Close this search box.
May 13, 2010 |

Keynote address for University of Michigan’s Enriching Scholarship 2010

Today’s young people are growing up in a radically different media environment from the one that we grew up in. It’s a media environment that keeps them connected 24/7 to their peers, information, and entertainment. It’s a media environment that captures kids attentions through visual media, participation and interaction, challenging educators to reconsider traditional models of instruction. It’s a media environment that captures kids attentions through visual media, participation and interaction, challenging educators to reconsider traditional models of instruction.

Networked media offers an unprecedented opportunity to support learning that is highly personalized and learner-centered, driven by passionate interest and social engagement. But very few learners and educators are taking advantage of this opportunity. And the reason for this is that too often we separate the worlds of young people and adults, play and education. We hold onto the old boundaries between schooling, peer-culture, and home life, between what looks and feels like learning and education that we grew up with, and what looks and feels like socializing, hanging out, and playing. Even if those boundaries were never that real to begin with, in today’s networked world, they are even more untenable.

My argument is that we need to engage with kids’ peer cultures and recreational lives outside of school if we want to tap into the power that today’s networked media offers for learners. I’m going to walk you through several cases of young people’s new media practices that hint at the ways in which we can do this, and some learning principles that emerge from these cases. But first I want to paint a picture for you about what new media learning looks like in kids’ out of school lives.

And I always find that the best way into these issues is through Pokemon. It’s important to remember that the dispositions of today’s college kids weren’t forged overnight. They are a result of a longer trajectory of growing up in an era of networked and social media. The kids who are graduating from college now are the first post-Pokemon generation. These are kids who grew up with ubiquitous social gaming and convergent media as a central part of their peer culture.

After Mario, Pokemon is the second most successful gaming franchise ever. Pokemon was a breakthrough media form in a number of ways. First, it created an integrated and synergistic relationship between analog and digital media, but in a way that positioned interactive gaming at the center of the transmedia enterprise. More specifically, it placed portable gaming formats of game boy and trading cards at the center of game play. What’s so important about portable media is that it changes the kinds of environments, both physical and social where gaming takes place. Gaming escapes the confines of the home, as kids carry their game boys and in the car, the waiting room, in the park, or on the plane. And this is not just about gaming infiltrating more and more physical settings, but about gaming infiltrating more social settings and relationships.

In addition to the portability, the other important thing about Pokemon is that it developed a new format for the narrative content of a children’s series. The story centers on a game-like narrative based on the acquisition of Pokemon and knowledge about how Pokemon perform in battle. Currently there are almost 500 different Pokemon, each with it’s unique characteristics, powers, and ways of evolving. The series is not particularly complex in the ways we think of in traditional narrative, like character development and complex narrative arcs. But it is an incredibly rich knowledge ecology because of the sheer volume of esoteric content generated by the series. Traditional children’s narratives have a very limited set of characters – a good guy, a bad guy, a sidekick, maybe a love interest. Creators of children’s media assumed that kids couldn’t grasp a whole lot of complexity. Pokemon blew that assumption out of the water.

And it’s not just that there is a lot of content. The key is that the content is about gaming and social action – in other words, the content invites collection, strategizing, and trading activity. It is media that mobilizes kids to DO something with it. Marketers talk about this as viral or contagious media. For kids it means media that has social currency. When a kid pulls out a Pokemon deck or a game boy, you’ll see a kind of flocking behavior – the media is the social glue, the common language that means you belong in the same cultural universe. After almost every basketball game that I take my son to, the boys pull out their game boys and start exchanging monsters, tips, and cheats about how to get ahead in the game. The same goes for birthday parties and sleepovers these days. Even with parties that my daughter is invited to, there will often be explicit instructions – pack your bathing suit, sleeping bag, and game boy.

The other thing is the personal relationships kids develop with the content. When kids put together their pokemon deck, they put together a unique combination of characters and abilities that reflect a personal identity and style of play. They will debate the merits of having a deck focused on grass, water or fire pokemon, or centered on particular combos and strategies. For many generations people have socialized around media like books, television, music, and movies, and often creating deep person identification with the media content and characters. What is different about current interactive digital media, like pokemon is that personalization and remix is an actual PRECONDITION of participation. It is at its very core about engagement and communication. And this is what I mean by social media. Not just media that is about social communication, but media, like Pokemon, that invites social exchange and engagement.

