The skills students need to cultivate today are changing to reflect our technology rich world. The ability to learn and be able to access information is more important than just receiving information. Traditional methods of teaching such as lecturing no longer prepare students for the 21st century participatory culture. The Media 21 Initiative designed and implemented by Buffy Hamilton with co-teacher Susan Lester focuses on the teacher as a “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage.” Integrating technology through cloud computing, social media tools, and personal learning networks provided students the framework to facilitate their own learning. Hamilton and Lester collaborated to teach students digital citizenship, effective use of information, evaluation methods, writing skills, all taking place in an inquiry based learning environment. Students involved in this project transitioned from learning in isolation to learning as part of a community.
The Media 21 project began in 2009, as Buffy Hamilton the librarian at Creekwood High School in Georgia, wanted to provide students an opportunity to create their own learning. Having studied connectivism, inquiry based learning, and participatory literacy; Hamilton envisioned putting the theories and methods into practice with high school students in a collaborative environment where she could be embedded as a co-teacher. She saw students using digital tools to make their own connections and collaborating with others. Major influences in Hamilton’s formation of this Media 21 project such as Michael Wesch and Harold Rheingold forced her to think about what she wanted to see in her own students. Wesch is the Digital Ethnography professor at Kansas State University who studies and teaches the impact of new media on culture and society. His course is set up as a collaborative learning environment for students with emphasis on facilitation of one’s own learning experience. Rheingold is a social media developer and professor whose concept of Infotention addresses information overload. He states that we need to form strategies both mentally and with online tools to develop a new set of 21st century literacy skills. These scholars along with others prominent in the field of digital and information literacy set the stage for Hamilton’s project development.
Collaboration was the key for this project to come to fruition so Hamilton needed to seek out a teacher in the school to form a partnership. She approached Susan Lester, tenth grade English teacher, with her ideas and a collaborative partnership was formed. In the spring and summer of 2009 they outlined the standards they wanted students to master, created a list of learning activities, tools, and materials needed. Hamilton submitted the proposal for the project to her school district in order to request a laptop mobile lab, video cameras, a digital still camera, podcasting voice recorder, scanner, flash drives, a...