Elizabeth Losh

Elizabeth Losh

Elizabeth Losh is an associate professor of English and American studies at William and Mary with a specialization in new media ecologies. Before joining William and Mary, she directed the Culture, Art, and Technology Program at the University of California, San Diego. She is a core member and former co-facilitator of the feminist technology collective FemTechNet, a founding member of the Center for Solutions to Online Violence, and a member of the HASTAC Steering Committee. 

She is the author of Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (MIT Press, 2009) and The War on Learning: Gaining Ground in the Digital University (MIT Press, 2014). She is the co-author of the comic book textbook Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013) with Jonathan Alexander.

In addition to recent work on selfies and hashtag activism, she has also written a number of frequently cited essays about communities that produce, consume, and circulate online video, videogames, digital photographs, text postings, and programming code. The diverse range of subject matter analyzed in her scholarship has included coming out videos on YouTube, videogame fan films created by immigrants, combat footage from soldiers in Iraq shot on mobile devices, video evidence created for social media sites by protesters on the Mavi Marmara, remix videos from the Arab Spring, the use of Twitter and Facebook by Indian activists working for women’s rights after the Delhi rape case, and the use of Instagram by anti-government activists in Ukraine. Much of this body of work concerns the legitimation of political institutions through visual evidence, representations of war and violence in global news, and discourses about human rights. This work has appeared in edited collections from MIT Press, Routledge, University of Chicago, Minnesota, Oxford, Continuum, and many other presses.

Blogs (54)

Creating Culturally Sensitive Solutions to Digital Violence

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jacque Wernimont As web materials for the Center for Solutions to Online Violence go live this month, at DML Central we are continuing to run profiles of those who participated in the DML Competition 5 Trust Challenge. By focusing specifically on trust issues, this series of grant opportunities was designed to address the continuing presence of serious obstacles to digital participation that go beyond access to technology and consider the role of systemic bias or suspicion. Rather than adopt a one-size-fits all approach to bullying and stalking, the CSOV offers those seeking information about combatting internet misogyny and

Advocating for Online Privacy

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Advocating for Online Privacy As a researcher who actively engages in tech policy, Seda Gürses considers how a variety of actors may disrupt online wellbeing. She also brings an international perspective to her collaborative work. As part of the Trust Challenge team launching the Center for Solutions to Online Violence, Gürses contributes her expertise as a computer scientist and privacy advocate. Now based at Princeton, she previously held positions at New York University and the University of Leuven. In an interview with DML Central, Gürses mused about the fact that her earliest digital literacy experiences had been shaped by childhood experiences.

Speaking for the Oregon Trail Generation: Meet the Center for Solutions to Online Violence Team

Monday, March 28, 2016

11/03/15 - BOSTON, MA. - Scenes during the Sex, Gender, and Justice event held in the Raytheon Amphitheater at Northeastern University on Nov. 3, 2015. Photo by: Emma Putnam AMD'17/for Northeastern University Moya Bailey brings her enthusiasm for transforming the digital humanities and her interest in asking critical questions about basic conditions for digital community engagement to her position at Northeastern University. Bailey has been an integral member of the #transformdh hashtag campaign to promote digital inclusion efforts to prioritize born-digital materials and complicate the potential meanings of “access” to technology.  As a core team member of the newly founded Center for Solutions to Online Violence, which received start-up funding from the recent DML Trust Challenge, she has been seeking innovative approaches to combatting the online sexism and racism that terrorizes

Making Learning Matter in the Digital Classroom

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Online Course description screenshot In a recent blog post, I discussed the noteworthy success of a web-based course launched by a research university in a high-profile initiative that emphasized online access as much as digital education. As I pointed out, student evaluations are almost never universally positive about large courses, particularly required courses with many drafts due for projects that can feel like “busy work” to skeptical undergraduates. I interviewed the course instructor, Alexandra Sartor, in this blog post and wanted to follow up with the instructional designer, Ava Arndt, as well. A disclaimer is probably in order here, since

