In its broadest sense, this research investigates how one should design the physical environment for the contemporary subject of the Digital Era. The ease and immediacy with which one can access the preponderance of information available through digital and electronic media has complicated the development and understanding of self-identity in popular culture, and by correlation how one engages with society. The significance of the public institution as a center for information exchange and civic engagement has diminished in favor of new media , which has become a staple at home and is trending increasingly mobile.

While architectural investigations of the past two decades contemplate the formal possibilities of digital technology and the affects of new media on physical objects, few architectural proposals consider how the proliferation of these media and technologies directly affect the subject in society. This project rethinks the design of the contemporary upper school as a model for considering the affects of new media on individual and community interaction, the dissemination of information and the evolution (dissolution?) of public institutions.

This thesis challenges contemporary formulations of identity and societal engagement in an age increasingly dominated by the proliferation of digital and electronic information and interaction through the proposition of an architecture which fosters critical awareness of the (re)presentations of actuality in new media and directs critical engagement between the new subject of the digital era and the public sphere.

My complete thesis preparation document can be viewed here: Rethinking the Contemporary School

Friday, March 6, 2009

The MacArthur Foundation Study: Digital Youth Project: Towards a New Pedagogy

This study, published late in 2008, suggests the continuous always on nature of today's children and teenagers implores us to exploit the potential of learning opportunities available through on-line media in order to circumvent the "digital divide growing between in school and out of school use." We must get rid of the gap between everyday life worlds and the world in school.

New media has taken over hang out spaces formally occupied by the physical spaces of the school, mall, home, and street.

Teens explore interests in online groups, learning in a virtual environment of peer based reciprocity - one gains status and reputation but doesn't hold evaluative authority over the others (unlike teachers).

Public education should be though of as a responsibility of a more distributed network of people and institutions, rather than from one central school facility. Learning is a continuous process that occurs at home, in the community, and through private enterprise.

Shcools must become interdisciplinary not only in their curricula, but also in how they engage the community at large. Perhaps teachers should not focus on developing skills so much, but guide youths' participation in public life more generally, which includes social, recreational, and civic engagement.

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