Distinguished Lecture

Combating the Participation Gap: Why New Media Literacy Matters

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Henry Jenkins

Audio recording (MP3)

According to recent studies by the Pew Center on the Internet And American Life, more than half of American teens online have produced media content and about a third have circulated media that they have produced beyond their immediate friends and family. These statistics reflect the growing importance of participatory culture in the everyday lives of American young people. Work across a range of disciplines suggest that these emerging forms of participatory culture are important sites for informal learning and may be the crucible out of which new conceptions of civic engagement are emerging. Drawing on insights from a recent white paper produced for the MacArthur Foundation, this talk will discuss the need to develop new forms of media literacy pedagogy which reflects this context of a participatory culture, materials which both respond to the ethical challenges confronted by those teens who are already producing and circulating their own media as well as the challenges confronting those youth who are excluded from participation in these on-line worlds as a consequence of lack of access to technologies, skills, competencies, and cultural experiences taken for granted by their contemporaries. These issues can not be understood through a simple opposition between digital natives and digital immigrants, but rather require us to dig deeper into the diverse range of experiences young people have online and the range of different interactions between adults and teens in these new participatory culture. In the course of the presentation, I will be sharing a range of curricular materials and activities being developed by MIT's Project nml to support the teaching of these new social skills and cultural competencies.

Henry Jenkins is the Co-Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Flores Professor of Humanities. He is also the author and/or editor of twelve books on various aspects of media and popular culture, including Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture, The Wow Climax: Tracing the Emotional Impact of Popular Culture, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture, and From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. Jenkins writes regularly about media and cultural change at his blog, henryjenkins.org. He is one of the principal investigators for The Education Arcade, a consortium of educators and business leaders working to promote the educational use of computer and video games and of the Knight Center for Future Civic Media, a joint effort with the MIT Media Lab to use new media to enhance how people live in local communities. He is one of the principle investigators for GAMBIT, a lab focused on promoting experimentation through game design, and of Project nml, a MacArthur Foundation funded project that develops curricular materials focused on promoting the social skills and cultural competencies needed to become a full participant in the new media era. Jenkins has a MA in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa and a PhD in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Last updated:

August 23, 2016