Here is part of the announcement by the Conference Chair Katie Salen (you can also read more about Katie’s amazing work in technology and education in the upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine here):
As temperatures begin slowly to abate from the rather uncomfortable heights of a long Brooklyn summer I find I am already anticipating an escape from winter. An escape that will be made possible by the second annual Digital Media and Learning conference, to be held in sunny Long Beach, Mar. 3-5, 2011. It may seem strange to speak of the significance of the conference in this way, tied, as it were, to a seasonal escape from the cold. But the conflicting nature of arriving in Los Angeles in March with a useless parka in tow does offer a most welcome change in perspective. This year’s conference, Designing Learning Futures, is in some ways well suited to themes of conflict, change, dislocation, and shifting perspectives, whether engendered by travel via plane or digital networks. The changes brought about by the accessibility of digital and networked tools for young people have been the cause of both concern and celebration, and have undoubtedly demanded a transformation in how we think about, and design for learning.
Last year’s event, chaired by Henry Jenkins, was a great success and far exceeded our expectations. I had the honor, along with Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics, of delivering the Keynotes address for the conference. This year I’ve been working with a great committee–Katie, Heather Horst, Kimberly Austin, danah boyd, Sheryl Grant, Mark Surman, and Trebor Scholz–to organize what should be a stimulating event for researchers, educators, policy makers, and designers.
The MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative understands that the design of platforms and how we use them is evolving at a fascinating pace. Six years ago we were simply interested in understanding what young people were doing with technology and that produced some groundbreaking work. Today, we realize that the digital landscape is a very dynamic place as young people’s new media ecology grows even more interesting and complex. With that in mind one of the thematic strands that I helped coordinate for the Designing Learning Futures conference, “Youth, Digital Media, and Empowerment,” seeks to illuminate the innovations happening around young people’e engagement with social media tools.
Conference organizers understand that youth participatory practices are influenced by a variety of social and contextual factors including distinct youth-driven interests and learning ecologies, adult mentoring, institutional infrastructures, creative partnerships, and cultural diversity. What kinds of institutional infrastructures lead to programs and interventions that empower young voices, fortify social and knowledge networks, and develop the digital media skills and competencies that invigorate young critical citizens? Also, how are creative partnerships, programmatic initiatives, and the widespread diffusion of social and mobile media platforms challenging the “participation gap?” Kids all over the globe are adopting technology not only to socialize on Facebook but to get involved in the issues that impact their world and local communities. How are socially stigmatized and marginal youth populations embracing social media to build networks for personal enrichment, communal empowerment, and social change? We are looking for workshops and panels that discuss the art and science of interdisciplinary collaboration, design innovation, and programming that offers the opportunity for vibrant discussion, planning and intervention.
So, please spread the word about this thought-provoking event and consider submitting a proposal for a paper, panel, or workshop.
I can’t wait.
You can follow the DML Conference on Twitter #DML2011
You can follow S. Craig Watkins on Twitter @scraigwatkins