Perceptions of Marginalized Youth on Learning through Technologies

Perceptions of Marginalized Youth on Learning through Technologies

Jean Johnson (Inclusion Trust, UK), Jonny Dyer (Inclusion Trust, UK) and Ben Lockyer (Inclusion Trust, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-177-1.ch009
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This chapter examines students’ views of learning with technologies through four related case studies that utilized online learning with marginalized young people. The studies were carried out in the UK, Austria, Ireland, Sweden and the USA with young people aged 14-21 who had dropped out of formal education. Ethnographic research was used but quantitative data was also gathered to contextualize the qualitative approach. The views and opinions of these young people were used to aid the development of online learning platforms and their content for use both with static computers and mobile devices. The results suggested that the young people embrace new technologies in such a way that they evidence deep thinking and deep learning. However, use of technologies in this way is not possible on a large scale within the existing school system. Further research should examine how the school system can better embrace the way that young people use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) tools into their learning.
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It could be argued that the concept of “Learner Voice” is already prevalent in schools (Hargreaves, 2004) with students taking part in Governors’ meetings, teacher recruitment and controversially, observing teachers and giving them feedback about lessons, potentially influencing how technology is used. What is not clear from research is where the line is drawn between student voice being genuinely influential or tokenism. Nevertheless, this level of participation by learners in school organisations excludes by definition the views of those who are disengaged and do not attend. Although “disengagement from education by young people is of both political and economic concern as low educational attainment and absence from school or formal education is associated with unemployment, increased crime and poverty” (Johnson, Dyer & Lockyer, 2010a, p.1), the voice of marginalized youth is rarely heard in this context. Not only are they potentially a valuable asset to the economy, yet to be exploited, but also on the brink of becoming influential voters in the electoral system. Education continues to be at the heart of the political agenda, but the group most at risk of dropping out of formal education have little say in Government Policy.

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