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Shall We Play?


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Shall We Play? is written by Erin Reilly, Henry Jenkins, Laurel Felt and Vanessa Vartabedian. It represents a revisiting of Henry Jenkins' original MacArthur white paper, Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture, and lays out what we see as core principles for participatory learning. It includes some core reflections on what has happened in the Digital Media and Learning movement over the past six years as we have sought to bring a more participatory spirit to those institutions and practices that most directly touch young people’s lives.

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Shall We Play?

  1. 1. By Erin Reilly, Henry Jenkins, Laurel J. Felt and Vanessa VartabedianFall 2012
  2. 2. p. 3 Literacy for Engaging in a Participatory Culturep. 5 Pedagogy: Participatory Learningp. 6 Playp. 7 Progress in Participatory Culturesp. 11 Balancing the Conversation Between Technology and Mediap. 13 Applying New Media Literacies in Learningp. 18 4 C’s of Participationp. 25 Access for All – Preparing Educatorsp. 27 References
  3. 3. The past two decades have marked a period of profound and prolonged media change, one that has placed more communicative power in the hands of everyday people than ever before. The result has altered the ways major institutions interface with their publics and moved society towards a more participatory culture, a phrase we use to signal the work that still must be done to ensure everyone has the skills, access, and resources needed to participate­­­­­– meaningfully­­­­­– in the core operations of the cul- ture. Often today, people equate participatory culture with a networked, technological society. Students using iPods for How-To Activity But with regards to learning in a participatory culture, a mere technology-based solu- tion will simply result in an arms race where each school spends more and more of its budget on tools while stripping bare the human resources (e.g., teachers, librarians) who might help students learn how to use those tools in ethical, safe, and creative ways. Harvard’s GoodPlay project has found, for example, that most young people do not have adult mentors who can provide them with meaningful advice about their online lives (James, with Davis, Flores, Francis, Pettingill, Rundle, & Gardner, 2009). In practice, many of the core skills needed to join a networked society can be taught now, even if schools have grossly uneven access to technologies. In fact, for practic- ing certain skills, low-tech or no-tech contexts often prove just as effective, if not more effective, than high-tech counterparts. Developing curriculum that acknowledges the opportunities and challenges of partici- patory culture requires first understanding the nature of our relationships with media. We have sought to facilitate these understandings by developing a variety of resources to explore and practice the new media literacies (NMLs), a set of core cultural compe- tencies and social skills that young people need in our new media landscape (Jenkins,Shall We PLAY? : Literacy for Engaging in a Participatory Culture p. 3
  4. 4. Purushotma, Clinton, Weigel & Robison, 2006). The NMLs are technology-neutral – that is, they are uncommitted to any particular technology. The NMLs can be embraced by schools that do not have access to state-of-the-art technologies for their students, and can be applied continuously, regardless of future shifts in technological resources. We call the NMLs “literacies,” but they actually are skills that collectively constitute a lit- eracy – the ability to “read” and “write,” broadly defined, in a participatory culture.Shall We PLAY? : Literacy for Engaging in a Participatory Culture p. 4
  5. 5. With these and other educational considerations in mind, our team evaluated the na- tion’s educational landscape and made the following observations: 1) To foster in students the skills needed to engage in a participatory culture, teachers must be com- fortable with new media literacies themselves; and 2) The Common Core Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, but not how teach- ers should teach. Accordingly, we constructed and led professional development programs to both support teachers’ comfort with the NMLs and introduce participatory learning as an approach to instruction. Participatory learning seeks to engage the whole student in the learning process, and understands the student as a citizen of a rich learning ecosystem. School, after-school, home, and online are organic parts of students’ and teachers’ worlds, and learning that occurs in any one location should be integrated and extended across every location. To begin exploring participatory learning, it is crucial to identify the presence and na- ture of participation opportunities in your learning context; then, take action around them. Keeping in mind the following questions can help to initiate the 4 C’s of Partici- pation in the learning process: • How do we provide mechanisms to CREATE? • How do we support opportunities for media to CIRCULATE across platforms, disciplines and ages? • How do we help learners to COLLABORATE and build upon others’ knowledge? • How do we encourage learners to CONNECT with counterparts and establish productive networks? 4 C’s of ParticipationShall We PLAY? : Pedagogy: Participatory Learning p. 5
