The Teenage Expertise Network: An Online Ethnographic Methodology

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The take-up of digital technology by young people is a well-known phenomenon and has been subject to socio-cultural analysis in areas such as youth studies and cultural studies. In relation to education, it has been argued it is vital to attend to the influence that these digital cultural practices have on learning in the twenty-first century, as such engagement is deeply imbued with social and cultural meaning. Yet very little is known concerning how young people become technological experts. The available literature draws largely on traditional definitions of expertise that are limited in the account they can offer on the online cultural and social practices of technologically savvy youth (Johnson, 2007a, 2007c). Young people of the 21st century are, like no other generation before, immersed in a technologically rich environment. It is not surprising then that these young people have developed a wealth of expertise in the use of digital technologies. Whilst this is the case, understandings of how these young people have gained this expertise in these contemporary techno-cultural contexts is limited. This research project addresses this issue by developing a culturally nuanced understanding of the contemporary cultural realities of young people, and investigates how teenagers develop technological expertise in techno-cultural contexts via the use of a purposefully designed, youth-friendly, online environment. The project contributes much needed knowledge on the young people’s e-learning expertise that will be of significance to formal education settings.

Keywords: Teenagers, Expertise, Technology, Learning
Stream: Technology in Learning; Maths, Science and Technology Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Teenage Expertise Network, The

Dr. Nicola F. Johnson

Lecturer in Curriculum and Teacher Education, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong
Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Dr Nicola Johnson is currently a lecturer in curriculum and teacher education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Wollongong. As a schoolteacher in New Zealand, Nicola was interested in how computers could be utilised within classrooms. Now her focuses are more on the effect of new learning spaces on the traditional delivery of learning and teaching in classrooms, the nexus between informal learning and formal learning, and sociocultural perspectives of technological expertise. This forms the basis of the construction of the Teenage Expertise Network (TEN).

Valerie Harwood

Senior Lecturer, Foundations of Education
Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong


Dr. Harwood's research focuses on the investigation of the impacts of psychopathologisation and medicalisation (behaviour disorders, ADHD, and health issues such as 'obesity') on young people, schools and their communities.

Ref: L09P0296