I got to say, is it just me, or is this the best AERA
in the last few years? I was trying to figure out why it seems better than it has in the last few years (this is my third), and the best conclusion I can draw is that the program has been impacted by the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning program
It seems that the program has brought together people of different backgrounds and focused them on apply their ideas and research to learning settings. The result is that many of the panels focus on the future of education given the emerging digital literacies and participatory/convergence culture. This is quite different from earlier years, where people using technology were focusing on a smaller set of issues (such as the digital divide, or looking at communication exchanges in distance learning courses).
You can see how things are different this year by looking the scholars participating from different areas, such as from the communication and media areas (among others). For example Henry Jenkins
, who some say is the Marshall McLuhan of the digital age, has had a significant presence at this years AERA. Additionally, other scholars such as Mimi Ito
, who are not specifically ed-researchers, are really bringing the digital literacy angle to the ed-researcher audience.
I have seen other great presentations by Katie Saleen
at Parsons, who is creating a new school here in NYC that focuses on learning through games. I would also also seem that the MacArthur program is bringing together people who are not necessarily experts in media and communication but getting them involved in the conversation. For example, I attended a panel where Howard Gardner
was in conversation with Jim Gee
and Henry Jenkins
-- it was interesting to see what they had in common and where they diverged.
Beyond the infusion of the digital presence, having the conference in New York is so much better. I can remeber walking over that river in the middle of Chicago and being pelted by hail- it was painful and cold. The mild weather (and the 15 minute commute from home) make this a much more enjoyable conference.