Introduction: Dobson and Boyce

Introduction

Dobson, Teresa. M., & Boyce, Michael J.

Cite this article (APA): Dobson, T.M. & Boyce, M.J. (2011). Introduction. Media : Culture : Pedagogy, 15(1). Retrieved from http://mcp.educ.ubc.ca/BornDigitalGeneration_Introduction

 

Media : Culture : Pedagogy

This double issue marks a significant transition: the re-naming of the academic journal, Educational Insights, to Media : Culture : Pedagogy. For twenty-one years, Educational Insights (EI) has been the peer-reviewed journal of the Centre for Cross Faculty Inquiry (formerly the Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction), Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The journal originated in 1990 as a print publication venue for graduate student scholars. In 1995, then co-editors, Gary Rasberry and David Penberg, commenced its publication in electronic form via the emergent Internet, thereby establishing EI as one of the first electronic journals in the world; shortly thereafter, it was re-imagined as "an international journal open to all scholars whose work encourages new ways of envisioning educational issues, pedagogy, curriculum, inquiry, and interdisciplinarity" (About Educational Insights, 2011).

In 2002, Lynn Fels assumed editorship of EI and its transformation continued. Under her editorial purview, the journal became a highly innovative multimedia environment for scholarly publication with a focus on arts-based research. Lynn Fels oversaw the publication of fifteen outstanding themed issues from 2002 to 2010 before taking up a faculty position at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada. Each of these issues evidences careful attention to how the affordances of digital media might inform scholarly work.

As an interim editorial team in a time of transition for both the Faculty and the journal, we, Teresa M. Dobson and Michael J. Boyce, were invited to re-imagine the scope and shape of EI within a climate of fiscal uncertainty. Most evident in the first instance as we examined challenges and possibilities was that Educational Insights has been for many years a highly innovative academic publication: since its initial online instantiation it has moved well beyond "print adaptation" approaches that still dominate within online academic publication. As such, it inspired us to contemplate what academic writing imagined in the first instance for digital environments rather than for print environments might look like, and our call for papers for the double issue we present here sought contributions that might explore this question.

Media : Culture : Pedagogy represents our efforts to envision a viable future for Educational Insights that both emphasizes its past strengths and acknowledges changing interests and support structures within the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. Its title reflects a broad scope of interest: media in all forms, culture as multiple patterns of human knowledge, pedagogy as it exists across a variety of disciplines and at all levels, within and beyond formal institutions of learning, and, finally, the confluence of these concerns. Our first two issues, introduced below, are titled, respectively, "Born Digital" and "Digital Generation."

v15n01: Born Digital

Over the last 20 years a new generation of art and literature born as electronic, or borne within distributive digital channels, has developed in tandem with new ways of defining, measuring and decoding (i.e. "reading"), and alongside new delivery mechanisms for pedagogical methods and practices. "Born Digital" aims to explore these new artifacts and their new distributive form in the context of pedagogy and artistic practice.

A wide range of new forms wherein narrative is restructuring and redefining itself are of interest: Blog novels; E-literature; Narrative within locative applications such as google maps and geo-tagging with GPS; RSS poetics; Narrative in the context of mobile games and social media applications such as Youtube, Flickr and Facebook. Likewise, consideration and analysis of the digital artifacts born out of these media is of interest.

What is involved in producing the Digital as an environmental element, particularly as it stands presumably in contrast with and distinction to the Analogue? Does this distinction in fact hold water? What is "Analogue Culture"? If that sounds strange to the ear, then what is it that makes "Digital Culture" sound so familiar? What opportunities do cultural practices, inscribed as new and fundamentally different in their comprehensive constitution, via both their production and their consumption, present to their practitioners, particularly as heralds of the form?

In the measure that cultural and institutional practices, in relationship with digital tools, applications and content, are constitutive of new types of literacy, do they thereby also constitute new forms of pedagogy? How is this mode of inquiry an opportunity to mobilize what agenda, ideologies, or policies, towards what effect in which areas of interest? How do terms such as these — digital native, digital generation, digital literacy, etc. — work to reinforce within the critical purview a course of action, whether related to pedagogy, administration policy, or cultural practices and production?

This issue, which includes articles by contributors from a range of fields, reflecting a growing and necessary movement toward interdisciplinarity in digital studies, explores such questions. Contributions 1 through 5 together comprise Volume 15, Number 1. Sinclair, Ruecker, Gabriele, Patey, Gooding, Vitas, and Bajer describe their research developing the Mandala Browser, a text visualization tool that enables new forms of digital reading, and contemplate pedagogical applications. Mahood describes her work in undergraduate classrooms with electronic literature that challenges conventional notions of literary reading. Uszkalo describes the way in which digital archives such as Early English Books Online have facilitated the growth of important fields of research such as the study of early modern women writers, a group whose work has been heretofore largely unavailable in print, as well as how such archives have also opened up a variety of multi-modal approaches within such fields. Klobucar discusses the way in which the world might be read through lenses provided on handheld devices, such as the Global Positioning System. Finally, Carpenter discusses her innovative born digital work commissioned by the Conseil des arts de Montreal, Entre Ville.

v15n02: Digital Generation

Recent non-academic publications in the area of cultural studies evidence an interest in the consequences, both optimistic and pessimistic, whether from conscious or unconscious exposure, of an emersion into digital environments (e.g., the effects of websites & texting on reading consciousness, or of using Facebook in school or the workplace). Not infrequently they frame these consequences as an evolutionary pattern affecting a variety of senses, including cognitive, psychological, physiological, philosophical, political, social and cultural. Such analysis harkens back, in some cases, to notions of influence mobilized in the 1930s with respect to movies, and in the 1950s with regard to comic books. It is also in this respect typical of an older established generation attempting to make sense (and seek control) of a younger, emergent generation — in this case, the so-called Digital Generations (Y and Z), who are meant to be representative of those who have grown up “native” to digital culture.

But we are struck by a double sense of Generation: On the one hand, it refers to those people born and living within the same epoch and cultural environment; on the other hand, Generation also means production/reproduction - that which is both generated and generating. Digital Generation in this sense, then, could be considered as a cultural group, a class of products, and a mode of production. This issue, comprised of contributions 6 through 9, explores these referents in the context of their impact upon education, public policy & the arts. Harkness presents a new critical framework for how bloggers work to define their digital identities. Weida explores artists' books and bookwork as "structural and conceptual metaphors for digital spaces of art created and/or utilized by teenagers" (Weida, 2011). Turner investigates how digital media can be implemented to engage high school students in collaborative creative work. Ng-A-Fook considers how curriculum theorists can "draw upon autobiographical writing strategies and emergent 2.0 technologies . . . to understand the aesthetic processes for surfing, screen capturing, and provoking a virtual narrative landscape" (Ng-A-Fook, 2011).

Acknowledgements

Our sincere thanks go to the contributors to these two issues for their insights, as well as to Monica Brown, Editorial Assistant, for her careful work in preparing the issues for publication.

Teresa M. Dobson and Michael J. Boyce, Editors