  6. 6. During our professional development programs, we found that participating teachers gravitated more towards the new media literacy play than any of the other 11 skills. Play is “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem solving.” As a result, we have embraced play as a key focus of our continuing outreach and scholarship. We also refer to our project as PLAY!, an acronym for Participatory Learning and You! We are pushing beyond thinking of play as merely a skill. Play, we believe, is also an outlook on life and learning – it is a way of seeing oneself and the world through a new, creative lens. Play is not a solitary occupation but a collective ethos, a shared set of experiences that encourage us to think beyond our disciplines and “see with new eyes.” Play supports constant learning and innovative responses to our surroundings. Through an iterative, playful process, we support each other to try new things and en- courage a process of innovation and creativity. Play gives educators permission to engage their passions, to experiment collectively on problems, and to produce projects that bring pleasure back into the classroom. We need to return play to the heart of learning. Participatory Learning and You!Shall We PLAY? : Play p. 6
  7. 7. Current understandings of participatory culture emerged from work in cultural stud- ies, which initially focused on fan communities and other subcultures that were striving to assert their voices on the fringes of a society dominated by mass media. Over the past decade, practices that once might have felt marginal – the production and sharing of amateur videos, for example – have become increasingly commonplace. More and more, the general public is exerting greater control over the production and circulation of media, often appropriating and remixing content created for entertainment purposes into resources that can be deployed for diverse purposes, for example, participation in politics, education, or religion. Digital media constitutes the arena in which debates of significant social and political importance are being conducted, and skills in creating and circulating media are now tied to a much broader range of economic opportunities (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013). Therefore, contemporary educational practices need to embrace participatory culture if our students are to be prepared for their future lives as citizens, workers, community members, and creative individuals. Isabel reflects on her teaching practice The white paper, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century,” (Jenkins, Purushotma, Clinton, Weigel, & Robison, 2006) identi- fied several opportunities and challenges resulting from the introduction of participa- tory practices through learning. The publication also outlined a series of new media literacies (NMLs), which are core skills and cultural competencies necessary for full andShall We PLAY? : Progress in Participatory Cultures p. 7
  8. 8. meaningful cultural participation. Finally, it established a core definition of a participa- tory culture: A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most ex- perienced is passed along to novices. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social con- nection with one another (p. 3). Three years later, the Digital Youth Project (Ito, Baumer, Bittanti, boyd, Cody, Herr-Ste- phenson, Horst, & Yardi, 2009) published an extensive study detailing how youth par- ticipate through digital media. The project suggests three modes of engagement that shape young people’s participation in online communities: 1. First, many young people go online to “hang out” with friends they already know from their schools and neighborhoods. 2. Second, they may “mess around” with programs, tools, and platforms just to see what they can do. 3. And third, they may “geek out” as fans, bloggers, creators and designers dig- ging deeply into an area of intense interest to them, and moving beyond their local community to connect with others who share their passions through new media. These reports from the teams of Jenkins and Ito, respectively, strongly endorse the value of informal learning, which often occurs through friendship-based or interest- driven networks and is pursued beyond the school hours. Both reports also acknowl- edge that opportunities for rich informal learning are unevenly distributed across the population – not simply in terms of who has access to networked and mobile technolo- gies, but also in terms of who has access to the social scaffolding needed to identify, join and engage with diverse communities of interest. Thus, schools have a vital role to play in helping young people both develop skills and find and access relevant informal learning spaces.Shall We PLAY? : Progress in Participatory Cultures p. 8
  9. 9. Several leading foundations have funded a range of educational initiatives aimed at helping students to tap into the rich learning networks that have emerged from partici- patory culture. Many of these initiatives have embraced notions of peer-to-peer and connected learning, as seen in the following examples: • Reinvention of library spaces (e.g., Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia Centers), • Redesign of schools (e.g., Quest to Learn), • Reconceptualization of the museum and other public institutions (e.g. Makers Workshop at Pittsburgh Children’s Museum), • Development of new forms of children’s media with a strong focus on games- based learning (e.g., The Joan Ganz Cooney STEM Video Game Challenge), • Emergence of new platforms deploying collaborative storytelling (such as Social Samba) and transmedia creation (e.g., Flotsam Transmedia Play Experience, I <3 Robot Stories, Inanimate Alice), and • Creation of afterschool programs designed to foster a deeper sense of digital citizenship (e.g., Global Kids, Digital Youth Network). Simultaneously, however, frictions between school policies designed to ensure “inter- net safety” (often through blocking or filtering key sites of online participation) and edu- cational efforts to promote new media literacies have become clearer. In many cases, we’ve wired the classroom and hobbled the computer. New Media Literacies defined in your own wordsShall We PLAY? : Progress in Participatory Cultures p. 9
  10. 10. The initial research conducted through the NML and Digital Youth projects did not sim- ply identify mechanisms for learning through participatory culture; as previously men- tioned, they also outlined some core social skills and cultural competencies that might be applied in a wide range of educational and applied contexts. These new media literacies include: play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and ne- gotiation (Jenkins et al., 2006). Since the publication in 2006, the NML team has added visualization to the list of new media literacies (Reilly, 2013). The new media literacies offer ways of both thinking and doing that recruit the traditional literacies of reading and writing into new kinds of communicative practices. These skills build on the foun- dation of traditional literacy, research practices, technical proficiencies, and critical analysis competencies taught in the classroom. They also are skills that emphasize cultural practices and mental dispositions that adapt easily to changes in resources and opportunities.Shall We PLAY? : Progress in Participatory Cultures p. 10
  11. 11. What if, when referring to learning, we made a concerted effort to replace the term technology with media? Often, when people are asked to describe learning in the current media landscape, they respond by making an inventory of platforms, tools and applications that they use. Instead, the first wave of work on digital media and learning stressed the social and cultural dimensions that emerge from expanding the communicative and collaborative capacities of grassroots communities. The first wave of work on new media and the classroom was indeed technology-focused, as schools sought to ensure that every American child had access to networked computing in the face of a persistent digital divide (Norris, 2001; Mossberger, 2003). We have been largely successful in this task, with recent research suggesting that as many as 95 percent of American school-aged children now have digital access (Roberts & Foehr, 2011). Indeed, we have fronted the education system with technology – from addressing the digital divide by wiring class- rooms with the appropriate hardware, to defining digital literacy by offering workshops on specific applications to use in the classroom. However, networked technologies need to be coupled with intangible proficiencies, such as social or cultural skills. Tech- nology needs to be integrated into generative relationships, such as trusting mentor- ships or collaborative partnerships. In order to bridge the distance between digital have’s and have-not’s, we cannot limit ourselves to exclusively technological respons- es. This unequal access to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge need- ed for full participation is known as the “participation gap” (Jenkins et al., 2009) and is best addressed at the local level when educators and mentors help students become critical thinkers, proactive citizens, and creative contributors. The distinction between the digital divide (having to do with access to technologies) and the participation gap (having to do with access to social and cultural practices and the skills they embody) emerges from a definition of media developed by historian Lisa Gitelman. Gitelman (2008) argues that media might be understood to refer to the core tools or technolo- gies that support communication and the social and cultural protocols that grow up around them. She describes, for example, the emergence of the pho- nograph, first conceived as technology for business use (along the lines of the dictophone) or record- Equal access for all ing personal memories (one’s dying words) but laterShall We PLAY? : Balancing the Conversation Between Technology and Media p. 11
  12. 12. primarily deployed as technology for listening to pre-recorded performances (resulting in the emergence of commercial music). Her account of the record player might extend into the late 20th and early 21st century, when DJ artists transformed the turn-table into a musical instrument for public performance, scratching records to produce inno- vative sounds, sampling and remixing music, and developing new systems for sharing their output with larger communities. All of these represent innovative new protocols that have emerged around a century-old medium. This development suggests oppor- tunities for continuous innovation as diverse communities reshape the tools to fit their own social identities and collective needs. If the past few decades have seen the emergence of many new tools and infrastruc- tures supporting alternative forms of communication, it has also seen rapid experimen- tation and innovation with the social and cultural practices that have grown up around these technologies. Few of us would have foreseen, even a few years ago, many of the most pervasive current uses of these technologies, such as mobile devices, 3D print- ers, YouTube or Twitter. Few of these technologies were designed with educational use in mind and many were designed with goals radically at odds with our current models of education. In many cases, we use these emerging technologies to annotate our en- vironment – giving us access to information when we need it, and thus to heighten our awareness of the world around us. We use them to pool information and collaboratively produce and circulate new knowledge. We have made progress by continuing to ask, “What else can we use this for?” and “Who else may be empowered to use these tools?” According to anthropologist Mizuko Ito, we can use these technologies to maintain ongoing contact with the people in our lives who matter to us the most. Social media expert Howard Rheingold (2003) suggests we can use these technologies to mobilize quickly in response to urgent de- mands on our attention. Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler (2007) believes that those who under- stand the web’s participatory nature are constantly looking for new ways and resources for learning and sharing knowledge. For teachers to harness these new modes of learning, they must first and foremost become participants. That is, they need to join these new networks, experiment with these new practices, and thus come to see the world through different eyes. Teachers, librarians, and other educators need to become tinkerers and experimenters in their deployment of these technologies, rather than sim- ply consumers of ready-made tools and programs. Educators need to learn the social and cultural logics that are shaping the new communication systems.Shall We PLAY? : Balancing the Conversation Between Technology and Media p. 12
