Digital Childhoods

Increasing numbers of children and young people from around the world are engaging in speedy communication which takes place through interactive, fast and mobile media that enable the distributed production and peer-to-peer circulation of advanced audio-visual designs and bits of information across the most different geographical areas – the prediction being that by 2025 every child and young person in the planet will have daily access to the Internet at a speed of 1 MB per second. In this frame, even before the recent school closures during the Covid-19 outbreak, schooling, teaching and learning have fluidly transcended online and offline spaces. New media and digital technologies have enabled connections between different life spheres, diverse cultural and socio-economic milieus, and different times and places that would have been impossible a few years ago.

My recent research with colleagues from around the world has explored the possibilities entailed in this new condition for teachers and pupils in formal educational settings as well as in spaces outside the formal education system:

Featured publication: Global Youth in Digital Trajectories

Kontopodis, M.; Varvantakis, C. & Wulf, C. (Eds.) (2019). Global Youth in Digital TrajectoriesLondon: Routledge: INTRO available here // BOOK REVIEW by Dr Despina Chronaki (Children’s Geographies) available here.

Latest articles and book chapters:

Kontopodis, M. & Kumpulainen, K. (2020). Researching Young Children’s Engagement and Learning in Makerspaces: Insights from Post-Vygotskian and Post-Human Perspectives. In: A. Blum-Ross; K. Kumpulainen, J. Marsh (Eds). Enhancing Digital Literacy and Creativity: Makerspaces in the Early Years (pp. 11-23). London: Routledge. OPEN ACCESS HERE

Da Cunha Junior F.R., Kontopodis M. & van Oers B. (2020). Online Groups in Educational Settings: An Opportunity for Argumentation. Brazilian Journal of Socio-Historical-Cultural Theory and Activity Research, 2(1), 1-22. Golden Open Access: http://www.revistashc.org/index.php/shc/article/view/49.

Da Cunha Júnior, F.R., van Kruistum C., Kontopodis, M. & van Oers B. (2019). Students on Facebook: From Observers to Collaborative Agents. Mind, Culture & Activity, 26(4), 336-352. Golden open access: HERE.

Kontopodis, M. (2019). The Fluid Classroom: Book Narratives, YouTube Videos & Other Metaphorical Devices. Paragrana, 28(2), 101-105. OPEN ACCESS HERE

Ferrin, N. & Kontopodis, M. (2019). Playing sports with Nintendo Wii in Berlin: Technography, interactivity and imagination. In M. Kontopodis, C. Varvantakis, & C. Wulf (Eds.), Global youth in digital trajectories (pp. 39-52). London: Routledge.

Da Cunha Júnior, F.R., van Oers B. & Kontopodis M. (2016). Collaborating on Facebook: Teachers Exchanging Experiences Through Social Networking Sites. Cultural-historical psychology, 12(3), 290-309, http://dx.doi.org/10.17759/chp.2016120318  – Open Access HERE // Russian version HERE.

Project: HyperConnecting Youth

Communication is nowadays taking place through interactive, fast and mobile media that enable the automatic translation of speech as well as the distributed production and peer-to-peer circulation of advanced audio-visual designs across very different geographical areas. These developments concern today’s young people more than anybody else: Terms such as “digital youth” or the “app generation” have been used in this context, to denote today’s young people (Subrahmanyam & Šmahel, 2011; Gardner & Davis, 2013). At the same time, the capital and money markets are also becoming more hyperconnected. While this development may entail positive potential with regard to cosmopolitan values, it also implies that economic crises easily spread from one place to the other.

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The global and interconnected world, we are living in, calls for a high emphasis on global citizenship, intercultural sensitivity and tolerance. Our project aims at using the digital technologies that are available in local schools and communities around the world as to (a) hyper-connect them with each other and (b) enable children and young people from the whole world to virtually communicate for longer periods of time with each other. This is a follow-up to a previous project “Global Perspectives on Learning and Development with Digital Video-Editing Media”: http://digitmed.wordpress.com/

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Virtual person-to-person communication among youth from various countries refers to communication over months or years among youth who get to “know” each other through all possible internet-based technologies such as: video hosting platforms, social networking sites, internet forums, online translation software, video-conferencing technologies, blogs and micro-blogs as well as virtual social worlds without any possibility for meeting offline.

With certain guidance by researchers, teachers and community-workers virtual person-to-person communication can lead to: 

Knowledge about other places and cultures from a local’s standpoint,

Tolerance towards different lifestyles and views,

Concern for the other’s everyday life difficulties as well as for problems that might be common and shared.

Concrete steps

A. Children & young persons use their mobile phones and/or cameras to make digital pictures and videos about their neighbourhoods, their school or some crucial issue they might be confronted with. Teachers & researchers can help the students to learn how to make pictures & films by following this guide: UsingFilmGuideShortVersion


B. Selected pictures & videos from (A) are uploaded on SchoolTube and YouTube and embedded here as well: http://digitmed.wordpress.com/videos/.


The producers add titles, explanations and commentaries on these platforms. This work can be developed further by producing digital stories cf. the Digital story telling guide.

C. Children and young people from the various hyperconnected schools watch the pictures made by the other groups and discuss these in the classroom. They respond in written as well as by posting other pictures or videos as a response. For the written communication GoogleTranslate can be used. At this stage reflection takes place on all produced and exchanged materials. Children and young people from various geographic areas can think of producing a film jointly online as a next step. Meta-reflection is also possible here, cf. https://mkontopodis.wordpress.com/metareflection/

Note: It is essential at this stage that the teachers and the involved researchers explain to children and young people that intercultural communication does not take place on neutral grounds but within a global history of conquests, slave trades, migration, exploitation of natural resources and genocides (Coulby, 2011). Within this frame, global citizenship education offers the ground for educational programs that encourage global thinking, peace orientation and respect for human rights and diversity (Zajda, 2010).


D. Social networking sides that are safe and eligible for children and young people can be used as well as to enable person-to-person virtual communication for longer periods of time (in parallel to the above-mentioned group activities). Depending on the age of the reference group we suggest: giantHello; kazaana or yoursphere

Links: 

YouTube Channel “Hyperconnecting Schools”: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCow1jHEY3TgMb4QdrD1h_RA

Facebook Group “Hyperconnecting Schools”:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hyper-Connecting-Schools/1433310736937280?fref=ts

For more ideas & theoretical input visit:

http://www.hybridpedagogy.com

https://digitmed.wordpress.com/readings/