable guide provides an overview of how to use Creative Commons along with additional information regarding technical implementation on the Web. Introduction to Using Creative Commons

Additional Resources

A Kindle in Every Backpack: A Proposal for eTextbooks in American Schools


A concept paper published in July by former members of the Obama-Biden transition team, titled A Kindle in Every Backpack: A Proposal for eTextbooks in American Schools, suggests we consider an innovative plan to spread eTextbooks around the country, rapidly scaling up employment of the technology so that we can learn, adapt, and perfect its use quickly. It describes the case for an eTextbook system in three parts.

In Part One, the report discusses the multiple reasons why eTextbooks like Amazon's Kindle are a much better approach for our nation’s students. The reasons they are superior include the ability to update eBooks relatively cheaply and easily, environmental and health benefits (such as reducing loads on young backs and shoulders), and the enormous opportunity to make texts more exciting and interactive—like the other tools children use today and that compete for their attention.

In Part Two, this paper discusses the economics of this approach. Cost estimates in the education world are notoriously sketchy and often self-serving, but it seems clear that over time an investment in these tools would produce big savings.

Finally, in Part Three, this paper outlines how we could implement such a plan, and why there could be broad-based support for it.

Also of interest is an article in the September/October 2009 issue of Scholastic Administrator Magazine titled, "Will the Kindle Change Education?" The article does a really good job of weighing in on both the pros and cons of using the Kindle in the classroom.

A lot of education folks have focused on using the mobile phone as the primary device to usher in the age of mlearning (mobile learning).

But perhaps we should be paying more attention to e-book devices like the Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook or the (rumoured) Apple tablet as the more viable mlearning option to delivering media rich and digital content to kids at school.

A lot the current research shows that when kids go to school they are disconnected from how they live outside the classroom. Either way, what's important is that we take a look at and try using any resource or tool--including e-books--that gets kids' more engaged and invested in their education.

Related: Amazon's Jeff Bezos Gives Away Kindles To His Alma Mater, Asks For Feedback

Hey Josh for Grown-ups: Learn How to Communicate with Teens


"Humor is a delivery mechanism for truth"

    - Biz Stone, Co-Founder of Twitter

Josh Shipp, the popular youth speaker and dispenser of wisdom to teens, has launched a new project called Hey Josh for Grown-ups (uhm, yeah. That's YOU! The grown-up!)!

Josh has put together a really good, high quality curriculum for parents, teachers, scout leaders, youth pastors---just about anyone who works with teens. Oh, and it's free.

Here's the scoop from Josh:

Maybe you’re a parent of a teen, maybe you're a teacher, a coach, a boy scout leader, or guidance counselor. Maybe you volunteer at a summer camp, or maybe you're the grandparent of a teenager. Regardless of your specific role, I believe you want to see the best in that teenager.

You want to help them reach their full potential. That’s what I want, too.

So, welcome to Hey Josh for Grown-ups. I’m laying out all my strategies, secrets, and techniques--all of the stuff I use to effectively reach and communicate with teenagers--for you to use with the teenagers in your life.

Now Josh likes to joke around and be that funny kid in the class (just ignore the hair. no really, ignore it and nobody gets hurt), but make no mistake--he knows a lot about teens and what their going through.

Josh has talked to literally thousands of kids and wants to share what he learned with you--the grown-up.

myGuide: Helping to Close the Generational Digital Divide

My.guide.uk The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) in the UK has launched an innovative and free e-learning course for adults and those who work with children to help them beef-up their digital web skills.

The easy to navigate site has a self-directed "interactive guidance course and quiz to help families manage the risks while enjoying the benefits of the web."

The primary goals of the myGuide initiative is to address many of the top parental concerns about the web, including phishing and spam, as well as chat rooms, music file-sharing, and safety filters.

The site stresses the importance of open family discussions and where to go for additional information and help. At the public launch of the new resource, Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan said:

“Today’s generation of children and young people are often much more computer savvy than their parents, something that can be of great concern as mums, dads and carers look to keep their children safe online without restricting their enthusiasm for and exploration of the Internet.

The free myguide service is designed specifically for people in this situation. The new Family Internet Safety guide will help people become more knowledgeable about the risks and how to manage them.