Learning Dynamics

Let’s pull out from the particular case of Pokemon and extract some higher level learning principles and dynamics. I’ll touch on these quickly now, I’ll fill them out more as I move through the talk.

The first thing to note is that the kind of communication and literacy that kids are engaged in isn’t about making original creative work, but is about appropriating commercial culture and making it their own. It’s about taking a set of cultural referents that are shared among a peer group and finding an individual voice by using those building blocks and participating in shared sociabiity and culture.

Secondly, the kids are positioning themselves within flows of knowledge. Kids playing Pokemon draw from a highly dynamic and unstable informational environment that is too massive for them to internalize. They don’t have to memorize the 500 Pokemon in order to play. They know that universe of information is out there, and they access it flexibly and opportunistically as the need to know arises.

Thirdly, the sources of expertise come from peers and not just institutionalized authorities. Kids will occasionally consult official rule books, but they will much more often look to their peers for knowledge. Part of the excitement is that kids can take on the role of participants, experts, and knowledge creators, not simply knowledge consumers, and they are constantly giving and taking feedback.

Finally, kids are developing status and reputation within a context of the a peer group. Certain kids in a given peer culture will gain reputation as Pokemon experts, and the more advanced of these will be posting walk-throughs, reviews, and cheats on online sites that a much broader range of kids will be accessing. This is very different from being assessed by an instructor, and the privacy that we usually associate with grades and test-taking. This is about reputation among peers, not assessment by an external expert.

Then what happens when these Pokemon kids move into college? As kids grow older and into their late teenage years, the sociability around play and fantasy media transitions to social media that centers around friendship and romantic relationships. The kinds of energies that kids used so spend collecting and trading Pokemon cards transitions to collecting friends and posting, linking, ad forwarding media on social network sites.

For the most part, friendship-driven spaces like MySpace and Facebook are tightly intertwined with the local, given social contexts of school, the kind of intense give and take among peers that I’m sure you’re all familiar with. When someone comments on your MySpace profile, you are expected to comment back. When somebody puts you on their top 8 list of friends, it’s awkward if you don’t do the same. Teens scour their peers MySpace profiles for clues as to what’s cool or uncool, and how to position themselves as a unique individual while also mobilizing shared markers of status.

We tend to think of this kind of teen peer culture in negative terms, as peer pressure. But this kind of peer review and reciprocity is also a context of learning and engagement, where kids are evaluating and negotiating status with one another as peers and co-participants in a networked public. And this is highly motivating. Unlike their relationship to mainstream media, unlike their relationship with content and activities that adults provision for them, these smaller scale peer publics are ones that they participate in not just as consumers but as producers and distributors of content, knowledge, taste and culture. They make decisions about how to craft their profiles, what messages to write, and what kind of music, video, and artwork they want to post, link to and forward. And these choices about what media to display and circulate are conducted in a public space visible to their peers that have direct consequences to their reputation in the social circles that matter to them the most. These dynamics have been the topic of danah boyd’s work on publicity on MySpace.

Another researcher who was part of our Digital Youth Study, CJ Pascoe, has described how social network sites make relationships more public and explicit. For example, couples need to decide when they are going to be “Facebook official.” This change in status from “single” to “in a relationship” can be viewed immediately by everyone in the peer network, including ex-boyfriends and girlfriends who have a lingering interest. The public nature of social network sites makes it much easier for teens to access gossip about their peers. On social network sites, they can “stalk” their peers, keeping up with the latest about even those peers who they might not have much direct interaction with. This is something that is familiar to anyone who is a public figure, but now we are seeing these dynamics playing out in everyday youth social worlds. This makes everyday social dramas more visible and persistent than what youth experience in the lunchroom or hallway at school.

While it is tempted to see this as excessive peer pressure, I think it is also important to keep in perspective how these negotiations are a key part of what it means to grow up in a digital age. These are contexts where kids are learning lessons about how to deal with their peers and their social identities, where they are highly motivated and engaged and feel a sense of ownership and efficacy.

What happens though when these Pokemon kids, these Facebook and MySpace kids, walk into a classroom? Most of you probably know what happens in a wifi enabled lecture hall. If you’ve grown up with Pokemon, and if you spend most of your waking hours connect to your peers in a constant stream of social exchange, what does it feel like to be asked to focus on a single source of knowledge for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, one hour? In fact, how many of you have checked your iPhone or Blackberry in the first 15 minutes of this talk? This video made by Michael Wesch gives some insight into these questions.

