This paper builds on a key finding of a 5-year Danish research project con-cerning children in the 7 to 15 age group: children’s principal use of computers and the internet takes place in their spare time, and it is during their spare time that the majority of children really learn how to use interactive media. The project shows that in children’s spare-time use of ICT they employ informal forms of learning based to a large extent on their social interaction both in physical and virtual spaces. These informal learning forms can be identified as learning hierarchies, learning communities and learning networks; they are important contributions to the school of the knowledge society. The ICT in New Learning Environments project based on anthropologically inspired methods and social learning theories shows that students bring their informal forms of learning into the school context. This happens particularly when the school has undergone physical alterations and when its organisation of learning and teaching are also restructured, with project-based learning becoming an important part of the school work and with the media available in the learning environment. Using organisation theory, the school working with ICT and project-based learning is shown to simultaneously constitute a mixed mode between the school of the industrial and the knowledge society. The research shows that it is possible to tip the balance in the direction of the school of the knowledge society, and thus of the future, by comprehensively using ICT and project work in the day-to-day activities of the school, alongside and integrated with the traditional forms of learning, and not least by employing the informal learning processes children develop outside school. For teachers this will mean an extension of their function: no longer merely communicators of knowledge, they will have to become knowledge managers and overall leaders of projects, and this entails much more dialogue with the pupils.
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According to a Northern European survey, these figures correspond with only a few slight deviations to the access to computers and internet of children in the same age group in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Ireland (Saft:http://www.medieraadet.dk).
The school referred to here is Maglegårdsskolen in the Municipality of Gentofte (near Copenhagen). In recent years it has been rebuilt to take part in the SKUB project, a school development project based on a future-oriented pedagogic design:http://www.skub.dk.The above-mentioned architectural drawing of a home-area is an example taken from one of the school’s home-areas.
These informal learning forms have been identified in connection with the project Children growing up with interactive media, in a future perspective, which was funded by The Danish Research Council. The project ran from 1997 to 2003.
These communities may often be long-lasting, with the participants meeting several times a week to continue the same game in the same clan.
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Sørensen, B.H., Danielsen, O. & Nielsen, J. Children’s informal learning in the context of schools of the knowledge society. Educ Inf Technol 12, 17–27 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-006-9019-z