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Designing Future of Learning Conference Draws 500 Thought Leaders, Innovators, Designers, Educators, Activists to Long Beach—-and that has to be good for our kids and the future of higher education.  HASTAC, the organization I cofounded in 2002, administers the annual HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition to identify, support, and then mentor to success teams of people who are figuring out brilliant new ways for us to learn together.  This year’s winners will be showcasing their projects at this conference.  I’ll be on two panels.  There will a science fair, a hundred or so kids coming to the Showcase . . . and we’ll be tweeting and blogging about all of it, and videocasting too, so you can see what we are all up to on behalf of our kids’ future (and our own).

PRLog (Press Release) –

Feb 18, 2011 – How technology, the Internet, and digital media are affecting youth and education will be the topic of an international conference at the Hilton Long Beach Conference and Meeting Center in Long Beach, Calif., Mar. 3-5. Many of the questions to be tackled at the conference, featuring scholars, researchers and students representing every continent, are in the center of heated national debates about education, culture and technology:

•   What are the social implications of anonymity on the Internet for the future of ethics, civility and identity?
•   What are the key new literacies required by the accelerated, networked world? How do we make sure all children have an opportunity to develop them?
•   What does it mean, and what is required, to be an active, engaged citizen in today’s world?
•   What roles can parents play in their children’s education in the digital age?
•   How can we train teachers to thrive in the fast changing media ecology?
•   How must physical learning spaces like libraries, museums, schools, and after-school programs evolve?

The conference will spotlight scores of in-depth presentations of original research from nearly 500 researchers and practitioners from across the globe, including:

•   The impact in Gaza and the West Bank of the One Laptop Per Child program.
•   A large-scale survey of 3,400 girls, aged 8-12, that examined how multitasking impacts social well-being and friendship.
•   How youth around the world are using digital media to effect social change with under-represented populations like incarcerated youth, foster children, undocumented immigrants, and adolescent victims of sex trafficking.
•   A mobile learning application that is creating a generation of young citizen scientists.
•   The accelerated learning that took place on a private social networking experiment that linked youth from five countries.
•   The dark side of deviant, niche online communities and what measures can be taken to guard against negative effects.

Hands-on Demonstrations of Emerging Learning Platforms
The Digital Media & Learning Conference on “Designing Learning Futures” for the 21st century also will include on-site demonstrations of a new generation of learning games that were awarded significant development funds in a national design competition []. Projects that were funded up to $200,000 included: a science-based social network for girls to work together to solve mysteries in biomedical science; a web-casting, video blogging, and customized social networking site to connect youth from Chicago and from Fiji to collaborate around issues of environmental conservation; and new mobile phone apps for youth to tackle issues they have identified as pressing needs in their communities such as food equity, youth-police relations, and citizen journalism.
“The DML Conference provides an open platform for the critical discussion of how digital media are transforming learning possibilities,” said David Theo Goldberg, director of the system-wide University of California’s Humanities Research Institute and co-director of the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub, which designed and organized the conference.
“The Conference provides a site where DML Competition winners will demonstrate how their applications contribute to learning practices in innovative and productive ways. Learning platform designers can converse directly with teachers, researchers with practitioners, thought leaders with policy makers, activists with students.”

Designing Learning and Teaching Environments for the 21st Century

Details for the conference can be found at the conference website, It begins Thursday, Mar. 3 and runs through Saturday, Mar. 5 and will be held at Hilton Long Beach Conference and Meeting Center in Long Beach, Calif. It will be chaired by game designer and professor of design and technology Katie Salen. A learning innovator, Salen is director of the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons the New School for Design, and is also the executive director of a non-profit called the Institute of Play, which is focused on games and learning. Salen also is the founder and executive director of design of Quest to Learn, a new 6-12th grade public school in New York City that uses a game-based learning model. The school has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Economist, and NPR. “This is a critical moment in which both the opportunities and risks afforded by digital media must be carefully considered,” said Salen. “Designing learning futures requires consideration of multiple, even competing viewpoints—this conference provides a space for just such a conversation.”

The conference committee includes scholars in a variety of areas of expertise including youth, social media, mobile communication, digital humanities, innovation and social change: Kimberly Austin, danah boyd, Sheryl Grant, Heather A. Horst, Trebor Scholz, Mark Surman, and S. Craig Watkins.

“For youth culture, digital media is of central importance, but very few of these platforms were designed for the kind of learning that takes place on these sites. There are countless opportunities for researchers and system designers to learn from each other to shape the future of emerging platforms,” said danah boyd, senior researcher for Microsoft Research, scholar in social media and youth culture, and chair of the Emerging Platforms and Policies track at the conference.

Alice Taylor, who has been working with Internet-delivered content for entertainment and education since 1995, will give the opening keynote address entitled, “10 lessons from 10 games: stories from making playful education for teens.” Outgoing commissioning editor for education at Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, Alice spent the last three years commissioning award-winning digital products targeting teens and ‘tweens. She is principle in a start-up called Makieworld, an entertainment company that will produce socially-aware, networked, and customizable dolls, games, and play.
Saturday’s closing keynote, “Designing Empowerment,” will be presented by Muki Hansteen Izora. A senior design researcher and strategist with the product research and incubation division of Intel’s digital health group, Izora’s research ranges from investigating the ways in which emerging economies might harness digital tools to improve health and well being in their citizens, and to support cognition and healing in elderly populations.

The annual Digital Media & Learning Conference is designed and produced by the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub. Located at the University of California, Irvine, the DML Research Hub explores how young people are taking up digital media and communications, and to analyze digital media’s potential for transforming education, learning, and participatory politics. With an office at UC Irvine and a website highlighting thought leadership and best practices – – the Research Hub hosts international gatherings, facilitates workshops and working groups, and brings together researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and industry leaders.

Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Research Hub is expected to help schools, libraries, museums and other entities and individuals engaged in teaching and learning better prepare youth for 21st century learning, working, and living. The MacArthur Foundation is also the primary sponsor of the conference. The Pearson Foundation is sponsoring the showcase of award-winning digital media learning products. The Mozilla Foundation and Microsoft Research also contributed to the conference. The MacArthur Foundation launched its digital media and learning initiative in 2006 to explore how digital media are changing the way young people learn, socialize and participate in civic life and what that means for learning in the 21st century. Information is available at

Sheryl Grant
Director, Social Networking
HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media & Learning Competition

Countdown to the DML Competition Showcase

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Cathy N. Davidson

Cathy N. Davidson

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