Young people’s learning in digital worlds: the alienation and re-imagining of education

Gamende jongen

Being educated is a particular cultural narrative central to growing up in our societies whilst only a part of the learning that we do is explicitly valued and conceptualized as such. We tend to think of learning as an activity that takes place within schools. Yet a returning issue with these institutionalized forms of learning is its failure to grab young people’s interest. Simultaneously, these young people spend their time (and money) voluntarily on actively engaging with digital media. Though they might not call these experiences ‘learning’ themselves, these spaces allow young people to take control over their own learning, developing alternative forms of expertise, identity and, hence, learning. In result, ‘new’ narratives of how one can learn and what it means to be an ‘educated person’ could potentially arise in these digital communities.

jongeren op smartphone

How technology impacts young people’s perceptions and practices of becoming is an issue that is foregrounded in this project. Contrary to naïve perspectives in which digital media are seen as something neutral or functional, we consider how digital media might impact our perception of what it means to learn. To research the way in which learning is re-conceptualized in online communities, we will, through ethnographic research, attempt to capture young people’s own experiences as well as reflect on the workings of specific digital media platforms. This research project hence asks the question: how are young people through their engagement with online communities, re-imagining contemporary cultural narratives of learning?

Research Team

Utrecht University (the Netherlands)

Deakin University (Australia)

Researchers Deakin University Australia
Julian Sefton-Green, Eve Mayes and Chris Zomer

Prof. Julian Sefton-Green
Dr. Eve Mayes
Chris Zomer, MA

The UU research project is funded by the Haagsche Genootschap.