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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.
REFERENCES: 
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

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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:

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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

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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 SLAM.education.
Links to attend SLAM School will be posted at SLAM.education and on the Twitter Hashtag #SLAMEdu. For more information about SLAM and to suggest topics for future SLAM School sessions please visit slam.education.

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

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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.

Addressing “I don’t even wait” in Classrooms

After three days of circulating of Trump’s boasts of sexual assault, pundits weighing in, Facebook friends repudiating or uplifting the comments, and online memes and talk shows making light of an atrocity, kids across the country return to school today.

Students have literally heard the phrase “grab them by the pussy” normalized in the news cycles and quotes on various networks. They’ve heard that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” They heard Trump say, “I don’t even wait.” These are comments that were repeated and discussed over and over.

While we should be vilifying an awful man who brags about doing deplorable things, what we haven’t talked about is how this plays out in schools and classrooms. School discourse for young people means that some classrooms will debate this (but really – what is to be debated?). However, too many classrooms will say their kids aren’t prepared to handle the mature topic of sexual assault. They will reinforce the false argument that this is boys being boys. Too many classrooms will be focused on curricular pacing and classroom content; they don’t have time to talk about responsibility and what rape culture means.

The omission of dialogue about the tape and its implications is a lesson for young people. We don’t talk about it, it becomes normalized, lessons learned that yes such grabbing is okay if you’re a star. Boys and girls alike hear it’s okay for boys not to wait. It is not okay to not denounce this and break it down with students of all ages.

Media moves fast. Kids aren’t dummies. Don’t let the energy surrounding the election get in the way of the needed civic dialogue in classrooms today.

“In a city of the future it is difficult to concentrate”: An Overdue Update

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Don’t bury the lede: In January I am joining the Stanford Graduate School of Education as an assistant professor. I am looking forward to working with amazing colleagues there and will be sharing more about what my work looks like as I get up to speed in the coming months. Ally and I are in the not-at-all-stressful OMGMOSTSTRESSFULPROCESSEVER of selling and looking for and buying a house. Humblebrag: Ally will be managing a library as part of the San Mateo County Libraries system.

I have only amazing things to say about my experiences at Colorado State University and look forward to continue collaborating with and learning from my colleagues and students. If you are reading this and also on the English Education job market, please consider applying to join the fantastic faculty at CSU here.

To be clear, I am continuing to do similar research to what I’ve been exploring on this blog for nearly a decade. The intersection of literacies, gaming, technology, equity, and teaching remain at the heart of the work I do.

Phew, okay, that’s out of the way. As a bit of catch up, I’m going to just share a bunch of links to articles, presentations, and other opportunities you might be interested in below.

  • Next Sunday, I’m thrilled to be co-presenting the opening keynote for the4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing with my always awesome friend and co-author, Nicole Mirra. The digital conference looks great (and is FREE!), so take a look here.
  • I have begun editing a column for the Journal for Adolescent and Adult Literacy called “Challenging Texts.” The first column is accessible online and sets out the stakes for the column over the next two years. If you are interested in reviewing and writing for this column, please get in touch!
  • I’m still regularly blogging for DMLcentral, my most recent post was last week’s discussion of “compojing.”
  • I had a recent article in the ALAN Review titled “Networked Teens and YA Literature: Gossip, Identity, and What Really #matters.” The article is currently print-only, but please get in touch if you’d like to take a look.

The next few months remain a bit busy logistically, but I’ll check in a few more times before 2016 wraps and hope to get back into a regular posting schedule soon.

For those curious, this post’s title quotes Radiohead’s “Palo Alto,” a song I’ve been thinking about lately that you can hear here.

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“You don’t mind if I borrow this, do you?”

(Psst: this is not a book.)

San Diego Comic Con and the (FREE!) Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians

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If you’ll be in downtown San Diego next week – either for Comic-Con or because you like streets congested with nerds – consider spending some time at the San Diego Public Library.

In collaboration with Comic-Con International, the downtown branch of the library is hosting the first Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians. And while Comic-Con is very sold out, the events at the library are free. Interested participants just need to register for here.

Along with several friends, I’m excited to host the first workshop of this new conference on Wednesday afternoon from 4-6 p.m.: “Teaching with Comics: An Interactive Workshop for Educators” (And yes, for you Comic-Con attendees, this gives you time to head to the convention in time for Preview Night).

For more information about the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians and other events happening at the library, take a look here.

Also, if you will be at Comic-Con, Peter Carlson and I will be presenting a poster as part of the Comic Arts Conference on Saturday afternoon. Expanding on work we’ve been developing, we’ll be discussing representations of transformative resistance and critical race theory in recent comic books. Info on that session can be found here

Hope to see you soon!

