Reports

(2009) The Center for Communication & Civic Engagement Inventory of Online Youth Civic Engagement Resources. The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement has just released a new report that catalogs and describes many of the most prominent youth civic engagement resources on the web. It is crucial for civic practitioners and scholars to be aware of the wide range of online projects dedicated to youth engagement, and the purpose of this report is to contribute to that goal. We gratefully acknowledge the Surdna Foundation Digital Advocacy Skills project for sponsoring this project, which was researched and compiled by Becoming Citizens interns under the direction of Scott Brekke Davis. posted August 31, 2009

(2009) Communicating Citizenship Online: Models of Civic Learning in the Youth Web Sphere. For many observers, the Internet offers exciting possibilities for reconnecting young people with civic life. Various studies have examined civic websites designed for youth, but no systematic framework has emerged to assess and compare how those sites define citizenship or what civic skill development they offer. This study develops a framework of basic categories of civic learning grounded in research on civic education. That framework is then expanded to address changes in styles of citizenship and related youth communication preferences for participatory digital media technologies. The resulting model of citizenship styles and related learning activities is applied to the analysis of 90 of the most-trafficked U.S. youth civic engagement websites, selected to represent different types of civic organizations with online presences. We find that conceptions of citizenship and related civic skill offerings are unevenly distributed across different sectors of the youth civic web. Youth communities that exist only or primarily online are most open to emerging youth civic styles and offer the broadest range of civic learning opportunities. Most conventional civic organizations have not embraced the communication and social networking potential of digital media. These findings have implications both for the capacity of conventional organizations to adapt to online settings, and for how digital technology can be used more effectively in communicating with young citizens. posted February 3, 2009

(2009) As an illustration of our ongoing MacArthur-funded research project mapping the youth civic web sphere, we have created a brief slideshow containing screenshots of all of the various types of civic content we encountered in our analysis. Our theoretical framework incorporates four learning opportunities (knowledge, expression, joining publics, and taking action) each of which can manifest in two citizenship styles (actualizing and dutiful), and we divided our 90-site sample into four categories: government/candidate, community organizations, interest groups, and online-only sites. This yields 32 possible combinations of learning opportunity, citizenship style, and site type, all but three of which we actually detected in our sample. The PDF slideshow linked below briefly describes the study’s theory and methods and displays one visual example of the actual site content that was judged to merit each distinct coding possibility. posted January 2, 2009

(2008) Evaluations of the Civic Learning Online Project: Year 1 by Civic Learning Online advisers. The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement (CCCE) hosted a two-day workshop and site visit focused on youth civic engagement through digital media at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA on October 3 and 4, 2008. The workshop specifically invited comments on findings reported by the CCCE-affiliated Civic Learning Online research team and on Puget Sound Off (PSO), our local online civic youth portal. To capture some of the ideas and reactions generated during the conference, five advisers to the CLO project have produced short memos detailing their reactions to these two projects. These memos, along with a short executive summary, are collected in the report linked above. posted December 2, 2008

(2008) Evaluating Online Tools for Youth Civic Learning by Deen Freelon. This report introduces the work of the Civic Learning Online Project in developing digital media learning tools. The need for identifying specific online learning goals and opportunities is first discussed. This is followed by the introduction of an online curriculum unit, Blogging in Public, which is evaluated in terms of the civic learning opportunities it offers. posted August 7, 2008

(2008) Young Citizens and Civic Learning: Two Paradigms of Citizenship in the Digital Age by Lance Bennett, Chris Wells, and Allison Rank. How can civic education keep pace with changing political identifications and practices of new generations of citizens? We examine research on school-based civic education in different post-industrial democracies with the aim of deriving a set of core learning categories. Most school-based approaches reflect traditional paradigms of dutiful citizenship (DC) oriented to government through parties and voting, with citizens forming attentive publics who follow events in the news. While this model may appeal to some young people, research suggests that it produces mixed learning outcomes, and may not capture the full range of learning and engagement styles of recent generations of citizens. We expand upon these conventional learning categories by identifying additional civic learning opportunities that reflect more self-actualizing (AC) styles of civic participation common among recent generations of youth who have been termed digital natives. Their AC learning styles favor interactive, networked activities often communicated with participatory media production such as videos shared across online networks. The result is an expanded set of learning categories that can be used to design, document, and compare civic learning in different environments from schools to online communities. updated August 8, 2008

(2008) The Generational Shift in Citizen Identity by Lance Bennett outlines an agenda for developing civic learning standards in schools and online environments that engage the learning and participation styles of digital natives. posted May 17, 2008

(2008) Changing Citizenship in the Digital Age by Lance Bennett. An Introduction to key issues and questions about online civic learning and engagement. This is the introductory chapter to the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning volume Civic Life Online, which is available from M.I.T Press here. posted April 12, 2008

(2006) MacArthur Online Discussions on Civic Engagement Leading experts and practitioners discuss and debate the changing nature of citizenship and civic engagement, and address how various online experiences, from participation in games to joining more formal youth engagement sites can shape the political learning and civic styles of digital natives. posted April 12, 2008

 

research reports
              and think pieces

on how participation
in online communities
     
affects civic learning and
political engagement...
  

     
     
Learn more about
Civic Life Online

HERE