When today’s kids encounter a classroom situation, not only are they Facebooking and texting during lectures, they take to the online P2P ecology to support their learning needs. They do stuff that educators approve of, like forming study groups or sharing resources on bookmarking sites and wikis. But they also do things that fly in the face of traditional educational accountabilities – like going to instead of reading the assigned texts, or checking out to figure out which instructors are easy graders. Essay download and purchase sites are also hugely popular online, another affordance of P2P traffic in today’s online networks.

The problem we are encountering today as educators is that we’re living through a radical paradigm shift in how people engage with and circulate knowledge, but our models for teaching and learning, and our institutional accountabilities haven’t kept up with the world around us. Sites like online essay download sites are leading indicators of this culture clash – of the clash between traditional top-down, individualized and standardized educational formats, and the peer-based learning that is flourishing through online networks.


So far, I’ve tried to frame for you a bit of how everyday peer sociability is happening in young people’s online networks. Now I want to talk about how these peer networks can be harnessed for kids to acquire specialized knowledge and skills. So first, Appropriation. Let me walk through this by doing a bit of archaelogy of the webcam lipsynch video.

Let’s start from the source. Most people would trace the origins of the Internet viral lip synch video to Numa Numa. Just as a reminder, this was a video from 2004, an eon ago in Internet time, before the birth of YouTube. And if there just happens to be people in the room who haven’t seen this video, here’s a brief clip.

This is the video that rivals the star wars kid as the most viewed video on the internet. What’s important about this video is not just how it demonstrated the power of P2P and viral video, but the way in which it set up a new amateur media genre. Since then, the genre of the webcam lip synch video has evolved and diversified.

About a year after Numa Numa, the Back Dorm Boys lipsynchers became a huge hit eventually became famous enough to get mentions in mainstream US media and clinch professional media deals in China.

This video was clearly imitative and appropriative of early lipsynch videos such as Numa Numa, but introduced a collaborative component as well as a transnational component. It was also produced in a much more self conscious and ironic vein than Numa Numa – as much a snarky commentary on the existing genre of the lipsynch video as an instance of innovation in lipsynch itself. This next video is a more recent one, made last year, shared with me by Michael Wesch.

This video may seem like just a quirky collab video that a few people in a workspace decided to put together. And it is. But it’s also a video that in many ways epitomizes the current state of the art in amateur webcam lipsynch video. It really gets the genre right but innovates in some interesting ways. It’s experimental, building on an existing viral meme, existing genres and techniques, using a language of appropriation, a silly, playful, amateurish collaborative production, it’s also transgressive, mashing up the serious context of the workplace with ecstatic play. In the five years since Numa Numa, the ecology of Internet video has evolved at a stunning pace, and we see a whole visual and performative language that is unique to the amateur video space.

This is just a bit of a flavor of how appropriative innovation works in the online video space. The question is how can we channel some of this creative innovation in the service of learning and critical media literacy? Together with Steve Anderson at USC, I have been involved in curating a festival of Internet video that showcases some of the new kinds of expressive literacies being incubated in online video. We cover a wide range of genres including viral youtube video, fan video making, video blogging, machinima, political remix, and activist video.

Our goal is to bring together folks who work in these genres who don’t ordinarily mingle, and to expose this work to researchers and educators. We want to support reflective discussion about innovation happening within the context of P2P circulation of remix video, and to push makers towards new forms of collaboration and new genres of making.

One example of this kind of relationship building was that our curator for the political remix genre, Jonathan McIntosh mingled with the fan video remix artists, and this eventually prompted him to make his own fan remix video. Jonathan specializes in identity correction video where he remixes ads to a different kind of critical narrative. Here’s one example of his work.

Here is what Jonathan made after he became more involved with the fan voiding scene. This is an excerpt of his video mashing up Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight.

Jonathan writes: “

Seen through Buffy’s eyes, some of the more sexist gender roles and patriarchal Hollywood themes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed – in hilarious ways. Ultimately this remix is about more than a decisive showdown between the slayer and the sparkly vampire. It also doubles as a metaphor for the ongoing battle between two opposing visions of gender roles in the 21st century.

Just like Pokemon kids, and just like the Back Dorm Doys, Jonathan appropriates our shared popular media culture in order to tell his own story. Unlike much of popular internet video that circulates in young people’s peer culture, Jonathan’s work exhibits a sophisticated critical media literacy as well as creative and technical skills. His work is a site of translation between the kind of video that tends to circulate on Facebook and YouTube, and a more studied critical eye.

