Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Digital Youth Project: Facebook May Be Helping Your Kids Learn

The announcement yesterday of the establishment of a new center at UC Irvine to foster collaboration and research around digital media and learning brought our attention to an interesting 2008 research paper known as the Digital Youth Project, which was developed by the some of the same core group of researchers involved in this new center. 

The study (as well as the new center) is part of the MacArthur Foundation's digital media initiative.

To conduct the study, researcher Mizuko Ito and her associates interviewed and observed over 800 kids and young adults -- focusing primarily on their use of games, gadgets (such as Ipods and mobile devices) and social networking interfaces. 

Two of their major findings were that kids use social networking and online media to further develop friendships and interests, and that kids engage in self-directed learning online. The implications mean that adults ought to facilitate kids' engagement with digital media, and not necessarily hinder it by blocking or restricting access to these devices or websites (with supervision and moderation, of course). The study also finds that adults have a key role to play in establishing goals and expectations for informal learning via these means.

Further, the study suggests that in order to remain relevant, educational institutions need to stay up-to-date with technological developments in new media.

Read a two-page summary of the project's findings here.

Via BoingBoing by way of DML Central.

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