The Wallace Foundation recently released a new report from researcher Kylie Peppler of Indiana University examining how technology is creating new opportunities for interest-driven arts learning. It is a great window into how new programs and tools are changing the way young people learn.
“Arts may be scarce in many public schools, especially in disadvantaged communities. But outside school, one sees a ‘strikingly different landscape,’ according to this report. Why? Digital technologies are offering young people new ways to engage in the arts on their own time and according to their own interests. The report describes the new technologies, young people’s media use and a framework for thinking about “interest-driven” arts learning.”
The report calls out Remix Learning’s iRemix Social Learning Platform as a prime example of how social learning networks can better connect youth to supportive communities of peers and mentors. Thy also make the critical distinction between traditional social networks and social learning networks:
“From prior research we know that successful youth programs share key components, including access to mentors and experiential learning opportunities (EDC, 2006).With the ability to engage youths in peer mentoring and provide direct connections to content, a social learn- ing network (as opposed to an online social network) can meet these criteria. Furthermore, a social learning network eliminates the technological and geographical barriers that make it difficult to expand place-based programs linked to schools, libraries, museums, and other after-school environments. Key benefits of a social learning network are its ability to provide youths with access to mentors who are may otherwise be unavailable at a school or other sites and to support collaboration across age groups as participants work together online around common interests.
Social learning networks foster online cultures based upon idea exchange, media sharing, critique, peer mentorship, and debate.The first social learning network to achieve widespread adoption, particularly among disadvantaged middle-school youths, is Remix Learning, created by Nichole Pinkard, founder of the Digital Youth Network and an associate professor at DePaul University in the College of Computing and Digital Media. Remix Learning grew out of an ambitious initiative in Chicago called the Digital Youth Network, which was sup- ported in part by the MacArthur Foundation and is now used at YOUmedia centers. Remix Learning provides an easy-to-use, customizable, cloud-based social learning network for primary and secondary education, that can be quickly and affordably implemented in schools and after-school programs.”
We encourage everyone to check out the report and let us know your thoughts!