Call for Papers: Digital Media & Learning Conference 2011

Professor Katie Salen is Chair of the Digital Media & Learning Conference 2011. Her work at the innovative Quest to Learn school in New York City has been featured most recently in The New York Times Magazine.

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.

And, as noted in the conference call for proposals, “alongside transforming how we create, access, and use knowledge, these changes raise a series of socio-technical concerns regarding the tools, technologies, and policies that underpin digital media practices and their related learning opportunities. These issues operate on both macro and micro levels. They range from processes and protocols shaping the flow and tracking of data in social network sites like Facebook or MySpace to reward and reputation systems in multiplayer online games, collaborative DIY communities like Instructables.com or deviantART, as well as to emergent problematic practices like sexting and cyberbullying. These are, in short, concerns that give shape to both formal and informal learning ecologies and learning experiences.”

Keynotes and Conference Committee for 2011

We are thrilled to have Alice Taylor, Commissioning Editor for Education at Channel 4, BBC, and Muki Hansteen-Izora, Senior Design Researcher and Strategist with the Product Research and Incubation division of Intel's Digital Health Group on hand as the opening and closing keynotes, to provide their unique perspectives on what they think the future might hold. These talks, I assure you, are two that simply shouldn’t be missed.

Special Thematic Tracks on Emerging Platforms, New Collectives, and Youth Empowerment

I feel very lucky to be working with the group of individuals who make up this year’s conference committee, and am honored to be following in Henry Jenkins' footsteps as conference chair. danah boyd, Mark Surman, and S. Craig Watkins are serving as chairs for the conference’s special thematic tracks, Emerging Platforms and Policies, New Collectives, and Youth, Digital Media and Empowerment, respectively. These tracks are intended to serve both as conceptual tent poles around which folks with common interests might gather, and as beacons signaling outward the diverse range of questions represented. Trebor Scholz is overseeing an innovative plan for the integration of social media throughout the conference, connecting participants to one another, to conversation and debate, and to the world beyond the conference borders. Sheryl Grant is working with Trebor on this important component of the conference, as well as helping to curate work from the winners of the 2010 DML Competition. Kimberly Austin will be working with the student volunteers and Heather Horst continues to lend her organizational brilliance to wrangling the numerous logistical details that a conference of this ambition demands. Mimi Ito and David Theo Goldberg chair the local organizing committee and make the conference possible through their work leading the DML Research Hub.

Call for Proposals

The Call for Proposals contains all the juicy details on what, when, and how to submit a proposal for consideration by the conference committee. There are several different formats for presentations this year—panels, workshops, and ignite talks—and like last year, the conference website will be the central location for information about the event. As the date for the conference approaches, the conference website will be updated with the full schedule of sessions, so please check back frequently. This year’s conference is shaping up to be an extraordinary coming together of practitioners, policy makers, researchers, young people, and those working in the gaps between. We look forward to seeing you, sans puffy parka, in the sunshine come March. To get a sense of what the conference committee's aspirations are for this year's gathering, check out Howard Rheingold's interviews with committee members danah boyd, Sheryl Grant, Trebor Scholz, Mark Surman, S. Craig Watkins and myself: