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 Announcing Theory Into Practice Special Issue on Multiliteracies

"Hi wobot!"

I am thrilled to share a recently published special issue of Theory Into Practice focusing on Twenty Years of Multiliteracies: Moving from Theory to Social Change in Literacies and Beyond. As a project that my co-editor Robyn Seglem and I started in 2016–twenty years since The New London Group’s seminal publication—this issue brings together leaders across the field of education exploring how multiliteracies, pedagogy, and “social futures” have shifted classroom practices and educational research.

I describe a little bit more about what drove Robyn and I to pull this issue together below but, really, I encourage you to go to the Theory Into Practice page and dig into the amazing work of our contributors.

Twenty years ago, the ten members of the New London Group noted:

The changing technological and organizational shape of working life provides some with access to lifestyles of unprecedented affluence, while excluding others in ways that are increasingly related to the outcomes of education and training. It may well be that we have to rethink what we are teaching, and, in particular, what new learning needs literacy pedagogy might now address.

At the 2016 Literacy Research Association annual conference, Allan Luke elaborated that the conglomeration of technological advances with global power, competition, and neoliberalism have shattered the utopian possibilities of digital tools held by many during the turn of the century. Particularly considering the role of technology, oppression, and communication in this current moment of Trumpism, the articles in this issue point to specific opportunities for pedagogical innovation and new research pathways vis-à-vis multiliteracies scholarship. As Robyn and I write in our introduction:

            [T]he framework for “designing social futures” at the heart of this issue was written long before the existence of online social networks like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Technical advances from “smart” phones to internet-enabled thermostats, doorbells, and fitness trackers had not yet redefined our relationships to “stuff” at the time that multiliteracies outlined new modes of communication and understanding. Though advances in technology were still seen as central to the hopes of educational reform in the U.S. (Cuban, 1986), entire ways of interacting and communicating with one another and mediating the comfort of middle class lives did not exist. Similarly, Amazon, Uber, Warby Parker, Blue Apron, and myriad other companies did not reimagine new modes of commerce. In 1996, rather, media such as books, music, and VHS tapes were largely bought in malls; the ushering out of smaller mall-based bookshops like B. Dalton and Waldenbooks had not yet happened and larger shops like Barnes & Noble were not the threat to mom and pop shops that today’s eCommerce behemoths may be. New content was not yet downloaded (illicitly pilfered or paid for) from online sources.

Illustrating the kinds of advances that we have seen in the years since the New London Group’s publication, let us consider “the boy who lived”: Harry Potter. In 1996, the first book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series was still a year away from being published. This publication, in turn, would not only get caught in the hearts of millions of readers (many impatiently awaiting magical owls bearing invitations that would somehow whisk them to their own wizarding school experiences) but would also redefine the markets for publishing young adult and children’s literature. The powerful links between serialized novels, Hollywood adaptations, and books as portals for lucrative transmedia franchises was fully realized across the decade of Harry Potter novels that led to films, fan fiction, and even theme parks. The advances in technology that were in lock-step with the possibilities of mass-market profit were both suggested by and unable to be anticipated by the New London Group. Multiliteracies, in classrooms and in broader society, highlight how even liberatory possibilities of literacies–to reach new audiences and foment new voices–are often hemmed in by the auspices of those that wield societal power.

We are thrilled with the amazing contributions in this issue. I am pasting the table of contents below, but encourage you to visit the Theory Into Practice website to access the abstracts and full manuscripts for the entire issue. I hope you check these articles out!


This Issue – Antero Garcia & Robyn Seglem

Pedagogies and Literacies, Disentangling the Historical Threads: An Interview with Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis – Bill Cope, Mary Kalantzis, & Anna Smith

From Digital Consumption to Digital Invention: Toward a New Critical Theory and Practice of Multiliteracies – Nicole Mirra, Ernest Morrell, and Danielle Filipiak

Multiplicities in Motion: A Turn to Transliteracies – Anna Smith, Amy Stornaiuolo & Nathan C. Phillips

Design, Desire, and Difference – Kevin M. Leander & Gail Boldt

Centering Nepantla Literacies from the Borderlands: Leveraging “In-Betweenness” Toward Learning in the Everyday – José Ramón Lizárraga & Kris D. Gutiérrez

