The Class

Principal Investigators:

Associated Researchers and Staff:

This research project examined the emerging mix of on- and offline experiences in teenagers’ daily learning lives. We focused on the fluctuating web of peer-to-peer networks that may cut across institutional boundaries, adult values and established practices of learning and leisure. Key research questions included:

  • How do social relationships shape forms of learning in and out of school? And how do forms of learning shape social relationships?
  • How do young people use digital technologies within their daily activities within and beyond the classroom, as part of their ‘learning lives’, and under what conditions is this constructive, enabling or impeding?
  • How is youthful engagement with digital technologies shaped by the formal or informal practices, opportunities or risks, empowerment or constraints of the institutions and spaces in which learning occurs?
  • Insofar as these technological mediations enable or complement learning, can this be harnessed constructively to develop future recommendations?

Working with an ordinary London school, we followed the networks within and beyond a single class of 13-14-year-olds at home, school and elsewhere over the course of an academic year – observing social interactions in and between lessons; conducting interviews with children, parents, teachers and relevant others; and mapped out-of-school engagements with digital networking technologies to reveal both patterns of use and the quality and meaning of such engagements as they shape the learning opportunities of young people.

We are presently completing a book about The Class:

Livingstone, S., and Sefton-Green, J. (forthcoming, 2015). The Class: Connections and disconnections in the digital age. New York: NYU Press.

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Explaining the Research of Connected Learning

The idea of “connected learning” encompasses a way of theorising and describing the kinds of learning that take place against the grain, as it were, in places where we might not usually expect to find it, in communities where traditionally it is not always recognised, and amongst individuals who frequently appear to be on parallel tracks to those customarily valued by the mainstream. It describes communities of practice that have sprung up in virtual and informal spaces inhabited by young people and aro

Changing the World with Media Literacy: the UNESCO Forum and Declaration

Researchers, educators and a broad range of stakeholders met in Paris at the first UNESCO Media and Information Literacy (MIL) forum on this week (May 27-28) to agree on and adopt a declaration with ambitious and far reaching aims – to create a ‘future proof’ strategy for MIL, towards a more civically responsible networked media landscape in twenty years’ time. By Sonia Livingstone and Julian McDougall Read more

Media Literacy in 2014: Forthcoming Research and Call to Action

In December, Sonia Livingstone and Monica Bulger pooled the insights of 25 media literacy experts from academia, policy, and regulatory institutions to clarify the current state of play and identify future directions for media literacy research and policy in Europe. Their report, “Media literacy research and policy in Europe”, finds a genuine political consensus in favour of promoting media literacy among the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and other national and international organisat

Media and Information Education in the UK: Recommendations to the European Union

Responding to a call from the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) programme and the French National Research Agency,  Sonia Livingstone and Julian Sefton-Green from LSE, and I have produced an audit of media and information education in the UK. Although the report will by published along with those from other countries in spring next year, we recently presented our finding to EU Member States representatives and so I can give you a preview of our findings.[1] Read more

What Counts As Learning?

I have recently contributed to a new issue of the Bank Street occasional papers. The issue is called “The Other 17 Hours: Valuing Out of School Time” and explores recent attention to the meaning and nature of learning during the time not spent at school. My essay describes some of the research I am involved with as part of the Connected Learning Research Network and examines how learning is constructed and enacted in six different kinds of families in London. By showing that who defines learning in d

The Latest on Children’s Media Literacy: New Trend Policymakers & Parents must Watch

Ofcom just published its 2013 Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report. As usual this is a wealth of information on how children are using the internet, their attitudes towards it, and their understanding of how it works and what the risks to them online might be. The data shows a decline in skills associated with online safety and signals several other unfolding trends on children’s media literacy that those interested in protection children online should pay close attention to…

Towards the Value, Purpose, and Sustainability of Out-of-School Learning

On the basis of the truism about life/success/genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration it is strange that so many initiatives in education – particularly those aimed at engaging youth who may be disenchanted with mainstream schooling or excluded from society for socio-economic reasons – pay so much attention to the initial moments of engagement rather than the long-term problem of consolidation and sustaining growth. This is a challenge for the digital media and learning field and the host of al

The Case for European Level Action on Child Safety Online

In advance of publication this week of a major new EU-Funded Research Report on EU Kids Online, Project Director Professor Sonia Livingstone reviews the case for EU action. In the UK there has been considerable activity to promote child safety and empowerment online, with key achievements coordinated by the UK Council of Child Internet Safety, informed by its Evidence Group. These achievements include the pioneering work of the Internet Watch Foundation, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centr

‘Making’ and Education Reform: Learning to Ride the Wave

At this moment in time, on both sides of the Atlantic, digital making and the maker movement is enjoying its time in the sun. A combination of policy concerns, technological developments, learning theories, social opportunities and articulate enthusiasts have come together and, although the maker movement is a bit of a minority sport, it seems to have broken through into the mainstream. In the UK, for example, there is a terrific program of support offering a range of activities from maker-faires to hacking

Media Literacy Update: What’s Changed and Why?

On 23 April Ofcom published its 2013 Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report. The report reveals some – but only some – grounds for optimism in media literacy compared with our recent assessment based on Ofcom surveys from 2005 to 2011. And it raises some pressing questions about how media literacy can be further improved. By Yin-Han Wang and Sonia Livingstone Read more

National Curriculum Needs more Attention to Digital Skills

A consultation is currently underway on England’s National Curriculum and LSE’s Sonia Livingstone has looked at the proposed framework and found it severely lacks appropriate coverage of digital skills. She argues that it also mistakenly continues to treat them solely as technological, disregarding important social aspects of online communication. The consultation framework document for England’s National Curriculum admirable includes among the aims for computing that of of ensuring that all pu

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