Mimi Ito studies “digital natives”
October 21st, 2006

The USC Annenberg Center for Communication has announced Mimi Ito’s research program, part of a new initiative by the MacArthur Foundation. I’m proud to partner with Mimi on a related project, the DIY Media seminars at the Annenberg Center:

Mimi Ito, a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Communication was named among a distinguished group of researchers awarded grants through a major new research initiative on ‘Digital Media and Learning’ announced by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on October 19.

The five-year, $50 million initiative aims to support research which helps determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life.

‘Digital media are no longer experimental technologies that live in special laboratories and classrooms; they are part of our everyday lives, inhabiting our living rooms, backpacks, pockets, and cars,’ says Ito on the MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Digital Media and Learning’ blog site for the initiative.

‘We need to understand how digital media has changed how young people play, learn, relate to others, get information, and create knowledge and culture.
Ito’s research, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of California-Berkeley, includes a large-scale ethnography of young people that will provide a broad portrait of the digital generation: technology’s influence on their social networks and peer groups, their family life, how they play, and how they look for information. It will be one of the most significant attempts yet made to explore the influence of digital media on youth.

‘One goal of our project is to unpack what it means to be ‘fluent’ and ‘natural’ with digital technology, and document the technical, social, and cultural environments that support this kind of lifelong learning and literacy,’ says Ito. ‘Configuring an iPod, exchanging IM with friends, or posting a question to a fan bulletin board are all learning moments. Taken as a whole, these informal and everyday moments can have a longer and lasting impact on young people’s learning and development than their exposure to educational technologies in the classroom.’

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