Digital technologies have increased the possibilities for participation in networked publics:
‘Literacy skills for the twenty-first century are skills that enable participation in the new communities emerging within a networked society. They enable students to exploit new simulation tools, information appliances, and social networks; they facilitate the exchange of information between diverse communities and the ability to move easily across different media platforms and social networks.’ (Jenkins et al., 2006:55).
Blogs are used extensively across the case studies (See Case Study 5; Case Study 6; Case Study 7; Case Study 8) promoting the participation of pupils within a networked society and enabling children to engage with communities outside the school in reporting and reflecting on their work.
What is important in this context, however, is not only providing opportunities for pupils to participate with others, but also embedding forms of digital participation external to the school within the curriculum. The White Paper, The challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century (Jenkins et al., 2006), identifies various forms of digital participation in society:
Affiliations has some conceptual resonance with Jim Gee’s work on ‘affinity spaces’ (2009); spaces in which people interact on common areas of interest. Gee has identified eleven defining principles of an affinity space:
- Common endeavour, not race, class, gender, or disability, is primary
- Newbies and masters and everyone else share common space
- Some portals are strong generators
- Content organization is transformed by interactional organization
- Encourages intensive and extensive knowledge
- Encourages individual and distributed knowledge
- Encourages dispersed knowledge
- Uses and honours tacit knowledge
- Many different forms and routes to participation
- Lots of different routes to status
- Leadership is porous and leaders are resources
Gee argues that embedding these principles in classroom practices would mean that powerful learning that takes place informally outside of the classroom could be achieved within schools.
In addition, it is important to consider how digital participation in such activities can lead to more sustained civic engagement. The online project (2009), ‘From participatory culture to public participation’ offers a selection of resources which provide insight into this trajectory, including case studies that highlight the potential link between participation and democratic action
For references see 3.6.6 References / Links to Further Resources