Monday, January 28, 2008

Henry Jenkins keynote, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative

New Media Literacies Project

has been producing a documentary about the Wikipedia movement

Wikipedia is one of the major debates of the relationship of new learning technologies to the classroom over the past few years. Debates, explorations of how knowledge is being created and processed.

History department at Middlebury College in 2006 declared that Wikipedia is not an acceptable citation in papers.

Some skepticism is healthy. Students shouldn't be citing encyclopedias. After all, Middlebury didn't say not to look at Wikipedia at all. Might as well say "Don't listen to rock and roll."

Goal today is not to say whether Wikipedia is good or bad, but to talk about how to work with our students regarding thinking critically about knowledge, sources.

With Wikipedia, we have the opportunity to expose kids to how knowledge is circulated and evaluated.

Can we understand the kinds of learning that is taking place as kids gather online in communities, as gamers, etc. Can we use that knowledge to help museums, libraries, etc. integrate learning into their online presences?

Turn around dialogue that takes place around technology and youth. Circulates too much around fear.

Open access digital media and learning books available here.

Kids need to be able to ercognize manipulation, propaganda, and to assimilate ethical values--Jonathon Fanton, MacArthur Foundation president, paraphrased.

It's about a new kind of literacy, not just substituting new terms for old ones. How do we involve kids, parents, teachers. What do kids need beyond reading and writing--even though reading and writing are essential to what we're talking about. Other ways of processing knowledge.

Participatory culture:
- low barriers to expression and civic engagement
- strong support for creating and sharing
- informal mentorship
- contributions matter
- social connection between members

Adults can participate online, albeit in less hierarchical ways than they do in families, schools, elsewhere offline. Adults (digital immigrants) need to be challenged to participate with kids (digital natives).

New Media Literacies:

  • social skills, cultural competencies
  • skills for participation, not just consumption
  • take seriously children's and youths' own cutural lives
  • not simply products of media technologies but also social and cultural practices that grow up around those technologies
  • unevenly distributed among the digital natives
  • shaped through interactions between children and adults at all stages
  • require a shift from a focus on media effects to media ethics
  • Come into play offline as well as online
  • Build on existing framework of literacy and research skills
  • Suggest the importance of integrating media literacy across the curricuum
  • Need to be fostered through schools, after school programs, public instituions, churchs, parents, etc.
Three core challenges:

The participation gap: the unequal access of youth to opportunities, experiences, skills and knowledge that will prepare them for full participation in the world of tomorrow.

The transparency problem: the challenges young people face in learning to see clearly the ways media shape our perceptions of the world. Need to think critically about games as well as textbooks. Games, maps, graphs, dioramas misrepresent as well as represent.

The ethics challenge: the breakdown of traditional forms of professional trainng and socialization which might prepare young people for their increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants. Don't pretend problems don't exist, but to engage in real potentials of new media, not to fear them. Make informed, reasonable decisions--kids need to know how to do that.


Collective intelligence: ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal

Judgment: the ability to evaluate the reliabiltiy and credibility of different information sources



The encyclopedia analogy to Wikipedia. Encyclopedia analogy also distorts because it suggests Wikipedia is something we consume, not something we do. Suggests Wikipedia is like finished book on a shelf.

Video: Wikipedia is democratizing knowledge. Bulk of human knowledge produced by amateurs who pursued knowledge for the love of what they were doing. Darwin didn't hold an academic appointment.

Wikipedia reminds us what's lacking in the tradtional media we take for granted: talk with authors, history of revisions/drafts.

Rather than complaining about Wikipedia inaccuracies, change the errors yourself.

How knowledge is connected together by links: high and low culture, past and present, cross-disciplinary. Example: link path from Shakespeare to Apollo Space Program is only 5 links. Emphasizes interconnectedness of content.

What holds a collective knowledge together is the social nature of its creation, not its ownership.

Expert paradigm vs. collective intelligence model. Debates about rules are part of process of the latter. Former have formal education, are hierarchial and expect rules-based creation of knowledge, dialogue about it.

Who gets to be an expert?

car mechanic/race care driuver
architect/construction worker

Many ways to know an object or field.

Collective intelligence is becoming a deeper and deeper aspect of our cuture: see fan culture surrounding Lost as fans try to puzzle out what's going on.

Wikipedia has a code of conduct that emphasizes respect. Different groups must work through competiting perspectives in order to construct a shared resource.

In a traditional encyclopedia, # of words indicates relative importance of topics. On Wikipedia, that doesn't hold true. (e.g. entries on Asimov vs. Woodrow Wilson)


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