Online Literacy and the College Learner: Transfer Research and Technology

Monday, February 01, 2016

Students sitting in front of rows of computers facing projector screen Recently, I wrote a post for DML Central about an online course that’s receiving unusually high course evaluations and is being offered by the Culture, Art, and Technology program at UC San Diego. It’s a course in which online literacy is both the form and the content of the assigned curriculum. The instructor, Alexandra Sartor, took time out from teaching for an interview with DML Central to talk about her experiences, teaching the course. She laughed about the fact that her ultimate achievement was probably having “almost no comments about the form of the course.” Despite the digital focus

What Failure? Supporting a Succeeding UC Online Course

Thursday, January 14, 2016

UCSD webpage screenshot with students and professor in image I’m certainly no starry-eyed uncritical worshipper of online learning. In fact, I have something of a reputation as a very frank critic, which was solidified with my book The War on Learning. This status as a skeptic is likely to be further reinforced with my new edited collection about “the MOOCs moment” that is slated to appear soon from the University of Chicago Press. So, it’s not surprising that I regularly get sent news items about bone-headed failures from people chortling about the obvious shortcomings of instructional technology in higher education. What has been disconcerting is

Selfie Pedagogy IV: Diversity, Netprov and Service Learning

Thursday, December 17, 2015

girl in classroom showing selfie photo on her cell phone We profiled Mark Marino of the Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab at USC on this blog five years ago in a post about innovative approaches to service learning. In 2015, we wanted to return to his digital pedagogy in the college writing classroom as part of a four-part series on teaching with selfies. National and international news organizations have been reporting on his recent work at the University of Southern California, but unfortunately this coverage has sometimes reinforced generalizations about the supposed superficiality, narcissism, and anti-intellectualism of young people, stereotypes that he had hoped to dispel. In

Selfie Pedagogy III: Networked Spaces, Slut Shaming and Putting Selfies in Dialogue with Theory

Thursday, October 01, 2015

social media posts justice for sandra bland black lives matter Those looking for a top authority on how to teach effectively with selfies would be wise to put Terri Senft of New York University at the top of any list. Senft founded two influential Facebook groups of international researchers: the Selfies Research Network, which has more than 2,600 members; and a closed group with a smaller cohort, which is dedicated to collaborative teaching experiments with selfies. This group includes Alice Marwick (profiled on DML Central) and Miriam Posner (also profiled on DML Central). In a Skype interview with DML Central, Senft explained that “the impulse for the research group and

Selfie Pedagogy II: Internet Identity and Selfie Practices

Thursday, September 10, 2015

celebrity instagram collage beyonce taylor swift kim kardashian michelle obama As part of a series of blog postings exploring teaching and learning with selfies, it was logical to go next to Alice E. Marwick, Fordham professor and author of “Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age.” After all, Marwick was the one who published the Selfie Course online to make its open access materials available to other educators. As Marwick explained, “my big research interest is identity and the Internet in very broad terms, people’s self presentation and self expression, and how it changes when they have access to the very large

Selfie Pedagogy I: The Digital Humanities and Selfie Culture

Monday, August 31, 2015

5 indian women outside taking a selfie Although The New York Times recently profiled the burgeoning development of “selfie scholarship,” the examination of the selfie genre in higher education is actually neither as new nor as radical as it seems. However, attention to selfie scholarship has been accelerated since hundreds of scholars joined a Facebook group founded by Theresa Senft of New York University to share bibliographies, curate specific selfie images, and disseminate new work. A select group began working on selfie pedagogy to launch The Selfie Course, including Fulbright scholar Radhika Gajjala, who was the subject of a profile piece on DML Central last

Teaching Urban Digital Literacy Outside Schools, Part 3

Monday, May 04, 2015

students sitting at computers getting help from teacher World making or world building as a pedagogical activity emphasizes authoring entire environments and systems collaboratively rather than merely having students compose one discrete text at a time in isolation. A few years ago, DML Central covered the large enrollment college course of Wayne Yang at UC San Diego, which included a curriculum of graphic novels, video trailers, and live performances dramatizing possible dystopian outcomes that might emerge from present structures of injustice. Other sites in higher education also are experimenting with the world-building paradigm. For example, the World Building Institute at USC encourages experts in cinematic

