Digital media and mentoring

Re-imagining learning for the 21st century

Although many parents and educators have misgivings about the new generation’s immersion in digital media and social networking, these tools can be harnessed in news ways that build knowledge, connect young people to their interests and passions, and provide new pathways to learning. So, rather than squelch and control new media, they can be purposed toward connected learning.  As Connie Yowell, Director of Educaiton for the MacArthur Foundation argues, “Connected learning is an answer to three key shifts as society evolves from the industrial age of the 20th century and its one-size-fits-all factory approach to educating youth to a 21st century networked society:

1) A shift from education to learning. Education is what institutions do, learning is what people do. Digital media enable learning anywhere, anytime; formal learning must also be mobile and just-in-time.

2) A shift from consumption of information to participatory learning. Learning happens best when it is rich in social connections, especially when it is peer-based and organized around learners’ interests, enabling them to create as well as consume information.

3) A shift from institutions to networks. In the digital age, the fundamental operating and delivery systems are networks, not institutions such as schools, which are one node of many on a young person’s network of learning opportunities. People learn across institutions, so an entire learning network must be supported.

Connected learning is not about technology. The principles of connected learning weren’t born in the digital age, but they are extraordinarily well-suited to it.”

As a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Connected Learning Research Network,  I will be sharing ideas and commentary about the role of mentors and other caring adults in advancing the connected learning of today’s youth. I also invite you to explore the website.