Kingston University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 5767-5776
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
This presentation will report on a research project which focuses upon children’s experiences of multimedia text within the school context. It will engage in debates surrounding the existence of ‘digital natives’ (Prensky, 2001b, 2006:28) and the emergence of ‘new literacies’, (Lankshear & Knobel, 2003) both of which have arisen from the rapid development and integration of ICT within our society. In the case of the ‘digital native,’ children are described as being naturally adept in the use of ICT having been surrounded by digital technologies since birth. Similarly, opportunities to communicate in multimodal forms have been enhanced and increased through the existence of ICTs which, in turn, has given rise to debates centred on what it is to be ‘literate’ and arguments for ‘multiliteracies’ (Cope & Kalantzis 2000) or ‘new literacies’ (Lankshear & Knobel 2003). If children are ‘digital natives’ and communicate in different ways there are implications for the school curriculum and for pedagogy.

There now appears to be a greater digital divergence between the home and the school context. Proponents of the ‘digital native’ debate would argue that whereas ICTs have changed the way we live, the school, by comparison, has not embraced the use of ICT and changed the way teachers teach or the way children can learn (Prensky 2001a: 66-67). Despite the existence and popularity of digital video games in the out-of-school context and a growing interest in their educational value, there is little evidence that these have found a place within the primary school curriculum. As forms of multimodal text, digital video games would also provide children with opportunity to develop their ability to ‘read’ post-typographic forms of literature.

Although Prensky’s argument is attractive and not without its supporters there is a need for more research in order to examine critically the claims made. There is an assumption that all children are adept in the use of ICT because they have all been born into an ICT-rich culture, yet there is little in the way of empirically-based research which would support or contradict this assumption. Similarly, video games are beginning to gain credibility as educational resources for the classroom (BECTA 2002, McFarlane, Sparrowhawk & Heald 2002, Squire 2007).

The analysis of data collated form questionnaire responses collected from children in one primary school in England suggests that the home contest provides access to a wide range of multimedia texts in the form of games technologies. By comparison, children rarely have opportunity to engage with multimedia texts within the school context. A focus group discussion provided opportunity to examine the argument for the use of computer games within the school from the children's perspective. The children's responses suggest that, despite the clear difference in their experiences of multmedia text between home and school, they do not regard the computer game as an appropriate resource for the classroom setting.
computer games, multimedia text, children, home, school.