Young people's learning trajectories in the digital age


  • Raquel Miño Puigcercós University of Barcelona



Youth, learning trajectories, secondary school, ethnography


The immersion of societies in the digital and networked age has led to an increase of opportunities for young people to learn across countless face-to-face and online contexts. However, youth disaffection towards school remains high and access to opportunities across and within countries is remarkably unequal. This article builds on the results of two ethnographic case studies conducted in Spain and the learning stories narrated by 22 youth about their transitions across home, school, spare time, extracurricular activities, trips and virtual environments. The analysis of the stories show how young people establish connections and feel tensions across their experiences, creating continuities and discontinuities that are key for their learning. It also evidence that secondary school is only one node of the big sociocultural network through which young people learn. Building on the results, the conclusions raise the question: might a better understanding of learning trajectories favor a more inclusive educational system?

Author Biography

Raquel Miño Puigcercós, University of Barcelona

Raquel Miño Puigcercós. PhD in Education and Society. Postdoctoral researcher of the Department of Didactics and Educational Organisation, Faculty of Education. University of Barcelona. Member of the research group ESBRINA and the network of excellence REUNI+D (University Network for Research and Educational Innovation). 


Arnseth, H.C., & Silseth, K. (2013). Tracing Learnig Identity Across Sites: Tensions, Connections and Transformations in and Between Everyday and Institutional Practices. In O. Erstad & J. Sefton-Green (Eds.) Identity, community, and learning lives in the digital age (pp. 23-38). New York: Cambridge. Bailón, M., Carballo, M., Cobo, C., Magnone, S., Marconi, C., MATEU, M., & Susunday, H. (2015). How can Plan Ceibal Land into the Age of Big Data? In Data Analytics 2015: The Fourth International Conference on Data Analytics. IARIA. Retrieved from: Banks, J. A., Au, K. H., Ball, A. F., Bell, P., Gordon, E. W., Gutiérrez, K., Heath, S.B., Lee, C.D., Lee, Y., Mahiri, J., Nasir, N.S., Valdes, G., & Zhou, M. (2007). Learning in and out of school in diverse environments. life-long, life-wide, lifedeep. Seattle: The LIFE Center & Center for Multicultural Education, University of Washington. Retrieved from: Barbour, R., & Kitzinger, J. (1999). Developing Focus Group Research: Politics, Theory and Practice. London, UK: Sage. Barron, B. (2006). Interest and Self-Sustained Learning as Catalysts of Development: A Learning Ecology Perspective. Human Development. 49, 193-224. Retrieved from: Berliner, D. (2013). Effects of Inequality and Poverty vs. Teachers and Schooling on America’s Youth. Teacher College Record, 115(12). Retrieved from: Bernstein, B. (1988). Clases, códigos y control II. Hacia una teoria de las transmisiones educativas. Madrid: Akal Universitaria. Bell, P., Lewenstein, B., Shouse, A. W., & Feder, M. A. (2009). Learning science in informal environments. People, places and pursuits. Washington DC: The National Academies Press. Bland, D., & Atweh, B. (2007). Students as researchers: engaging students’ voices in PAR. Educational Action Research, 15(3), 227-249. Retrieved from: Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (1998). Stories to live by: Narrative understandings of school reform. Curriculum inquiry, 28(2), 149-164. Retrieved from: Cole, M., & The Distributed Literacy Consortium (2006). The fifth dimension. An after-school program built on diversity. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basis of qualitative research. California: Sage. Dreier, O. (1999). Personal trajectories of participation across contexts of social practice. Outlines: Critical Social Studies, 1, 5-32. Retrieved from: Erstad, O. (2013). Digital Learning Lives. Trajectories, Literacies, and Schooling. New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies. New York: Peter Lang. Erstad, O. (2015). Learning lives across educational boundaries. Continuity and discontiunity in learning trajectories. IJREE, 3(2), 9-22. Retrieved from: Erstad, O., & Sefton-Green, J. (2013). Identity, community, and learning lives in the digital age. New York, Cambridge. European Comision (2016). European Semester: Thematic factsheet – Early school leavers – 2016. Retrieved from: Falzon, M.A. (2009). Multi-sited Ethnography. Theory, praxis and locality in contemporary research. Burlington: Ashgate. Gardner, H. (1995). Inteligencias múltiples. La teoría en la práctica. Barcelona: Paidós. Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge. Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Harper, K. (2009, December). New directions in participatory visual ethnography: possibilities for public anthropology. In 98th meeting of the American Anthropological Association (pp. 17-21). Hernández, F. (2011). Investigar con los jóvenes: cuestiones temáticas, metodológicas, éticas y educativas. Barcelona: Repositorio digital de la Universidad de Barcelona. Retrieved from: Hernández Hernández, F., Fendler, R., & Sancho Gil, J. M. (2013). Rethinking Educational Ethnography: Researching on-line communities and interactions. Barcelona: University of Barcelona. Dipòsit Digital. Retrieved from: Hine, C. (2004). Etnografía virtual. Barcelona: UOC. Nuevas Tecnologías y Sociedad. Immordino, M.H., & Damasio, A. (2007). We Feel, Therefore, We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education. Mind, Brain and Education, 1 (1), 3-10. Retrieved from: Ito, M., Gutiérrez, G., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., Schor, J., Sefton-Green, J., & Watkins, S.G. (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Digital Media and Learning Research Hub: Irvine. Retrieved from: Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press. Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R., & Nixon, R. (2013). The action research planner: Doing critical participatory action research. Geelong: Springer Science and Business Media. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. United Kingdom: McGraw-Hill Education. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learnig. Legitimate periphereal participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Leander, K., Phillips, N., & Headrick, K. (2010). The Changing Social Spaces of Learning: Mapping New Mobilities. Review of Research in Education. 34(0), 329-394. Retrieved from: Marcus, G.E. (1998). Ethnography through Thick & Thin. New Jersey: Princeton. Miño, R. (2017). Learning trajectories across contexts. Two case studies on youth transitions inside and outside secondary school. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Barcelona: Barcelona. Nind, M. (2014). What is inclusive research? London: Bloomsbury. Nind, M. (2017). The practical wisdom of inclusive research. Qualitative Research, 17(3), 278-288. Retrieved from: Sancho, J.M. (2001). Repensando el significado y metas de la educación en la sociedad de la información. In M. Area (Ed.), Educar en la sociedad de la información (pp. 37-79). Bilbao: Desclée de Brouwer. Selwyn, N. (2012). Ten suggestions for improving academic research in education and technology. Learning, Media and Technology, 37(3), 213-219. Retrieved from: Selwyn, N. (2015). Data entry: towards the critical study of digital data and education. Learning, Media and Technology, 40(1), 64-82. Retrieved from: Shields, C.M., & Requa, D. (2011). Miroritized youth, cultural capital, and the (micro)polity context of schooling. In B.J. Portfilio & P.R. Carr (Eds). Youth, Culture, Education and Resistance (pp. 21-39). Rotterdam: Sense. Sikes, P. (2003). Introduction. In C. Pole, C., & M. Morrison (Eds.). Ethnography for education. England: Open University Press. McGraw Hill Education. Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace. Thomson, P. (2008). Doing visual research with children and Young people. Canadà: Routledge. Vadeboncoeur, J., & Rahal, L. (2015). Mapping the Social Across Lived Experiences: Relational Geographies and After-School Time. Ocasional Series, 30(0), 56-59. Retrieved from: Vadeboncoeur, J.A., Kady-Rachid, H., & Moghtader, B. (2015). Learning In and Across Contexts: Reimagining Education. National Society for the Study of Education, 113(2), 339-358. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Voussoughi, S., & Gutiérrez, K. (2014). Studying Movement, Hybridity, and Change: Toward a Multi-sited Sensibility for Research on Learning Across Contexts and Borders. National Society for the Study of Education, 113(2), 603-632. Retrieved from: