Short Talk Panel DML: New Pathways to Civic Literacy and Empowerment

Un-coding Utah’s Legislative Bills: Latina/o high school students track discourses of power and practice differential politics with blogging

Presenter: Alicia De Leon

Latina/o communities have long created counter-spaces as sites to affirm their hybrid identities, challenge deficit ideologies towards communities of color, nurture reciprocal relationships of support, and foster individual and collective learning in social and academic realms (Solorzano & Villalpando, 1998). Specifically, digital counter-spaces (e.g. social media technologies) emerge with the understanding that discourses legitimate, reproduce or challenge relations of power and dominance in society (Fairclough, 1995). Given the increasing impact of new media on the political and civic engagement of youth (Cohen & Kahne, 2012), the author is interested in analyzing the relationships among language and important educational issues operating in a legislative internship blog. The Mestizo Arts and Activism (MAA) blog recounts perspectives of Latina/o high school students in their senior year, who track legislation, attend committee meetings, research issues and analyze bills every Spring, since 2010. Drawing from critical race theory (CRT) in education (Yosso, 2006) and critical discourse analysis (CDA) frameworks (Gee, 2002; van Leeuwen, 2008) this discussion seeks to trace the persistence of racism (and other forms of subordination) and engagement with digital politics and civics (i.e. reflection and action) from the linguistic digital practices of Latina/o youth. In addition, this short talk informs the discussions on networked publics (Ito, 2008) in/out of school spaces that particular highlight how transgenerational relationships enrich youth’s social-justice related actions and college-going identities. 


Learning in not about: Citizenship is a Lived Curriculum

Presenter: Bron Stuckey

You can't learn to swim without a body of water or learn to cross a road without ever being on a road. Yet around the world learning in relation to  citizenship (digital or otherwise) is focused on learning ABOUT. Educational systems quote their duty of care to keep students safe is to restrict student access to social media and communities. This talk will demonstrate that our duty of care is only served by treating citizenship as a lived curriculum.

This presentation will focus on experiences in two virtual environments where learners have the opportunity to experience digital citizenship as a direct and lived experience; Quest Atlantis/ Atlantis Remixed(ARX) and Massively Minecraft Education (MMe). These two environments are representative of safe spaces/games where children are able to tinker with creating their own identity, exploring and cultivating community norms and understanding what it means to engage positively in online social spaces. These game implementations are what Jim Gee refers to as affinity spaces, affinity spaces for both students and teachers, with strong positive values. These projects are designed and managed by educators and bring together students from around the world into global communities. The design of activity in these game spaces is intended to expose learners to positive social interactions but more than that to scaffold them in trying on personal agency and social responsibility. Both these game spaces allow learners to to experience positive norms and encourage them to take these out into future online spaces they will inhabit like Facebook and Twitter and their lifeworlds.

The story will be told through inworld cases of learner initiated and designed social action related to their concerns about the “real world” and their passions. Participants will have the opportunity to hear a snapshot of recent research findings in relation to Internet Safety and digital citizenship, research that centers around these two programs.

Participants will all be eligible to join the teacher communities and social networks related to these projects for ongoing support and development.

The objectives for educators would be to :

  • Understand that our duty of care is not to lock kids out of these spaces but to take them to them.
  • Understand how being in a 'safe' virtual world exposes children lived experiences of citizenship and civic efficacy
  • Understand how having their children online with trusted adults in a 'horizontal learning space' takes the pressure off teachers to be online all the time and being able to trust in the norms of the community.
  • Consider their readiness and strategies for taking programs like these into their schools,  curriculum and research
  • Join communities that support the use of these and other programs in their schools.

Fostering Perspective Taking with Virtual Diplomatic Trials 
Presenters: Jennifer Kilham, Stephanie Talbot
Given young people’s history of apathy and disengagement in politics, we believe it is important to engage youth around issues of civic engagement in the classroom in a way that captures their attention in creative, innovative ways and simultaneously maintains rigorous academic work. This presentation invites you to immerse yourself in the virtual halls of Masada for this in-depth look at how the Place Out of Time, a digital learning space that balances fun and work in meaningful ways. Place Out of Time is a web-mediated character-playing simulation game that is used to teach cultural diversity and understanding, pluralism, historical thinking, perspective taking, and ethical and moral decision-making. Participants include middle-school and high school students from North America and Asia, as well as classroom teachers and university mentors from four American universities.  Over 200 people gather together in this virtual space to portray characters from times past to partake in a diplomatic trial.  Through character play, teachers and mentors scaffold instruction is in ways that deepen each players thinking about global issues, politics, and history.

This presentation will focus on how participants of this global classroom are asked to position themselves from the perspective of “Are we able to hear what another person has to say, even if we do not agree with what they are saying?”  Imagine a place where people from different time periods, religions, and statuses gather together to engage in civil discourse. Contemplate what Emma Goldman, an outspoken female political activist and anarchist from the early 1900’s, would say to Hu Jintao, a modern day leader of the People's Republic of China.  How might this conversation deepen our thinking about politics?  Now, imagine Joseph McCarthy and Betsy Ross sat down for a virtual cup of coffee, would Joseph McCarthy appeal to Betsy Ross’ patriotic side?  Contemplate how this conversation might shift if Karl Marx entered the room.  Imagine Sarah Palin, Rasputin, Vincent van Gogh, and Moses engaged in a conversation about what comprises good leadership. These are the types of conversations that take place in Place Out of Time.

We will discuss how Place Out of Time engages participants with social, historical, and cultural curricula by positioning players in the middle of a fictional but plausible court case.  Simulation scenarios range from deciding the fate of a family of Darfurian refugees seeking asylum in Israel, deciding whether to award reparations to the descendants of Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis, after being turned away and returned to Nazi Germany, and whether to allow so-called ostentatious religious garb in public schools.  

We will discuss how participants couple Place Out of Time with innovative technology tools as a way of exploring boundaries of topics. Examples of some of the technology tools include vlogs, Gloster, Google Earth, fakebook, Wikispaces, Animoto, VoiceThread, and much more. The opportunities and challenges of this platform will be explored.  Specific attention will be paid to Place Out of Time’s use of distance-mentoring with university student mentors.
A Tethered World: How Mobile Technologies are Changing the Civic Lives of Participatory Youth Around the World
Presenter: Paul Mihailidis
With the integration of full web capabilities and increasing wireless coverage, mobile phones have quickly surpassed the laptop as the most ubiquitous and widely used medium today. The mobile phone has been a catalyst for organized civic protest (the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street), social networking for civic causes (FB, Twitter, Ushahidi) and for information habits writ large. This short talk will detail explore the implications for participatory democracy, digital learning, and youth voices through the findings of an exploration of the mobile information habits of over 800 university students representing 52 nationalities around the world. The study asked one central questions: how has the mobile phone impacted civic participation, learning, and activism? Study participants were asked to track their mobile phone use over a 24-period, reporting all incoming and outgoing activity. The participants also completed a survey assessing mobile information and a qualitative reflection of their 24-hour experience. The results show a generation that has fully integrated mobile technology for all information use and communication purposes. They reported sharing information more than consuming, finding vibrant communities and places of exchange in mobile spaces, and more viable ways to participate in civic dialog than before. The study also found high levels of anxiety when students were away from their phones, a homogenizing influence of phones on cultures around the world, and a very real application gap with mobile technologies and learning. This short talk will use the findings to explore how mobile technologies can better enhance learning for participatory cultures in a global age.
Alicia De Leon
Bron Stuckey
Jennifer Killham
Stephanie Talbot
Paul Mihailidis