Learning at the Edge: Transforming After-School Spaces into Learning Networks

Behind the Research

10.30.09 | As schools still struggle to integrate web 2.0 technologies, kids are going online, texting and playing games on their own time.

How can these new media tools be used for learning outside of school?

As scientist and educator John Seely Brown says: “To transform the core, start at the edge.” 

The edge, in this case, are places kids go between school and home: hang-out spaces, after-school programs, libraries, museums. Like schools, some of these institutions also need help adapting to new media. With its new Edge Project, Global Kids is introducing some of these spaces to new learning tools. The New York City-based after-school program will provide institutions with practical models and training sessions on using virtual worlds, games and social media for learning.

Global Kids intends to pilot eight short-term demonstration projects in juvenile justice systems, the New York Public Library, MOUSE Squad youth programs, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Field Museum, among other places.

Global Kids also hopes to encourage educators to use new media to challenge their organizations’ culture and practice, says program director Barry Joseph.

“We are interested in the liminal space created when an institution or an educator decides to challenge their program design or pedagogy through a specific application of digital media,” Joseph explained in an interview.

“Whether the institution has a long history with digital media-based programs, or they consider themselves luddites, in both cases we’ll be working with them on the edge of their comfort zone - whether as an institution challenging its assumptions about what learning should look like, or as an individual pushing up against the role they have with learners.”

See Joseph’s recent blog post at Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age for an interesting look at various approaches Global Kids has undertaken to help kids expand their learning networks.

Photo by: Holy Meatballs



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