It Depends on Where You Look: Understanding the Role of Digital Media in Learning Civic Learning and Engagement
The emergence of new media ecologies associated with networked digital technology has created new contexts, tools and demands for civic learning. For example, technological changes have provided some youth with greater access to communities of practice where adults and peers work together towards a common goal (as described in Ito et al, 2008; and Jenkins et al, 2009), and in the process, may learn civic skills (Jenkins et al, 2009). Furthermore, scholars have called attention to the ways in which the increasing ubiquity of digital media as a conduit for public life might present new challenges and require new skills for civic and political participation (Jenkins et al, 2009; Rheingold, 2009). The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) is examining how the emergence of digital media may be changing the face of youth civic and political engagement, and in turn, the implications for supporting youth civic learning.
This session asks the question, “What is the role of digital media in civic learning?” We draw on three empirical studies of the YPP network, which examine this question in very different ways and provide different insights. The first study draws on case studies of exemplary youth organizations and networks where new media tools and practices are woven throughout the fabric of the community. This study illustrates, through examination of online and offline youth civic practices, the role that digital media can play in both supporting and transforming the learning of civic skills in a highly digitally networked context. The second study draws on interviews with civically and politically engaged youth about their civic identities. This study explores the role of digital media in civic learning when youth are involved in more “traditional” civic or political contexts. The final study draws on a national survey of youth and examines their values and behaviors related to civic skills that are increasingly important as civic and political life is digitally mediated. This study draws attention to the ways in which youth are adapting to, and may need additional support for, engagement in civic and political life where the norms of information production and consumption and communication may be changing.
This interactive workshop focuses on digital citizenship by focusing on the ethical dimensions of young people’s participation in new media environments, such as blogs, multiplayer games, and social networks like Facebook. Katie Davis and Erhardt Graeff, both researchers on the GoodPlay Project at Harvard’s Project Zero, will share relevant research findings; provide an overview of a digital ethics casebook developed for use in schools and other learning environments; and engage participants in a curricular activity aimed at cultivating ethical thinking among youth.
Research Assistant on a MacArthur Foundation-funded project studying the trajectories of civically-engaged youth and their use of new digital media, December 2009 – March 2012.
Good Participation at ypp.dmlcentral.net
Details of Work
- Co-developed research framework
- Developed and co-led an interactive presentation to solicit feedback on our research framework at the Civic Learning, Civic Practices Conference on July 3, 2010
- Co-developed pre-interview survey and interview protocol
- Implemented the survey on SurveyMonkey
- Generated initial list of subject recruitment sites around Boston
- Coordinated recruitment process, establishing contacts at local organizations, distributing online pre-interview surveys, and scheduling interviews with youth
- Presented research progress report at YPP network meeting in New York City on April 21, 2011
- Co-developed coding scheme for interview transcripts
- Participated in cross-network coding meeting in Los Angeles on June 15-16, 2011
- Helped prepare presentation proposal for 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference
Related Presentations and Publications
- Graeff, E & James, C. 2012. Community Service, Social Entrepreneurship, and Digital Media: Stories from Youth’s Civic Lives. Presentation at the Digital Media and Learning Conference, San Francisco, CA, Mar 1-3.
- Graeff, E & James, C. 2010. Solving the Problem of Studying New Forms of Participation On- and Offline. Presented at the Civic Studies, Civic Practices Conference, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University, Medford, MA, Jul 3.
Research Assistant on a MacArthur Foundation-funded project studying the ethical character of tween’s activities in the new digital media, December 2009 – March 2012.
The GoodPlay Project at Project Zero
Details of Work
- Managed research study approval with local public school district administration
- Administered pre-interview surveys to tweens in three different public school districts, two online and one on paper
- Developed and implemented SurveyMonkey filter for selecting survey participants for interviews based on reported internet and cell phone use, balanced sample for gender and race/ethnicity
- Coordinated interviews with 43 tweens at their schools, two per participant
- Personally conducted interviews with 16 tweens, or 32 total interviews
- Coded half the interviews for instances relevant to the online ethical faultlines of “participation”, “credibility”, and “authorship/ownership”
- Wrote four coding memos dealing with aspects of cyberbullying
- Developed original research paper on cyberbullying, using ethical dilemmas posed in the interviews
Related Publications and Presentations
- Graeff, E. 2014. ‘Tweens, Cyberbullying, and Moral Reasoning: Separating the Upstanders from the Bystanders.’ In Robinson, L, Cotten, SR, & Schulz, J, eds., Doing and Being Digital: Mediated Childhoods, Volume 8: Emerald Studies in Media and Communication Communication and Information Technologies Annual. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
- Graeff, E. 2011. Tween’s Conceptions of Privacy Online: Implications for Educators, based on research by Davis, K & James, C. Presented at Facing History and Ourselves, Brookline, MA, Aug 1.
- Davis, K & Graeff, E. 2011. Cultivating Ethical Thinking among Digital Youth: Challenges and Opportunities. Workshop presented at the CCSR Spring Institute: Preparing Engaged Citizens, Boston University, Boston, MA, Apr 28.