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Participatory learning: Transforming schools with digital media

In today’s blended learning environment, an increasing number of students and teachers have access to technology that extends the educational process well beyond the classroom walls. As part of this trend, school districts across the U.S. are implementing practices and policies that transform learning environments into one of participatory learning, for the purpose of improving student outcomes.

Participatory learning is a collaborative student-centered environment in which students learn from both their peers and teachers using digital media resources and other tools.

To fully realize the implications of digital media on learning environments, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, created the Participatory Learning in Schools: Leadership & Policy initiative. The initiative provides districts with guidelines, best practices, and resources for implementing participatory learning.

In the current phase of the initiative, CoSN is working with 13 districts, called the Leading-edge School District Cadre, which are incorporating innovative ways to use social media, mobile, and web 2.0 applications for classroom learning.

CoSN is providing a blended learning model to enable collaboration and sharing through an online community. Through this online community, the Cadre can access peer support, resources, and expertise 24/7.

As K12 educators increasingly use social media, online communities, and other web 2.0 tools in their professional learning and instructional practices, they must leverage digital media to ensure districts are collaborating to improve their knowledge. Efforts such as the Participatory Learning initiative propel us toward the ultimate goal of advancing and re-imagining the learning environment and providing students with the skills to fulfill their potential and succeed in today’s global economy.

Marci Giang is the project manager for CoSN’s Participatory Learning in Schools: Policy & Leadership Initiative.