Presentation at UC Davis 5/3

I will be giving at talk as part of the first Emerging Scholars Panel at the UC Davis School of Education this Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. Those of you in the area (or in the need of an excuse for a road trip toward 80+ degree weather), come by and say hello!

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Discussing Teacher Education and Public Scholarship at #AERA16

At last week’s AERA conference, I was thrilled with the conversation (both in person and online) that emerged from the session, “Talking Back: Public Scholarship, Productive Practice, and the Future of Teacher Education.” Organized by Lauren Anderson and Jamy Stillman, the session was framed around sharing photojournals what teacher education work looks like and our role in terms of public scholarship.

Because we were limited to five minutes for discussing our work, I wrote out my notes for the session and I am sharing them below. Prior to diving into these comments, I really encourage you to look at the photojournal here and to look at the other photojournals my amazing co-presenters shared. My page looks like this:

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And my comments:

Thank you Lauren and Jamy for inviting me to share my work with all of you.

As I assembled my final photojournal, I did a lot of deleting of words.

There are voice memos sprinkled throughout my journal and they are full of blemishes: ums, uhs, and even blasphemous “likes.” There are more photos of sitting in meetings or of traveling than there are of my students and work in schools. There are a lot of photos of computer screens.

And so while I first attempted to justify these pieces of media with flowery prose, I eventually deleted those words to allow a public image of my scholarship and its processes stand on its own.

There is a rambling video introduction at the beginning of my journal and at the risk of being redundant, I’m going to cover and expand on a few of the main principles I ummed, uhhed, and liked my way through in that video.

When I was in graduate school, one of my advisors, Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, talked about the fundamental differences in time and the various professional and home demands on it. Case in point: regardless of what kinds of deadlines, meetings, or piles of letters of recommendation that are awaiting completion on my desk, the raising-children-training-wheels that my wife and I have: two headstrong, scent-driven beagles must be walked.

Twice.

Everyday.

Sure, if things are busy you could hypothetically not walk them, but they have Machiavellian plans a la Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone – they will destroy the house (and destroy it gleefully) if unwalked. This is a blood oath they have both forsworn the moment we adopted them from the shelter.

And as much as I can get frustrated by finding the balance between home time and time for scholarship, I believe they are two sides of the same coin. Aside from listening to audiobooks and podcasts, I find the time for reflection on our meandering jaunts to be fundamental for helping clarify my thinking; it is the generative space in which reflection helps bind the theoretical with the pragmatic in my scholarship.

And so, to the extent that home time funnels, focuses, and shapes the day-to-day public scholarship that I engage in, so too must I be direct in noting that teacher education is not confined to classrooms.

I deliberately only offered a few sections of photos that are classroom-focused. I think that we educate teachers and teacher education through modeling the various other non-teaching responsibilities we take on in the many spaces that we inhabit. Like my colleagues’ photojournals illustrating digital life and activism, I believe we need to emphasize scholarship that does not so easily appear as peer reviewed publications or get checked off as professional service. I take my responsibility of making the educational landscape more just seriously. And I don’t find the time engaged in dialogue in spaces like Twitter, building consensus with other educators, or even reflecting during walks as flippant or “extra” to my professional responsibilities; they are all interrelated.

Which brings me to a lingering question about public scholarship and teacher education: public for whom? As I think about the work that I am doing as equity driven and scholarship that happens alongside the teachers, students, and community organizations I see as colleagues, I am reminded that we are myriad publics today.

In light of online and offline persecution of young people of color, individuals by race, class, sexuality, legal status, and placement within societal gender binaries, ours is work about addressing varied publics, and looking for intersections for uniting, coalescing, and growing.

Probably weekly I say to my preservice teachers that ours is political work. It cannot not be. The work of education, political as it is, does not start and stop in classrooms. It seeps into the conversations we have, the ways our income is disbursed through the purchasing decisions we make, and the roads we make by walking – to riff off of a book-length dialogue between Paulo Freire and Myles Horton.

In this sense, public scholarship is something of an embodied stance.

To return to my opening thoughts on a false binary between school time and life time, I would add that this is about scholarship that – particularly in today’s digital, participatory culture – unfolds over a lifetime.

We may warn our youthful future teachers to not put up any personal material on social networks or they will be fired and die. However, this is precisely how dialogue happens. My public work is inherently social work too. My educational scholarship is public scholarship.

I hope this journal reflects most wholly my own participation in a public sphere – be it in the generative and reflective processes while tethered to two beasts hot on the scent of a dastardly squirrel or while presenting at conferences or facilitating classroom activities. Ours is nuanced and complicated work.

Thank you.