Teaching Urban Digital Literacy Outside School, Part 2

Thursday, March 12, 2015

a picture of teenage black girl with perplexed staring face Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series highlighting different programs that teach digital literacy outside of school. Doctoral candidate Eunsong Kim has become an expert on Twitter ethics involving communities of color who writes collaboratively for a wide range of audiences.  For example, in 2014 she had her work recognized among the “most important art essays of the year” and she’s weighed in in the opinion pages of TIME magazine. Kim’s work on digital literacy in urban communities and “finding spaces in between” also is foundational for her identity as a scholar. She has been involved withUrban Gateways for nearly six

Teaching Urban Digital Literacy Outside School, Part 1

Thursday, January 22, 2015

group of kids performing on stage outside with teachers directing Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series highlighting different programs that teach digital literacy outside of school. Under the auspices of the Mayor’s Office of New York City, Global Partners Junior is an “online international exchange program that connects New York City youth ages 9-12 with their peers around the world.” It also is devoted to teaching digital fluency skills for the transnational communication made possible by the Internet. Students “research facts about their communities and international cities, exchange messages on a password-protected website, and share multimedia projects and video greetings.” Partner cities include

Mobile Money, Financial Literacy and Learning Through Digital Media

Monday, January 05, 2015

close up of cell phone foreign money and hand counting money The fact that a cellular telephone can transmit the value of a particular currency from one party to another may be increasingly obvious, given the rise of specialized digital money services in the United States, such as Square or Apple Pay. Around the world, mobile money does much more than signal access to disposable income or brand name consumer electronics; it can quite literally ensure survival for people on the bottom of the economic pyramid.   For example, adult family members in developing nations often are dependent on the income of migrant workers who send remittances home

IndieCade, Part 3: Learning from Virtual Reality

Thursday, November 20, 2014

game with characters showing jail and men fighting Oculus Rift made headlines this year with a development kit for its affordable virtual reality head-mounted display, which comes equipped with sophisticated software that prevents the “simulator sickness” that was so common on earlier models. The Oculus technology was considered valuable enough to merit a $2 billion acquisition by Facebook, and it soon became the talk of many game festivals, including the independent games festival IndieCade, where it was featured in the ticking clock bomb defusion game “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.” But, the big winner for VR technologies at IndieCade this year was Nonny de la

IndieCade, Part 2: Anxieties About GamerGate

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2 sony video game controllers The so-called “GamerGate” controversy about the independent games movement, which has finally reached the pages of the New York Times, has become the big story this fall. I have provided a wrap-up of some of the issues in a blog posting for those who can use a #GamerGate 101. Every celebrity from Joss Whedon to Adam Savage seems to have weighed in with an opinion. There also have been more interesting responses from within the independent games movement, including from Polygon’s Christopher Grant and from Frank Lantz, director of the NYU Game Center.    Because hostilities to the

IndieCade, Part 1: Dungeons & Dragons Turns 40

Thursday, November 06, 2014

illustration of dragon fighting 3 warriors with swards When I was in middle school, there was a group of boys who played war games in the science teacher’s room. I was always envious of them, because it looked like fun, but it seemed to be an all-male enclave where I — as a girl — could never intrude. They played games like “Risk” and “Diplomacy” under the supervision of one of the school’s custodian.  The game play with the janitor seemed to exist in a kind of administrative limbo on school property — tolerated but not endorsed in the way that the computer club, run by

Recasting the Bullying Narrative

Thursday, September 25, 2014

2 students interviewing a student on camera in a messy room Youth media production is often seen as an admirable way to help underserved K-12 students find voices in their communities. With the advent of more accessible multimedia technologies and the means for sharing production practices on social media, traditional after-school programs with computer labs are changing — sometimes in response to the wishes and needs of young clients and sometimes in response to the agendas of donors.  A unique research partnership at the University of Washington Bothell in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences division is examining how certain kinds of public messaging may be promoting particular

