(IRVINE, CA) – Nearly 500 global researchers, scholars, and practitioners will gather for a first-of-its-kind conference at UC San Diego to debate and discuss a fast-growing list of issues about how digital media and the Internet are transforming society – especially in education, politics, and youth culture.
Experts from across the United States as well as Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Canada, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, India, and China will share latest insights and discuss compelling implications of a wide variety of phenomena and trends pivoting around the Internet, digital media, and youth:
- Tensions between young people’s use of the Internet for peer-to-peer and self-directed, interest-driven learning and traditional education’s approach of using standardized curriculum, directed instruction, and traditional roles of teacher and student
- How digital media, social media, and the Internet are reconfiguring the political and civic landscape
- The growing case for leveraging video games and game theory for education and learning
- Understanding the new literacies necessary for participating in a networked and digital world
- How real-life tensions involving race, ethnicity, class, and gender play out in virtual worlds
- The potential impact of a person’s digital “afterlife” for those who are active on the Internet and with digital media
- How the Internet and the ability to connect with diverse people and cultures are reshaping how youth form their identities and see themselves in the world
“Global digital media are rapidly becoming a driving force in globalization, scientific advances, and the intersection – and sometimes clash – of cultures,” said David Theo Goldberg, director of the systemwide University of California’s Humanities Research Institute and co-director of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, which designed and organized the conference. “Every day new questions arise about the ability of traditional systems and institutions to prepare both young people and life-long learners for the social, economic, and political demands of a complex and networked new century.”
Located at the University of California, Irvine, the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub is a new international center to nurture exploration of and build evidence around the impact of digital media and the Internet on young peopleʼs learning and its potential for transforming education and civics. Funded through a $2.97 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Research Hub’s network is seeking to understand the implications inherent in how this generation of youth – unlike any previous one – is embracing the online world to access information, socialize, and engage in public life. Research is expected to help schools, libraries, museums and other institutions engaged in teaching and learning better prepare students for the 21st century workforce.
“Weʼre at the very early stages of this phenomenon where youth and kids are learning so much more outside of the classroom via the Web and social networking,” said Mizuko Ito, University of California, Irvine, researcher and co-director of the Research Hub. “If we donʼt tap into the learning revolution that is going on today, Iʼm very concerned weʼre going to have many kids being left behind.”
Concerns about access and its implications for equity in society across race, ethnicity, gender, and class are echoed in the conference’s theme, “Diversifying Participation.”
Details for the conference can be found at the conference website – DMLcentral.net/conference – but it begins Thursday, Feb. 18 and runs through Saturday, Feb. 20 and will be held at UC San Diego’s Calit2 complex. It will be chaired by Henry Jenkins from the University of Southern California, whose work has been at the forefront of understanding the effects of digital media on society, politics, and culture. His research gives key insights into the success of social-networking Web sites, networked computer games, online fan communities and other advocacy organizations, and emerging news media outlets. The conference committee includes: David Theo Goldberg, Heather Horst, Mizuko Ito, Jabari Mahiri, and Holly Willis.
S. Craig Watkins, who has been researching young people’s media behaviors for more than a decade, will give the opening keynote address entitled, “Living on the Digital Margins: How Black and Latino Youth are Remaking the Participation Gap.” Watkins teaches at the University of Texas, Austin, in the departments of Radio-Television-Film and Sociology and the Center for African and African American Studies.
Saturday’s closing keynote, “Youthful Participation – What have we learned, What shall we ask next?” will be presented by British youth culture and Internet expert, Sonia Livingstone. A professor of social psychology and head of the department of media and communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Livingstone’s research examines young people, their families, and the Internet; digital literacies; and public policy.
Another important presentation will be led by Youth Radio International, a Peabody Award winning youth-driven media company headquartered in Oakland, CA, and whose young correspondents file stories from across the U.S. and around the world. Youth Radio producers are mostly young people of color who have been recruited from low-income schools. They deliver media content to some of America’s leading broadcast and digital outlets, including boingboing.net, The Huffington Post, and National Public Radio.
The Digital Media and Learning Conference is expected to be an annual event supported by the MacArthur Foundation and organized by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. With a physical office at UC Irvine and a new virtual destination – www.dmlcentral.net – the Research Hub is dedicated to supporting emerging research on digital media and learning by hosting international conferences, facilitating workshops and working groups, and bringing together researchers, practitioners, policymakers, industry leaders and others working on related projects. It also houses related research programs of the MacArthur Foundationʼs digital media and learning initiative. Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the British nonprofit research group, FutureLab, are partnering with UC Irvine on Research Hub activities.
About the MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. In 2006, MacArthur launched its digital media and learning initiative to explore how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life and what that means for their learning in the 21st century. More information is available at www.macfound.org/education.