Preparatory Meeting in Moscow – April 2012

The first meeting of the European Partners took place in Moscow in April, 2012 with the participation of M. Kontopodis & M. Dafermakis (UOC), N. Ferrin (FU Berlin), C. Jewitt & J. Bezemer (IOE), V. Rubtsov, N. Ulanova, O. Rubtsova and other local colleagues from MSUPE (see photo below).

The following questions emerged out of this meeting:

 What are Digital Visual Technologies?

  • A means of communication? A medium that provides users with a high level of personal choice and interactivity. Or something else?
  • Are digital visual media new or just a continuation of the enlightenment project that begun much much earlier than in the 21st century?
  • Can digital visual technologies be given an a-priori definition without taking under consideration the concrete practices in which they are used? Can the same digital visual technology be different things within different practices?
Mediation?


What is mediation?

Is it possible to consider joint mediated activity as a unit of analysis in the digital media research?

What is the digital technology’s impact on interpersonal communication?

What’s the impact of digital visual technologies on higher mental functions (focused attention, thinking, oral speech, written speech, imagination, reflection, etc.)?

Is it possible to inspire and enrich imagination by using digital media?

How do young people construct and perform their identities through digital media?

Are young people victims of a digital consumer culture or do they act as independent actors in their own right?

How is the human body involved and transformed within and through digital visual activities?

What kind of influence do the digital media have on the consideration of the relationship between the virtual and the real?

Interdisciplinary media research?

What is inter-/ cross-/ trans- disciplinary media research? Bridge-building or restructuring of disciplines and doing new disciplines?

The DIGIT-M-ED project is based on three theoretical and methodological approaches: 1) post-vygotskian psychology and learning theory 2) multimodal analysis and 3) anthropological theory & research.

This research endeavor draws together work in digital social media, cultural anthropology, critical media education, Vygoskian and post-Vygotskian perspectives on learning and social justice to put research paradigms in place that enable young people to engage in digital practices in order to address social problems that directly affect their lives.

How can all these divergent theoretical traditions be integrated, combined or otherwise applied in understanding the engagement of youth in social media practices?

How to compare multiple result sets with different theoretical and methodological approaches?

Epistemological and methodological issues 

What would be a good starting point for digital visual media research? A theory should be tested empirically or some kind of empirical data should lead to theory building? If we prefer to take a theory as a starting point for research, a question arises: what kind of theory is better to select? If we prefer to take empirical data as a starting point for research, another question arises: what kind of empirical data?

Ethics & digital visual technologies

Which ethical issues are involved in the use of digital visual media?

What is the future of privacy in the “digital era”?

What is the meaning of authorship and property in the cyberspaces?

How do young people manage ethical issues raised with their participation in cyberspace?

What does all this imply for our research ethics? Can young marginalized urban people participate more actively in the different phases of our research though digital visual technologies?

Cultural versus cross-cultural media research

How to achieve the contextualization of the development and use of digital technology and its role in particular socio-cultural-historical settings?

How can research findings from different socio-cultural-historical contexts be comparable?

Empowering Youth

The development of digital social media has altered the fabric of youth culture in terms of a young person’s access to information and ability to communicate with a global audience.

The conditions, prospects, and limitations of using digital media are different for marginalized urban youth living in countries where social and economic disparities have been in place and deserve special attention.

Are digital visual media accelerating the massive social changes that are taking place in the world today? Which is their impact on youth’s lives? How can digital visual technologies empower youth who are on the peripheries of formalized education settings?

Outlook

Consistent across our research team is a commitment to social justice issues and a belief in the potential of research to have an impact on society people’s lives. In addition, a key value that informed the project team in developing a participatory methodology was a belief that disenfranchised young people, belong to an under-represented group in both being engaged in research regarding their everyday lives and in voicing their subjective experiences in ways that empower them and hence, should be encouraged to meaningfully participate in the inquiry and research processes. The adoption of an overarching participatory approach was aimed at developing more equitable power relations between the researchers and research participants. It is also hoped that this participatory approach to research can enable the multicultural and multidisciplinary team/ network of researchers to engage in partnership with participants to generate new knowledge, knowledge that can be transformative for the participants in terms of providing new ways of knowing and viewing their lives and for academicians in building theory and research methodologies, all in the service of social justice agenda.