21 October 2006

MacArthur launches $50 million digital media and learning initiative

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The MacArthur Foundation launched its five-year, $50 million digital media and learning initiative in 2006 to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialise and participate in civic life. Answers are critical to developing educational and other social institutions that can meet the needs of this and future generations.

The Digital Learning Initiative is exploring the hypothesis that digital media tools now enable new forms of knowledge production, social networking, communication and play. Through the use of such tools, young people are engaged in an exploration of language, games, social interaction and self-directed education that can be used to support learning. They are different as a result of this use of digital media, and these differences are reflected in their sense of self, in how they express their independence and creativity, and in their ability to learn, exercise judgment and think systemically.

The Digital Learning Initiative acknowledges the emerging vernacular of young people who are “growing up digital” and embraces the writing, thinking, and design tools of the digital age. It is seeking to answer questions such as: Are young people fundamentally different because of their exposure to technology? What environments and experiences capture their interest and contribute to their learning? What are the implications for education? It includes ethnography, the development of media literacy, and the connection between games and learning.

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