Multiliteracies in Practice: Integrating Multimodal Production Across the Curriculum – Patricia Thibaut & Jen Scott Curwood

Changing Literacies and Civic Pathways: Multiliteracies in Inquiry-Driven Classrooms – Robyn Seglem & Antero Garcia

From Designing to Organizing New Social Futures: Multiliteracies Pedagogies for Today – William R. Penuel & Kevin O’Connor

Looking at the Next 20 Years of Multiliteracies: A Discussion with Allan Luke – Antero Garcia, Allan Luke, & Robyn Seglem

“Do the trap jump? Is the plug right?”: Books Read in 2017


As I’ve only just begun The Bughouse, I think it’s time for my annual tally:

Books read in 2017: 132
Comics and graphic novels included in reading total: 23
Books of poetry included in reading total: 3
Books reread included in reading total: 2
Academic & Education related books included in reading total: 17
YA and Junior Fiction books included in reading total: 17
Roleplaying Game-related books (rules, modules, settings – related to this research): 5

A few thoughts (As usual, here are my posts on books read in 201620152014,  2013201220112010, and 2009):

I would be remiss to also point out I published two books this year as well. I’ve written about Good Reception here and Alternate Reality Games and the Cusp of Digital Gameplay here. Additionally, I read substantially fewer gaming-related books as that work is now moving toward being submitted for publication. Initial work related to tabletop gaming came out earlier this year here and here.

Moving on to things I read, the first book I finished this year (on January 4th) was Jane Mayer’s Dark Money. Perhaps the most relevant and accessible book that illustrates the paths that lead to Trumpism, the lessons here continue to resonate.

A couple of novels I enjoyed: Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and Dexter Palmer’s Version Control both played with precision and form. They were quick reads that still felt sumptuous. Speaking of form, I read Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter for the first time and the possibilities of that book as a template for conveying ethnography have had me mulling. Likewise John McPhee’s Levels of the Game is a book length reckoning of one tennis match that continues to make me think about how to step up the narrative threads in academic writing; I’m pretty sure this will make some of my graduate syllabi in the near future. 

In terms of YA books, I re-read Cathy’s Book and read Nnedi Okorafor’s stellar Akata Witch both for separate projects, I hope to talk about in the future. I also really enjoyed both of Becky Albertalli’s books this year and look forward to the film adaptation Love, Simon (even if I don’t love the film’s name).

Finally, while Meet Me in the Bathroom was the quicker read about hipster music culture, Damon Krukowski’s The New Analog has been the book that has most directly affected some of my recent research. The related podcast series has been illuminating as well.

In terms of music, Vince Staples, SZA, Bleachers, and Rostam have all gotten consistent rotation. Daniel Caesar was the most surprising artist I learned about early on this year. I’ve probably streamed the Praise Break EP a couple dozen times. The 1-2 punch of the Casablanca interlude and “We’ll Always Have Paris” has been a musical highlight.

Announcing Good Reception!

I am thrilled to announce the release of my newest book, Good Reception: Teens, Teachers, and Mobile Media in a Los Angeles High School. Published by MIT Press, this book synthesizes nearly a decade of research that began in my classroom as a teacher in Los Angeles and continues through various work today.

Here’s a description of the book:

A year in the life of a ninth-grade English class shows how participatory culture and mobile devices can transform learning in schools.

Schools and school districts have one approach to innovation: buy more technology. In Good Reception, Antero Garcia describes what happens when educators build on the ways students already use technology outside of school to help them learn in the classroom. As a teacher in a public high school in South Central Los Angeles, Garcia watched his students’ nearly universal adoption of mobile devices. Whether recent immigrants from Central America or teens who had spent their entire lives in Los Angeles, the majority of his students relied on mobile devices to connect with family and friends and to keep up with complex social networks. Garcia determined to discover how these devices and student predilection for gameplay, combined with an evolving “culture of participation,” could be used in the classroom.