  13. 13. Assessing new media literacies in practice Our new media literacies (NMLs) represent core principles that may help educators to better understand the new media landscape and design curricula to help prepare young people for more meaningful participation with and through media. The NMLs are not simply capacities for deploying digital technologies, nor are they simply critical un- derstandings of the effect of media on our students’ lives, though they may incorporate both. NMLs are neither “new” nor exclusively about “media.” In many cases, they build upon time-honored practices that support learners’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and collective efficacy. The NMLs represent the basic understandings and capacities required to participate in a networked culture. Some of them involve using old and familiar skills in new and unexpected ways. Some emerge from the shift in the scale of our communication practices as we connect with people online who we might never encounter face-to-face. Some of the NMLs take advantage of new ways of represent- ing and manipulating information, while others have to do with our capacity to experi- ment with new identities and social relations. The NMLs are designed to be technology agnostic so that they can be embraced by schools that do not have access to state-of-the-art technologies for their students, and so that they can continue to be applied despite future shifts in technological resources. We certainly value the resources represented by these emerging technologies, but we cannot afford to wait until every school and every classroom has one laptop per child. We need to start introducing these NMLs into our teaching now, through any means at our disposal, because our students are not going to wait for us to catch up. Both students and teachers need to be competent in each NML, whether encountered and practiced in contexts of high-tech (digitally networked technologies that require large bandwidth), low-tech (non-networked digital technologies), or no-tech (analog, also known as non-digital formats).Shall We PLAY? : Applying New Media Literacies in Learning p. 13
  14. 14. Table 1 defines each NML and provides examples of what proficiency in each NML competence might look like in high-tech, low-tech and no-tech environments. Table 1. The New Media Literacies definitions with examples NEW MEDIA HIGH-TECH LOW-TECH NO-TECH DEFINITION LITERACY EXAMPLE EXAMPLE EXAMPLE Capacity to experiment Modeling a virtual Pushing all of the Experimenting with with one’s surroundings environment in Second buttons on a new cell ingredients to discover as a form of problem- Life, such as this video phone to learn about how they impact the solving of Starry Night: the device’s features flavor of a dish Or setting up a series of dominoes in this PLAY video to represent Van Gogh’s painting: Starry Night Ability to adopt alterna- Varying profile informa- Adjusting tone, accent, Role-playing in tive identities for the tion depending on the and vernacular during theatre exercises purpose of improvisa- social networking site a phone call in order tion and discovery to make a certain impression. PERFORMANCE Or writing a piece of fanfic from the point of view of a favorite character Ability to interpret and Participating in net- Playing a mission- Engaging in scenario construct dynamic worked imaginings, based game, like flying planning, emergency models of real-world such as the massive an aircraft drills, mock trial, or SIMULATION processes multiplayer “what if?” Model UN exercise, such as World Without Oil Ability to meaning- Creating real-time Using software to make Incorporating famous fully sample and remix slideshows from mash-ups of music or catchphrases into one’s APPROPRIATION media content public Flickr albums video speech Ability to scan one’s Live Tweeting sound Toggling between win- Chatting about family environment and shift bites and backchannel dows on the computer life while performing focus as needed to instant messaging dur- manual labor, like MULTITASKING salient details ing a presentation doing the dishesShall We PLAY? : Applying New Media Literacies in Learning p. 14
  15. 15. NEW MEDIA HIGH-TECH LOW-TECH NO-TECH DEFINITION LITERACY EXAMPLE EXAMPLE EXAMPLE Ability to interact Scanning RSS feeds Using knowledge of Making lists to aid later meaningfully with tools to monitor community grammar and consult recall of information that expand mental events online resources to DISTRIBUTED capacities verify spelling/ COGNITION grammar check suggestions Ability to pool knowl- Contributing to Adding ideas to a word Participating in team edge and compare Wikipedia or Yelp processing document games and group COLLECTIVE notes with others with the Track Changes discussions INTELLIGENCE toward a common goal tool Ability to evaluate Deciding which “Reading” a reality TV Identifying prejudice the reliability and results from an online show critically to iden- or bias in a speaker’s credibility of different search will be the most tify both commercial message JUDGMENT information sources useful sponsors and ideologi- cal agendas Ability to follow the flow Hearing a news report, Listening to breaking Examining and repre- of stories and informa- then visiting Twitter news on the radio, then senting a single idea tion across multiple to get a sense of “the switching to TV for im- through drama, music, TRANSMEDIA modalities people’s perspective” ages of the event and studio art NAVIGATION on the same cultural phenomenon Ability to search for, Entering various key Soliciting advice from Updating friends synthesize, and dis- terms in an online fans of a call-in radio on mutual seminate information search to find the com- show acquaintances’ bination that delivers latest news the desired information. NETWORKING Or posting links on Facebook and LinkedInShall We PLAY? : Applying New Media Literacies in Learning p. 15