Flows of Knowledge

The excitement of participating a DIY video creative scene is in being part of a knowledge ecosystem of constant change, innovation, and flow. In their book, The Power of Pull, John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davidson talk about how todays firms can’t operate on the old model of stockpiling and protecting stores of knowledge: “To succeed now, we have to continually refresh our stocks of knowledge by participating in relevant ‘flows’ of knowledge, which are interactions that create knowledge or transfer it across individuals.” Similarly, educational institutions can’t assume that a stable cannon of knowledge can be transmitted to students, and then expect that they will be able to make use of these stocks of knowledge in the world that they graduate into. Today’s highly volatile economic and business climate means that we need to train young people to be constantly adaptive, and to be able to position themselves in fluid flows of knowledge, to be able to demand and pull from a knowledge ecosystem and not assume that it will be delivered to them in a stable form.

Let me tell you a story about a young man who I interviewed in his early twenties who is an example of someone who developed a unique career through participating in flows of knowledge in an online, networked ecosystem. This is a young man I interviewed as part of our three-year digital youth study.

Snafu Dave is a web comics author and web designer. He discovered web comics in the summer of his freshman year, when he was “bored out of his mind” on campus at his rural college. After immersing himself in the web comics world, he decided to take a crack at creating them himself. He checked out Html for Dummies and borrowed a copy of Photoshop, and he learned on his own while accessing online tutorials.

In college, he moved from being a math major, to a computer science major to being a design major, but all along the way he said that school coursework never prepared him for the work that he was interested in. The stable stocks of knowledge being transmitting in school were not at all in tune with the dynamic cultural ecosystem that he was encountering in the web design and web comics world. “School’s more valuable for me to have a time frame where I could learn on my own and practice.”

In addition to the ability to access online information and tutorials, key part of Snafu Dave’s learning involved embedding himself in a social community around web comics. As he began to create comics himself, he quickly became embedded in a community of fellow web comics creators, and began hosting the comics of other artists. He’s very active in online forums and in the convention circuit. He uses social networks sites and online forums to connect to and expand his fan base as well as engage with his peers in the web comics world.

Snafu Dave gives us a peek into how flows of knowledge work in the web design world and other DIY maker communities. This kind of ethos of open knowledge sharing is being formalized through initiatives like the Open Educational Resources movement , or iTunes U. These kinds of knowledge sharing systems, just like the web tutorials that Snafu Dave learned from, radically lower the barriers of entry to people seeking out learning opportunities. While these open sharing systems are a crucial step towards a P2P learning ecosystem, we need to do much more to develop the social infrastructure around these forms of content. It’s not just the expert knowledge that needs to flow through the network, but also the peer to peer learning and relationships at the student level.

So here’s a question: according to the OER motto, “learning is sharing,” but is learning sharing when it involves P2P sharing among students instead of among faculty sharing coursework? While faculty have a model of peer learning and peer sharing, and even appropriation within certain guidelines of quoting and citation, with students, our standards for peer learning and review are less well established.

That’s why we run into problems like the P2P flow of class essay assignments. We expect students do be doing original work, but we give them the same assignments and assess them along standardized measures. Instead of asking them to appropriate and innovate, we ask them to reproduce the right answers based on an established canon, and then we get upset if they copy other people’s work. Now that the flows of knowledge at the student layer are becoming more and more robust and speedy, there’s no way we can fully inhibit their sharing and exchange.


Rather than block the flows of knowledge at the student layer, what can we do to mobilize them productively for learning? This leads me to the next peer-based learning dynamic I want to touch on, which is feedback and reciprocity.

In the case of sites like MySpace and Facebook, the whole peer-based exchange cycle is built on an ethic of reciprocity. This is the power of horizontal networks. Unlike hierarchical networks, horizontal networks are built on a sense of friendship, communal responsibility, and peer pressure. When someone comments on your profile you are expected to comment back. If someone forwards you a YouTube link, eventually you’ll probably forward them something as well. This ethic of reciprocity is also at play in special interest groups that youth encounter online, which leads to learning and skill development and not just social hanging out.

To illustrate these dynamics, I’d like to describe the experience of another teen in our Digital Youth Project. Clarissa is a teen who one of the researchers in our study, CJ Pascoe, has written about. She comes from a working class home here in the Bay Area, and aspires to be a writer.