Garcia charts a year in the life of his ninth-grade English class, first surveying mobile media use on campus and then documenting a year-long experiment in creating a “wireless critical pedagogy” by incorporating mobile media and games in classroom work. He describes the design and implementation of “Ask Anansi,” an alternate reality game that allows students to conduct inquiry-based research around questions that interest them (including “Why is the food at South Central High School so bad?”). Garcia cautions that the transformative effect on education depends not on the glorification of devices but on teacher support and a trusting teacher-student relationship.

I’ve taken the years since first completing the analysis at the heart of this book to look at how my work can shift the landscape of educational equity in the U.S. As a result, I’ve had a chance to extend the research that first began as my dissertation in this book. At the same time, I’ve tried to fill this book with as many resources for teachers, researchers, and game designers as possible. The appendices has resources for structuring game design for K-12 contexts as well as frameworks for meaningful integration of technology in schools.

If you want to get a better sense of this work, Henry Jenkins recently ran a three-part interview with me describing some of the key ideas in the book. Take a look at parts one, two, and three.

I also recently was featured on Stanford Radio talking about the key ideas in the book and you definitely want to listen to that too, right?:

Good Reception is a project I’ve spent a long time refining my thinking about. I began this research a few years prior to one of the largest one-to-one debacles in the U.S. and concluded my analysis only after co-designing a school based on some of the principles featured in the book. Further, this work in the book has shaped how I have been studying project-based learning, tabletop gaming, connected learning, teacher professional development, “analog” and “gaming” literacies, research methodologies, and alternate reality games. Though I write about a lot of this stuff in a lot of different journals, Good Reception is where I’ve tried to be most accessible in my writing for a more general and public audience. I hope you give it a look!

(And since you’re here, I’m just gonna go ahead and put these awesome book endorsements down here too!)

A rising star in the Digital Media and Learning realm and a gifted storyteller, Antero Garcia combines an embedded perspective as a classroom teacher facing the challenges and opportunities of bringing mobile media into the public schools with a theoretically sophisticated grasp of contemporary pedagogical theories (Connect Learning, the New London Group, games-based education, and Paulo Freire, among others). This book could not be more timely or more urgent as schools confront a growing disconnect between their normal practices and the ways youth are processing the world around them.

Henry Jenkins, coauthor of By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism

As technology sweeps into classrooms, adults commonly regard it either as a magic bullet to deepen student engagement or as a hard-to-handle and persistent distraction to be put away. Instead, Antero Garcia, a gifted teacher, presents in Good Reception, a nuanced, alternative, and illuminating perspective, based on listening to the students themselves about their relationship with technology.

Jane Margolis, Senior Researcher, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA; lead author of Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing

I’m really excited to have this work out in the world. If you’re reading, talking, or wondering about this book or the ideas within, please feel free to get in touch!

WHO’s Calling the Media Literacy Shots? (Thoughts on the New Dr.)

As an admittedly non-Dr. Who fan, I had some thoughts about the new doctor and classroom implications:


#Literacies #Schmiteracies: An Invitation to Help Sustain Professional Teaching Practices


This upcoming Monday kicks off the first class I’ll be teaching for STEP: ED289 – The Centrality of Literacies in Learning and Teaching.

This class is a two-week mad dash through all things literacies for secondary teacher education students. Recognizing the limitations of the course in terms of time and energy (students take the class in the afternoons after a full day at a local school site), I am hoping to center an ethos of critical, humanizing, and expansive literacies. You’re welcome to take a look at our perpetually-being-tweaked-syllabus here.

As part of the design of this course, I am also hoping to illustrate to students the broader critical community of literacies educators I regularly learn from. In this spirit, we will be hosting three shorter Twitter chats over the next two weeks, utilizing my new favorite hashtag, #schmiteracies.

If you’re lounging on your couch and hoping to engage in a discussion of Freirean stances of liberation and literacies, please join us on the following days around 4:30(ish) pst.:

7/17: Topic – Defining Literacies

7/20:  Topic – Enacting Powerful Literacies in an Era of Common Core

7/25: Topic – Connected Learning & Connected Literacies

I’ll send a #schmiteracies tweet with better ETAs on each of the days above. If you have questions prior to chat – feel free to reach out!