‘Breaking the Wall of Internet Censorship’

Monday, August 11, 2014

large house rooftop antenna When I was in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall but before the reunification of the two divided states, I was struck by how many shop windows advertised how-to guides with technical specifications for TV and radio enthusiasts, so that people once cut-off from the rest of the world could feel connected to various electronic sources for news and information. All over Dresden, where I was, it seemed that hobbyists were mounting antennas on rooftops to get signals from the other side of a once impenetrable Iron Curtain and were building knowledge networks

Do-It-Yourself Democracy

Monday, June 30, 2014

wooden trojan horse outside brick building large group of people I’ve written before about civic education initiatives intended to help model systems of political deliberation in the United States, but with my first trip to Latin America in April for the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) conference, I wanted to learn more about efforts underway in countries south of the equator.  Pia Mancini sat down with DML Central for an interview about the Net Democracy foundation, which is intended to “innovate in the political system” in response to a perceived “crisis of representation” in which communities of young people fall prey to silence,

Selfies, Snapchat and Distance Learning

Monday, April 28, 2014

3 girls taking selfie picture with a statue Selfies have been in the news a lot lately, particularly after the Oxford English Dictionary declared “selfie” to be the word of the year for 2013.  During the last month I have been quoted in The Washington Post, USA Today, and Politico.com about this global Internet genre. An essay of mine appeared on the new website SelfieCity, an archive of thousands of selfies from five cities around the world, so reporters eager for an expert opinion have been calling and e-mailing.    Less attention gets paid to selfies as a teaching tool, although Jill Walker Rettberg has

Gaming and New Gender Paradigms

Thursday, March 20, 2014

screenshot of gamezone game workshop and characters designing game Previously, I’ve written about role-playing racial history through digital games, so it is perhaps not surprising that I would be interested in an Ellis Island MMORG or a game about the Harlem Renaissance, initially conceptualized in the research of Professor Bryan Carter of the University of Arizona. As feminist game designer and Georgia Tech Professor Celia Pearce observed, “both games are specifically designed to be intergenerational.”  In an interview for DMLcentral, Pearce noted that her background probably gave her a unique perspective. “My main experience in educational games comes from working in a museum environment, which

Phonar: A Massive, Free, Open Photography Class

Thursday, January 23, 2014

phonar class students working on photo project on computers When asked to explain his attitude toward arts education, British photographer Jonathan Worth describes what he is teaching as “storytelling” that should be an integral part of everyone’s “digital literacy and digital citizenship” rather than a rarified artistic skill for niche training of a cadre of aesthetic elites.  Worth is currently the instructor of Phonar, the sprawling massive, free, and open undergraduate photography course that he teaches to as many as 30,000 participants at one time. Worth’s initiative was one of five recognized recently for outstanding innovation in the international Reclaim Open Learning Challenge and Symposium. 

Learning from Healthcare.gov

Thursday, December 05, 2013

close up on black keyboard “But I just want to remind everybody, we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website.” – Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act,” Oct. 21, 2013 The disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov gives an opportunity for everyone invested in digital media and learning initiatives to reflect critically about what we do and to ask some hard questions.  Although it may be “just” a website, according to the president, the flawed federal Internet portal intended to enroll millions of consumers into a system of affordable healthcare coverage exposes a

Beyond the MOOC: ‘Reclaim Open Learning’ Winner Jaaga, A Creative Community Space

Monday, November 18, 2013

side by side pictures of a creative community space packed with students The initiative to Reclaim Open Learning launched a competition that was covered here at DMLcentral to recognize projects that were transforming higher education with innovative uses of technology and learner-centered programs.  As Anya Kamenetz argued, publicity for the project recognized the need to get beyond the headlines and “move beyond the MOOC” to highlight new approaches to the “course” part of massive open online courses and divert some of the attention being paid to companies such as Coursera or Udacity that were quickly standardizing formats that did little to effect substantive reform to more creative experiments

