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21 JULY 2013

Mobile phones as cultural resources for learning: an analysis of mobile expertise, structures and emerging cultural practices

"If it is the case that mobile devices, with their specific social and technological structures and attendant cultural practices, have become an integral part of everyday life, then the educational field has to react. But how and who? Fact is that mobile devices have reached and become fully integrated in everyday life, worldwide and across social milieus. This development is 'ubiquitous' (e.g. Haythornthwaite, 2008, Beale 2007, Nyiri 2002) and is accompanied by an increase in individualisation enabled and necessitated by a variety of mobile devices characterised by media convergence. Education must ask questions about the impact of these irreversible trends on the personal development of young people and about its role in mediating them as well as about their impact on individual agency of young people in the context of emerging socio–cultural structures (see Stald 2007)."

(Ben Bachmair, Norbert Pachler and John Cook, 2009)

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TAGS

agency of access and engagement • Caroline Haythornthwaite • educational field • emerging sociocultural structures • everyday life • Gitte Stald • individual agency • individualisation • irreversible trends • knowledge integrationknowledge management • Kristof Nyiri • learningm-learningmedia convergencemediating practicesmobile devicesmobile phoneparticipatory technologiespedagogypersonal development • Russel Beale • social agency • social and technological structures • social changesocial constructionismsocial interactionsociocultural perspectiveteaching • technological transformation • ubiquitous accessubiquitous information flowsyoung people

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
09 FEBRUARY 2009

One to one is not enough: participatory technologies and learning

"The ways students use digital technologies are fundamentally different from how they are taught in the design studio. Implicated herein is the practice of teaching primarily through one–on–one 'desk crits' – what design educator Cal Swann derogatorily refers to as the 'Sitting by Nellie' approach, which often results in design instructors explaining their personal experiences in order to improve the students' work.

Conversely, by motivating students as active participants in learning, who construct knowledge collaboratively with their peers – rather than relying upon transmissive teacher–to–student approaches that create what Fischer calls 'passive, consumer–learners' – co–operative technologies reduce the focus on isolated learners. Such collaborative practices are not just about learning how to master participatory technologies as a means to personal expression; they should also be understood as social skills that enable engagement within a larger group or community.

The implications of participatory technologies for the practice of design will be long–term, far–reaching and are already being felt – though they are only beginning to be understood. What these developments mean for design education has barely begun to be addressed. 'The informal participatory communities of fans and gamers are where digital natives already congregate when they seek out knowledge – not the traditional classroom where learning is seen to be static, provisional and bureaucratic,' Jenkins declares. His cautionary report that schools tend to educate only individual problem–solvers – even though students entering the workplace will be asked to work collaboratively in teams, drawing on different sets of expertise – is as valid to design pedagogy as it is to education in general.

Digital technologies allow anyone with access not only to peer behind the curtain of the mysterious creative process but to experiment with it, and even appropriate the creations of others, first hand. Pierre Lévy's notion of a problem–solving, democratic 'collective intelligence' is already a reality on the Net where most of tomorrow's designers now engage with creative culture. When this group enters higher education, they will not leave their online communities and collaborative skills at the door.

There will always be a symbiotic relationship between design and the technologies used to support the creation of artefacts. Nevertheless, once connected digital technologies are introduced in the design studio – as they were in the 1990s – a new way of (net‑)working and engaging with design's communities of practice is possible. Consequently, design education requires a new approach that imparts relevant knowledge and skills in partnership with these technologies – technologies that take advantage of a classroom that exists beyond the academy walls and position the design student as a part of a broader community of learners.

From this perspective, students are not just individualised learners, the computer is not just another production tool, and the classroom studio is not a self–contained entity where students acquire knowledge to be applied later outside in the 'real world'. This type of connected pedagogy can be envisioned as a part of a wider network of learning, fostering engagement with the field that continues long after students receive their diplomas. The design classroom and its curriculum of projects, critiques and comps still have a crucial role to play in such a context, but they have to be connected with what students already know about in their world.

This article is based on research from the KnowledgeWorks Foundation (kwfdn.org).

Illustration by João Fazenda"
(Deborah Littlejohn, Eye no.70 vol. 18)

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TAGS

agency of access and engagementCal Swanncommunities of practice • consumer-learners • CoP • Deborah Littlejohn • design educationdesign studiodesk critsdigital technologiesHenry Jenkinsparticipationparticipatory technologiespedagogy • Sitting by Nellie

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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