Tween activism in a virtual world
For better or worse, virtual worlds and online sites have figured much more prominently as centers for play in kids’ daily lives. And as in reality, where there are “playgrounds,” there are inevitable and familiar social tensions. Drawing on nearly a decade of research in a popular virtual world, Deborah Fields illuminates the ways that kids responsibly confront these challenges. By speaking up for what is right, celebrating equity, fighting for diversity, and reaching out to those who are excluded, kids are stepping up to the social challenges through activism in virtual worlds.
When not flying through the air during trapeze lessons or sewing with electricity, Dr. Deborah A. Fields seeks to understand the power of connected learning by studying how students’ learning is enriched when school, home, friends, and playful online spaces are combined. Her work focuses on the creative objects that students make and how their interests, physical and virtual communities, and identities come into play in design decisions.
She has pioneered the Craft Technologies at Utah State University, where students utilize microcontroller programming to create light-up reactive clothing, sewn electronic sensors, and interactive quilted game controllers. Many such projects have been featured on sites including Instructables, Adafruit, and Google Plus. An assistant professor of instructional technologies and learning sciences at USU, Professor Fields is also the co-author of Connected Play: Tween Life in a Virtual World, a culmination of a decade of research documenting kids’ play, learning, and development in virtual worlds.