Expanding Women’s Participation for Wikipedia in India: Access to Knowledge

Thursday, October 31, 2013

classroom full of students sitting at desks in india In the past DMLcentral has covered efforts to recruit more women to edit Wikipedia and to produce more women’s studies content.  As a blogger, I have presented this story as a relatively uncontroversial initiative to improve the accuracy and coverage of the sprawling online encyclopedia (See my interview with Wikipedia’s Adrianne Wadewitz here).  Working with the Project Feminism Wikipedia community to produce digital material, students trained in classes involved in Dialogues on Feminism and Technology have worked to improve the rigor of Wikipedia entries on topics that range from Afrofuturism to disability art. Recently, Fox News

Human Rights and Social Media in India: Blank Noise

Monday, October 21, 2013

group of teenagers leaning against outside fence in india On a recent visit to Sarai, a Delhi research think tank housed in the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, I met a number of female university students who described participating in the mass protests that occurred after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and murdered in what many perceived as an event that unleashed a torrent of dissent to express longstanding dissatisfaction about lax policing and prosecution of crimes against women in India.  Participants recounted assaults at demonstrations that included braving tear gas, water cannons, and violent interruptions by police of the peaceful sharing

The View From Home

Thursday, September 19, 2013

male student sitting at computer editing photo video of girl Classes recently began in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest school district in the country, a place where the best practices of digital media and learning face the difficulties of effecting change at a truly massive scale.  This post serves as a challenge to philanthropic organizations, which often focus on boutique programs with younger children when aiming to reform K-12 education, and suggests that there is a vast pool of motivated digital learners who are currently underserved. I don’t tend to talk about my personal life as a DMLcentral blogger, but

Using Social Media for Women’s Rights: Breakthrough

Friday, September 13, 2013

students working around table on laptops The horrific Delhi gang rape case in which a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was murdered as a result of a grotesque sexual assault brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets of the city to express outrage about the prevalence of gender-based violence in India.  Many have credited access to sites like Facebook and Twitter for allowing Indian citizens to express their dissent, but the story of political organization and awareness campaigns on the ground is much more complicated and predates this galvanizing high-profile crime by a number of years. For example, Breakthrough describes itself as

Creative Solutions for Tablets and the Common Core

Monday, August 12, 2013

3 male students in classroom working together on tablets The recent international conference of researchers on human-computer interaction CHI 2013 in Paris presented the opportunity to survey current trends in the so-called “learning sciences” and to assess new methodologies for computer-assisted education (In 2010, DMLcentral covered the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles here). One of the up-and-coming HCI innovators, PhD student Derek Lomas, presented twice at the CHI 2013 conference, describing his experiences both in K-12 classrooms in the U.S. and in digital literacy projects in India.  Lomas agreed to an interview to discuss his experiences in PlayPower  and PlayPower Labs, now based at Carnegie

‘Reclaim Open Learning’ Innovation Contest

Friday, July 05, 2013

close up of pink index card with writing how can we help learners build global learning community Mark your calendars for Aug. 1! We are looking for proposals that rethink open learning in new ways. The participation of elite research universities in initiatives offering Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has generated considerable discussion within higher education, as well as mainstream and educational media, about the next generation of open learning initiatives.  The New York Times declared that 2012 was “the year of the MOOC,” and The Chronicle of Higher Education announced that it was “the year of the mega-class.”  Alternatives for the free delivery of course content have proliferated in the years since

How to Use Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool: Adrianne Wadewitz

Monday, May 06, 2013

4 female students sitting in classroom working on laptops very focused Wikipedia is often not thought of as a platform for pedagogy, since so many teachers explicitly tell their students to steer clear of the site as a source of information.  However, as a site for learner-driven inquiry and informal education, it is without question the chief reference point for many discussions from matters of general knowledge to areas of arcane expertise. Adrianne Wadewitz would like to provide more explicit instruction about not only reading Wikipedia but also writing Wikipedia in the classroom context.  She has helped write a helpful brochure from the Wikimedia Foundation on “How

