Curriculum Innovation: Redefining the school curriculum in the age of digital media participation

Principal Investigator:
Ben Williamson

Over the last decade, a small number of programs and research projects has explored how schools can respond to young people’s increasing participation in digital media culture. In particular, these initiatives have approached the school curriculum as an ongoing challenge (Lawrence Stenhouse would have called them “curriculum experiments”) rather than a fixed programme of study. Such initiatives are the focus for the Curriculum Innovation working group. These programs have taken place in different international sites (the UK, US, Scandinavia, New Zealand), with very different aims and underlying assumptions and theories. Some have begun as “grassroots” campaigns, others as interventions of commercial organizations, philanthropists, charities, or even political pressure groups. What holds them together is the commitment to working with—rather than against—the grain of young people’s experiences of new media and technology. From a more analytical perspective, each of these kinds of initiatives is responding in its own distinct, practical, or even “local” way to an emerging set of globalized debates and rhetorics about youth new media participatory cultures. So what should a curriculum aim to achieve in these so-called digital times? New modes of thinking? New forms of citizenship, or of human flourishing? New economic advantages?

The working group is made up of researchers involved in school-based curriculum innovations. It aims to identify the existing evidence and supporting case studies of curriculum development projects that have bridged the gap between young people’s opportunities for participation in digital media culture and the formal requirements of the school curriculum, and to explore how the curriculum is being positioned in relation to youth digital media in different contexts and sites. The participants are collaborating to produce a review of the relevant literature, a series of indicative case study examples for further research, and a series of publication plans.
Related links:
Beyond Current Horizons project website: