Call for Proposals

Image: Courtesy of Institute of Play


In the twenty-first century a profound shift is underway. Digital media are central in almost every aspect of daily life, most notably in how we learn, communicate, reflect, (co-) produce, consume, create identities, share knowledge, and understand political issues. Corresponding with this increasing accessibility of digital and networked tools, we see new forms of public and private collectives which serve as seedbeds for user-driven innovation, the prevalence of many-to-many distribution models and the large-scale online aggregation of information and culture. This increased access to information, knowledge, and platforms has prompted new learning ecologies that possess the potential to support the kinds of situated, learner-driven, socially inflected, participatory learning opportunities we know are possible today.

Alongside transforming how we create, access, and use knowledge, these changes raise a series of socio-technical concerns regarding the tools, technologies, and policies that underpin digital media practices and their related learning opportunities. These issues operate on both macro and micro levels. They range from processes and protocols shaping the flow and tracking of data in social network sites like Facebook or MySpace to reward and reputation systems in multiplayer online games, collaborative DIY communities like or deviantART, as well as to emergent problematic practices like sexting and cyberbullying. These are, in short, concerns that give shape to both formal and informal learning ecologies and learning experiences. Developing an understanding of the impact of digital media experiences on learning, civic engagement, and professional and ethical development requires that we consider the implications of the design frameworks, institutional configurations, social practices, and research methodologies at play in our connected world.

As Bruno Latour notes, “New innovation will be absolutely necessary if we are to adequately represent the conflicting natures of all the things that are to be designed.” Understanding the role of innovation in light of past and present digital media practices is thus central to imagining and designing learning futures. To this end, the conference will focus upon themes of understanding the types of processes, methods, collaborations, and institutional models required for innovation. We are also concerned with gaining insight into the roles contradicting stakeholders (disciplines, institutions, economies, etc.) may play. This includes designers of social network sites, games, or mobile applications and learning environments such as afterschool programs, schools and other sites of learning. It also includes social scientists studying youth engagement in interest or friendship-driven communities, those involved in developing profiles of participants in intergenerational learning environments, practitioners looking to help integrate technology into learning environments, researchers studying the intersection of learning and socio-technical practices, and policy makers seeking to shape the future of connected learning, to name but a few possible participant profiles.

From these diverse perspectives, we seek to address the following questions:

  1. What are the central concerns shaping learning within peer-based, participatory, open ecologies? What are the new collectives (including hybrid public institutional models) that are emerging in today's open learning ecologies? How is learning happening in user-innovation communities? How does remix, mentorship, sharing, and exchange occur? How do issues such as cyberbullying, problematic content, and privacy shape participation in these ecologies? How is diversity shaping learning constituencies? What forms of identities become possible? What are the relationships between different stakeholders, such as learner-centered partnerships and collaborations between teachers, administrators, students, institutions, policy makers, researchers, and designers? What are the design-driven pedagogies and learning models we should explore? What is the role of embedded assessment in understanding learning? How do we understand flow and engagement?
  2. What is the knowledge base required of designers, researchers, and practitioners working on peer-based, participatory, open learning ecologies today? What is missing? What new forms of knowledge need to be developed? What existing frameworks need to be rethought?
  3. What core socio-technical practices are shaping (or have the potential to shape) the future of learning? What practices may be impeding innovation or getting in the way of learning? How can and should knowledge about practices shape policy, design, and implementation of innovations?

We seek to support collective inquiry into the infrastructures and practices key to digital media and learning, whether research practices, learning protocols, assessment schemes, game design, or the creation of participatory undertakings. This conversation welcomes those engaged in developing a critical understanding of the design and broader socio-technical concerns shaping learning futures, as well as in other well articulated issues key to comprehending the impact and possibilities of digital media for learning. All participants are encouraged to reflect on the implications of their work for social practice—to consider the impact of their own practice or research findings on how things are currently done or could be done differently.

See video
See video
See video


We welcome workshops and panels along four themes: Youth, Digital Media and Empowerment; Emerging Platforms and Policies; New Collectives and Digital Media and Participatory Learning. The themes have been conceptualized by key members of the conference committee. All proposed panels and workshops will be collectively evaluated by the conference committee. 

Youth, Digital Media, and Empowerment

This strand focuses specifically on young people’s participation in the digital media world. Youth participatory practices are influenced by a variety of social and contextual factors including distinct youth-driven interests and learning ecologies, adult mentoring, institutional infrastructures, creative partnerships, and cultural diversity. We are especially interested in panels, papers, and workshops that explore how new media technologies are leveraged to promote youth health and well-being, youth media production, and dynamic expressions of civic engagement. Moreover, what kinds of institutional infrastructures lead to programs and interventions that empower young voices, fortify social and knowledge networks, and develop the digital media skills and competencies that invigorate young critical citizens? Also, how are creative partnerships, programmatic initiatives, and the widespread diffusion of social and mobile media platforms challenging the “participation gap?” How are socially stigmatized and marginal youth populations embracing social media to build networks for personal enrichment, communal empowerment, and social change? Finally, workshops and panels that discuss the art and science of interdisciplinary collaboration, design innovation, and programming offer the opportunity for vibrant discussion, planning and intervention.

Emerging Platforms and Policies

The rise of Web2.0 has introduced numerous platforms into everyday life, from social network sites like MySpace and Facebook to media-sharing services like YouTube and uStream to blogging and microblogging tools like Tumblr and Twitter. These platforms have been leveraged by people of all ages to build community, share ideas, collaborate, and hang out. While many of these platforms were designed to enable “user-generated content,” there are often conflicts between what designers intend and what participants actually do on each site. In short, these platforms were not designed for the kinds of learning that often transpires on these sites.

The goal of this track is to explore the tensions between the design of emerging platforms and the practices that unfold on them, with specific attention given to the policy challenges that emerge. How does the technology respond practice and how do users repurpose technology? Who gets to set the community norms and how are these norms negotiated? How are values— like privacy, safety, and transparency—embedded in the technology and how does this shape socio-technical practices? What happens when conflicts emerge between the users and the creators? How does the tension between technical design and personal practices configure these spaces?

New Collectives

The last 10 years have seen the rise of organizations and institutions that mash-up mission, market and mass participation. Organizations like Wikipedia, Mozilla and Creative Commons have shown that this hybrid model can shift whole industries—increasing how knowledge is shared and spread, promoting the wide adoption of web standards, making legally-backed knowledge sharing easy and widespread. Many have proclaimed that these new collectives can also transform education and learning for the better. The track will explore the ways that innovators in the learning world might tap into the power of these hybrid organizational models. We’ll ask questions like: What makes new collectives tick? Where are they getting traction in the world of learning? Where are they getting stuck? Can they challenge traditional approaches to accreditation, assessment and content creation in education? Or even shift the terrain of learning and education as a whole?

Digital Media and Learning

We welcome submissions that address ongoing or innovative directions in research and practice relating to digital media and learning.

Workshop and Panel Formats

This year we will be accepting proposals in three formats: panels, workshops and short talks. Panels bring together in discussion four participants representing a range of ideas and projects. Panels are scheduled for 90 minutes and should include a mix of individuals working in areas of research, theory, and practice. Workshops provide an opportunity for hands-on exploration and/or problem solving. They can be organized around a core challenge that participants come together to work on or around a tool, platform, or concept. Workshops are scheduled for 120 minutes and should be highly participatory. Finally, we welcome short, ten minute talks where presenters speak for ten minutes on their work, research or a subject relevant to the conference theme and/or subthemes. We will not be soliciting full papers. To organize a panel or workshop, please feel free to use our DML2011 Discussion Forum on wikidot.

The DML2011 Conference proposal system will open on October 18, 2010 and full proposals will be due on November 5, 2010 (11:59 pm PST). To propose a panel, participants will be required to register with Fastapps, our submission system at the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. We encourage participants to submit proposals when their application materials are complete.

Panel and Workshop proposal abstracts should cover the theme, format (e.g. discussion, interactive, presentations), how the session addresses the theme of the conference and/or subtheme in up to 400 words.

Short talk abstracts should cover the theme, format (e.g. discussion, interactive, presentations), how the talk addresses the theme of the conference and/or subtheme in up to 250 words. List of participants, affiliations, emails and titles of talks/presentations (if applicable) should also be included. 

Each individual will be limited to participation on no more than two panels at the conference. Participants will be expected to fund their own travel and accommodation.

Call for Proposals: Ignite Talks

Do you have a creative idea around the future of education and learning that you want to share? Are you excited about new possibilities or a new way of thinking? Are you ready to explore your ideas with a diverse and engaged community? 

We're looking for a few courageous souls who want to get their early stage ideas out there in a short, spunky format - an Ignite Talk - at the DML2011 Conference. Ignite talks are radically different from traditional conference talks. We're looking for humor, wit, energy and inspiration to be packed into one powerful five-minute talk. Visual and conceptual impact are also a must. 

