City Youth and the Pedagogy of Participatory Media

Garcia, Antero; Morrell, Ernest
Learning, Media and Technology

Recently, two different images of learning in schools today flooded through our various social networks. Logging on to Facebook, one high-school teacher bemoaned the fact that her students in a Los Angeles classroom were using their mobile devices to take pictures of the notes on the board: the teacher put in hard work preparing and sharing content and students, with a few button presses, captured hours of work effortlessly. Commenters shared that they banned mobile devices for similar reasons and the word ‘lazy’ was invoked by more than one participant in the socially networked discussion. Also shared on Facebook and other social networks like the educational community that relies on the Twitter hashtag #educhat, an article from the online site Mashable proclaimed, ‘Low Income Students’ Test Scores Leap 30% with Smartphone Use’ (Freeman 2012). Citing academic uses of mobile technology, the article concluded with a quote from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that ‘digital literacy’ is necessary for students and parents so they can use ‘the tools and know-how to use technology for education and job skills training’. In both of these stories, the fact that these contexts for learning and technology use took place in historically marginalized spaces was prominent. As educators and educational researchers continue to grapple with how uses of new communications technologies can increase educational equity, the challenges of adjusting pedagogy to meet these needs are often being disregarded. Throughout this issue, we seek to explore how the educational challenges that city youth face around the globe can be confronted with what we call a pedagogy of participatory media.