Augmenting Reality: Addressing Trauma with Digital Media

Friday, February 08, 2013

blurred photo of yellow city cab Colombian artist Isabel Restrepo has tackled a variety of projects to promote digital literacy, raise awareness to change public health and safety behavior, and foster civic participation in a number of different youth engagement efforts. Perhaps her best known project was Entránsito, a traveling augmented reality interactive show for teens that was designed to reduce the country’s high mortality from traffic accidents. Sixty presentations were funded by the Medellin’s Secretary of Culture, which ultimately reached more than 5,600 citizens with a message about avoiding cascading problems that lead to accidents that humanized particular victims. To reach

Gaming the System

Thursday, November 08, 2012

shadow of man working at computer Before the presidential election took place this week, many teachers used attention to the political drama unfolding across the nation as a way to draw students into classroom discussions and assignments.  Lesson plans that focus on elections have been around for decades to promote civic education and other learning goals.  However, the idea that video games are a way to promote civic engagement and an understanding of democratic systems is a newer idea, although role-playing activities and strategic games around mock elections have long been used in K-12 classes about government.  And, as Joseph Kahne pointed

Learning from Failure: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part II

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Girl sitting on outside bench in the evening working on laptop Professor Anne Balsamo has been collaborating with Professor Alexandra Juhasz and a group of more than one hundred feminist scholars to pilot a new kind of online course devoted to feminist dialogues on technology. Balsamo recently left the University of Southern California to occupy a new post as dean of the School of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement in New York.  In this position she will continue to work on one of her other ambitious new projects that involves collaboration with an extended network of researchers and designers to create a digital

Bodies in Classrooms: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part I

Monday, August 06, 2012

2 girls intensely focussing on their hand held games Next year, over a hundred feminist scholars are slated to teach a new kind of online course—the first “MDCLE” or “massively distributed collaborative learning experiment”—tentatively titled “Feminist Dialogues on Technology.”  Drawing on the model of the “MOOC,” or the massively open online course, like the artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction courses at Stanford that have enrolled tens of thousands of students, this venture is also aimed at a very large audience, although taught and thought through a feminist architecture and pedagogy.  With some start-up funding from the Mellon Foundation, Pitzer professor Alexandra Juhasz and University of

Back to the Drawing Board

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

close up of apple macbook laptop keyboard and mechanical pencil For people on the academic calendar, resolutions tend to be undertaken in the summer months rather than at the start of the new year in January.  This summer I am picking up a pencil and rethinking my relationship to visual communication with a resolution to spend more time in the weeks to come drawing.  I would urge others in the DML community to try to do the same. To prepare myself for this task, I’ve bought some sketchbooks and pencils for the first time in decades.  Of course, this activity feels strange to hands that have spent so

Learning from Kony 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

large group of student at science fair In March of this year, as I taught my winter lecture class that focuses on Public Rhetoric and Practical Communication Online, I began to receive urgent e-mails from students about a viral video produced by a group called Invisible Children, which my undergraduates implored me to watch.  A number of the messages came with warnings that it would require thirty minutes of my time and attention.  A typical cautionary message read as follows: “you should really watch the whole thing in one go, so set up a good chunk of time.” So I made sure to

Going Low-Tech to Teach New Literacies

Monday, May 28, 2012

large group of students at school science fair Ethnic Studies professor Wayne Yang takes a distinctive approach to new media literacies to get UC San Diego students to host their own Comic-Con comic book convention with original graphic novel projects.   Although print artifacts are central to the culminating activity of the course, students also work on their digital skills as they lay out pages in software programs such as Adobe Photoshop or post the video “trailers” that advertise their wares on sites such as YouTube. In an interview, Yang described how his work in the classroom with comic books was influenced by Ernest

