YDME: Social justice, cultural diversity and equality in digital learning


Digital technologies increasingly mediate participation in social, cultural, economic, political and civic life. Ensuring that all young people have access to these opportunities is therefore a question of social justice that educators need to consider, with many schools working to ensure that their students take advantage of these opportunities.

The ways that young people engage with digital media are bound to the diverse ways that they engage and participate in their own changing communities and cultural practices. Ensuring that young people have access to the opportunities afforded by digital media therefore means that we need to examine how our endorsement of certain digital practices may devalue other forms of practice, and hence further marginalise those who are already disadvantaged. We need to consider how young people’s different orientations towards digital media are shaped by broader cultural practices. If we want to support young people’s learning with and through digital media, then we need to find ways to understand and build on the meanings and values produced within their diverse and changing communities and cultural practices. This panel will therefore critically consider questions of social justice and equality within digital media and learning drawing on research from the UK and USA.

Lyndsay Grant (Futurelab / University of Bristol, UK) will share research that explored the ways in which children’s digital cultures are valued or marginalised within school contexts and consider how we support young people’s plural and diverse digital cultures while addressing questions of entitlement and equality.

Alison Oldfield (Futurelab, UK) will draw on the co-development of websites that aimed to support young people facing barriers associated with social exclusion and disability and discuss the challenges of making more inclusive digital media platforms.

Sarah Payton (Futurelab, UK) will discuss schools’ roles and classroom approaches for supporting young people to develop the digital literacies that enable them to take advantage of digital opportunities and explores the relationship between subject disciplines and digital media cultures.

Christo Sims (University of California, Berkeley) will draw on research from a New York City middle school that promotes digital media production and game-based learning; he will consider how different digital media practices figure in negotiations over socio-cultural identification at school.

CJ Pascoe (Colorado College) will act as respondent for this panel.