Volume 6 [Issue 4], 2014


Digital Culture & Education (DCE) embraces ‘slow citizenship’ into the future

Christopher S. Walsh


Volume 6, Issue 4 celebrates 6 years since we first launched Digital Culture & Education (DCE), an output of a successful Australian Research Council (ARC) grant entitled ‘Literacy in the Digital World of the Twenty First Century: Learning from computer games’ (Beavis, C., Bradford, C., O’Mara J. and Walsh, C. S.). It has been an amazing journey and we are undoubtedly continuing to grow with 2014 being the first year we have published four issues. As a completely dedicated open-access educational journal, we are not only dependent upon our cadre of talented editorial boards members, but indebted to them for their on going pro bono work, support and dedication.


Digital Culture and neuroscience: A conversation with learning and curriculum

Kathryn Grushka, Debra Donnelly & Neville Clement


Multimedia digital technologies mirror neural processes and capacities and their proliferation introduce new possibilities for learning. Not only does the new digital media have the capacity to instantly record and communicate lifeworld experiences unimpeded by the distance or size of the targeted audience, but offers the means to construct virtual reality environments which were previously beyond human experience. This finds the teacher confronted with a new array of modes and an extended concept of literacy through which to engage the student in learning and meaning making. Digital culture and its multiliteracies now present challenges for the curriculum work of teachers, both in terms of the integration of appropriate technologies and the capitalization of the sensory and memory capacities of students. This article outlines the challenges faced by teachers as they engage in curriculum work that seeks to integrate the capabilities of our new digital culture in the design of learning experiences. It also highlights insights into human capacities for learning offered by neuroscience regarding the interplay of experience, memory, cognition, emotion and reflection in learning. By aligning these strands, teachers can develop curriculum that align with the capabilities of new digital technologies with the capacities of students.


Facilitating dialog in the game-based learning classroom: Teacher challenges reconstructing professional identity

Yam San Chee, Swati Mehrotra, and Jing Chuan Ong


Despite widespread interest in the use of digital games to engage students and enhance the quality of student learning, the teacher’s perspective has been less extensively studied. The challenges that teachers face when enacting authentic game-based learning predicated on dialogic pedagogy in the classroom offer powerful opportunities for professional learning despite potentially engendering stressful experiences. In this paper, we draw on the conceptual frame of dilemmatic spaces to theorise and document challenges teachers encounter when learning to enact dialogic facilitation in a game-based learning curriculum. Based on coded interview data drawn from nine teachers, our findings suggest that teachers wrestle with tensions engendered by habituated modes of classroom teaching and the need to redefine power relations with students. They experience a gap between their existing professional practice when they embark on the curriculum—their being—and striving to perform the role of an effective dialogic teacher—their becoming. The (re)construction of teacher identity that emerges is contingent on how teachers respond to continuing professional development as well as how they deal with challenges they face in the classroom.

Reconceptualising gamification: Play and pedagogy

Rowan Tulloch


Gamification is a complex and controversial concept. It has been both embraced as a marketing and education revolution, and dismissed as practice of exploitation. Contested within the debate around gamification has been the very concept of what a game is, what the core mechanics of games are, and whether gamification truly mobilises these core mechanics. This paper will challenge the foundation of this debate through reconceptualising gamification not as a simple set of techniques and mechanics, but as a pedagogic heritage, an alternative framework for training and shaping participant behaviour that has at its core the concepts of entertainment and engagement. In doing so it will recontextualise current practices of gamification into a longer and deeper history, and suggest potential pathways for more sophisticated gamification in the future.


Conversational reading: History and context for a new genre of virtual learning

Robert Nelson and Phillip Dawson


Conversation and reading are regarded as essential ingredients of any discursive discipline. However, though clearly central to learning and integral to study, conversation and reading are anything but essential in the sense of absolute, unchanging and eternal. Our article reveals how both conversation and reading mutate and develop historically, serving intuitions of the learner’s autonomy and interactivity, which also evolve. This backdrop of change contextualizes speculations about the impact of digital technology upon conversation and reading. Our own invention of a conversation simulator (or conversation sim) reveals that conversation and reading can be integrated in any Learning Management System (LMS). Pointing to a new educational genre, this method for virtual learning demonstrates how automated educational technologies contribute to the ongoing reinvention of reading and conversation: thoughtful absorption in a text and verbal interactivity over a topic.


Digital ontologies of self: Two African American adolescents coconstruct and negotiate identities through The Sims 2

Tisha Lewis Ellison


This article describes how two African American adolescent male cousins become coconstructors and negotiators of identity while playing The Sims 2, an online life simulation computer game. i Utilising literacy as social practices and multimodal practices, this article produces a framework to establish how adolescents use digital tools to construct their identities, and how identity construction and interactions with these tools extend understandings of literacies, multimodality, and self. Data were collected using ethnographic and multimodal discourse methods and guided by questions: How did adolescents use an online computer game to construct their identities? How might these identity constructions and interactions with digital tools extend their understandings of literacies, multimodality, and self? Analyses demonstrated how the adolescents took on student-centered roles as co-constructors of knowledge and meaning that contribute to the ways they need to be researched and studied in this era. This work also challenges educators to acknowledge how students participate with digital tools in communal spaces that shape how their literacy and identities are constructed, and it adds to the limited representation and investigation of African American family meaning-making and identity via digital tools.


YouTube as the art commons? Strategies, perceptions and outcomes of museums’ online video portals

Daria Gladysheva, Jessica Verboom & Payal Arora


The current study investigates the phenomenon of museum communication through online video hostings, either by using YouTube or a customized platform. The videos uploaded by museums present a combination of educational and entertaining content depending on their objectives, attracting users to watch art content online. While the literature on uses and gratification is highly represented in media studies, few studies exist about the specific user motivations and gratifications of new media platforms in a museum context. Three types of users were identified in this study. The first type – artoriented users – display extrinsic motivation towards art exploration and seek for videos with educational content. The second type and the most widespread on these spaces – entertainment-oriented users – are intrinsically motivated and concentrate on the entertaining content of museum videos. Users of the last type are averse to exploring art content online, unless they are defined as non-art related. Overall, this paper argues that as art becomes a cultural product to be consumed online, popular video portals such as YouTube serve as an important platform to facilitate this democratizing effect, with varied implications for the art world.