Category Archives: Culture

Yu-Ling Lee #UBC PhD Defence: Designing TechnoTheologies #bced

The Final Oral Examination For the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
(Curriculum Studies)

Yu-Ling Lee

Wednesday, May 10, 2017. 12:30 pm
Room 207, Anthropology and Sociology Building,
6303 Northwest Marine Drive

DESIGNING TECHNOTHEOLOGIES: ETHICS, PEDAGOGIES, AND SPIRITUALITIES IN MAKER ACTOR-NETWORKS

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to understand how religion and spirituality matter in the consumer use, design, and engineering of media and technology. Specifically, the research questions were: 1) What role do ethics and values perform in maker and hacker networks? 2) How are ethics and values integrated and manifested throughout the design process in maker or hacker networks? 3) What are the routines, rituals, and subjective well-being of participants in the maker or hacker design process? The research setting was the designers in the maker community in Vancouver and technologists associated with Code for the Kingdom in Seattle. All designers and technologists in Vancouver and Seattle have independent projects at various levels of collaboration. I recruited seven participants affiliated with the Vancouver maker community for in-depth analysis of their design process. In Seattle, I recruited two hackers who participated in Code for the Kingdom, a Christian organization that hosts hackathons for altruistic and religious purposes. Their focus on innovation, design methodologies, and critical making allowed me to discern their values and ethics through their design process. These participants have different perspectives on religion and spirituality, which make their technotheological networks complex. Case studies facilitated in-depth examination of makers and hackers as the main actors of our inquiry. The use of video in dialogue with ethnographic inquiry allowed for nuance, discerning complexities, and giving form to expression in designing technotheologies. Conceptually, the research is framed by actor-network theory (ANT) and value sensitive design (VSD), enabling the study to discern how participants discover, design artifacts, make meaning, develop values, and maintain a sense of the good life and well-being, emotional and spiritual. Findings indicate that among the makers and hackers, technotheological networks articulate specific values alongside technological creations, practices, and personal ways of being. In their own unique ways, these makers and hackers inquire into the materialized morality and design phases of ethically responsible decision making processes. Conversely, the non-human actors express their own values within technotheological networks. My role as a techno-theologian helped facilitate competing value claims by positing a normative focus and by temporarily opening black boxes.

EXAMINING COMMITTEE
Chair:
Prof Richard Young (Counselling Psychology)

Supervisory Committee:
Prof Stephen Petrina, Research Supervisor (Curriculum Studies)
Prof E. Wayne Ross (Curriculum Studies)
Prof Francis Feng (Curriculum Studies)

University Examiners:
Prof Kerry Renwick (Curriculum Studies)
Prof Brian Wilson (Kinesiology)

External Examiner:
Prof Matt Ratto

Keeping Up with the Media

Paula MacDowell

Keeping Up with the Media is a media study guide created for teachers and students, by teachers. The authors are all practicing teachers (elementary and secondary) completing a Master of Education in Digital Learning and Curriculum at UBC. This elite team produced this guide to enhance media literacy and media education across the K-12 curriculum.

Authors: #UBCDLC3
Editor: Paula MacDowell
Publication Date: August 4, 2016
Format: Interactive, multi-touch eBook
Online: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1149612619

MAKE

Paula MacDowell

As Solnit (2013) shares in in The Faraway Nearby, “to become a maker is to make the world for others, not only the material world but the world of ideas that rules over the material world, the dreams we dream and inhabit together.”

What are you making? What are you sharing? What’s your story?

MAKE: Creativity & Learning in a New Tonality is a collection of creative and intellectual works (artifacts, stories, poetry, photography, ethnodrama, and research) by a team of teachers engaged in the art of making meaning together. We welcome you to join us in our journey, “let us take what we have learned from our courses and from each other and fly on eagles’ wings to (s)p(l)aces beyond our imagination” (Stuart, 2016).

Authors: EDCP 508 Collective
Editor: Paula MacDowell
Publication Date: March 13, 2016
Format: Interactive, multi-touch eBook
Online: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1093003369

PhD defence, Jenny Arntzen “Teacher Candidates’ Imaginative Capacity and Dispositions Toward Using ICT in Practice”

Congratulations Jenny!