  16. 16. NEW MEDIA HIGH-TECH LOW-TECH NO-TECH DEFINITION LITERACY EXAMPLE EXAMPLE EXAMPLE Ability to travel across Observing how people Discovering how to Attending a different diverse communities, interact in World of converse productively culture’s ceremony and discerning and respect- Warcraft and joining in during a conference watching their behavior ing multiple perspec- smoothly call with unfamiliar col- to learn how to engage NEGOTIATION tives, and grasping and following alternative leagues and outside vendors appropriately norms Ability to translate Using GoogleMaps and Converting spread- Manipulating body information into visual GoogleEarth to better sheet data into a digital parts to better models and understand understand distances graph or chart to better represent spatial the information com- and topographical convey products’ dif- relationships, such as municated by visual diversity ferences using one’s hand to VISUALIZATION models show where one lives in the state of Michigan Kids having fun in Improv WorkshopShall We PLAY? : Applying New Media Literacies in Learning p. 16
  17. 17. Clearly, the new media literacies can be adapted to classroom environments with vary- ing levels of technological sophistication. The table examples above demonstrate that many students routinely apply the literacies in their everyday lives and more than likely some of the NMLs are already a part of the average classroom. We are asking that edu- cators take ownership over teaching these skills. Often, the new media literacies are a logical extension of traditional disciplines and are entry points to reinforce participatory learning. We believe that explicitly defining NMLs in your instruction puts a name to the social skills that are becoming more important every day. Creating awareness to this knowledge helps both students and teachers forge connections between what hap- pens in their informal learning experiences and what happens in the classroom.Shall We PLAY? : Applying New Media Literacies in Learning p. 17
  18. 18. Besides introducing the new media literacies, the 2006 white paper “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” identified four basic forms of participatory culture: 1. Affiliations (e.g., belonging to a community, such as Classroom 2.0), 2. Expressions (e.g., producing new creative forms, such as Sylvia’s Super Awe- some Maker Show, a video channel created by an 8-year-old to introduce Arduino activities to her peers1) 3. Circulations (e.g., engaging in activities that shape the flow of media, through, for example, passing along links to the Kony 2012 video) 4. Collaborative problem solving (e.g., working together to develop new knowl- edge, such as contributing to fan forums for World of Warcraft) These four forms of participatory culture were briefly outlined in this white paper’s Executive Summary without further elaboration or clarification. As we’ve worked to develop a more participatory approach to learning, we’ve developed a deeper ap- preciation of the value of this framework. Within our research group, we use this list of participatory culture forms to identify the presence and nature of participatory opportu- nities in learning contexts. They have become a general reference to assess what kinds of participation were or were not supported by the resources we were developing for teachers and students. Questions we asked ourselves were: • How do we provide mechanisms for learners to CREATE? • How do we support opportunities for media to CIRCULATE across platforms, disciplines and ages? • How do we help learners to COLLABORATE and build upon others’ knowl- edge? • How do we encourage learners to CONNECT with counterparts and establish productive networks? 1 Episode1: Shall We PLAY? : 4 C’s of Participation p. 18
  19. 19. After six years of research, we refined these practices, which we now identify as the 4 C’s of Participation. In the table below, we define each “C” and provide examples to support pedagogical interventions. Table 2. The 4 C’s of Participation definitions with examples HIGH-TECH LOW-TECH NO-TECH THE 4 CS DEFINITION EXAMPLE EXAMPLE EXAMPLE Developing original Digitally sampling, Designing graph- Choreographing a work or adding writing fan fiction ics with analog dance CREATE value to existing instruments work Participating in Podcasting or Advertising on Spreading a rumor knowledge ex- blogging radio or in the in the cafeteria or change by dissem- newspaper at the water cooler CIRCULATE inating products across networks Joining a collec- Maintaining Guiding a friend Contributing to a tive effort to foster Wikipedia, over the phone neighborhood problem-solving, spoiling reality TV through a real-time committee knowledge- procedure, such COLLABORATE building, and / as or community- trouble-shooting a expression computer issue Locating individu- Linking on sites Adding your initials Establishing als and entities such as Facebook to the top-scorers membership in a in order to af- list on an arcade geographic filiate formally or video game community, such CONNECT informally around as joining a book shared interests club Create and CirculateShall We PLAY? : 4 C’s of Participation p. 19
