The central goal for Project New Media Literacies (Project NML) is identifying and creating educational practices that will prepare teachers and students to become full and active participants in the new digital culture. The Common Core Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, but not how teachers should teach. Following Horst and colleagues, NML’s program PLAY! uses the concept of ecology to describe the “characteristics of an overall technical, social, cultural, and place–based system, in which the components are not decomposable or separable”. Student daily practices are situated within their learning ecologies and hence are dynamically interrelated to their existing conditions, infrastructures of place, and technologies. Although the classroom and interaction among teachers and learners is at the center of this ecology, adults’ and youths’ worlds are co-constituted, suggesting that school, after-school, home, and online places are all organic parts of the ecosystem.
Through integration of the new media literacies into the classroom, both teachers and students alike will gain the ability to make and reflect upon media and in the process, acquire important skills in teamwork, leadership, problem solving, collaboration, brainstorming, communications, and creating projects. Designing and implementing a participatory learning environment fosters:
- Heightened motivation and new forms of engagement through meaningful play and experimentation
- Learning that feels relevant to students’ identities and interests
- Opportunities for creating and solving problems using a variety media, tools and practices
- Co-configured expertise where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of teaching and learning
- An integrated learning system where connections between home, school, community and world are enabled and encouraged