The Final Oral Examination For the Degree of
DOCTOR of PHILOSOPHY
(Curriculum Studies)

JENNY ARNTZEN
B.F.A., Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, 2003
M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2007

Friday, November 20, 2015, 12:30 pm
Room 200,  Graduate Student Centre

Teacher Candidates’ Imaginative Capacity and Dispositions Toward Using ICT in Practice

EXAMINING COMMITTEE

Chair: Dr. Deborah Butler (Special Education)

Supervisory Committee:
Dr. Samson M. Nashon, Research Supervisor (Curriculum Studies)
Dr. Stephen Petrina (Curriculum Studies)
Dr. E. Wayne Ross (Curriculum Studies)

University Examiners:
Dr. Marlene Asselin (Language and Literacy Education)
Dr. Peter Gouzouasis (Curriculum Studies)

External Examiner:
Dr. Ann-Louise Davidson
Concordia University

ABSTRACT

The study investigated the relationship between instructional discourses in a pre-service teacher education program and teacher candidates’ subsequent plans to use ICT in their professional practice. Teacher candidates’ dispositions, in terms of comportment and composure, were seen as indicative of the quality of their relationship with ICT. Teacher candidates’ manifestations of these dispositions, in terms of ICT imaginative capacity, were seen as indicative of the characteristics of their use (what they had the capacity to imagine and the capability to implement). Manifestations of dispositions were described as displays of ICT imaginative capacity.

The setting for the study was a post-baccalaureate two-year teacher education program in a large regional university in western Canada. Participants in the study were comprised of a thirty-eight member cohort of teacher candidates in the first year of their two-year program. A sub-group of teacher candidates was self-selected from the cohort and participated in a research intervention.

This study adapted a social constructivist theoretical framework complemented by an enactive analysis of social interactions examining communicative events from the teacher education program. An interpretive case study methodology collected data from teacher education classes, teacher candidate questionnaires, and focus group discussions. These three datasets were analyzed and interpreted to explore relationships between instructional discourses and teacher candidates’ dispositions toward using ICT.

Findings document teacher candidates’ dispositions toward using ICT as demonstrated by their capacity to imagine using ICT and their capability to implement these imaginings in practice. Conclusions suggest a need for further research into “ecologies of learning”. Recommendations also include a need to investigate instructional discourses with regards to developing ICT imaginative capacity and imaginative capability. The need to develop imaginative capacity extends beyond when, where, why, how, or what ICT teachers learn to use in practice.

A #History of the Critique of #Technology: A response to @LatourBot #sts

I wrote a history of the critique of technology as a response to Latour’s “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam?” There have been few, if any, adequate responses to Latour’s ground-breaking essay. This is my second response to Latour and concurs to a degree with his thesis. My first response (“The New Critiquette“) was also a history but offered a defence of critique, or rather an analysis of the critique of critique.

This new response to Latour is the opposite of the first. I wanted to write something resourceful, something we didn’t already have. Now we have a working history of the critique of technology.

It’s big history in that it extends over an expansive historical scale (550 BCE-present) and geographic scope. I tried to be inclusive, attending to questions of gender for instance, but realize there are omissions. It’s a work in progress. I wrote nearly each paragraph as a mini-essay of sorts, meaning that it has it’s own integrity as a case study. Each of these mini-essays gives an empirical example; they demonstrate critique or criticism of media and technology at different times in different places.

The chapter sets up a series of theses, not the least of which is that the critique of media and technology has run out of steam.

If critique barely changes a thing, including youth consciousness, what is its utility? Most critiques of media and technology are instrumental by definition and intended to have an effect or make a difference. If it has been enough for criticism and critique to offer a counter to progress narratives, then how effective has this been? Has the critique of media and technology run out of steam, as Latour (2004) suggests? If out of energy drawn from the steam age, should critique be retrofit to run on light and signals? Meantime, the trend in vaping may conceivably pressurize critique enough to sputter into the future. Is the critique of media and technology over time sufficiently prejudicial or probative? Instrumental or terminal?