  20. 20. Creating and circulating media in contemporary American schools has often had lim- ited meaning; school and governmental policies make it hard for students to commu- nicate beyond the individual classroom despite the networked capacities at students’ disposal. Beyond the classroom, the most connected youth have discovered their voice as writers, speakers, and media-makers and are expressing their insights about themselves and the world within diverse networks and publics. Outside of school, they are drawing inspiration, information, and insights from a wide (often online) com- munity of other creators and circulating their products for feedback broadly and easily with digital tools. Yet, many are also abusing new communicative capacities, engaging in malicious and antisocial practices or consuming and passing along misinformation because they have never received any formal training in their rights and obligations as digital citizens. There is no guarantee young people will find communities, networks, and organizations which support their learning; many find themselves “killing time” on- line in activities they do not take very seriously. Young people, especially at early ages, need adult help in preparing themselves for more robust opportunities to create and share their creations in the future. AnimAction video created during PLAY! PD Collaborate and Connect We strongly believe that collaboration should be encouraged in schools. Collaboration is not a skill that comes naturally to very young children, who tend to be egocentric and struggle to understand others’ thinking and points of view; as such, strategies for collaboration should be taught, beginning in early childhood. Collaboration can occur in virtual contexts, such as within social networking sites and face-to-face. But, being a collaborator requires the ability to respect others’ expertise and trust that everyone willShall We PLAY? : 4 C’s of Participation p. 20
  21. 21. contribute towards shared goals. In practice, collaboration must include perspective- taking, empathy, and acceptance of one’s own and others’ responsibilities within the group. Young children struggle to understand and adopt the often unspoken norms that shape their participation in these new kinds of knowledge communities. Research shows that knowledge is better gained when learning is relevant and when Students reflect on Occupy LA interests and passions are shared socially (Ito et al., 2009). In the classroom, teachers help students acknowledge and appreciate differences among the people, beliefs, and practices in their community. They want students to be competent connectors within and between their cultures. Connection is also about moving beyond our personalized learning spaces to making connections in areas with which we might not be familiar. Tagging media content is an example of building connections across content. Often through tagging your media, connections that are not so obvious (such as media con- tent that moves across different communities of interest) are becoming more transpar- ent in our networked culture. Collaboration and connection represent types of co-learning. Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1978) noted that shared participation among children of different ages, as well as among children and adults, is a powerful support for co-learning. Such connec- tions are vital for integrating developmentally appropriate practices and learning within and across content areas and grade levels. Recent research by Learning Scientists, Takeuchi and Stevens (2011) has taken this concept into the 21st century by exploring co-learning through media and identifying joint media engagement as a key element in participatory learning.Shall We PLAY? : 4 C’s of Participation p. 21
  22. 22. By applying the 4 C’s of Participation in the classroom, students will learn to: • Create artifacts for self-expression and learning; • Circulate content to engender shared knowledge networks; • Collaborate on activities to foster co-learning and collective intelligence; and • Connect with other learners of shared interests and make transparent relation- ships across domains. We urge teachers to consider and implement the 4 C’s of Participation as they plan, develop, and deploy learning activities in their classes. These practices will reinforce the development of the core NMLs and they may also foster the kind of participatory climate in the classroom where those skills can be most meaningfully practiced. An example of Learning through the 4 C’s of Participation Collaboration with others often leads to greater insights. If the teacher already knew everything the group was going to contribute, then the exercise would be an empty one. Unfortunately, unexpected occurrences are not celebrated in most classrooms and certain surprises upset the regulatory structures within traditional institutions. Con- sequently, schools often seek to contain this disruptive potential by creating “safer” alternatives – for example, trying to replicate Wikipedia through pbwiki, or some other wiki software. This approach might be termed a “walled garden” : students are al- lowed to tinker with wiki software while they are “protected” from the more controver- sial aspects of Wikipedia itself. However, choosing a walled garden approach also has many costs. Students who already use the Internet know very well what is actually “out there,” and the walled garden runs the risk of losing their interest - because, after all, a walled garden isn’t the “real world.” Even if students are unfamiliar with the Internet, using a walled garden approach does not fully prepare them for the challenges and op- portunities embedded within the actual site. Being able to take part in Wikipedia (or any community of practice) outside of the classroom allows students to pursue the project in their own lives. A walled garden approach to learning is often abandoned after the class is over and effectively ends the student’s relationship to their work. Simply by choosing to move across learning ecolo- gies available to us, we open up possibilities for participatory learning. We can now take our media with us wherever we go which encourages learning to happen anytime, anywhere.Shall We PLAY? : 4 C’s of Participation p. 22
