I went to the annual conference for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) for the first time last month and then to the annual conference for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) right afterwards. In fact, I flew directly from one conference (Orlando) to the other (New Orleans). The short story is that AERA is much bigger than NARST, that Orlando surprisingly kind of sucks for a conference due to horrible food choices and no public transportation or sidewalks, and that New Orleans during the French Quarter music festival is amazingly awesome.
Met up with Moses Wolfenstein, Ben DeVane, and Sean Duncan and hung out with them in their room overlooking the beach, later at a cafe after walking a bit, then back in their room overlooking the beach. Have I mentioned the beach? Here’s a shot of not the beach but still a nice view from the cafe we went to:
We then caught a shuttle up to the conference registration, opening talk by Craig Watkins, and then after talk reception.
Two most memorable things from the opening were:
- Henry Jenkins framed participatory culture as different than web 2.0, saying that he sometimes says that participatory culture started as early as web -10 back in the 1860s/70s when youth were creating their own activists news networks and even used the acronym “LOL!”
- Craig Watkins describing the shift from MySpace to Facebook in just 2 or 3 years among black and latino youth and how many of them engage with the web through their mobile devices. That the digital divide is not about access anymore but more about a participation in different arenas sort of divide.
When Henry was doing his thing he mentioned that he likes to tweet now and is sometimes frustrated with the 155 character limitation, likening it to how the youth back in web -10 had to individually set the type for their newsprints. I immediately tweeted that Henry must be part of some twitter elite and has access to 155 characters since everyone else gets 140. I don’t think anyone got that joke… but then I noticed that starting about 5 minutes in, we had about half a dozen people tweeting the exact same salient points from both Henry and Craig, so I decided to stop tweeting… I think Ian Bogost complained about the #dml2010 spam. 🙂
Another hella funny thing was hearing about how @dthickey’s cell phone was stolen by a sea gull *while* he was talking with his wife! She heard him screaming profanities, wings flapping, and then a seal bark, so Dan spent 3 hours where the seals were searching for his phone… eventually bought a Droid to replace it…
During the reception, I kept seeing people I know but didn’t get a chance to really talk or say hi, and I also kept seeing people who I swear I’ve seen somewhere else, possibly at IR10. I really ought to introduce myself if we’re gonna keep bumping into each other…
Noted that a lot of LIFE people are here: Roy Pea, Brigid Barron, Reed Stevens, Veronique Mertl, Robb Lindgren, Sarah Walter (though, she’s arriving tomorrow). It feels kind of odd seeing one part of my academic life starting to collide with another.
Also excited that Lisa Nakamura recognized me and said hi. And I love how almost the first thing she said was why isn’t anyone looking at various Asian populations who are just as disproportionately represented socioeconomically as blacks and latinos. (It’s quite true in Seattle…) Every time I see Lisa, I try to namedrop Reed College and Beth Kolko (though I didn’t get a chance to this time) because I wonder if she remembers me, so it’s great to be recognized without prompting. Also, I’ve had dinner with her husband in Denmark, and I could probably namedrop Julian. 🙂
Anyway, Moses and I ducked out from the reception early to go get sandwiches from Porter’s Pub.
So, this year instead of being an instructor for the Teacher Education Program (TEP) here in the College of Education at the University of Washington (UW), I’m an RA (research assistant) for a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Science of Learning Center (SLC) called LIFE (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments). (How many acronyms can I put in there? 🙂 )
There are six SLCs:
- Center of Excellence for Learning in Education, Science, and Technology (CELEST) – most brainy
- Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) – most “everything is about life, dude”
- Pittsburg Science of Learning Center (PSLC) – most original name
- Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) – most visual
- Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC) – quickest, yet slowest
- Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) – most spatial
This past weekend the UW branch of LIFE (which also has branches at Stanford and SRI) hosted the second annual grad student and post-docs inter-center conference. It was pretty cool meeting all these other learning sciences students and hearing about their research. We were able to share tools and resources, findings, methods, theories and ideas, and some good drink and company at local bars after each day’s events.
There were a number of us interested in games for learning, from the use of virtual environments for studying the effects of 1st person vs. 3rd person POV on learning (Robb) to testing social vs. non-social feedback for navigation tasks (Dylan Arena), from task oriented vs. social oriented cultural learning goals (Amy) to collaborative activity-based multiplayer mouse control (Neema).
The first day, Sarah Walter from Stanford arrived early so we could meet and brainstorm proposals for upcoming conferences. She does almost the same research as me except that:
- I am focusing on trying to map the way a raid group works to an ANT or distributed cognition model where she’s focusing more on specific collaboration practices.
- My data only includes what players were already doing (chat logs, video, web forum threads), while Sarah’s got some interview and survey data in addition to what I’ve done.
- I’m looking at a 40-person raid in World of Warcraft, while Sarah’s group is a 12-person raid in Lord of the Rings Online.
We quickly saw that it would be easy to start using the same coding scheme and collaborate on analyses so we could compare our settings and findings. We’re writing abstracts to submit to IR10 (Milwaukie, Oct) and DiGRA (London, Sept). Prob will also submit to GLS (Madison, June 10-12) but she’s going to be at CSCL in Greece (lucky!) at the same time as GLS.
On Friday, we had a full day of poster sessions and then workshops on inter and intra center collaboration. We need a match.com for researchers, one that pushes info to participants when something new of interest (maybe tag based) gets added rather than depending on us to go visit a site routinely. Does that exist?
Afterwards, dinner at Portage Bay Cafe was pretty good. Met Vanessa who researches media realism and its effects on arousal.
On Saturday, we had presentations and workshops on current research and tools. The workshop I went to was the video analysis one and ELAN (presented by Sarah Fish and Naomi Berlove of VL2) looks great!
On Sunday, the conference was technically over, but I spent the day working at a cafe with Sarah Lewis (also from Stanford), lunch with Turadg, Erin, Ruth, and Ido (all from CMU), and working at a different cafe with Turadg. Sarah and I talked a bit about our programs and profs and politics. Very informative. 🙂
Turadg showed me some cool stuff he’s been working on that might help me with my chart creation… using python and pickling and a make file and such rather than going through all the crazy manual steps I’ve been doing with a text editor, excel, sql, flash, and photoshop. He’s also working on a collective web tool for learning that I’ve agreed to help with (though honestly, I only have a fuzzy image of what it is) and runs the Open Education Research blog.