I had great fun writing this and have an idea of what to do next with it. It’s most immediate setting is as a chapter in Critique in Design and Technology Education, edited by P. John Williams and Kay Stables. Thank you to Kay and John, who invited me to write this. I also thank Belinda von Mergenson, David Barlex and Marc de Vries, who gave superb feedback along with other colleagues at a conference in Marseille and workshop in Sausset les Pin. The conference and workshop were hosted by Jacques Ginestiè, his wife Marjolaine, and team from Marseille University.

Sausset les Pin Workshop

Sausset les Pin Workshop

That was tremendous fun as well. And yes, despite the beauty of the tranquil setting on the coast, we did work! Merci.

Sausset les Pin Workshop

Sausset les Pin Workshop

Critique of Media & Technology Workshop #yreubc #hwl #ices

CRITIQUE OF MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY WORKSHOP 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
10:20-12:00     Scarfe 1209
Year of Research in Education event #yreubc

CRITIQUE OF MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY

Stephen Petrina
University of British Columbia

This workshop focuses on the Critique of Media & Technology. The first part of the workshop includes a presentation and discussion on a forthcoming chapter. The second part of the workshop focuses on the process of researching and writing with special attention to philosophical and historical research 2.0 and narrative. How can we or ought we write a (big) history of the critique of media and technology?

The chapter begins with the spiritual critique of media and technology and proceeds historically through cultural criticism and social, psychic, ontic, and identic critiques. Differentiated from the spiritual critique that precedes, cultural criticism of media and technology emerges in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as a mode of describing and depicting the mechanical arts. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, spiritual critique is displaced through a rejection of religion and theology as sources of modern authority. With spiritual ground undermined, social, psychic, ontic, and identic critics of media and technology compete for defensible ground for leverage. The history of critique is a search for ground. This chapter historicizes the critique of media and technology as well as critique as a practice that has run out of steam. “Critical distance” from or “free relation” to media and technology— a seductive orientation since the 1940s— has been instrumental in critique’s gradual decline. The critique of critique has quickened the decline. The conclusion questions the short-term future of machinic critique and long-term renewal of spiritual critique.

Download the Critique of Media & Technology chapter

Paula (PJ) MacDowell’s PhD final oral exam @ Empowering Girls as Change Makers in Maker Culture: Stories from a Summer Camp for Girls in Design, Media & Technology

You are invited to
The Final Oral Examination
For the Degree of

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
(Curriculum Studies)

PAULA (PJ) MACDOWELL
B.Ed, The University of Regina, 1995 MET,
The University of British Columbia, 2007

Monday, March 16, 2015, 12:30 pm
Room 200, Graduate Student Centre
Latecomers will not be admitted

Empowering Girls as Change Makers in Maker Culture: Stories from a Summer Camp for Girls in Design, Media & Technology

EXAM DETAILS
1. Exam Time: 12:30 PM on Monday, March 16, 2015 (Please arrive 5 minutes early, so the exam can begin promptly).
2. Exam Location: Room 200 of the Graduate Student Centre (Koerner Building, 6371 Crescent Road).

EXAMINING COMMITTEE
Chair:
Dr. Sandra Mathison (Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology)
Supervisory Committee:
Dr. Stephen Petrina, Research Supervisor (Curriculum Studies)
Dr. Franc Feng (Curriculum Studies)
Dr. Sandra Scott (Curriculum Studies)
University Examiners:
Dr. E. Wayne Ross (Curriculum Studies)
Dr. Laurie Ford (School Psychology)
External Examiner:
Dr. Ann Marie Hill
Faculty of Education
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario

ABSTRACT

This study investigates how girls develop new affinities towards and capabilities in media and technology. Thirty co-researchers, girls aged 10-13, were recruited into 101 Technology Fun, a series of summer camps with learning labs in animation, game design, movie production, and robotics programming. The design studio setting, created by the How We Learn (Media & Technology Across the Lifespan) collective, offered girls their own makerspace to explore media and technology. A novel methodology was developed, the Tween Empowerment & Advocacy Methodology (TEAM), which emphasizes relational ethics through artifact production, storymaking, mind scripting, invention, and imagination. Highlighting the importance for youth voices to be recognized and given influence in the academic research concerning their lives and learning circumstances, the findings focus on the catalytic or generative artifacts and “little stories” (e.g., Lyotard’s petits récits) revealing the co-researchers’ experiences and expressions of girlhood-in-interaction-with-technology (the key unit of analysis).

