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At-risk learners      

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socio-cultural ecology


Mobile and individualised mass communication has reached all social strata and milieus. One educational challenge for the school is to deliberately identify the thematic conversational threads of those milieus that are at a distance to the school. There exists a real risk that some milieus are unable to benefit from the resources society has to offer but which are essential for responsible and successful living in modern, individualised life-worlds.

Mobile devices possess an inherent potential for cultural participation as they are integrated into two main socio-cultural structures: media convergence and socialcultural stratification. A complex expertise is necessary to be able to act within these structures.

As a phenomenon of everyday life, the mobile complex is clearly segregated from school but the school contributes important competences, among others the ability to read and write. At the moment the school seems to deliberately seek a segregation between itself and learners' life-worlds. Banning mobile devices from school is an indicator for such deliberate segregation. Many young people, especially male adolescents with migrant backgrounds from the so-called hedonist milieu, do not have the intention to match their life-world expertise to that required in school. Looking at internet video platforms we can see that a lot of homework is produced by means of the mobile phone (see e.g. This indicates the at-risk learners' personal, and the school's institutional practice of segregation is not the only possibility.

To overcome the segregation of the mobile complex and the cultural practices of schools, our proposal is to adjust school to the practices, agency and structures of the mobile complex. We emphasise the proposed assimilative procedure of docking the school onto responsive mobile und user-generated contexts. One important reason for doing so is that these contexts work as 'zone of proximal development' in a Vygotskian sense. Furthermore, the school can take up conversational thematic threads, which are laid out by students in their personal media use. We try to identify conversational threads of identity and expertise, which the school can take up in order to assimilate the competences evidenced by the young man in the process of taking and uploading the video into the school.

In our socio-cultural ecology, we define mobile devices as cultural resources in the hands of 'at-risk' learners. By 'at-risk' learners we mean young people who are underachieving in terms of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in the area of literacy, i.e. reading and writing. We clearly do not infer any lack of intelligence or competence but simply draw attention to the question of their resources not being validated by school and society or them not wanting to utilise the resource valorised by society.


Source: inc_at-risk_learners.php
printed: 03.01.2017, 15:28:03