DIY Coding

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

shadow of presenter on stage Like many in the digital media and learning community, I am a fan of the free and open source computer programming language, Processing, which can be easily downloaded at Processing.org.  Processing is an incredibly accessible computer language for beginners, but it is also a stepping stone to widely used professional programming languages like Java and C++ that may contribute to success in corporate and academic arenas for those who are code literate. There is a large do-it-yourself community made up of individuals who use Processing for everything from robotics to art projects to sequencing neighborhood Christmas

Role-Playing Racial History through Digital Games

Monday, November 07, 2011

illustration drawing character game story of Jane role playing racial history Teaching historical empathy through gaming is an important area in digital media and learning, but collaborations between university professors and game designers aren’t always easy.  Nonetheless, UC San Diego Theater and Dance Professor Emily Roxworthy, who leads a National Endowment for the Humanities funded project about Japanese American  internment camps in the American South during World War II that also used resources from the San Diego Supercomputing Center to bring the action to life, argues that the challenges are well worth the rewards. In the prototype level of Drama in the Delta that is currently available,

Digital Fluency: Empowering All Students

Thursday, July 28, 2011

female student working on spoken word at DYN You Media Although “digital literacy” is often a phrase associated with programs that have utopian pedagogical visions, it also can become a term attached to rigid curricular requirements, standardized testing, and models of education that stigmatize some students as remedial when it comes to their basic programming skills or their abilities to use software productively.  Furthermore, the term “digital literacy” can generate conflicts among educators because many different disciplines may claim sole responsibility for providing any needed instruction, as I’ve argued elsewhere.  Computer scientists, media scholars, librarians, composition teachers, and digital arts instructors have all made supposedly exclusive

Digital Learning and the Arab Spring

Thursday, June 23, 2011

close up of computer keyboard As revolution and revolt spreads across the Arab world, Americans often see social networking sites and online video as playing a starring role. Whether it is testimony about police brutality or jubilation in the squares, examples of so-called witness journalism captured by cell phone cameras, webcams, and other mobile devices have made many citizens feel more engaged with the political plight of those struggling against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

Identity, Avatars, Virtual Life – and Advancing Social Equity in the ‘Real’ World

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

girl peaking over laptop only showing her eyes This semester, MIT professor Fox Harrell is teaching an ambitious new course on “Identity Representation” that includes studying identities adopted in computer games and social network sites.  In the course description posted online, Harrell explains that he is more broadly interested in getting students to “look at how humans express multiple identities for different purposes both in the real world and online.”  As the first researcher both in MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Harrell is developing what he calls a “toolkit” for the “Advanced Identity Representation

Young Black Males, Learning, and Video Games

Thursday, February 17, 2011

4 black males playing video game together A recent report on educational achievement among young black males describes a “national catastrophe” in primary, secondary, and higher education that is reinforced by policy failures and funding shortfalls. “A Call for Change: The Social and Educational Factors Contributing to the Outcomes of Black Males in Urban Schools” uses data largely from the U.S. Department of Education to paint a grim picture of an achievement gap between black and white students, reinforcing the message of recent books like Pedro Noguera’s The Trouble with Black Boys: Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education. While the Obama

Student-led Curriculum: Demanding, Digital, Compelling

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

students and teacher sitting in college classroom smiling at the camera At November’s University of California Institute for Research in the Arts conference, the emphasis was on college courses that couldn’t be planned out according to set syllabi and fixed course objectives, because students were expected to be co-creators of the classes in which they often found themselves enrolled. Whether capitalizing on emergent interactions with online or offline communities, such courses defy predictability, because the students on the class roster aren’t the only participants in a new generation of service learning courses that take advantage of social media technologies. For example, at the Otis College of Art

Participation, Technology, and the Power of Sharing

Monday, September 20, 2010

people celebrating and hi fiving in conference room This year’s convention of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) attracted more than 20,000 programmers, artists, researchers, filmmakers, and gaming professionals – as well as students and academics from almost 80 countries.  Apparently SIGGRAPH is also promising to transform contemporary education. Most came to SIGGRAPH to see the newest products in computer graphics and interactive technologies, which were hawked by the 160 exhibitors vying for the audience’s attention on the 46,000-square-foot floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center.  It was a prime location, close to many Los Angeles