This research addresses artifacts as they relate to stories made or examined by the team members, including our concerns, needs, talents, inspiration, literacy, and volition. The artifacts, such as music videos, robotic amusement park, and the momME alternate reality game, are catalytic for storymaking and, symmetrically, the stories are catalytic to artifact production and sharing. Four distinct yet interrelated elements characterize our fieldwork and designworks:

(1) agency (girls having influence and power)
(2) ingenuity (girls being clever and inventive)
(3) self-interpretation (girls making sense and significance)
(4) self-efficacy (girls judging their technological capabilities).

Findings underscore the statement that it is not really a question of whether girls like to design (most do), as much a matter concerning how, when, and why they learn to become innovators, leaders, and producers of media and technology (thereby overturning traditional gender and generational stereotypes). Indeed, how a group of female youth story changes in their sense of technological self-efficacy, self-interpretation, ingenuity, and agency is one of the most important contributions of this study. Questions, both guiding and emergent, are articulated in artifact and text to motivate further scholarly inquiry, action, and advocacy, thereby generating more opportunities for girls to participate in, design, make, and transform technology culture.

Research stories: A graduate forum #hwl #yreUBC #UBC #bced

Research Stories: A Graduate Forum

 How We Learn Media and Technology (across the lifespan)
Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy
University of British Columbia

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
10:00-11:30     Scarfe 1209
Year of Research in Education event

GIRLS DESIGNING GAMES, MEDIA, ROBOTS, SELVES, AND CULTURE
Paula (PJ) MacDowell
University of British Columbia

This research involved 30 co-researchers, girls aged 10–13, who were recruited into 101 Technology Fun, a series of intensive research camps offering learning labs in game design, video production, and robotics. Utilizing design-based and participatory techniques, including artifact production, mindscripting, and storymaking, this research examines how girls, through their artifact making and designerly practices, story themselves and express their understandings of technology. Highlighting the importance for girls’ voices to be recognized and given influence in research concerning their lives and learning circumstances, findings focus on the catalytic or generative artifacts and “little stories” that reveal how a team of girls analyze their experiences of girlhood-in-interaction-with technology.

MIGRANT MEXICAN YOUTH IN THE PACIFIC NORTWEST
Mike D. Boyer
Boise State University

 What are the stories of migrant, undocumented Mexican youth, as they struggle with language and acculturation in the English-speaking rural Northwest? As Michael Boyer describes, his own study of a set of such stories takes as its starting point narratives written and illustrated by students in his grade 7-12 ESL classroom some 10 years ago. Of course, these stories subsequently diverge as they continue to the present, and as these former students, now adults, connect back to their earlier experiences and reflect on the relation of these experiences to the present. The collection and investigation of these stories, new and old, and their relationship to past realities and future possibilities offers startling insights into the experiences of those othered and marginalized as “immigrant Hispanic children” in America. At the same time, it also entails the creative combination or a range of narratological, political and cultural categories and modes of analysis.

DESIGNING THINGS, PRACTICES AND CONCERN FOR THE GOOD LIFE
Yu-Ling Lee
University of British Columbia

 This research examines the complex relationship between design, the sacred and online learning, framed by matters of concern. It is the culmination of a yearlong ethnographic research project in the lives of Christian undergraduate students in Vancouver. Focal concerns in the form of things and practices have disclosive power if they are designed for the good life. The task of the designer, then, is to purposefully move away from matters of fact towards matters of concern. The interviews were open-ended and based on a loosely structured set of questions about faith background, Internet usage, online spiritual experiences, and other factors. Conversations and participant observations were then analyzed as matters of concern.

