19 February 2010

Digital Media and Learning Conference

Today and tomorrow, I'm spending the day at UCSD at the 1st annual Digital Media and Learning Conference. Interesting topics crisscrossed research and practice and some exceptional people are presenting and attending, like danah boyd, Howard Gardner, Jim Gee, Jasmin Kafai, Mimi Ito, Mitchel Resnick, to name a few. There was a nice balance of cutting the edge with historical perspective. I felt at home with the diversity theme and was really happy to see diversity in the panels of presenters.

Gee summarized a key take away for me in his presentation about participating in Worked Examples.
He asked if Digital Media and Learning could become a field? Worked examples is a forum for sharing ideas and debating plausible arguments in service to co-developing theories of DML. It's an informal, low stakes way to begin asserting the field. What's exciting about the project is that it insists on transdisciplinary interactions. At the conference, there we people from computer science, information science, sociology, education, and media studies, to name a few. It felt natural to me to come together; it felt cohesive because I don't experience disciplines as divides but as lenses.

I also went to Mitchel Resnick's Scratch session and afterward we chatted about the dominance of gaming discourses when we talk about "computational creativity." With Scratch, as with Second Life, you can make anything. The bias of a game-design mindset (which is also gendered) gets played out in discursive challenges to making things that aren't games. In other words, the discourse of games and their design marginalize opportunities for developing the discourses of new expressive forms in digitial contexts. 

Diane Harley at the session titled: Last Bastions: The Promise and Problems of Digital Learning in Higher Education, nailed the coffin shut in terms of expecting any major attitudinal changes in higher ed toward the use of digital media for teaching and scholarly work. Digital media for learning has been around for some 15 years. The culture of higher ed has been around for hundreds.