From March 14-16 the Digital Media and Learning Conference (DML) took place. It is “an inclusive, international and annual gathering of scholars and practitioners in the field, focused on fostering interdisciplinary and participatory dialog and linking theory, empirical study, policy, and practice.” Teachers, professors, community organizers, non-profit program managers and students (like myself, who hosted a roundtable for Mix IT Up!), assembled to talk tech and youth this year, under the broad theme of “democracy.”
The plenary on day two with host Craig Watkins, and panelists danah boyd, Biko Baker, Cathy Cohen and Astrid Silva, was the most memorable talk I attended. danah boyd is a scholar whose work Hanging Out, Messing Around: Kids Living and Learning With New Media I first came across in Intellectual Freedom for Youth. She along with Cathy Cohen (and Rob “Biko” Baker and Astrid Silva) address how young people operate with technology, but also participate in their world, and in democracy.
One question I find myself asking a lot recently that Cathy Cohen brought up is, what is the infrastructure that moves voice to power? Scholar Lisa Delpit hits on this in her work, and suggests that we explicitly state whose power we mean, how it functions in the world and explain to students how they can gain power. Panelists spoke about developing organizational networks with and for youth to be supported to build skills, which unfortunately is a function in education that has taken a backseat to testing. The plenary can be found on the DML website at Remixing Citizenship, Remaking Democracy.
Other notes/Qs from sessions:
If someone is not engaged it is often because one does not know what engagement is, and because no one has asked them to engage. It is also true that so many institutions have failed us and youth, so it is difficult to engage with organizations that don’t tune into the needs of those they’re asking to be engaged. Perhaps somewhat because of this, a number of youth have turned to Facebook, using the site as a “public square.” And it’s true, Facebook is often used as a forum for political and social discussion. For schools, technology is seen as a burden and must be blocked, yet we ask youth to learn to use technology to be proficient in “new literacies.”
What purpose does technology serve (i.e., are we using it for the right purposes in schools and communities)?
How do I/can I create civic engagement for people/youth?
Can youth voice be as powerful since their voice is not as refined? Do we need to help youth get to that level? What would people invest to help them do that? I think 826 Valencia. Louder Than a Bomb.
–>(From last two Qs) What quality does the work have to be to create the shift? (Whose quality is this?)
We are making tech tools, but to what end?
(For youth but also myself:) What is the biggest need in the world that you might have the passion and capacity to address?
We don’t need “high tech,” “low tech,” we need “appropriate tech”
What the heck is up with badges? All the rage this year, and not quite getting it. It does not address the need for intrinsic motivation.