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Larry Gonzales, Our Texas State Representative, District 52 » Digital Media and Learning

Digital Media and Learning

(The following are my notes from a panel discussion I attended at the National Conference of State Legislatures. These notes do not reflect my opinion on the subject matter, but rather serve to let you read what the dialogue was and with whom.)



K-12 budget and spending (get PowerPoint)

Common core state standards (CCSS)

Greatest challenges

Next generation assessments

  • Engaging
  • Empowered teachers
  • Outside of school hours

Teacher effectiveness

21st century educators

  • Empower teachers with technology
  • Mentors and facilitators

Online courses required for graduation

Requiring digital and multi-media classes for teacher certification

Digital literacy skills

  • Part of every child’s education
  • Harness potential of social media and online learning

Expanded learning

  • Linked across home, school, peer culture
  • Community leaders/citizens as providers to support student engagement and access to more learning outside of the school hours



Dr. Nicole Pinkard, Founder, Digital Youth Network

Definition of “literacy” is changing; it is more than reading and writing, it now includes digital, cinematic, graphics, social media, simulations, games, etc.

Definition of how we communicate is changing

A Mercy (video)

Cross age collaboration

  • Titles reveals what the kids want to be
  • Jalen’s story

How do we address the changing definition of literacy?

Does the school have to do everything? The school as part of an ecology;

School, home, after school spaces are often disconnected; but they can be connected for a more complete learning environment

What are “courts” for 21st century? (speaker was using a basketball analogy)

  • Online social learning networks within a school (connect to teachers, mentors, peers, classmates across the country; their work is visible, you can see their accomplishments; accessible 24/7)
  • Online social network for a community (non-profits and organizations can connect to learn what each other is doing; how does it all fit together)

Hybrid learning spaces

  • Social networks
  • Skilled mentors
  • Artifact driven curriculum (actual work product)
  • Putting all their skills together learned outside the actual classroom into the classroom

Calvin’s Trajectory (his going from “gamer” to wanting to be an engineer)

Where do kids learn? Chicago kids said after school efforts, silicon valley kids said their parents

“YOUMedia Chicago” – Kids coming together from all over a segregated Chicago (much more on this later)



Q: Accountability? Funding?

A: Working with the “common core”; McArthur funding; Cost of mentor is about the same cost of “specials” teacher (art, music, PE); Parents do incur some costs to participate in the program, like a laptop fee; Be very clear of what outcomes are expected, and determine if they are met; Change standards of what is expected


Q: how to build in support of professional development? Older teachers do not know technology?

A: traditional teachers not teaching this, but need to be able to integrate it into their classrooms and use it, but not have to teach it; younger teachers are positioned well to teach the digital literacy’s; kids then bring projects into the classroom and teachers begin to feel more comfortable with it;


Q: are youth of digital media changing the way brains are wired? How much of media can kids handle and concentrate on in any extended period of time?

A: speaker does not do brain research; just have to embrace that times are changing; you’re required to take in information differently; how we learned is different; what is acceptable and not acceptable? Control the devices in front of kids and the time spent; parents define boundaries;


Q: how do policy makers deal with this topic? Some  feel all this technology stuff is “fun time” and we need to get back to chalkboards and lectures.

A: just now getting longitudinal studies back; engage and talk to youth and their learning process; media mainly focuses on social part of technology and not learning part; we need to focus on the learning, not the technology; focus on how technology links to what kids use and what they learn form that; “project based learning;” it will tie back into learning;


Q: how do you motivate the kids to use this technology?

A: kids want to belong; make a space where they understand the rules of the game and what skills sets they need to play in this space; kids that were just hanging out quickly learn what they need to do to be able to stay there;



An-Me Chung, MacArthur Foundation

How kids learn

Peer culture

  • Academic
  • Interests

Connected learning ties “red schoolhouse” to “21st century”

What are kids doing with all their free time online?

  • Same as offline ( hanging out, gossiping, dating, social interaction, etc)
  • Pursuing their interests; chess sites, pottery sites; gamer sites; etc. kids as CREATORS and producers of information now, nit just users;

How to take interests and peer culture into learning

Mentors are the key ingredient; you can have all the equipment in the world, but without mentors it’s just machines;

YOUmedia has inspired:

  • New libraries
  • Cooperation with other libraries

Connected Learning principles:

  • Shared purpose – kids collaborating
  • Peer to peer communication – kids working together
  • Performance and feedback – instant feedback and evaluation of performance and work product
  • Low barrier to participation – any kid can have access
  • Opportunities to lurk and linger – kids can walk around and watch, see different skills being practiced, decide what they want to do without the fear of failing the first time out
  • Mentors create bridges – gotta have the mentors!


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