Call for Papers: The Intersections of Learning, Technology, & Politics in a Climate of Fear, Oppression, and Nationalism

I am co-editing an upcoming special issue of Learning, Media and Technology alongside Thomas M. Philip with the theme noted above. The full CFP can be found here and I am also pasting the details below.

Abstracts are due in a bit over a month and I an hoping that many of you reading this might consider how your scholarship aligns with the call. Please get in touch if you have questions about this work. (If you’re at AERA this week, shoot me a tweet and we can connect and talk there!)

Proposals are invited for papers for a special issue of the journal on the theme of The Intersections of Learning, Technology, & Politics in a Climate of Fear, Oppression, and Nationalism

This special issue will present research exploring how the current nationalist and oppressive sociopolitical environment–seen globally–shapes youth identities and learning practices in both formal and informal environments. We want to interrogate how learning and the role of technology are affected by a political climate that sees a rise in global far-right movements, as evidenced by the wake of prominent recent events like Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

As guest editors in the U.S., we are particularly cognizant of a localized context in which a successful presidential campaign can be built on foundations of racism (Kendall, 2016), religious intolerance (Rosenberg & Ainsley, 2016) sexual assault (Burns, Haberman, & Martin, 2016), misogyny (Khazan, 2016), xenophobia (Sargent, 2016), and a disregard for science and the environment; we see today’s political actions shaping the landscape of learning and technology long after the administration of individual leaders.  As a result, the papers in this issue will explore the broader landscape of the current political climate, rather than focusing exclusively on specific figures and events.  They will offer new understandings and narratives of learning, engagement, and resistance.

The intersections of learning, technology, and politics are pervasive in the lives of young people; exploring how information and technology shape the contours of the spaces in which learning takes place, we seek to center the voices and needs of youth. Further, this issue underscores that these shifts are happening globally and we are specifically interested in looking at how nationalism and far-right movements affect youth learning and engagement in myriad, global contexts. We also see broader civic, educative, and social-emotional concerns arising at the same time that one-to-one digital device initiatives and emphasis on STEM learning claim to be ushering in equitable learning opportunities for all youth regardless of socioeconomics, culture, race, or gender. In considering how issues of capitalism and neoliberalism underpin both the educational shifts in classrooms and the ushering in of a nationalistic political paradigm, this issue will highlight the fundamental role that media and technology play in this specific moment. We are mindful that the contexts of learning are part of the current political moment and tied to neo-liberal capitalist practices.

We invite papers for this issue of Learning, Media and Technology that come from a variety of research methods, theoretical approaches and country perspectives. We are particularly interested in papers that are authored, co-authored, or take into account the voices and perspectives of those most vulnerable in the present political moment not limited to youth of color, women, members of a religious minority, and individuals that identify as LGBTQ. Papers might explore such questions as:

  • How are youth identities being shaped by the current landscape of nationalism, exclusion, and symbolic violence, particularly through new media?
  • What role does technology play in reinforcing and/or resisting hurtful discourses?
  • In what ways can empirical research around learning and technology take up an emphasis of solidarity and/or resistance to exclusionary educational and social policies?
  • How does symbolic violence in social media shape feelings of nationalism and identity, particularly for youth?
  • How are digital tools, artificial intelligence, and machine learning shaping global contexts such as the election of Trump and Brexit?
  • How are youth learning about, responding to, and unpacking the contexts of neoliberal society in both formal and informal environments? What tools are leveraged in this discourse?
  • How are contemporary social science and educational methodologies illuminating or occluding dominant hegemonic discourses within the work conducted in schools?

Submission Instructions

We are currently soliciting abstracts for proposed papers for the special issue. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words and be accompanied by up to six keywords.

Deadline for submission of abstract: 1st June 2017
Successful authors informed: 1st July 2017
Deadline for submission of full papers: 15th January 2018

Full papers are expected to be between 6,000 and 8,000 words (please refer to the journal website for full ‘instructions for authors’). All papers will be subject to the usual blind reviewing and refereeing processes.

Please send abstracts and keywords to the guest editors by 1st June 2017:

Email: Antero Garcia & Thomas M. Philip

Please put ‘abstract Learning, Media and Technology’ in the subject.
Burns, A., Haberman, M., Martin, J. (2016). Donald Trump apology caps day of outrage over lewd tape. New York Times.