Brianna Wu: Rape and death threats against female gamers. Why haven’t men in tech spoken out? #GamerGate

Brianna Wu, Washington Post, October 20, 2014– They’ve taken down women I care about one by one. Now, the vicious mob of the Gamergate movement is coming after me. They’ve threatened to rape me. They’ve threatened to make me choke to death on my husband’s severed genitals. They’ve threatened to murder any children I might have.

This angry horde has been allowed to wage its misogynistic war without penalty for too long. It’s time for the video game industry to stop them.

Gamergate is ostensibly about journalistic ethics. Supporters say they want to address conflicts of interest between the people that make games and the people that support them. In reality, Gamergate is a group of gamers that are willing to destroy the women who have invaded their clubhouse.

The movement is not new. Two years ago, when Anita Sarkeesian tried to crowdfund a series of videos critiquing the hypersexualized female characters of video games, they threatened to kill and rape her. The movement reached fever pitch – and got its name — when a jilted former lover of indie game developer Zoe Quinn published transcripts of her life online. Gamers who were outraged over charges that Quinn’s game Depression Quest had received favorable reviews due to an alleged romantic relationship with a journalist, seized the opportunity to shame and terrify her into hiding. Now, Gamergate is a wildfire that threatens to consume the entire games industry.

The fact that Gamergate supporters went after Quinn and not the journalist says everything you need to know about the movement.

I became Gamergate’s latest target when I tweeted this joke about supporters of the movement:

BzhqC5sCYAAb8jR.png-large

The next day, my Twitter mentions were full of death threats so severe I had to flee my home. They have targeted the financial assets of my company by hacking. They have tried to impersonate me on Twitter. Even as we speak, they are spreading lies to journalists via burner e-mail accounts in an attempt to destroy me professionally.

We’ve lost too many women to this lunatic mob. Good women the industry was lucky to have, such as Jenn Frank, Mattie Bryce and my friend Samantha Allen, one of the most insightful critics in games media. They decided the personal cost was too high, and I don’t know who could blame them.

Every woman I know in the industry is terrified she will be next.

The culture in which women are treated this way by gamers didn’t happen in a vacuum. For 30 years, video games have been designed by men, marketed to men and sold to men. It’s obvious to anyone outside the industry that video games have serious issues with the portrayal of women. It’s not just oversexualized examples, such as Ivy of the Soul Caliber series. Games are still lazily falling on the same outdated tropes involving women. Princess Peach, of Nintendo’s Mario games, has been kidnapped in 12 separate games since 1985. Perhaps the most disturbing of all is the propensity of games to have women thoughtlessly murdered as a motivation for the male hero, such as Watch Dogs.

Read More: Washington Post

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Copyright in (cyber)space: Space Oddity

Here is a momentous instance: when copyright in cyberspace meets copyright from the depths of space! For according to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, copyright permission he had been granted on May, 13, 2013, when as the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station ISS for Expedition 35 , he played and recorded a tribute originally composed by David Bowie, expires on May, 13, 2014. As it appears, link for the popular culture oddity that Commander Hadfield had popularized from the depth of space, viewed 22 million times, has since expired on Youtube.

That said. a legacy remains, documenting the joint space odyssey, including the above historic transfer of space command, from Hadfield to Vinogradov, from Expedition 35 to Expedition 36, in English and Russian.

Commander Hatfield playing and recording in space

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3D Printing: Paper as media, in the 3rd Industrial Revolution

Interesting conference and expo, specializing in 3D printing technologies as the emergent third industrial revolution (perhaps Vancouver next, for its upcoming Expos?), where it has become possible, to print any content in any form (see the 3D printed guitar!) in any media- even paper, in full color 3D- dispelling possible prior preconceptions of paper, in which paper emerges as durable material, for our design considerations, that due of its unique properties, can also be coated, to extend its initial properties with the strength and properties of other as/more durable materials. 3D printing

Invitation to Mirela Gutica’s PhD Defense

Designing Educational Games and Advanced Learning Technologies:
An Identification of Emotions for Modeling Pedagogical and Adaptive Emotional Agents

by
Mirela Gutica

Abstract: Emotional, cognitive, and motivational processes are dynamic and influence each other during learning. The goal of this dissertation is to gain a better understanding of emotion interaction in order to design Advanced Learning Technologies (ALTs) and Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) that adapt to emotional needs. In order for ITSs to recognize and respond to affective states, the system needs to have knowledge of learners’ behaviors and states. Based on emotion frameworks in affective computing and education, this study responds to this need by providing an in-depth analysis of students’ affective states during learning with an educational mathematics game for grade 5-7 (Heroes of Math Island) specifically designed for this research study and based on principles of instructional and game design.

