3000 Individual Talks ED: Critical Perspectives on Design and Possibility

06/12/2015 @ 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
The Orpheum B

12774 Individual Talk ED: Computational Thinking, Digital Literacy, and Civic Engagement: Toward Democratic Possibilities and Designs
Presenters: Sepehr Vakil, Shirin Vossoughi

What are the possibilities for linking digital media-related learning to an equity agenda that centers social, economic, and political justice? Exploring this question requires a clear conception of equity in the context of digital media-related learning and practice. In this talk, we review how “equity” has been conceptualized within technology and digital media communities, as well as how learning has been theorized and studied. Against this backdrop, we argue that by politicizing both equity and learning frameworks we can more powerfully connect digital media-related learning to broader visions of justice and dignity.

Within the fields of technology and digital media related learning, equity has been largely characterized as a matter of access. While we recognize the importance of opening pathways for learning into these fields, we argue a sole focus on “access” leaves us vulnerable to equity blind spots. We argue these blind spots have emerged due to the inadequate interrogation of the larger sociopolitical contexts within which digital media and learning are embedded. In this talk, we draw from other STEM oriented disciplines, such as mathematics, science, and engineering education, which have began to sharpen their equity conceptualizations by asking questions such as “Access to what?” and “Design and innovation for what purposes?” and more broadly, STEM education “toward what ends?” (Vossoughi & Vakil, in press),” – questions that begin to explore intersections between epistemology, knowledge and power. We argue that exploring the politics of digital media related learning will similarly help illuminate the assumptions and epistemologies that are embedded within mainstream educational approaches not often considered as “political” (Booker et al., 2014; Medin & Bang, 2014).

Tightly interwoven with conceptions of equity are questions of epistemology and learning. What constitutes knowledge in the fields of digital media and technology? From Ferguson to Gaza, Tripoli to Tehran, and many places in between, young people are finding creative ways to use, manipulate, and design digital technologies as a form of civic and political action. Youth are often learning these technologies with and from their peers, born out of a necessity to voice their concerns about issues that are of dire consequence to their daily experiences with marginalization. Yet, educational research on technological and digital literacy development has not, thus far, taken the opportunity to learn from the rich practices of youth around the world who are using, designing, and manipulating technologies for civic, social, and political purposes. We argue that analyses of learning in these settings can provide insights useful for designing formal learning spaces that deepen student engagement with technology, and also contribute to extending sociocultural theories of human development by explicitly attending to the political dimensions of the learning process.

Building on studies of learning in the context of valued cultural practices (Nasir & Hand, 2006; Gutierrez, 1999), we offer an emergent framework for 1) studying the political practices involved in young people’s engagement with technology and digital media and 2) designing educational experiences that leverage these practices to expand definitions of equity and learning across school and out-of-school settings.

12671 Individual Talk ED: The Critical Curation of a Collaborative Media Feed
Presenters:Kyle Booten

Too often social media is framed in individualistic terms: who we follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is not just a personal matter but also a political one, since these decisions determine the media and opinions that reach us. In response to the ways that these platforms mediate more and more of our activities and capture more and more of our attention, philosopher Bernard Stiegler (2010) has called for a “politics of attention” through which we as users develop thoughtful, beneficial, and critical ways of consuming media on social networks.

This presentation reports on one classroom intervention designed to foster such a politics.

Over the course of a semester, an undergraduate education class maintained a single collaborative Twitter account. While researchers have explored Twitter’s usefulness for course-related communication (Grosseck and Holotescu, 2008; Kassens-Noor, 2012), this intervention encouraged students to focus specifically on the ways that Twitter can be used to consume media from people outside the class. By following others’ accounts, a Twitter user’s timeline fills up with tweets promulgated by those accounts, creating an endless pastiche of texts—the “feed.” In this “social design experiment” (Gutiérrez & Vossoughi, 2009), students were asked to curate the class feed in ways that responded to a series of questions: how can we shape a feed that is interesting and relevant to the class? How do we find the “best” accounts out of the millions on Twitter? According to what criteria do we judge the feed?

In collaboration with the teacher-researcher, the students developed new practices for collectively managing the Twitter feed as well as new standards for evaluating its content, often in ways that reflected the class’s thematic focus on equity. During periodic reflection exercises, they thought metacognitively about the makeup of the class feed, bringing to light the ways that it came to be dominated by tweets that were Western rather than global, institutional rather than personal, and technocratic rather than critical. They then followed and unfollowed users, trying to reshape the feed to better reflect a diversity of voices from out there in the Twitterverse. As the students themselves observed, however, the technologies themselves may be inherently biased against such “critical curation.”
Social media, used in thoughtful ways, can connect people globally across boundaries of difference, even providing opportunities for cosmopolitan interactions (Hull & Stornaiuolo, 2010), but such beneficial interactions cannot be taken for granted. This case study suggests the importance of developing a new vocabulary for critiquing our own “personal” media feeds as public, political objects, and it posits the classroom as an important site in an emerging politics of attention.