Kendall, B. (2016). Trump says judge’s Mexican heritage presents ‘absolute conflict’. Wall Street Journal.

Khazan, O. (2016). The Lasting Harm of Trump-Style Sexism. The Atlantic.

Rosenberg, M. & Ainsley, J.E. (2016). Immigration hardliner says Trump team preparing plans for wall, mulling Muslim registry. Reuters.

Sargent, G. (2016). Trump returns to his old standbys: Xenophobia, hate, lies, and yes, mass deportations. Washington Post.


“If you weren’t reading this book it would still exist”: Alternate Reality in an Era of Alternative Facts


I am thrilled to announce the release of the recent edited volume, Alternate Reality Games and the Cusp of Digital Gameplay, as part of Bloomsbury’s Approaches to Digital Game Studies series.

The book, co-edited with Greg Niemeyer examines foundational tropes in ARGs, pushes towards new conceptions within the genre, and challenges how “digital” game studies reconcile with games that take place in the physical world around us.

In conjunction with this release, Greg and I are hosting a day-long symposium on ARGs on May 23 at Stanford University. This free event begins with a morning of panels and academic talks related to the contemporary state of ARGs, includes a session of ARG-related playtests on campus, and culminates in an afternoon talk by Jane McGonigal. The event is free (flyer above) and you can register here.

A bit more about the book:

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) challenge what players understand as “real.” Alternate Reality Games and the Cusp of Digital Gameplay is the first collection to explore and define the possibilities of ARGs. Though prominent examples have existed for more than two decades, only recently have ARGs come to the prominence as a unique and highly visible digital game genre. Adopting many of the same strategies as online video games, ARGs blur the distinction between real and fictional.

With ARGs continuing to be an important and blurred space between digital and physical gameplay, this volume offers clear analysis of game design, implementation, and ramifications for game studies. Divided into three distinct sections, the contributions include first hand accounts by leading ARG creators, scholarly analysis of the meaning behind ARGs, and explorations of how ARGs are extending digital tools for analysis. By balancing the voices of designers, players, and researchers, this collection highlights how the Alternate Reality Game genre is transforming the ways we play and interact today.

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(While the hardcover version of our recent volume is pricey, a paperback copy is forthcoming – this edition makes a great library acquisition!)

Please get in touch if you have questions or want to learn more about either the book or the event!

Come to SLAM School


I am co-launching SLAM School alongside current SLAM leaders Robyn Seglem and Nicole Mirra. Starting next week, we’re hosting bi-weekly online classes that offer specific strategies for teaching and participating in a fight for U.S. democracy. We’re inspired by the international activism we have been a part of and hope to help teachers leverage the specific skills and resources available within and around our classrooms. I’ll be tweeting links to the school sessions starting net week. I hope to see you there!

Here’s the official announcement:

Announcing SLAM School – A Bi-Weekly Series for Educators and Organizers hosted by the NCTE Studies of Literacies & Multimedia (SLAM)
From discerning fake news to learning how to contact your congressional representatives to strategically organizing and communicating online, the skills and expertise of English teachers are more important than ever before. The Studies of Literacies and Multimedia (SLAM) Assembly is launching SLAM School, a bi-weekly online web series. Every two weeks, beginning on February 8th, SLAM members will offer guidance and instruction for using specific digital tools and curricular ideas to support civic engagement, protest, and discussion of the crucial issues that are shaping classroom and broader culture. These short (20-30 minute) online sessions are offered free and will be archived via an NCTE Youtube Playlist. Recognizing that the world inside and outside of our classrooms is changing rapidly, SLAM School will offer instructional tools for helping youth critique and learn about the current events around them while also giving teachers critical tools for leading the defense of public education and broader U.S. democracy. We hope you will join us.

