Social network sites are an example of the ways in which youth engage in what Henry Jenkins calls participatory culture. In his white paper, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century”, Jenkins (2009) defines participatory culture as “a culture with low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices” (p. 3). He goes on to identify specific skills that will be necessary to engage effectively in this participatory culture, namely:
· Distributed Cognition
· Collective Intelligence
· Transmedia Navigation
· Negotiation (p. 4)
Now I know this sounds a little jargony and the one thing I want to be careful to avoid (at least in my blog posts) as I pursue graduate work is jargon. So let me break it down for you and explain what I took away from this paper.
David Warlick said that “No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the industrial age.” In other words, our current model of education is very good at preparing students to memorize and repeat instructions and tasks. Unfortunately, the skills workers need today and will need in the future are problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and flexibility.
I was listening to CBC today on my drive back to the London from a workshop in Kintore and there was a story on Richard Florida’s article in the Toronto Star. I admit, I probably only started to pay attention because it was -23 when I left the house this morning and Florida sounds very appealing–but I’m glad I did pay attention. In the article, Florida and Roger Martin discuss the results of the study they completed on the changing structure of Ontario’ economy.
They write: “We are moving to an economy that values people’s creativity, especially a combination of analytical skills – reasoning in uncertain environments to make good decisions – and social intelligence skills – capabilities to understand other people and to work in team settings. Routine-oriented occupations that draw primarily on physical skills or abilities to follow a set formula can be done more cheaply in emerging economies.”
While there are some who still believe (or want to believe) that Canada’s manufacturing industry will always remain strong, I think at the very least we need to acknowledge the new skill-set that our students will need to be successful in our changing economy.