12572 Individual Talk ED:Designing global beauty in an online discussion forum
Presenter: Grace Kim

New media present manifold opportunities for youth to access cultures that may be unavailable to them in their local contexts. Virtual spaces offer youth freedom to engage with geographically distant people and places, but how can practices in such spaces reinscribe existing social, cultural, and geographic marginalization? This short talk is part of a study that explored the literacy practices of youth who populate a multinational online forum devoted to Korean dramas. The source for data collection was a free website on which people post, watch, and discuss Asian dramas. Qualitative data included writing, visual images, and interactions created within the forum. Data revealed that the forum functions as a space in which youth living outside of Korea seek learning about Korean culture. In particular, this talk focuses on members’ discussion of beauty practices in Korea, but also their multimodal self-reflections on physical appearance. As members from developing and developed countries engage with each other about global beauty, a collective definition of it is complicated by their varied local economic, ethnic, and religious contexts. Literacy practices supported by the site’s design and reinforced by the social situation of the forum facilitate discourses that affirm and marginalize members. Through this illustrative case, I argue that along with hope for digital and networked media to mediate difference in positive ways, also necessary is critical analysis of how practices within such spaces can reify differences.

12381 Individual Talk ED:Leveraging historical practices to organize new futures: From promotoras to the Promotora App
Presenters: Leah Teeters Susan Jurow

Technology can be a tool for expanding freedom and a source of unfreedom. Kleine (2012) writes, technology is a source of unfreedom “…when people feel or are forced to use technologies which do not reflect the lives they value” (p. 42). This view on the powers of technology deeply informs our participatory design work with historically marginalized communities striving to create more equitable futures for themselves.

Our presentation draws on a multi-year study focused on learning in the food movement. We collaborate with a food justice organization working in a dominantly Mexican community where residents have limited access to healthy, affordable food. The organization appropriated a traditional, Latin American public health model that leverages the shared cultural resources between residents and resident-leaders, known as promotoras, to achieve desired health goals.

Working with promotoras, we co-designed a software application that extends the promotoras’ repertoires of practice (Gutiérrez, & Rogoff, 2003). The application allows them to collect data on their community work, which includes: growing backyard gardens with residents, promoting changes in community health, and developing their professional skills as community advocates. The application has enabled promotoras to reflect on the impact and value of their work. It has also increased their technological fluency, which could translate into future social and economic benefits. To capitalize on the full promise of this technology, while not further marginalizing non-dominant groups, we have designed research and design strategies that are (a) collaborative (b) leverage communities’ everyday practices and (c) promote the values of diverse stakeholders.

12583 Individual Talk: Learning Through Participation in Communities of Digital Fabrication: From an Ethnographic Study in FabLab Kamakura
Presenters: Rie Matsuura, Daisuke Okabe

Manufacturing in Japan is gradually changing as open-source grows with the maker movement, especially in FabLabs. Digital fabrication and personal fabrication is a new wave culture of mavens, who are devoted to an alternative to mass production and the mission of “how to make (almost) anything”.

The ethnographic research reviewed in this presentation focuses on the people who operate and occupy FabLab Kamakura in Japan (In Japan, there are 11 FabLabs in 2014). We conducted the research from the summer of 2013 to the winter of 2014, a combination of interviews and field observations of“Fab Learning”. Fab Lab Kamakura is aimed at achieving to lead generation and across national borders with input modern method in the context of “FabLab charter”. For example, when participants of training session learn how to machine tool for FabLab member and regain normal use of it, teaching each other. Crafts people at Kamakura area develop and conduct new program to combine with machine tool and one’s activity. FabLab Kamakura is a valuable venue for peer based exchanging information about, for example, digital fabricators, Arduino, crafts, textiles, and so on.

In this presentation, we analyzes the relationship between “participation and learning” represented in ethnographic case studies of ten informants aged 23-59 participating in common-based peer production site, the FabLab Kamakura community.

First we frame this work as an effort to think about their participation and learning using the concept of “wildfire activity theory” (Engeström, 2009) and “Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP)” from Lave and Wenger (1991).

Then we share an overview of FabLab culture in Japan and at FabLab Kamakura, in particular our methodology based on interviews and fieldwork. Using SCAT (Otani, 2008) methodology, we group our findings in two different categories: (1) learning through participation in FabLab Kamakura, (2) weak tie and mobility made visible through participation in wildfire activities. We conclude that participants at FabLab Kamakura are producing and designing available artifacts for their lives and works, and in doing so, they are designing their thoughts and themselves.

Engeström, Yrjö. (2009). Wildfire Activities: New Patterns of Mobility and Learning. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(2).

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Otani, Takashi (2008). “”SCAT”” A Qualitative Data Analysis Method by Four-Step Coding : Easy Startable and Small Scale Data-Applicable Process of Theorization. Proceedings of Nagoya University. Graduage School of Education and Human Development,54(2),27-44.

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