Initial SLAM School Dates:
2/8: Organizing and Communicating Through Twitter – 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST
2/23: How to Contact Legislators – 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST
3/7: Topic TBA – 3 p.m. PST/6 p.m. EST
3/22: Topic TBA – 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST
Dates will continue roughly every two weeks and will be announced at
Links to attend SLAM School will be posted at and on the Twitter Hashtag #SLAMEdu. For more information about SLAM and to suggest topics for future SLAM School sessions please visit

“This chapter says ‘Put it out of your mind’”: Books Read in 2016


I’m slowly flipping through Tim Ferris’s Tools of Titans and a couple of academic books, so I think it’s time for my annual tally:

Books read in 2016: 156
Comics and graphic novels included in reading total: 30
Books of poetry included in reading total: 2
Books reread included in reading total: 2
Academic & Education related books included in reading total: 26
YA and Junior Fiction books included in reading total: 13
Roleplaying Game-related books (rules, modules, settings – related to this research): 14

A few thoughts (As usual, here are my posts on books read in 20152014,  2013201220112010, and 2009):

For gaming research that will probably start to see the light of day in 2017, I’ve been thinking a lot about systems. Taking a large portion of the early part of 2016, Robert Caro’s hefty biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker, was just as good as everyone says. It points to how sprawling inequities and stratified geographies in New York weren’t accidents but rather human-driven activities. Likewise, Matthew Desmond’s Wire-like opus Evicted—as full as it is of vignettes and nuanced depictions of individuals—points to how systems beget further systems of financial and social hardship. It’s the most accessible academic book I read this year (and for the nerds, I think this book has the best footnotes I’ve come across!). Finally, I have been revisiting this quirky book on system theory from the ‘70s. With pages of random doodles alongside significant contributions to why system-driven individuals build layers of problems, Gall’s text has been helpful in connecting gaming concepts to broader social and learning connections in my own research.

The best music-related read all year was Jace Clayton’s (aka DJ Rupture) book Uproot. Looking at the globalized nature of digital music, Clayton’s book connected much of the broader music ecosystem to concerns I’ve had with celebratory digital tinkering in education. The online listening guide for the book is excellent. I hadn’t been this fascinated by autotune as I had since its absence in this T-Pain performance.

I read all six of the Expanse-series books. I haven’t seen the TV adaptation yet, but I appreciate the direction and world-building across each of the lengthy tomes. For page-turning sci-fi, I think Leviathan Wakes is a good beginning to a series that only starts to show some stress from the weight of its many storylines in the most recent, sixth volume.

This also seemed like a great year for comic books. And despite the titles of Wakanda gathering mainstream accolades, two trades by Tom King most impressed me. The current run of Vision is the stop-what-you’re-doing-and-read-this-already title I would universally recommend. In both content and form, King and colleagues are doing some incredible work here. Likewise, King’s Omega Men was a continually surprising read. This video breaks down some of the ways King is reinventing the possibilities of the traditional, 9-panel, comic page.

Finally, I’m not sure where I heard about or why I decided to read The Man Who Heard Voices. But for a book about a film director I don’t like (M. Night Shyamalan) making a movie I despise (Lady in the Water), it’s a pretty fascinating look at an uncompromising artist and a deeply flawed film. Go figure.


Musically, this was a rough year. I listened to Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo much more than any other release. The album is a flawed masterpiece and I think it’s release points to the possibilities of what it means to make an “album” in the 21st century. That being said, as much as I’ve written lots (and lots) about Kanye in the past, I can’t overlook his recent statements or behavior. I am also cautious not to disregard the fact that Kanye’s every word is scrutinized, he became the father of his second child this year, and his wife was held captive and robbed. I’ve been thinking about this Chappelle interview in regards to Kanye, lately.

Finally, I haven’t been able to face Prince or Bowie’s deaths head on this year. (I teared up listening to Starfish and Coffee recently.) Instead, the Prince collaboration with Kate Bush is probably the singular song I played the most this year (and lends it’s opening line to this blog’s title):

Likewise, the NY Times Popcast speculated that the title of Bowie’s final album comes from an Elvis Presley song. This too, has been a haunting track echoing across a harrowing year:

I can’t say 2017 looks to bode better than 2016. I’m hoping to temper what looks like a battle-heavy year politically with texts of optimism and laughter. Suggestions are welcomed.

Our Teaching Mandate

The election hasn’t been officially called, but I’m embedding a series of tweets that will stand regardless of any hail-mary shifts in the coming hours.