[iDC] We've Wired the Classroom -- Now What!

Henry Jenkins hgjenkins3 at gmail.com
Mon Oct 3 21:47:39 UTC 2011

As we get ready for the Mobility Shifts conference, I have been asked to see
if I can provoke a conversation among attendees.

Here's what I have on my mind today:

For some time, those of us who work closely with educators observe a core
paradox. The work of MacArthur's Digital Media and Learning Initiative have
focused attention on games-based, mobile, networked, connected,
participatory, affinity space, geeked-out modes of learning (Hope I got all
of the buzz words in there) and there's a great deal of research and
experimentation exploring the value of these approaches. But the story on
the ground looks very different with schools installing networked computers
and then, in effect, disabling all of the affordances of Web 2.0 platforms
from being deployed by teachers and students. So, federal funding comes
attached with restrictions on access to social media and with the
requirement of filtering software which makes it hard to use much of the web
for instruction. Many teachers are blocked from using YouTube and other
video sharing platforms. In Los Angeles, there are work arounds which allow
the teacher to punch in a code and authorize the use of YouTube, but it has
to be punched in for each clip and has to be done very quickly before the
clip is accessed, so you can not even line up all of the clips you need for
a particular class period at the start of the period. Teachers are
discouraging their students from using Wikipedia, because they have not been
trained in how the online project works. And of course, our hopes that
librarians might become information coaches for their students have been
complicated by the fact that whole school districts have fired all of their
librarians or forced them back into being mostly full time classroom
teachers. So, we are gaining ground conceptually and losing it on the level
of policy. So, what are we, as a community of researchers, theorists, and
educators, going to do about this? What are our prospects for a meaningful
collective response to what is a set of policy decisions, partially made at
a Federal level and tied to funding, partially at very local levels and thus
highly fragmented?

Talk among yourselves.
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