Young Alumni Are Presenters at International Research Conference

UCLA Lab School alumni James Crenshaw (’08) and Nina Parks (’08) joined researchers Yasmin Kafai and Deborah Fields in a presentation of their work at the first Digital Media and Learning Conference, held in San Diego on Feb. 18-20.

James and Nina reported on their participation in a project that Kafai, from the University of Pennsylvania, and Fields, from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, conducted in the Upper Elementary level in 2006-2008. The research looks at the participation of “tweens” in digital designs and virtual worlds.

“It was wonderful to have Nina and James lend their perspective to the discussion,” said Fields. “As both research participants and enthusiastic designers, they contributed valuable insights.”

The conference, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, brought together scholars, educators, and designers from around the world to discuss a host of issues related to how digital media and the Internet are transforming society—especially in education, politics and youth culture.

Kafai and Fields have done extensive research in this area, looking especially at the use of Scratch, a visual programming language that allows designers to create games, music videos and interactive art, and Whyville, a large-scale virtual world that encourages youth to play casual science games and design parts for their virtual avatars. Their research at UCLA Lab School has included having students design projects in class, to support the science curriculum, and in an after-school club.

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