The mixed methodology research design had two components: (1) a quasi-experimental study and (2) affect analysis. The quasi-experimental study included pretest, intervention (gameplay), and posttest, followed by a post-questionnaire and interview. Affect analysis involved the process of identifying what emotions should be observed, and video annotations by trained judges.

The study contributes to related research by: (1) reviewing sets of emotions important for learning derived from literature and pilot studies; (2) analyzing inter-judge agreement both aggregated and over individual students to gain a better understanding of how individual differences in expression affect emotion recognition; (3) examining in detail what and how many emotions actually occur or are expressed in the standard 20-second interval; (4) designing a standard method including a protocol and an instrument for trained judges; and (5) offering an in-depth exploration of the students’ subjective reactions with respect to gameplay and the mathematics content. This study analyzes and proposes an original set of emotions derived from literature and observations during gameplay. The most relevant emotions identified were boredom, confidence, confusion/hesitancy, delight/pleasure, disappointment / displeasure, engaged concentration, and frustration. Further research on this set is recommended for design of ALTs or ITSs that motivate students and respond to their cognitive and emotional needs. The methodological protocol developed to label and analyze emotions should be evaluated and tested in future studies.

Defense:
When: March 17, 2014 @ 9:00 am
Where: Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, UBC

Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps

Gradual exodus of young people towards WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk is just as their mums and dads get the hang of social networking:

Parmy Olson, The Observer, November 10, 2013– Facebook made a startling admission in its earnings announcement this month: it was seeing a “decrease in daily users, specifically among teens”. In other words, teenagers are still on Facebook; they’re just not using it as much as they did. It was a landmark statement, since teens are the demographic who often point the rest of us towards the next big thing.

Their gradual exodus to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk boils down to Facebook becoming a victim of its own success. The road to gaining nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users has seen the mums, dads, aunts and uncles of the generation who pioneered Facebook join it too, spamming their walls with inspirational quotes and images of cute animals, and (shock, horror) commenting on their kids’ photos. No surprise, then, that Facebook is no longer a place for uninhibited status updates about pub antics, but an obligatory communication tool that younger people maintain because everyone else does.

All the fun stuff is happening elsewhere. On their mobiles.

When mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp first emerged in 2009, they looked like a threat to mobile carriers. Everyone from Vodafone to Dutch operator KPN was mentioning them in sales calls. Mobile operators are estimated to have lost $23bn in SMS revenue in 2012 due to messaging apps, which host free instant messages through a phone’s data connection, which these days is often unlimited. Now these apps are becoming a threat to established social networks too.

WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the UK and on half the country’s iPhones, according to Mobile Marketing Magazine, has more than 350 million monthly active users globally. That makes it the biggest messaging app in the world by users, with even more active users thansocial media darling Twitter, which counts 218 million. About 90% of the population of Brazil uses messaging apps, three-quarters of Russians, and half of Britons, according to mobile consultancy Tyntec. WhatsApp alone is on more than 95% of all smartphones in Spain. The power users and early adopters of these apps, the ones you’re most likely to see tapping their thumbs over a tiny screen, are under 25.

Part of the reason is that gradual encroachment of the grey-haired ones on Facebook. Another is what messaging apps have to offer: private chatting with people you are friends with in real life. Instead of passively stalking people you barely know on Facebook, messaging apps promote dynamic real-time chatting with different groups of real-life friends, real life because to connect with them on these apps you will typically already have their mobile number. The trend flies in the face of recurring criticism of young people – that their social lives are largely virtual – when many more are in fact embracing the virtues of privacy and services like WhatsApp, which shun advertising.

