MANY CIRCLES OF LIFE: "For too many young people...formal education is disconnected to the other meaningful social contexts in their everyday life... " So posits a new report from the Connected Learning Research Network, which calls upon educator, parents, and policymakers to re-examine how new media can bring together different spheres of learning opportunities for today's youth. The 99-page report, supported by the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative, identifies socioeconomic trends that may exacerbate inequalities in education, and offers recommendations on how to incorporate both physical and online learning opportunities to build a "connected learning" framework that can engage youths in more meaningful ways.
Interesting case studies and design principles litter the pages, touching upon organizations like the Harry Potter Alliance (p. 49) and terminologies for 21st-century competencies (p. 54) and "Connected Learning" (p. 81). And we particularly like this observation that best sums up the purpose of the report:
"We must give up on the beguiling idea that technological changes either cause or resolve social problems. Redesigning or regulating particular media cannot on its own revitalize education or youth participation or resolve the difficulties of modern family life. Instead, it is important to recognize that the media are themselves a product of society, and thus are shaped by fundamental processes of social change. The same technologies can be taken up for progressive or more traditional education goals."