A high school parent writes:
I think we knew this already (“study shows teens’ use of digital media show that America’s youth are developing important social and technical skills online – often in ways adults do not understand or value”) but it’s nice (especially as a parent) to be reassured.
The study in question can be found here in versions of varying lengths but the gist of it is summed up in the header:
It might surprise parents to learn that it is not a waste of time for their teens to hang out online. There are myths about kids spending time online – that it is dangerous or making them lazy. But we found that spending time online is essential for young people to pick up the social and technical skills they need to be competent citizens in the digital age. – Mizuko Ito, University of California, Irvine researcher and the report’s lead author.
It’s helpful to begin to get some solid research on the ways in which people, and especially young people, are using digital technologies and the impact they are having on all of our lives. It’s not always what we think. What’s really interesting is their finding that so much online learning is self-directed. Young people learn from each other how to create and navigate new forms of expression and establish new rules and conventions for social behavior. It’s behavior that is interactive, regulated, social and collaborative.
Schools sometimes try to impose standardised benchmarks to measure such technical and media literacies. An impossible task where the learning is peer driven, the pace of change so furious and so fluid. When it comes to online learning we need more of a learning partnership – not the sage on the stage model for learning but rather the guide at the side. And sometimes that guide will be, must be, the student.