Improvisation and Strategic Risk Taking in Informal Learning in Digital Media Literacy

Date: 
04/01/2013

A new scholarly publication explores how unexpected moments lead to powerful learning experiences

New research shows that when elementary children are encouraged to view the city as a classroom and use digital media to
explore and represent their neighborhoods, they can be inspired by the unpredictable events of daily life to ask naive, critical and sometimes troubling questions. Intellectual curiosity can be stimulated through activities that bring media analysis and production activities into the context of unpredictable but everyday urban life experiences.

The paper by Renee Hobbs, "Improvisation and strategic risk taking in informal learning with digital media literacy," will be published in an upcoming issue of Learning, Media and Technology, presents a case study of a teacher from the Powerful Voices for Kids program who worked with a group of 9-year olds in Philadelphia. The research documents the experience of a novice teacher who, flummoxed by an accidental encounter between her students and a homeless person, transformed an uncomfortable experience into a teachable moment. Children’s questions about homelessness became the organizing frame for learning experience, as the instructor helped children make sense of the information on the Internet, analyze popular culture films and news media, and conduct interviews with community leaders and advocates for the homeless. The inquiry process resulted in a collaboratively produced multimedia project, created by children. The case study has implications for pre- and in-service teacher education for digital and media literacy. This paper suggests that improvization and strategic risk taking must be conceptualized as a set of socio-emotional and experiential competencies that teachers need when using digital media in an urban community as a tool for learning.

Download the paper here.

In June 2013, you'll be able to access lesson plans, samples of student media work, and video documentation of classroom practice from the Powerful Voices for Kids project.