  23. 23. If a teacher develops a project in a walled garden, that is where it stays. The creation cannot circulate and become part of the information ecology of the web, and students cannot thereby learn about community participation. Nor can they be convinced that their work has any greater significance than “something I had to do to get a grade.” However, as we have seen, student excitement builds when they are given the chance to participate in ways that are personally and culturally relevant, and when they are invited to contribute to a larger pool of knowledge. Students put more into their work when they are putting it out into the world and when they have a chance to engage with a larger public. Most importantly, participating in an authentic community, such as Wikipedia, allows for students to understand the process of how a Wikipedia article gets produced and vetted. More broadly, it deepens their understanding that research is a process – one that involves debate and discussion amongst multiple contribu- tors, rather than a product that simply can be taken off the shelf and read. The most engaged students may be drawn into the community to make future contributions and thus extend their learning outside of school and on their own terms. They may develop an appreciation of learning as an anytime, anywhere pursuit, not as something that stops when the school bell rings. The Wikipedia community has a distinctive set of norms that govern their conversa- tions and determine which contributions are accepted more permanently (Bryant, Forte, & Bruckman, 2005; Lih, 2009). The best way to learn these norms (and by exten- sion, to understand the diversity of norms shaping online participation) is through direct engagement with the community and its processes. The Wikipedia community may push back, may demand that students defend and justify their claims, and may encour- age further revision and reflection; none of this is likely to occur within the safety of a walled garden.Shall We PLAY? : 4 C’s of Participation p. 23
  24. 24. We know educators play a monumental role in facilitating opportunities for students to become critical thinkers, proactive citizens, and creative contributors to the world. Unequal access to experiences that help build the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute in these evolving environments can prevent youth from meaningful participa- tion. The “digital divide” has historically blocked many underserved youth from having access to the core technologies of the digital era. Similarly, the “participation gap” has cut them off from access to core skills, knowledge, and learning experiences required to more fully engage with this emerging landscape. This “participation gap,” we be- lieve, cannot be fully addressed when teachers themselves are not afforded these same opportunities to grow and learn. A 2009 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that more than one-half of all teens had created media content, and roughly one-third of teens were actively involved in participatory cultures. And the percentage of youth participation steadily increased in 2007 moving from 54% to 67%. But more recently, youth’s con- tent creation is staying constant whereas adults (over the age of 30) have shown an increase in content creation (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith & Zichuhr, 2010). Adults seem to be realizing the importance of being a part of the conversation rather than being left behind. Our commitment to address the participation gap, therefore, means providing op- portunities for people of all ages, especially those who mentor youth, to learn how to harness the new media literacies and to understand the social and cultural practices required to fully participate in the online world. Being a part of a digital culture not only requires having access to a networked computer (or a comparable mobile device), but also involves gaining a familiarity with habits of mind and skills required for meaningful participation. The desire and willingness to participate is not a single acquired disposition; the par- ticipatory skills we’ve identified across this report cannot be taught in a single class or, even, over the course of a school year. There are many routes to—and diverse forms of— participation. Creating a more participatory culture is a long-term endeavor. It de- mands a commitment – at each grade level and in all subject areas, in the school and across the larger community – to help everyone – adult and child – to be embrace op- portunities for creative and ethical participation, to learn to make meaningful contribu- tions to their culture, and to become more fully realized and empowered civic beings.Shall We PLAY? : 4 C’s of Participation p. 24
  25. 25. EXTENDING THE NEW MEDIA LITERACY, PLAY In our research over the past six years, we have provided a variety of resources and examples on how to be competent in the new media literacies, many of which you can find at our project’s website These literacies often develop when enacting the 4 C’s of Participation. During our professional development programs, we found that participating teachers gravitated more towards the new media literacy play than any of the other skills. Jesse leading Norms Discussion with Group Play is “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem solving.” We often describe the most playful students as “class clowns,” implying that they are disrupting the normal learning activities, but what if play became the normal way where learning occurred within our classes. Legendary developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1954) respects the value of play when he tells us that “play is the work of child- hood.” He rejects any simple opposition between play and work, suggesting that play is the most important work children perform because it is through play that they both acquire basic knowledge and master skills fundamental to their culture. In a hunting society, parents encouraged their children to play with bows and arrows. In an informa- tion society, people play with information and interfaces ...or at least they would so if fear wasn’t an issue.Shall We PLAY? : Access for All -- Preparing Educators p. 25
