Learning, Identity, and Agency in Youth Participation

| July 26, 2010
Goldman, S., Booker, A., & McDermott, M. (2007). Mixing the Digital, Social, and Cultural: Learning, Identity, and Agency in Youth Participation. Youth, Identity and Digital Media, 185-206.
Article Review
How can digital media facilitate young people participation in social and civic activities? In this book chapter, Goldman, Booker and McDermott present two interesting cases of young people using different types of digital media with social and cultural technologies to promote democratic practices. In the first case, a group of urban public school youth from low-income communities learned to produce digital videos to express their perspectives on two selected social issues, adultism and dropping out/pushed out. This media production project provided them opportunities not only to learn media skills, but also to explore, research, and reflect on social issues that impacted their daily lives. The second case documented a group of representatives of the Student Advisory Board (SAB) of a large urban school district. These  students used various digital media such as instant messenger, mobile phone, email, and the like  to work collectively on bylaws and resolutions such as those related to budget cuts and school closures. In this process, students learned to change and adapt everyday digital media practice that is more casual and playful to civic practice that helps them to better coordinate and collaborate on civic projects. This chapter illustrates the potential of digital media in promoting civic practice, and it could be more helpful to enhance academic exchanges on this topic if authors can further provide details about methodology in documenting these great projects.

Edlab Connection
Various projects such as Let Freedom Swing and Understand Fiscal Responsibility at Edlab are connected about preparing future democratic citizens with and through digital media. This chapter points out two interesting directions: engaging youth in media production, and preparing young people to adopt digital media in civic projects. Media production approach requires more resources in program preparation. In contrast, digital media adoption in civic projects would be more accessible for a broader youth audience. However, a well-structured guideline will be needed in such approach. This Foursquare Badge Experiment proposed by Jeannie is a great example in this later category, and ideas along this line deserve our further exploration.