Volume 5 [Issue 1], 2013


5 Years: Editorial

Thomas Apperley & Christopher S. Walsh


This issue of Digital Culture & Education marks the beginning of DCE’s fifth year in publication. We proudly remain open access with a Creative Commons License to challenge the ongoing hegemony of educational publishers that impede research on digital culture and education.

Innovation in incapacity: Education, technique, subject

A. J. Bartlett


This essay addresses the question of change as it is expressed in debates on the introduction and use of new digital technologies in contemporary education. It sets out some of the terms of this debate, concerning MOOCs in particular, and puts into question the very conception of change they presume. The essay advocates a distinction between education, which marks the subjective capacity of all for thought, and pedagogy, which, the essay argues, teaches subjective incapacity for all. The case is made that without a formal conception of change MOOCs will only strengthen the contemporary pedagogical project of difference as repetition. In conclusion, the essay attempts to sketch a conception of real change such that a new orientation to the debate is proposed.

Towards hacker literacies: What Facebook’s privacy snafus can teach us about empowered technological practices

Rafi Santo


This article highlights an emerging set of literate media practices that are simultaneously critical and participatory in nature. These practices, themselves natural responses to a shifting new media landscape, have echoes of existing media literacy paradigms, though are not fully encapsulated by them. Through an analysis of public reactions to Facebook privacy policy and feature changes that took place in the Spring of 2010, the article shows how what the author calls hacker literacies are currently being practised in situ. Hacker literacies, which draw their name from the practice of computer programmers that take existing code and reconfigure it according to their own values and for their own purposes, are unique in that they are not only empowered by participatory technologies, but empowered in relation to these technologies as well. Reactions to changes in Facebook during this time period illustrate the ways that the users of new media did not take for granted the design of these new modes of participation nor the intentions and interests of their creators. Their understanding of the malleability of this sociotechnical space and consequent actions resulted in its reformulation, a type of process the author argues will be crucial if there is to be a more fluid and equal distribution of media power in the digital age.


Young people and Facebook: What are the Challenges to Adopting a Critical Engagement?

Luciana Pangrazio


This article presents findings from a recent study into the ways young people are engaging with the social networking site Facebook. It draws on a qualitative, small-scale study with six 13 and 14 year old girls who have been using Facebook daily for two years. It aimed to explore the nature of their critical understanding of the medium in ways that have been obscured by research and popular discussion that assume a simple dichotomy between ‘digital natives’ and others. In order to analyse results, Foucault’s theory of discursive formation is used as a framework through which the motivations behind the behaviours presented might be understood. Results suggest that there are a number of factors that make critical engagement difficult in this context. First, coupling the highly visual nature of the medium with an essentially ‘invisible audience’ made participants anxious about ‘fitting in’ to the discourse, which ultimately limited the scope of their use. Second, because social networking is strongly linked with identity presentation critiquing the medium would require an analysis of personal identity. Finally, to critique the site requires the individual to stand ‘outside’ the discourse (Gee, 1991), which essentially counters the reason for using Facebook. The article concludes by making some suggestions for future educational programs that aim to develop critical engagement with social media.


Developing and Applying a Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning and Practicing Game: The effect of VocaWord

Levent Uzun, Uğur R. Çetinavcı, Sedat Korkmaz & Umut M. Salihoğlu


The present study reports on the findings related to the effect of playing a vocabulary learning and practicing game in elementary English classes at university level, and the attitudes and beliefs of the subjects about playing games with the purpose of learning the foreign language. The subjects were 70 first year university students from two different departments at the faculty of education. A vocabulary quiz that was prepared in accordance with the curriculum and the course book was applied as pre and post test. The results revealed that the experimental group subjects have doubled the vocabulary improvement rate of the control group subjects. The findings demonstrated that there was a slight difference between the performance of the female and male students in favour of the female subjects. The findings revealed positive thoughts and beliefs related to the game they played during their course, and using games in language classes. We have concluded that there is a need for more language games that might concentrate on the different aspects of learning a foreign language, and that the educational philosophies, methodologies, and techniques as well as the language curricula should be rearranged and modified to meet the needs and interests of the new age learners.

Book Review of Matthew K. Gold’s (2012) Debates in the digital humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Craig Bellamy


Matthew K Gold has brought together a number of leading figures in Debates in the Digital Humanities in a broad-ranging collection of articles that attempt to outline the contested, eclectic, and progressing landscape of computing in the humanities. At first glance the premise of the book may seem odd to those new to the field; the very idea that there are high-level academic debates about the construction and application of computing technology within humanities research. However, apart from the distinctive culture of building and coding digital tools, these often heated debates largely constitute the field of the digital humanities and reveal its growing maturity. Gold’s book is a commendable attempt to delineate the discursive nature of computational tools within the humanities, rather than reconstitute a formulaic, passive and instrumental understanding of computing.