DML 2013

During the week of March 11, 2013 I had a chance to attend the DML2013 conference at the Sheraton in Chicago, Illinois. 

This was my first time at this conference, thanks to my fellowship with T.E.A.M. at Columbia.  It was different from any other conference I’ve attended.  Named “Digital Media and Learning” I had expectations of teachers speaking of digital projects.  No so.  The theme of this year’s DML was “Democratic Futures: Mobilizing Voices, and Remixing Youth Participation”.  It focused more on social justice and youth civics. It wasn’t necessarily a practitioner’s conference (at least in the sense I was used to). 

It was refreshing to spend time in a forum like this.  My greatest “take-away” was that there are numerous organizations out there advocating for our youth.  As an educator this was inspiring as well as comforting. Some of the organizations I learned about are listed below.  Be sure to check out the Twitter #dml2013 feed for additional resources.

Zero divideorganization based in California focuses on digital literacy and technology training in a "third space" such as after school programs in underutilized communities These "third spaces" are meant to be places outside of school or home and take place in venues such as community based education centers.

Reel Grrls from Seattle spoke to a disability project titled "DisThis".  They also discussed how mentors are trained to let students take the lead and are folks with no formal education training. Mentors are trained to create safe places for kids with supports to allow them to produce media.

AccessHumboldt also located in California houses a Real Life/Research Lab. Participants created great concept maps showing different types of media.  The kids did interviews in the community as well. The curriculum they used is available online.

SpyHop in Salt Lake City presented their 'Sending Messages' podcasts that are created but 14-18 year olds that are in juvenile detention facilities. They receive school credit for writing their scripts.  Listen to their podcasts at

The Center for Multicultural Cooperation at believes every neighborhood matters. Their presentation included photos of what is helping health or hindering health within the community.

Students from Gray Elementary along with their teacher and teaching artist highlighted their T.E.A.M. project based on the Hunger Games trilogy.  The session, titled "Affinity Spaces, Propos and Memes: Oh My!" showed some outstanding student work.  A very lively discussion took place about the use of memes.  Take a look at their blog:

In the session "Fun and Games: culture, politics and new forms of citizen action" I learned the difference between flash mobs and smart mobs with flash mobs fun and "unorganized" events and smart mobs being networked intelligent political collective action enabled by new media).  Very interesting session.

Finally, recipients of McCormick Foundation grants spoke about their individual programs.  Many focus on news literacy and critical thinking. Common Sense Media showed the audience the services they provide related to digital literacy.  Its a great site for parents as well as educators. ColumbiaLinks based right here in Chicago showed us magazines that students in their journalism program have created. Two final organizations that sat on this panel include Free SpiritMedia and Journey World.


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