“I only use WhatsApp to communicate and send pics these days,” said Natalie West, a twentysomething financial sales associate in London. In the last few years she has used Facebook less and less because she doesn’t want “the whole world to know” what she’s doing. When people set up events and get-togethers on Facebook, West and her boyfriend tend to reply on WhatsApp instead because “it’s more personal”. For similar reasons, some 78% of teenagers and young people use mobile messengers to plan a meet-up with friends, according to research advisory firm mobileYouth.

Another factor is the rise of the selfie, often silly self-portraits taken at arm’s length with a mobile. Almost half of the photos on Instagram feeds among people aged 14 to 21 in the UK are selfies, according to mobileYouth. Sending those photos via a mobile messaging service is safer than broadcasting them on Facebook, since they’re less likely to be seen by a boss or dozens of Facebook friends you forgot you had. Selfies are even bigger on Snapchat, the evanescent photo sharing app that deletes a photo several seconds after it has been viewed. With about 5 million active monthly users, the service has inevitably become a favoured way for teens to send sexy or even naked photos of themselves, an ill-advised practice known as “sexting”. But teens also love Snapchat because it allows them to send inane photos of themselves without fear of leaving a permanent digital footprint.The California-based app is seen as so hot, with so much potential for growth, that it has already been pegged with a $2-$4bn valuation in the Silicon Valley tech community. Estimates are even higher for WhatsApp, which makes money through an annual subscription; some observers suggest it could be worth $5bn or more.

The final, big reason why young people are gravitating towards messaging apps is that many of these apps no longer do just messaging. They are social networks. The best examples come out of Asia, with messaging platforms KakaoTalk (South Korea), WeChat (China) and LINE (Japan). All have tens of millions of users, with WeChat boasting more than 200 million, and take their services beyond offering straight messaging to games, stickers and music sharing. Before you write off digital stickers as inane, they are a decent moneyspinner for LINE: of the $58m the company made in sales in the first quarter of 2013, half came from selling games and 30%, or roughly $17m, from sales of its 8,000 different stickers. Some are free or, in Spain where LINE has 15 million registered users, cost around €1.99. Often users choose stickers instead of words when they need to express themselves, one LINE executive said; it’s known to have helped couples get over fights more easily by offering multiple stickers to say sorry.

Read More: The Observer

Video Gaming in the Classroom: Insights and Ideas from Teenage Students by Peter Halim

Peter and research participants in focus group

Congratulations to Peter Halim for successfully defending his thesis titled “Video Gaming in the Classroom: Insights and Ideas from Teenage Students”! Peter made the minor edits and closed his MA program, meaning that he will graduate in November. The thesis can be downloaded from the CIRCLE database.

Video Gaming in the Classroom: Insights and Ideas from Teenage Students

Peter Halim

For this research, four high school aged teenagers participated in an intensive one week video gaming camp, at which time they articulated their attitudes and ideas about mainstream video games and their place in education. The purpose was to explore strategies for utilizing mainstream commercial video games for educative purposes in the classroom. The participants’ insights along with observations made on their interaction with video games were analyzed through Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation and the General Aggression Model. In summary, the participants, more or less experts in gaming, enjoyed video games and described them as one of their favourite activities. Furthermore, it was found that video games played both a positive and negative role in the participants’ lives. For example, all participants seemed to have developed healthy values and relationships directly through playing video games during their pre-adolescent years. Conversely, their responses also indicated that they experienced limits to video games and did not see innovation from market and home to school as a smooth, trivial process. Rather, they provided key insights into aligning specific games with specific content, curriculum, and courses. The participants’ insights suggest that the use of mainstream video games for learning will most likely continue to be a fringe strategy implemented by individual teachers who actively discern the educational uses of video games. Game and gaming literacies are among the most recent entries into new literacies research. This thesis contributes to this research by exploring teenagers’ ideas about gaming in the classroom. In conclusion, this study finds that mainstream video games have potential to be effectively used as learning strategies in the classroom in the future pending on continued progress and interest in this endeavor.