  26. 26. Educators are sometimes drawn to play for the wrong reasons – because they merely seek to entertain their students. Play is not stealth learning, or the equivalent to nutri- tion proponents’ solution of “chocolate-covered broccoli.” Play is not about repackag- ing what you would teach anyway in a more entertaining format. Kids see right through this. To child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim (1987), play is the “royal road” to understanding the inner world of children. Through play, Bettelheim maintains, children express their views of the world, their hopes and ambitions, and their innermost anxieties. Play also helps children develop the cognitive, social, and emotional tools they will need to be successful adults. And quite often, through play, children are able to confront issues they are unable to articulate and learn to cope with them. We hope the same phi- losophy also can be applied to adults and thus return play to the heart of learning anytime, anywhere. Joe and Ed improvising togetherShall We PLAY? : Access for All -- Preparing Educators p. 26
  27. 27. Benkler, Y. (2007). The Work of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Bettelheim, B. (1987). The Importance of Play. The Atlantic Monthly, 35-46. Gitelman, L. (2008). Always already new: Media, History and the data of culture. Cam- bridge, MA: The MIT Press. Bryant, S. L., Forte, A. & Bruckman, A. (2005). “Becoming Wikipedian: Transforma- tion of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia. In M. Pendergast, K. Schmidt, G. Mark, & M. Ackerman (Eds.). Proceedings from GROUP ‘05 ACM 2005: International Conference on Supporting Group Work (pp. 1-10). New York: ACM Press. Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling. New York: Routledge. Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., boyd, d., Cody, R., Herr-Stephenson, B., Horst, H., & S, Yardi. (2009). Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Living and Learning With New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press. Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M. & A.J. Robison. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Cambridge: MIT Press. Jenkins, H. & Kelley, W. with Clinton, K., McWilliams, J., Reilly, E., & R. Pitts-Wiley. (2013). Reading in a Participatory Culture. New York: Teacher’s College Press. Jenkins, H., Ford, S. & Green, J. (2013) Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Society. New York: New York University Press. Lih, A. (2009). The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion. James, C. with Davis, K., Flores, A., Francis, J. M., Pettingill, L., Rundle, M. and Gard- ner, H. (2009). Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: a synthesis from the GoodPlay Project. The John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation Re- ports on Digital Media and learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Shall We PLAY? : References p. 27
  28. 28. Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith, A., & Zickuhr, K. (2010). Social media and young adults. Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project. Mossberger, K. (2003). Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. Norris, P. (2001). Digital divide: Civic engagement, information poverty and the Internet world-wide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Piaget, J. (1954). The Construction of Reality in the Child. New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. Reilly, E. (2013). Visualization as a New Media Literacy. In De Abreu, B. and Mihailidis, P. (Eds.). Media Literacy in Action. New York: Routledge. Rheingold, H. and Weeks, A. (2012). Net Smarts: How to Thrive Online. Cambridge: MIT Press. Rheingold, H. (2003). Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. New York: Basic Books. Roberts, D. F. and Foehr, U.G. (Eds.). (2008) Children and Electronic Media [Special is- sue]. The Future of Children, 18(1). Takeuchi, L. & Stevens, R., with B. Barron, E. Branch-Ridley, H. Cooperman, A. Fen- wick-Naditch, S. Fisch, R. Herr-Stephenson, C. Llorente, S. Mehus, S. Pasnik, W. Penuel, & G. Revelle. (2011). The New Coviewing: Designing for Learning Through Joint Media Engagement. The Joan Ganz Cooney and LIFE Center. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. From: Mind and Society (pp 79-91). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Shall We PLAY? : References p. 28
  29. 29. Thank you to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their support on the PLAY! program and release of this publi-cation, especially our program officer, Andrea Foggy-Paxton. We appreciate the thoughtful review of the publica-tion drafts from Anthony Maddox, Kathi Inman Berens, Becky Herr-Stephenson, Ioana Literat and Meryl Alper.Special thanks to our partner, Jane Kagon, Executive Director of RFK-Legacy in Action, Jacqueline Olvera-Rojasand Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools where we hosted the PLAY! program and to our staff and volunteersincluding Kirsten Carthew, Akifa Khan, Erickson Raif, Marina Micheli and Sophie Madej who helped to make thePLAY! program a success. We want to especially thank our PLAYing Outside the Box partners (Clifford Cohen,AnimAction, Inc; Rubi Fregoso, KCET; Ed Greenberg, Laughter for a Change; and Jojo Sanchez and Julie Mat-sumoto, Operation Street Kidz) who volunteered their time to introduce teachers to community resources. Weoffer special thanks to Explore Locally, Excel Digitally after-school program participants for inspiring this program,especially Michel Diaz, Carmela Yalung, John Yalung, and Johny Marcial who attended part of the Summer Sand-box with their teachers. And most of all, we thank the teachers who participated in the PLAY! program. The PLAY!teachers were willing to take the time and energy to shift the conversation and practices in the classroom and weare incredibly moved by their rich ideas and insights that helped shape our thinking with PLAY!. And last but notleast, we want to especially thank Henry Jenkins for his guiding wisdom and experience and Jonathan Taplin forhis unwavering support.This digital document is optimized for Adobe Reader 5 and above.Download Reader for free by clicking on the image below:A full-text PDF of this report is available as a free download from www.annenberglab.orgReilly, E., Jenkins, H., Felt, L.J. & Vartabedian, V. (2012). Shall We PLAY?.Los Angeles, CA: Annenberg Innovation Lab at University of Southern California.© USC Annenberg Innovation Lab 2012.Design provided by Daniel Rhone