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Sunday, February 13 at 10:30 p.m. – Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

(Rochester, NY) Blogging. Texting. Smart Phones. Gaming. Social Networks. YouTube. More than just diversions for America’s kids, these technologies are becoming intrinsic to how they live…and learn. Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, airing Sunday, February 13 at 10:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11), addresses this vital question, taking viewers to the frontlines of what is rapidly becoming an education revolution.

Increasingly present in kids’ formal and informal educational settings, digital media is as common as pencils and notebooks were to their parents. Yet in many American classrooms and homes, these high-tech tools are severely limited or forbidden. Teachers and parents wonder: What are students doing with these technologies?

Digital Media, targeted at parents, teachers and anyone concerned about education in America, explores how exceptional instructors are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to ignite their students’ curiosity and ingenuity, to help them become civically engaged, to allow them to collaborate with peers worldwide and to empower them to direct their own learning.

The documentary also dives into cutting-edge educational and cognitive research to explore how increasingly powerful forms of digital media impact today’s learner. Viewers meet some of the country’s most noted educational experts and thought leaders in the digital education realm. Nichole Pinkard, founder of the Chicago’s Digital Youth Network, connects the dots between digital after school programs and their potential relationship to in-school practices. Henry Jenkins from the Annenberg School for Communication discusses the Internet’s role in sparking student political participation. Katie Salen, Professor at Parsons School of Design and Founder of the Institute of Play, illuminates how gaming helps kids more effectively explore systems and processes. And the University of California Irvine’s Mimi Ito shows parents how new media practices are creating new avenues for kids to interact, collaborate and learn.

Digital Media also crisscrosses the nation to highlight real-life examples of how digital media is exploding in educational environments. In Manhattan, the innovative Quest 2 Learn public school employs game design to help students explore both academic subjects and human interaction. A Wisconsin classroom uses mobile devices and place-based learning to model civic activity and teach history. Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute sponsors The Science Leadership Academy, a public magnet school integrating digital practices into all curricula. Middle school campers race around D.C.’s museums on a digital scavenger hunt implemented by the Smithsonian Institute. And students on Chicago’s South Side gain media literacy, social networking skills and self-efficacy in a decade-old pioneering multimedia program.

From classroom to library to museum to mall, students are claiming digital media as a means of connecting, communicating, creating and learning. Digital Media explores this burgeoning phenomenon, interpreting its importance and offering parents, teachers and everyone who cares about kids a window into 21st-century education.

Credit: Courtesy of Drea Cooper
Caption: Quest2Learn: a Manhattan public school building its curriculum on game design and play as a way to examine the systems that underlie academic subjects and human interactions.


WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.