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Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age - ICE3 conference, Loch Lomond, Scotland

ICE3 conference

Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age

If produsage is an increasingly significant element of intellectual, economic, legal and political processes within society, then educational institutions must pay more attention to developing produser capabilities in their graduates - focussing on learners' collaborative, creative, critical, and communicative capabilities (or C4C, for short). Indeed, they must lead by example and base more of their teaching and learning frameworks on produsage models. Social constructivist approaches to education already call for a greater role for learners in the educational process, but even pedagogies based on this framework often still retain a strong role for the teacher, and standard tertiary education practices continue to allow for innovation only within the confines of otherwise persistent and immutable institutional structures.

Interdisciplinary New Media Education, Serious Games, and Locative Gaming

The third day here at PerthDAC has started, and kicks off with a paper by Jean Bridge. She's involved with the interactive arts and science undergraduate programme at Brock University in Canada, and in this programme encourages thinking with and thinking about interactive technologies, which are situated in a wider social and cultural context. It is a humanities-based programme which concerns itself with the content and analysis of the products of human creativity, by following four core principles: capitalising the fact of computing as central to contemporary life, identifying the need for constant evaluation of the role of content and form, accepting the necessity for new and innovative methodologies, and achieving a centrality of interdisciplinarity and praxis. Students in this programme are largely digital natives who are content creators, aggregators, and intertextualisers, who think though codes, strategies, and roles, and who are willing to probe, manipulate, set goals, and construct their own pathways. The programme, then, aims to prepare them as people who can bridge theoretical and practical aspects of working creatively in new media - as creators, writers, directors, designers, managers, scholars, critics, and policy makers.

Worlds of Games Research and Creative Collaboration

The second session here at PerthDAC starts with Torill Mortensen, who is also the leader of the World of Warcraft Research Guild and begins with an overview of games studies itself - an area which has experienced considerable turf wars in the past decade. She outlines a number of approaches: immersive studies (ethnological and anthropological studies of games and gamers), structuralist studies (including the bitter battle between ludologists and narratologists), and contextual studies (examining for example the economic and legal aspects of gaming). Immersive studies mean that researchers also need to play the game they study, resulting potentially in a loss of critical distance; structuralists examine the structure of the game and its rules; contextual studies also point towards the wider impact of gaming, especially also examining the rise of 'serious gaming'. There are also some other research approaches, of course - data mining and quantitative research, psychologically inflected studies, and many others.

Redesigning Education for the User-Led Age

Heh. At least it seems like the Higher Education section of The Australian has managed to quarantine itself from the melt-down that's occurred amongst its political journalists. There's a nice piece there today about our efforts at QUT to develop the C4C framework of collaborative capacities required of graduates in the developing produsage environment - an article which was sparked by our paper at Mobile Media 2007 (and a similar paper I presented at ICE 3 earlier this year). Campus Review also reported on this recently, following a Sydney University press release. Neither note Trendwatching as the originators of the 'Generation C' meme, though, which is unfortunate...

In the meantime, and especially after reading Henry Jenkins's Convergence Culture, I'm beginning to think that we may have to expand our C4C of creative, collaborative, critical, and communicative capacities to a C5C, though, which would add a further combinatory capacity. In addition to what we've said in our papers so far, this fifth capacity could be described as follows:

Mobile Learning in a User-Led Environment

The next session at Mobile Media 2007 starts with my paper, co-authored with Rachel Cobcroft, Jude Smith, and Stephen Towers (PDF available here, Powerpoint here).

Kathleen Cumiskey is the next speaker. She notes that there is significant research on the actual use of mobile phones, but less on the meanings users themselves ascribe to such use; her research focusses on such use stories, instead. The use of mobile phones during face-to-face interaction renders remote others present, while denying the presence of those physically present. This is related to the psychological idea of 'mattering': in the process of mobile phone use, remote participants are identified as mattering, while physically present participants are shown to matter less.

Creative (Approaches to) Education

Washington, D.C.
The next session at Creativity & Cognition continues the focus on education. Su Zheng and Martin Adam are the first presenters. Their focus is on producing interactive exhibits for children in the 7-11 age group, who are in a 'concrete' cognitive stage in their interaction with technology - not uncreative, but engaging mainly with the existing affordances of technology rather than exploring its possible extensions. They point to a number of recent exhibits in UK museums which largely failed in their aim to get children involved; in particular also because they did not provide sufficient potential for social interaction.

Creativity and (through, Supporting, ...) Cognition

Washington, D.C.
I'm spending the next couple of days at the Creativity & Cognition conference here in Washington. Ernest Edmonds begins by noting that the conference series itself (which has been running since 1993) started from the intention to bring together artists and scientists, and that it's been successful at setting the seeds for increased collaborations between the fields; indeed, questions around creativity and innovation have become highly central to many projects and programmes in scientific research and beyond.

Media in (Continuing, Accelerating?) Transition

We're now in the last plenary here at MiT5 - a summary session drawing together the many threads of research and practice explored at this conference. Suzanne de Castell is the first contributor to this panel, and she notes the increasing fluidity of previously more solid cultural forms. We have moved beyond text as our primary mode of representation in multiple ways, and have left behind the cultural logics of print; this is challenging especially for the educational environment. Remix, in particular, with its various aspects of plagiarism, reappropriation, adaptation, and inspiration, is a particularly important issue for education to address; we must move far beyond cut'n'paste in our embrace of remix approaches, and education is going to be instrumental in this context. We must also pay particular attention to what is being held on to, and what is being left behind - Suzanne notes that much of the input into what are seen as valuable remix projects is still highly gendered and canonical, ignoring a significant number of other sources. The concept of remix itself must be adjusted by looking at the remixing practices and approaches in cultures other than the male-dominated Anglo 'high' culture. Knowledge is always situated, always accountable to its communities, and always under ongoing construction.

Tools for New Media Literacies

The last MiT5 plenary session for today is on Learning through Remixing, and Henry Jenkins introduces it through examples of remixing as pedagogical practice in earlier times. This can perhaps be described as a process of taking culture apart and putting it together again, in order to better understand how it works.

The first speaker on the panel is Erik Blankinship, of Media Modifications, who build tools for exposing and enhancing the structure of media in order to make them more understandable to all (and he demonstrates this now by using a few redacted clips from Star Trek: TNG). Some of these which will also be online soon at, and another example for this is showing clips from The Fellowship of the Ring (the movie) next to the text of The Fellowship of the Ring (the book), and even a comparison of the Zeffirelli and Luhrman versions of Romeo & Juliet with the original Shakespeare text (which allows the viewer to compare how differently the two directors interpreted the text, and even to created hybrid versions with the 1996 Juliet and the 1968 Romeo interacting with one another). Fascinating stuff!

Video Collages and Educational Tagging

The next panel here at MiT5 is a smaller affair, and is started by Sam Smiley, presenting on Claude Shannon Remixed. She begins with a couple of video collages based on image searches on a narrow range of terms in Altavista (the video is also on YouTube). These videos use original music, but copyrighted images and videos, and Sam recently received a message through YouTube messaging from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asking her to take down one of the videos - but without any specific information about what aspects of the collage are owned by CBC.


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