Thanks to DK, over at MediaSnackers, for the heads-up on the myGuide program.

Related Links

Teacher Encourages Students to Twitter in Class

Twitter.follow.me "Cole W. Camplese, director of education-technology services at Pennsylvania State University at University Park, prefers to teach in classrooms with two screens — one to project his slides, and another to project a Twitter stream of notes from students.

He knows he is inviting distraction — after all, he’s essentially asking students to pass notes during class. But he argues that the additional layer of communication will make for richer class discussions.

Using Twitter to Engage Students in Learning

What’s the point of Twitter? Should educators incorporate Twitter into their curriculum? What difference does using Twitter and other types of social media make in the learning process?

High School students at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis are using social media tools and unblocked access to the Internet and as a result are engaged in the learning process in a whole new way.

In this video, put together by the University of Minnesota, a teacher explains how having discussions about their English class online has increased their level of attention and engagement in their studies.

Related Resources

NASA is Developing MMO in Effort to Boost STEM Education

When it comes to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), American kids are falling behind other kids in countries. There are lots of organizations--from ExxonMobil to the National Science Digital Library (NSDL)--are working hard to reverse this trend and get more kids into a science education track.

For example, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has a STEM education initiative for teachers and they provide an array of professional development resources (many for free) for teachers over on their online Learning Center.

STEM education--for both students and teachers--is at the core of President Obama's educational reform package. These are all great programs and let's face it, when it comes to STEM education programs, the more the merrier.

View more presentations from ashwinl.

NASA, who has a vested interest in having a steady flow of qualified people to develop our national space programs, is ready to embark on a new and bold plan to get America's youth--from elementary school to higher education--interested in space exploration.

Their secret weapon? A virtual world build around a mission to Mars.

In an effort to encourage more kids to pursue science careers, NASA has created a Learning Technologies Project Office (LPTO) and partnered with three video game producers to create, Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond.

According to NASA:

The game will enable participants to learn and be tested on real skills through single-player and team-based missions based on real NASA technologies, such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

In addition, players will interact with NASA digital assets, such as hyper-realistic digital renderings of Mars rovers and telescope images taken of and from space.

The level at which users participate in these missions will depend on age and education, among other factors. So, while the game promises to have a big impact on higher education, it will also be geared toward students as young as 13 who can participate at a level suited to their experience."

Today's kids are savvy and have lots of choices when it comes to virtual worlds. If the Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond doesn't feel authentic, they won't use it. So it's really great to see that NASA had the foresight to consult and collaborate with experts from the MMO/virtual world community to develop this project.

Given how much Gen Y love video games and virtual worlds, this type of hands-on, project based learning activity might just be the thing to get more kids interested in science.

Related Resources

UK Students May Be Required to Master Twitter, Wikipedia & Podcasting

According to a story in today's Guardian, a UK school curriculum reform commission has proposed that primary students should be required to become proficient in web-based and digital tools like Twitter, Wikipedia, blogging and podcasting.

Here's more on the proposed curriculum changes:

"Children will no longer have to study the Victorians or the second world war under proposals to overhaul the primary school curriculum, the Guardian has learned.

However, the draft plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes.

The proposed curriculum, which would mark the biggest change to primary schooling in a decade, strips away hundreds of specifications about the scientific, geographical and historical knowledge pupils must accumulate before they are 11 to allow schools greater flexibility in what they teach.

The proposal would require children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain "fluency" in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell."

Related Resources

Mozilla, Peer 2 Peer University & Creative Commons Launch OER Program for Educators

The Mozilla Foundation, in collaboration with ccLearn/Creative Commons and the Peer 2 Peer University, launches a practical online seminar on open education.

This six week course is targeted at educators who will gain basic skills in open licensing, open technology, and open pedagogy; work on prototypes of innovative open education projects; and get input from some of the world leading innovators along the way.

The course will kick-off with a web-seminar on Thursday 2 April 2009 and run for 6 weeks.

Weekly web seminars introduce new topics ranging from content licensing to the latest open technologies and peer assessment practices.

The course is targeted at educators who want to help shape the open education future. Participants should have some knowledge of web technologies, or open content licensing, or open pedagogy (or all three), but don't need to be experts.

