A year in the life of a ninth-grade English class shows how participatory culture and mobile devices can transform learning in schools.
Schools and school districts have one approach to innovation: buy more technology. In Good Reception, Antero Garcia describes what happens when educators build on the ways students already use technology outside of school to help them learn in the classroom. As a teacher in a public high school in South Central Los Angeles, Garcia watched his students' nearly universal adoption of mobile devices. Whether recent immigrants from Central America or teens who had spent their entire lives in Los Angeles, the majority of his students relied on mobile devices to connect with family and friends and to keep up with complex social networks. Garcia determined to discover how these devices and student predilection for gameplay, combined with an evolving “culture of participation,” could be used in the classroom.
Garcia charts a year in the life of his ninth-grade English class, first surveying mobile media use on campus and then documenting a year-long experiment in creating a “wireless critical pedagogy” by incorporating mobile media and games in classroom work. He describes the design and implementation of “Ask Anansi,” an alternate reality game that allows students to conduct inquiry-based research around questions that interest them (including “Why is the food at South Central High School so bad?”). Garcia cautions that the transformative effect on education depends not on the glorification of devices but on teacher support and a trusting teacher-student relationship.