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The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning

This book series is founded upon the working hypothesis that those immersed in new digital tools and networks are engaged in an unprecedented exploration of language, games, social interaction, problem solving, and self-directed activity that leads to diverse forms of learning. This is reflected in expressions of identity, in how individuals express independence and creativity, and in their ability to learn, exercise judgment, and think systematically.

Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap

Fresh from a party, a teen posts a photo on Facebook of a friend drinking a beer. A college student repurposes an article from Wikipedia for a paper. A group of players in a multiplayer online game routinely cheat new players by selling them worthless virtual accessories for high prices. In Disconnected, Carrie James examines how young people and the adults in their lives think about these sorts of online dilemmas, describing ethical blind spots and disconnects.

Digital Storytelling with Scratch

Script Changers shows the ways that stories offer a lens for seeing the world as a series of systems. It provides opportunities for students to create interactive and animated stories about creating positive change in their communities. These projects utilize the Scratch visual programming environment.

Crafting e-Puppets with DIY Electronics

Short Circuits offers students opportunities to undertake physical computing projects, providing tools and methods for creating electronic puppets. Students learn how to incorporate microprocessors into everyday materials and use them to enhance their language and writing skills with shadow puppet shows featuring their own DIY flashlights.

Designing with Gamestar Mechanic

Gaming the System demonstrates the nature of games as systems, how game designers need to think in terms of complex interactions of game elements and rules, and how to identify systems concepts in the design process. The activities use Gamestar Mechanic, an online game design environment with a systems thinking focus.

Crafting e-Fashion with DIY Electronics

Soft Circuits introduces students to the world of wearable technology. Using Modkit, an accessible DIY electronics toolkit, students learn to create e-textile cuffs, “electrici-tee” shirts, and solar-powered backpacks. Students also learn the importance of one component to the whole—how, for example, changing the structure of LED connections immediately affects the number of LEDs that light up.

Why Children Need to Learn Programming

Coding, once considered an arcane craft practiced by solitary techies, is now recognized by educators and theorists as a crucial skill, even a new literacy, for all children. Programming is often promoted in K-12 schools as a way to encourage “computational thinking”—which has now become the umbrella term for understanding what computer science has to contribute to reasoning and communicating in an ever-increasingly digital world.

Cultivating Digital Media Citizenship in Urban Communities

The popular image of the “digital native”—usually depicted as a technically savvy and digitally empowered teen—is based on the assumption that all young people are equally equipped to become innovators and entrepreneurs. Yet young people in low-income communities often lack access to the learning opportunities, tools, and collaborators (at school and elsewhere) that help digital natives develop the necessary expertise.

Next-Generation Tactics to Remake Public Spheres

Although they may disavow politics as such, civic-minded young people use every means and media at their disposal to carry out the basic tasks of citizenship. Through a mix of face-to-face and digital methods, they deliberate on important issues and debate with peers and powerbrokers, redefining some key dynamics that govern civic life in the process. In Participatory Politics, Elisabeth Soep examines the specific tactics used by young people as they experiment with civic engagement.

Young People, the Internet, and Civic Participation

There has been widespread concern in contemporary Western societies about declining engagement in civic life; people are less inclined to vote, to join political parties, to campaign for social causes, or to trust political processes. Young people in particular are frequently described as alienated or apathetic. Some have looked optimistically to new media—and particularly the Internet—as a means of revitalizing civic life and democracy.

Tweens in a Virtual World

Millions of children visit virtual worlds every day. In such virtual play spaces as Habbo Hotel, Toontown, and Whyville, kids chat with friends from school, meet new people, construct avatars, and earn and spend virtual currency. In Connected Play, Yasmin Kafai and Deborah Fields investigate what happens when kids play in virtual worlds, how this matters for their offline lives, and what this means for the design of educational opportunities in digital worlds.

Choice-Based Assessments for the Digital Age

If a fundamental goal of education is to prepare students to act independently in the world—in other words, to make good choices—an ideal educational assessment would measure how well we are preparing students to do so. Current assessments, however, focus almost exclusively on how much knowledge students have accrued and can retrieve. In Measuring What Matters Most, Daniel Schwartz and Dylan Arena argue that choice should be the interpretive framework within which learning assessments are organized.

Digital media and technology have become culturally and economically powerful parts of contemporary middle-class American childhoods. Immersed in various forms of digital media as well as mobile and Web-based technologies, young people today appear to develop knowledge and skills through participation in media. This MacArthur Report examines the ways in which afterschool programs, libraries, and museums use digital media to support extracurricular learning.