You can learn more about the course by clicking here.

Additional Resources

MobileStudy.com: Mobile Testing for Moodle & Facebook

Mobile Study is a platform that allows teachers to easily create a multiple choice quiz and other content via a mobile device. The finished multiple choice quizzes can be downloaded to a mobile phone from a computer, by visiting a URL with a mobile phone browser, via an SMS message or by using a QR Code.

If you prefer web applications to mobile ones, it’s also worth noting that quizzes can be made for Facebook or imported into Moodle. The Mobile Quiz module allows you to create versions of your Moodle quizzes that can be installed on mobile phones. The quiz can then be used anywhere, anytime.

The Mobile Study website and phone quizzes also provide a unique way of getting students in remote location or studying by correspondence involved with their teachers and fellow class mates.

You can take a look at some sample mobile study quizzes by clicking here.

According to mobileYouth, by 2010 American mobile owning youth under 30 will number 100 million, so it makes sense that more and more formal education opportunities will be migrating to the mobile phone space.

Related Resources

Gen Y Entrepreneur: Jordan Goldman, Unigo.com

Unigo is a platform for college students to share reviews, photos,videos, documents, and more with students on their campus and across the country.

It’s also the best place for high school students to find out what life is really like at North America’s colleges, and to make friends who can help them find the school that’s right for them.

Related Resources

One Laptop Per Child: Join the OLPCorps Africa Movement

Active students spark revolutions and inspire movements. Our education movement is no different. With this in mind, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program has started the OLPCorps Africa project.

The OLPCorps will equip teams of students from around the world with 100 XOs, hardware, training, and financial support to expand learning in Africa for children ages 6-12.

The OLPCorps are looking for agents of change capable of leading the first global grassroots movement in learning. Student-led teams will:

* travel to one of the 53 African countries of their choosing for 9-10 weeks
* participate in a 10-day orientation in Kigali, Rwanda at OLPC’s office
* receive a $10,000 (USD) stipend to cover operating costs
* deploy 100 XO laptops, including hardware and support
* collaborate with up to 100 other teams as part of a life-long global network empowering a generation of children
* send one representative to MIT/OLPC’s all-expense paid summit from Oct 10th-12th 2009

For more information, or to apply, click here.

Related Resources

Joan Ganz Cooney Center Study on Mobile Learning

Last week the Joan Ganz Cooney Center released a new report on how mobile technologies can be used in education titled, Pockets of Potential. You can access the full-length version on their site.

The Cooney Mobile Learning Study outlines some of the key opportunities for mobile learning:
  • Encourage "anywhere, anytime" learning
  • Reach Underserved children
  • Improve 21st Century Social Interactions
  • Fit with Learning Environments
  • Enable a personalize Learning Experience
The Cooney study cites the need to create a Digital Teachers Corps to provide educators with the training and skills to integrate mlearning activities into the classroom. While I agree, I would also say that school administrators, both at the school and district level, need to provide the leadership, support and physical infrastructure required to make mlearning (mobile learning) a reality.

When I was working at Yahoo! on the Yahoo! Teachers project, I had the opportunity to spend the summer teaching educators around the country how to use web technologies in their classroom.

Time and time again I heard from teachers that their efforts to integrate technology into their classroom are stifled by district policy, draconian filtering policies and a lack of technological resources. Many times teachers get labeled, especially when it comes to technology, as unwilling to learn how to use new technologies.

While that may have been true a decade ago, almost every educator I met expressed concern that schools were working on an outdated model and that they recognized that the way kids learn has drastically changed.

They also expressed that there is a severe lack of professional development opportunities and support from district, state and federal administrators to provide leadership and change in their schools.

Since they work on the frontline, we also need to include teachers in this discussion. There is often a disconnect between theory cooked up by policy wonks and the reality of the classroom.

One of the other areas of concern, not just for mobile learning, is the lack of good, quality educational content. It's great if we outfit kids with an Apple iPhone or Palm Pre, but then what? When we talk about mobile learning we often focus just on the hardware and technology.