Clarissa participates in an online role-playing board, Faraway Lands, with a few of her friends from school. To join the site potential members must write intricate character applications and receive a moderator’s approval. These character applications are lengthy descriptions of a given character, its race, its history and its location. After staying up most the night to write her first character application, Clarissa received glowing reviews from the site’s administrators. For Clarissa, Faraway Lands is a place to hang out with her existing friends as well as develop new friendships. She has gotten to know people from all over the country, and even has one friend in Spain who she is developing a role-playing scenario with.


That you should generally follow but are not necessarily required to follow.
Take criticism constructively and give it out the same…

Compose your writing to the best of your ability. Do your best to be understandable and to spell all words to the fullest with conventional letters. It’s easier to read for people and generally earns you respect…

This is some text that I excerpted from the rules of another role-playing board. What I want to highlight here is the ethic of reciprocity that you see in these peer-based learning environments. Participants are both writers and critics of each other’s work. Clarissa and her roleplaying friends take their writing very seriously and constantly critique each other. The site administrators have developed a set of policies, standards, and assessments that encourage this ethic of reciprocity.

Clarissa sees her online writing as very different from the kind of writing she does in school. At the same time, the skills she has picked up in the role playing world have served her well in school. For one of her school assignments she chose to write a 100 page screenplay based on one of her characters she developed on Faraway Lands. In her college applications she writes about role playing as preparation to be a screenwriter. In her applications, she submitted creative writing samples based on her role playing writing. She was admitted to both Emerson and Chapman and she feels these writing samples were a big part of why she was accepted.

We are still in the early days of figuring out models for how to enable peer based feedback and exchange within the context of classroom learning. I’m sure you’ll be hearing many examples of innovative programs and experiments in the other sessions at this event. Just to touch on a few I’ve heard about: P2P University is one experiment in this space, working to collect learners around open courseware in a peer learning model. Another is Howard Rheingold’s Social Media Classroom, which provides a suite of social media tools for classroom use, and supports a community of practice around their use.

And there are many many experiments by individual faculty in customizing social media for student participation, making the work of fellow students visible to one another. Rather than asking each student to build stocks of knowledge, this is about facilitating flows of knowledge between students, and promoting a culture of peer-based reciprocity and feedback.


The last peer-based learning principle I wanted to touch on is reputation. Again, thinking about the case of more friendship-centered networks like what we see on Facebook, this is about kids jockeying for status and reputation within a peer-based network ecosystem. With academic achievement and testing, students orient towards an external authority, but with peer-based systems, reputation is negotiated more organically, within a community of peers. The same goes for young people in online peer-based interest groups.

As part of the Digital Youth Study, my own case studies centered on overseas fans of Japanese animation, or anime. One form of amateur production that these fans engage in are remix videos, or anime music videos. AMVs involve taking commercial anime footage, striping out the soundtrack, and re-editing it to conform to a song or another soundtrack of their choosing.

This is a community of passionate interest, centered around the cult media of anime. Creators are anime fans and connoisseurs who created a robust sub community within the broader overseas fandom of anime. What started as a tiny community of creators in the days of VHS deck editing has grown into a worldwide community that connects with each other at anime conventions and through a variety of online channels.

The main site that connects the AMV community is It’s a discussion and video distribution site that was handcrafted by AMV creators to meet their specialized needs. The site includes a wide range of mechanisms for rating and ranking videos, and giving detailed feedback. Creators talk about feedback from even very small numbers as validating. The point is personal connection with peers who are appreciative and knowledgable. At the core of this dynamic is an orientation that involves seeing media creation and remix as part of a process of communication with a specialized community of practice.

You move from first trying to make something and showing it to a few friends. And then if you start getting to know some people online you might upload it to the org. Or you could enter a competition. When you decide to go to a big convention and meet other AMV creators, then that’s another level again. It’s at the big AMV conventions, when we get together to talk about each other’s videos, that you start to understand that the videos are actually conversations among AMV creators. You wouldn’t necessarily know that just from downloading the videos. The videos are a result of conversations that editors are having through a lot of private channels like at conventions or on IM. (Absolute Destiny)

Absolute Destiny describes that steps that took him to becoming one of the most recognized names in the AMV world. He first started dabbling in video creation – primarily engaging with just the texts, to starting to engage in the overall social ecology. Later on, if the creator goes on to participate in conventions and competitions, she comes to understand the ways in which personal communication is layered with the media creation practice.

