Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MIT World - Participatory Culture: The Culture of Democracy and Education in a Hypermediated Society

Interesting conversation.

Participatory Culture: The Culture of Democracy and Education in a Hypermediated Society

Moderator: Henry Jenkins

Mitchel Resnick SM '88, PhD '92
Karen Schrier
Erin Reilly
Pilar Lacasa
Sangita Shresthova

April 23, 2010
Running Time: 1:19:35

About the Lecture

Even back in the early days of Comparative Media Studies (CMS), when Henry Jenkins and colleagues met in the basement of the Media Lab, there was much discussion of how new media might shape learning and spur novel forms of expression and community engagement. Over the years, as Jenkins and these panelists attest, CMS, with its extended family of collaborators and visiting scholars, has both refined and broadened its study of the impact of new technologies on education, culture and politics.

Mitchel Resnick of the Media Lab has frequently made common cause with partners at CMS, finding them “kindred spirits” in “thinking about technologies as ways of empowering people.” Resnick develops tech tools to unleash creative expression in children, and he argues for the central role of play in learning experiences. Exploration and experimentation, “the testing of boundaries,” should be integrated into school curricula, he believes, so children can “figure out what questions they want to ask.” Resnick praises CMS for taking ideas from the media world, like remixing and online sharing, to help people “rethink ideas about learning.”

Some CMS graduates are designing pathbreaking educational material for schools and other educational venues. Karen Schrier developed an interactive game around the Boston Massacre intended to create a “paradigm shift in teaching history.” The game assigns each player a unique perspective from which to interpret events of the time. The idea, she says, is to reconstruct history. Ultimately, Schrier hopes “new literacies” such as critical and ethical thinking, and reinterpretation, will be incorporated into school coursework.

In Spain, Pilar Lacasa applies the insights she has distilled from research at CMS to projects with software and game companies, hoping to transform her nation’s schools. At MIT, she learned the value of playing games, and using them in education to create learners who truly participate. She views electronic games as important tools for teachers, and she celebrates the rise of YouTube for its contribution to media production and participatory culture in young people.

“Teachers need to realize they are hunters and gatherers,” says Erin Reilly, a former CMS lecturer and current new media literacy researcher. Like media makers, teachers cook up lesson plans with peers, “coopting from others, and adapting for their own discipline and learning objectives.” She is working with teachers in large school systems on strategy guides, derived from collaborative brainstorming sessions. She envisions teachers from different communities using technology to share and build on each other’s stories and experiences, “pooling knowledge toward a common goal.

As a child of two cultures, CMS offered “a place where there were no borders” to Sangita Shresthova. A dancer-researcher, Shresthova realized at MIT that stories can be told across several media and that communities can come together and even ease mutual suspicions during live performances -- such as a Bollywood dance event she staged in Prague with remixed film and song. Spectators can become participants, she learned, and creating communities, whether through events like these, or through online fan websites, allows people to think differently and “take action on other issues.”

A growing emphasis at CMS, says Henry Jenkins has been the connection between participatory experiences, education and civic engagement. He notes that technology and new media do not bring about participatory culture so much as support deeply engrained participatory practices and enable new forms of engagement. “The urge to participate is greater than that,” he concludes.
More on the speakers.

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