06 SES 01, Growing Up in a Digital World: Practices and policies
Living in a reality mediated by digital technologies allows us –and at the same time pushes us– to learn beyond formal spaces and moments. More and more, it is asked to all generations to be able to learn, not only life-long but also life-wide (Banks, Au et al, 2007), not only in our workplace but also at home, on the streets and through the internet.
Jenkins (2014) refers to the convergence culture where old and new media collide as a challenge for educational researchers who approach the relationships between young people and digital media. In this era, the participation of young people in virtual communities has proliferated, showing new rules and production dynamics, collaboration networks, labor flexibility and creative strategies. Garcia-Canclini (2014) and García-Canclini & Urteaga (2012) have analyzed these new practices of creation and consumption of young people, examining if this change is exclusive from the youth culture or we can see it in the society in a broader sense.
The research project “Youth Virtual Communities: making visible their learning and their knowledge” funded by the Reina Sofia Center of Adolescence and Youth seeked to explore the question of how and what do young people learn in virtual communities in order to show the potential of virtual communities in the process of learning and identity building of 15 to 29 years old young people. The three main objectives of the project were: (1) to identify and map virtual communities with participation of Spanish young people, (2) to explore and identify the elements that define virtual communities and their use as places of learning and production of knowledge and (3) to analyze how and what do young people actively involved learn.
The term 'virtual community' was used by Rheingold (1993: 5) to refer to “social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace”. We highlight three characteristics of virtual communities in this definition: interactivity, affectivity and time. As Ito et al, 2008 and boyd, 2008, we identify the need to explore which practices of negotiation, collaboration and culture creation arise from these changes.
The differentiation between virtual communities and social networks services rely on the stability of virtual communities and the common interests or objectives, which can be related with music, politics, literacy, science, arts, etc. Nevertheless, many social network services host virtual communities, because the users create subgroups of people with common interests who use the internet as an anthropological space to share knowledge and to learn (Henri & Pudelko, 2003).
Therefore, our study paid attention to communities of interest (Sacristan, 2013), with the hypothesis that sharing an interest encourages young people to learn and build knowledge, but not in an academic sense. We were able to appreciate that the participants do not follow established teaching goals, the roles of the participants are not static and learning is understood as a social construction (Gros, 2008).
Banks, J., Au, K., Ball, A., Bell, P., Gordon, E., Gutierrez, K., & Zhou, M. (2007). Learning in and out of school in diverse environments. Seattle: University of Washington. boyd, D. (2014). It’s Complicated. The social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press Book. Falzon, M. A. (2009). Multi‐sited Ethnography. Theory, praxis and locality in contemporary research. Burlington: Ashgate. García‐Canclini, N. (2014). ¿Jóvenes, techsetters, emprendedores o creativos? Dudas de una investigación. Estudios de Comunicación y Política, 34, 11‐20. García‐Canclini, N., & Urteaga, M. (Coords) (2012). Cultura y desarrollo: Una visión crítica desde los jóvenes. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Gros, B. (2008). Las comunidades virtuales para la formación permanente del profesorado. REIRE. Revista d’Innovació i Recerca en Educació, 1, 1-10. Retrieved from: http://www.raco.cat/index.php/REIRE Henri, F., & Pudelko, B. (2003). Understanding and analyzing activity and learning in virtual communities. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19, 474-487. Hine, C. (ed.) (2005). Virtual Methods. Issues in Social Research on the Internet. Oxford, New York: Berg. Hine, C. (2004). Etnografía virtual. Barcelona: UOC. Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Cody, R., Herr‐Stephenson, B., Horst, H.A., Lange, P.G., Mahendran, D., Martínez, K.Z., Pascoe, C. J., Perkel, D., Robinson, L., Sims, C., & Tripp, L. (2010). Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Learning and Living in New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Jenkins, H. (2014). Rethinking ‘rethinking convergence/culture’. Cultural Studies, 28(2), 267-297. Rheingold, H. (1993). The virtual community: Finding connection in a computerized world. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc. Sacristán, A. (2013) Ciberespacio, producción común de cultura y redes. En A. Sacristán (Comp.) Sociedad de Conocimiento, Tecnología y Educación (113-177). Madrid, España: Morata
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