The Emerging Learning Design Journal

Document Type



This paper addresses the gap between the potential of new media learning tools for transforming learning in and out of schools and the schools’ commitment to technologies that support testing and accountability. We propose the idea of participatory culture as a robust model for how to think about the emerging practices of learning in digital media spaces. Participatory cultures describe the social interactions and activity structures in which real-world learners engage to advance their interests. Participatory cultures retain the concept of consequential outcomes, and add robust accounts of the social and technological ways in which learners interact to attain outcomes. We argue that the gap between schools and digital worlds can be intentionally bridged if we match the affordances of participatory cultures that traditional schools often struggle to meet. The participatory culture framework can help to make sense of learning in and out of schools, and points toward viable paths to integrate the best of new media experience into contemporary school design.


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