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TIES 2013 Keynote: Mimi Ito on Connected Learning

Mizuko "Mimi" Ito, cultural anthropologist and Research Director of the Digital Media and Learning Hub, was the Tuesday Keynote at the 2013 TIES Conference.

There is a lot of talk today about social media and video games distracting and socially isolating children, but Ito is optimistic.
There is a readiness and openness to cross the barriers between what students are doing with technology inside school and outside school.
Her son's school started a MineCraft elective, through a student petition.
The students not only got their interest sponsored, but learned shared governance and engagement. It also allowed Ito to peer in to the world of students today.

How can young people make the most of today's abundance of information and social connection?

How do WE develop stronger connections between in-school and out of school learning? This isn't new! It's similar to Dewey's vision of merging education and life. If mobilized in particular ways, today's technology can make learning more accessible to young people. 

Research Behind the Connected Learning Model

  • Young People are Readers!
  • Pew study shows that young people read. The volume of media engagement has changed. 7 1/2 hours of media per day! Young people are leading media centered lives, and this is how they connect socialy!
  • Gaming is here to stay! 45% of females are now gamers! 
  • Virtually all teens have Internet access, most often via mobile
  • Text is the "stickiest" way to communicate (100 texts per day for girls, 50 for boys.)
  • Culture clash between institutions developed when information was scarce vs. the new world outside the classroom.
  • Students expect information at their fingertips.
  • Positives and Negative Debate regarding this immersion in New Media
  • William Gibson-"The future is here, it's just unevenly distributed."
Digital Youth Study
  • 3 Year Study
  • There is a persistent generation gap between how generations view online participation!
  • Young people are learning a lot:
  •      Friendship-Driven Learning and Participation
  •      Interest-Driven Learning and Participation (Nerd, Geek, passion      based, intergenerational.)
  • When the study was done, MySpace and LiveJournal were the tools, Tools change, but the learning doesn't.
  • For some kids who are marginalized in school, the online world gives kids the outlet to connect with those with similar passions. 
Ito shared the story of a 17 year old, who loved professional wrestling, and through the support of her teacher, found a peer group to support that interest.


Annual expenditures for enrichment activities that parents pay for kids approaching $9,000! This is where the gap is growing, and it's where kids are able to explore and develop passions. Ito believes that online opportunities can help close this gap.

There is a huge explosion of online learning opportunities. The MOOC, Khan Academy and others are part of this explosion. 

Khan sentiment:
"We were promised jetpacks and we got lectures!" -Justin Reich

At the early stage of innovation cycles, they closely resemble what came before. It's important to remember the context, and how our practices will adapt and change. We overestimate the long term and underestimate the short term. (I think this applies many initiatives that require a change in pedagogy, like 1:1 or BYOD initiatives.)

"What if we lead with the learning objectives rather than lead with the technology?" 

"We are totally agnostic, it doesn't matter the tool!" (Good lead in to the session Tim Berndt and I are doing later!)

What could it look like?

Build connections to a wider world. Not just the resources! Q & A forums are pretty cool! The power of the peer to peer ecology is important. (Stack Overflow, Ravelry.com -It's not just for geeks any more!)

  • Geeks are still ahead on the metrics of the learning sites. Tracking reputation and achievement are much higher on sites like topcoder.com, and companies are paying attention! 
  • Badges for Connected Learning 
Meet Learners where they are. Not just about personalized learning. Meet them where they are at in their passions! Student run clubs are examples of this, but with online communities, the opportunities like eSports and Harry Potter Alliance are taking on a greater 
Build Maker Spaces

"Any one of these experiences for a child can be life changing!" These are experiences they don't forget. What it means to get ahead in life is directly related to their strength and passion!"


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