UC Berkeley School of Information

Combating the Participation Gap: Why New Media Participation Matters (Henry Jenkins)

Feb. 6, 2008

Audio recording (MP3) According to recent studies by the Pew Center on the Internet And American Life, more than half of American teens online have produced media content and about a third have circulated media that they have produced beyond their immediate friends and family. These statistics reflect the growing importance of participatory culture in the everyday lives of American young people. Work across a range of disciplines suggest that these emerging forms of participatory culture are important sites for informal learning and may be the crucible out of which new conceptions of civic engagement are emerging. Drawing on insights from a recent white paper produced for the MacArthur Foundation, this talk will discuss the need to develop new forms of media literacy pedagogy which reflects this context of a participatory culture, materials which both respond to the ethical challenges confronted by those teens who are already producing and circulating their own media as well as the challenges confronting those youth who are excluded from participation in these on-line worlds as a consequence of lack of access to technologies, skills, competencies, and cultural experiences taken for granted by their contemporaries. These issues can not be understood through a simple opposition between digital natives and digital immigrants, but rather require us to dig deeper into the diverse range of experiences young people have online and the range of different interactions between adults and teens in these new participatory culture. In the course of the presentation, I will be sharing a range of curricular materials and activities being developed by MIT's Project nml to support the teaching of these new social skills and cultural competencies.

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