Developing the School for Digital Kids

Quest to Learn, an innovative school for grades 6 to 12 in New York City, grew out of the idea that gaming and game design offer a promising new paradigm for curriculum and learning. The designers of Quest to Learn developed an approach to learning that draws from what games do best: drop kids into inquiry-based, complex problem spaces that are built to help players understand how they are doing, what they need to work on, and where to go next.

An Empirical Examination of Youth, Digital Media Use, and Information Credibility

How well do children navigate the ocean of information that is available online? The enormous variety of Web-based resources represents both opportunities and challenges for Internet-savvy kids, offering extraordinary potential for learning and social connection but little guidance on assessing the reliability of online information. This book reports on the first large-scale survey to examine children’s online information-seeking strategies and their beliefs about the credibility of that information.

What Mozilla Has to Teach Government

Firefox, a free Web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation, is used by an estimated 270 million people worldwide. To maintain and improve the Firefox browser, Mozilla depends not only on its team of professional programmers and managers but also on a network of volunteer technologists and enthusiasts--free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) developers--who contribute their expertise. This kind of peer production is unique, not only for its vast scale but also for its combination of structured, hierarchical management with open, collaborative volunteer participation.

In this report, noted scholar James Paul Gee discusses the evolution of digital media and learning (DMAL) from its infancy as an “academic area” into a more organized field or coherent discipline. Distinguishing among academic areas, fields, disciplinary specializations, and thematic disciplines, Gee describes other academic areas that have fallen into these categories or developed into established disciplines. He argues that DMAL will not evolve until a real coherence develops through collaboration and the accumulation of shared knowledge.

Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Over the past two decades, the way we learn has changed dramatically. We have new sources of information and new ways to exchange and to interact with information. But our schools and the way we teach have remained largely the same for years, even centuries. What happens to traditional educational institutions when learning also takes place on a vast range of Internet sites, from Pokemon Web pages to Wikipedia? This report investigates how traditional learning institutions can become as innovative, flexible, robust, and collaborative as the best social networking sites.

Kids Living and Learning with New Media

Conventional wisdom about young people’s use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today’s teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networking sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youths’ social and recreational use of digital media.

A Cultural History of Children's Software

Today, computers are part of kids’ everyday lives, used both for play and for learning. We envy children’s natural affinity for computers, the ease with which they click in and out of digital worlds. Thirty years ago, however, the computer belonged almost exclusively to business, the military, and academia. In Engineering Play, Mizuko Ito describes the transformation of the computer from a tool associated with adults and work to one linked to children, learning, and play.

As young people today grow up in a world saturated with digital media, how does it affect their sense of self and others? As they define and redefine their identities through engagements with technology, what are the implications for their experiences as learners, citizens, consumers, and family and community members? This volume addresses the consequences of digital media use for young people’s individual and social identities.

Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning
Edited by Katie Salen

In the many studies of games and young people's use of them, little has been written about an overall "ecology" of gaming, game design and play—mapping the ways that all the various elements, from coding to social practices to aesthetics, coexist in the game world. This volume looks at games as systems in which young users participate, as gamers, producers, and learners.

Edited by Tara McPherson

Young people's use of digital media may result in various innovations and unexpected outcomes, from the use of videogame technologies to create films to the effect of home digital media on family life. This volume examines the core issues that arise when digital media use results in unintended learning experiences and unanticipated social encounters.

Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth

Young people today have grown up living substantial portions of their lives online, seeking entertainment, social relationships, and a place to express themselves. It is clear that participation in online communities is important for many young people, but less clear how this translates into civic or political engagement. This volume examines the relationship of online action and real-world politics.

Youth and Digital Media
Edited by Anna Everett

It may have been true once that (as the famous cartoon of the 1990s put it) "Nobody knows you're a dog on the Internet," and that (as an MCI commercial of that era declared) on the Internet there is no race, gender, or infirmity, but today, with the development of web cams, digital photography, cell phone cameras, streaming video, and social networking sites, this notion seems quaintly idealistic. This volume takes up issues of race and ethnicity in the new digital media landscape.

Today we have access to an almost inconceivably vast amount of information, from sources that are increasingly portable, accessible, and interactive. The Internet and the explosion of digital media content have made more information available from more sources to more people than at any other time in human history. This brings an infinite number of opportunities for learning, social connection, and entertainment. But at the same time, the origin of information, its quality, and its veracity are often difficult to assess.

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