If you haven't seen an ignite talk, be sure to do a quick search for "ignite talks" to watch some of the thousands of Ignite Talks out there or check out these sites for a quick tutorial:

If you still feel focused and inspired, send an email to with the following details before 9am California time on Monday, February 7th:



Presentation Title

Abstract (one paragraph)

Previous experience with Ignite-style talks

In addition, please rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 on the following criteria:

FUNNY (1 = Do you have a laugh track I can use?, 5 = ROFL)

INSPIRATIONAL (1 = I'll get to it, one day, 5= The future is now!)

CREATIVITY AND VISION (1=If we can't measure it, it didn't happen, 5= I'm always thinking outside the box)

ENERGY (1=Wake me up when it's over, 5= People call me the energizer bunny)

Ignite talks will be held on Friday, March 4th between 1:30 - 2:30 and Saturday, March 5th between 1:30 - 2:30. Please note any scheduling constraints in your proposal. Notifications of acceptance will be sent on/before February 14, 2011. Please note that all participants will need to arrange and fund their own travel to/from DML2011.


** The DML2011 Conference Submission System is now closed. Notifications of acceptances were circulated via email before December 30, 2010. Organizations and individuals interested in sponsorship, book exhibits (March 4-5, 2011) or technology demonstrations should contact the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub for further details and rates. **

Student Volunteers Wanted: The DML Conference Committee is looking for student volunteers to assist with the 2011 Annual Conference in Long Beach, CA from March 3-5, 2010. Duties include assisting with registration, providing information to conference participants and troubleshooting technical problems along with other administrative tasks. Student volunteers will work scheduled shifts lasting 4 to 5 hours each day during the conference. The Committee will waive registration fees and provide accommodations for student volunteers. Applicants are to submit a letter of interest no longer than 500 words that also addresses their qualifications for the position. Experience with computing platforms and audio/visual equipment is not required but valued. Email letters of interest to Kimberly Austin kaustin <at> uchicago <dot> edu no later than November 6, 2010. We will notify selected volunteers by Dec. 12.


News & Events

  • DML2012 will be held from March 1-3 in San Francisco, California. Stay tuned for more details...
  • The DML2011 Conference Evaluation is now up
  • Place your vote for the 10 best citations in the "Designing Learning Futures" literature here (visualization)
  • The DML2011 Conference Program is now online! Click here to review.
  • The deadline for conference registration has been extended to February 14, 2011 - please click here to register
  • The deadline for hotel reservations has been extended to February 8, 2011 at 5pm - click here to book your room
  • Have a dynamic, new idea you want to share at DML2011? Propose an Ignite Talk before February 7 - see the CfP for more details...
  • Hotel Registration Closes February 1, 2011 - click here to book your room and avoid LA traffic!!
  • The DML2011 Conference Schedule is online here
  • All Notifications for the DML2011 Conference Program have been sent to short talk presenters and workshop and panel organizers. Please contact your session organizer and/or dmlhub <at> hri <dot> edu if you have not received your notification
  • Student Volunteer Notifications have been sent 
  • Registration for DML2011 is now open. To register, please click here to complete the registration form and your registration payment. Registration fees will be $50 for students and underemployed and $100 for faculty, professional and employed.
  • DML2011 Conference Submission System Closed
  • Student Volunteer Applications Closed
  • Abstract Submission Deadline extended to Friday, November 5th (11:59pm PST) 
  • Invited sessions announced for the "New Collectives" track
  • DML2011 Conference Submission System Opens -
  • Invited sessions announced for the "Emerging Policies and Platforms" track
  • Invited session announced for the "Youth, Digital Media and Empowerment" track
  • Plenary session panelists and theme announced - François Bar, Mizuko Ito, Tara Lemmey and David Washington will discuss "Transformative Play"
  • Student volunteers wanted: Applications due November 6, 2010
  • DML2011 wikidot site - to organize a panel or workshop, see
  • Chair, Conference Committee, CfP and Keynotes announced - DML2011 "Designing Learning Futures"
  • Location announced - DML2011 to be held in Long Beach, CA
  • Dates announced - DML2011 to be held March 3-5, 2011

Key Dates & Deadlines

Oct. 18, 2010 - Proposal System Opens

Nov. 1, 2010 - Proposals Due (extended to Friday, November 5th at 11:59 pm Pacific)

Nov. 6, 2010 - Student Volunteer Applications Due

Dec. 1, 2010 - Registration Opens

Dec. 15 - 30, 2010 - Proposal Notifications Sent

Jan. 20, 2011 - Schedule Announced

Feb. 1, 2011 - Hotel Registration Deadline

Feb. 8, 2011 - Conference Registration Deadline

Mar. 3, 2011 - DML2011 Begins