Crowdsourcing Scholarship

Monday, June 21, 2010

girls sitting on steps outside holding cell phones A few weeks ago, just before the 2010 THATCAMP, a well-known technology and humanities “unconference,” got underway at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, the center’s director, Dan Cohen, and his colleague and co-director, Tom Scheinfeldt, made a radical proposal.  In a blog posting called “One Week, One Book: Hacking the Academy,” Cohen proposed that conference participants and others following the discussion on Twitter and in the academic blogosphere should assemble a book about digital media and higher education.  The mandate was to do the project quickly – in only one

A professor with unconventional methods, message

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

man and woman sitting next to each other working on phone Digital media and learning initiatives often talk in utopian terms about a “future without books,” but don’t say that to New School faculty member Trebor Scholz.  Scholz, who teaches in the Department of Culture and Media, has had great success with making a book the final project turned in by students at the end of his new media courses.  Instead of merely offering a traditional final exam, he asks students to submit print-on-demand publications that consist of at least 10,000 words and display real production values, even in large lecture classes. According to Scholz, students appreciate

The DML Field: Listening to Critical Voices

Monday, April 12, 2010

Painting of 20 learn Often the emphasis in Digital Media and Learning is on K-12 education, and so social computing practices in higher education frequently receive less attention from researchers.  A recently released five-year Mellon Foundation study on “Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication,” analyzed data from 160 interviewees in seven academic fields (and included data from an additional five disciplines from the research planning phase).  The work spanned 45, mostly elite, research institutions, and ultimately concluded that not much has changed in faculty attitudes about where, and in what media, they publish scholarly articles and books, despite the

Teaching, Texting, and Twittering with Obama

Monday, February 01, 2010

screen shots of barack obama social media banners With the first year of the Obama administration officially coming to a close, educators have been thinking about how the president’s online presence could be used for both civic education and media literacy purposes.  Obama came into office with the promise of delivering web-based participatory democracy or “Government 2.0” to citizens.  But I have found myself arguing that Obama’s “embrace” of online practices was actually quite limited, when it came to the messages he was promulgating.  I am also not alone in wondering if online commenting and voting really constitutes democratic engagement. Many educators have visited

An Emerging Theory: Things Rule

Thursday, January 14, 2010

pictures of presentation trash technology The international conference on Digital Arts and Culture is often a place for previewing coming theoretical trends in digital scholarship.  Long before the formation of separate conferences for the Electronic Literature Organization and the Digital Games Research Association, DAC was at the forefront of interactive literature and game studies.  This year’s DAC conference, “After Media: Embodiment and Context,” included a prominent “Interdisciplinary Pedagogy” theme led by digital artist Cynthia Beth Rubin that tried to make connections between the cutting-edge, sophisticated theory that the conference represented and the more mundane practical challenges posed by instructional technology and

On Gaming, Politics, and Reform

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

educators working meeting around conference table As the new year rolls around, like many political science professors, Kareem Crayton is thinking about the possible repercussions of next year’s 2010 census and what he calls the “opening skirmishes” of the partisan fight over “who’s going to be counted” and where the boundaries of congressional districts should be drawn for the next decade.  However, since working on the civic education website, The Redistricting Game, with a team of interactive media designers at the University of Southern California, Crayton’s attitudes about collaboration within the academy and participation in broader political conversations probably differ somewhat from

Digital Media and Democracy: Early Returns

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

colorful picture of man holding megaphone The relationship between digital media and democracy is complicated, because it is difficult for researchers to draw causal connections between adopting new social computing technologies and promoting what Joseph Kahne, Mills College professor and head of the Civic Engagement Research Group, has characterized as behaviors and values consistent with an “effective, just, and humane democratic society.” Kahne asserts that there is “no doubt” that multimedia literacies can promote civic participation, because “looking up information,” “having access to networked communities,” and “communicating and sharing perspectives” depends on having developed those literacies, but having basic literacies with computational