Quality educational content is often left out of the equation. The OpenCourseWare movement is helping fill this void in the higher education space, but the K-12 space suffers from a real lack of appropriate, relevant and quality content. In addition to the technology, we need to develop a repository of open content materials for our K-12 students, teachers and parents.

Finally, in addition to educating teachers, administrators and other members of the education ecosystem, it's vital that we also educate parents on the benefits of mobile learning. Many teachers are still trying to convince parents that the Internet is a relevant learning tool, that blogging has educational merits and that Wikipedia is a credible source of information.

Mobile Phones, Learning & Gen Y

For the most part, colleges and K-12 are just beginning realize the potential of mobile technology to improve the quality of student learning. In order to meet their students changing expectations and digital learning styles, instructors need to be provided with professional development opportunities to experiment with current and emerging web-based technologies.

Clearly, the spread of mobile technology into both the cognitive and social spheres requires educators to reexamine and redefine our teaching and learning methods. The future of learning has already arrived in the European Union, Africa and Southeast Asia, and if the United States doesn't act now we will be even further behind the rest of the world.

At the 2006 International Consumer Electronic Show, Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel outlined the explosive growth of mobile technology. According to Semel, there are 900 million personal computers in the world. But this number pales in comparison to the 2 billion mobile phones currently being used in the world.

Even more astounding is how mobile devices are increasingly being used as the primary way in which people connect to the Internet. In fact, Semel notes that 50% of the Internet users outside the US will most likely never use a personal computer to connect to the Internet. Rather, they will access information, community, and create content on the Internet via a mobile device.

The use of mobile technologies is growing and represents the next great frontier for learning. Increasingly we will continue to see academic and corporate research invest, design and launch new mobile applications, many of which can be used in a learning context.

Learning 3.0 will be about harnessing the ubiquity of the mobile phone/handheld device and using it as an educational tool. A few quick facts on mobile technology, Gen Y and education:
  • A 2005 study conducted by the USA-based Kaiser Family Foundation found that, although 90% of teen online access occurs in the home, most students also have web access via mobile devices such as a mobile phone (39%), portable game (55%), or other web-enabled handheld device (13%). [link]
  • Palm estimates that mobile and handheld devices for public schools will be a 300 million dollar market. A few progressive school districts in the USA have already started using mobile devices in the classroom. [link]
  • Australia is emerging as a leader in mobile learning (mlearning). [link] [link]
  • The National College of Ireland, University of Scotland and other European universities have already started experimenting and integrating mobile technologies into their classes. [link] [link]
  • A study by the Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) found that students are using their mobile phones for just about everything--except making phone calls.
  • Some developing countries, like Kenya, are bypassing the use of desktop computers all together and using handheld WI-FI devices and open source software to reduce the cost of education in rural areas. [link] [link]
  • Mobile School is a Belgian non-profit organization who is using mobile technology to provide educational opportunities for homeless children. [link]
  • Mobile phones are in the early phases of being used for student testing and assessment. [link]
  • YouTube, the popular online video community, has an educational channel that allows educational institutions to upload video clips via their mobile phones, PDAs, or other wireless handheld devices.
  • SparkNotes are now available for download on both the iPod (text and audio format) or via SparkMobile, a SMS version for mobile phones.
  • iTunesU & iPhone Apps have allowed an unprecedented amount of educational content, learning games, video & applications in the hands of students & educators.

Closing Thoughts

The Cooney research is a landmark study that I hope will move both the education technology and mobile learning discussion forward. Perhaps the release of this study, an education technology friendly president and education secretary is creating a "perfect storm" for real change to take place in our education system.

As a nation, we can no longer afford to sit back and watch schools in the U.K., Australia and Africa move forward while we continue to model our schools on an outdated agrarian, 18th Century education model.

Benefits of this learning space for the students are threefold: potential for maximum participation (all can be posting simultaneously), increased interest (authentic use of technology, so little technical advice or support is needed), and student motivation was noticeable and achieved possibly because of the increased peer feedback and collaboration.

The convergence of mobile and social technologies, on-demand content delivery, and early adoption of portable media devices by students provides academia with an opportunity to leverage these tools into learning environments that seem authentic to the digital natives filling the 21st Century classroom.

The future is here. It's time we act.

Related Resources