In a lot of ways this description reminded me of my own induction into the esoteric and niche knowledge communities of academia, where one traces a path from engagement with the texts to becoming a writer, and finally to engagement with the richer social ecology around knowledge sharing and peer review. What’s quite different here though, is we are seeing these practices of socialization and deep knowledge sharing and literacy emerging in a set of amateur practices of creation that have no financial or professional rewards attached to them. And these are domains that don’t have the same barriers of entry that you see with professional practices.

Online circulation of AMVs are probably the dominant contexts in which AMVs get accessed today, but there are also competitions and screenings at almost every anime convention. One experienced AMV creator reflects on the first time that his video won a competition at the largest anime convention in the country, Anime Expo.

It was replayed again to an even more packed house during Masquerade, AX’s most popular event. Never had I ever seen so many people laugh so hard in my entire life. The only people who could ever come close to experiencing such a feeling are Hollywood directors having won an Academy Award for Best Picture. It was the finest, greatest, most moving moment of my entire existence. Nothing will ever top it. Ever. (XStylus, 28)

Even though anime is in many ways a niche community, and AMVs don’t get the same circulation as a Hollywood movie, the validation that editors get when they are recognized by their audiences and peers can be tremendous. Networked publics of the interest-driven variety provide an unprecedented opportunity for youth to reach out and connect with like-minded peers who share their special interests, whether that is in specific forms of anime or music or hobbies.

The sites of publicity and competition supported by the AMV scene give young creators opportunities to compete and develop reputation. This is an incredibly important part of the ecosystem of successful networked learning. It’s not enough to have open flows of knowledge and peer-based exchange. There also needs to be opportunities for people to distinguish themselves and be recognized by their community.

The new contexts of publicity afforded by online networks also work for academics, and I think we can do much more to leverage these capacities. By the time we become professional writers and academics, our peer-networks have also been professionalized, and we aren’t necessarily seeking other contexts for publicity and reputation building. Although some established academics have taken to blogging and twittering and other forms of social media for reputation building, it is the younger generation that is leading the way.

One of my former students and a collaborator on the Digital Youth Study, danah boyd, is in many ways a poster child for graduate student blogging. She was blogging well before she entered her PhD program, and blogged all through her quals and dissertation. By the time she finished her degree, she had a following and reputation in the field of Internet studies that dwarfed most of us more established academics. Today she has over 26,000 followers on twitter and many more who view her blog.

Young scholars who have the capacity to use social media to get ongoing feedback from a broader peer public, and build reputation and visibility in the process can be at a tremendous advantage when they reach professional maturity. They learn from flows of knowledge and peer-to-peer learning, and are constantly negotiating their place and identity within a highly dynamic public sphere.


These are still early days in the birth of social media, and early days in our experimentation to harness these new media in the service of learning. But I firmly believe that the opportunity is out there to make social and recreational peer-based learning that kids are doing out of school matter in the classroom. Innovation is happening at the edge, and slowly filtering into our core institutions of education. The examples I’ve shown you of online fiction writing, web comics, and Internet videos may seem trivial, but this is how disruptive innovation works.

We still have the weight of existing assumptions, practices, institutions, working against us. The ways in which we have historically separated out kids peer cultures from learning, created an opposition between education and entertainment media, created institutional boundaries that separate home, school, and the community, and insisted on individual assessment, these are all things working against us. But I hope that I have managed to convince you that for those who are willing to experiment and to seize the opportunities that today’s digital and networked world has to offer, there is tremendous opportunity to expand the learning potential for a new generation of kids. In fact, it’s imperative that we do so. We need to teach today’s young people to embrace a world of continuous change, one in which they will learn throughout their lifecycle, and see their friends and peers as sources of knowledge and feedback and ongoing growth.

The technology itself has no power to transform learning. It is up to us to take that technology and do something new with it, something that doesn’t just reproduce our tired old scripts. These experiments and explorations won’t succeed, spread or scale without a dedicated network of educators who are working together to build a new model for 21st century learning.

In closing, I want to underscore that all of the work I have talked about today comes out of a highly distributed and collaborative network that I have been involved with as part of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative. Our network has started with a core set of researchers and projects, but we are very eager to reach out and expand the conversation, and to learn from a broader set of partners and efforts. We’re beginning to consolidate our resources and projects on a new web site,, and we’re committed to making our research findings open and accessible online. I invite you all to participate in this expanding effort.

Special Thanks to:

John Seely Brown
CJ Pascoe
Nichole Pinkard
Diana Rhoten
Katie Salen
Connie Yowell

For more information: