300 episodes

Featuring a wide assortment of interviews and event archives, the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing podcast features the best of our field's critical analysis, collaborative research, and design -- all across a variety of media arts, forms, and practices.

You can learn more about us, including info about our faculty and academic programs and how to join us in person for events, at cmsw.mit.edu.

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    • Education

Featuring a wide assortment of interviews and event archives, the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing podcast features the best of our field's critical analysis, collaborative research, and design -- all across a variety of media arts, forms, and practices.

You can learn more about us, including info about our faculty and academic programs and how to join us in person for events, at cmsw.mit.edu.

    Shawna Kidman: "The Infrastructure of the U.S. Comic Book Industry"

    Shawna Kidman: "The Infrastructure of the U.S. Comic Book Industry"

    This talk discusses the history of the American comic book industry during the 20th century. This medium has dominated the film and television landscape in recent years, and has come to define contemporary corporate transmedia production. But before moving to the center of mainstream popular culture, comic books spent half a century wielding their influence from the margins and in-between spaces of the entertainment business. Dr. Kidman argues that the best way to understand the immense influence of this relatively small business is through a political economic analysis. Specifically, she discusses industrial infrastructure—the aspects of our media environment that often lack public visibility, including distribution, copyright and contract law, and financing. These systems channeled the industry’s growth and ultimately gave the medium its shape. Accordingly, a closer look at the everyday intricacies of the business yields a very different kind of narrative about what comic books are and how they came to be. It also helps explain why comic books and comic book strategies became so central to media production in the 21st century, and why these trends are likely to persist well into the future.

    Shawna Kidman is an Assistant Professor of Communication at UC San Diego where she teaches courses in media studies. Her research on the media industries has been published in Velvet Light Trap, the International Journal of Learning and Media, and the International Journal of Communication. She is the author of Comic Books Incorporated: How the Business of Comics Became the Business of Hollywood (UC Press, 2019), a history of the U.S. comic book industry’s convergence with the film and television business. Before earning her PhD in Critical Media Studies at USC, Shawna worked in the media business, including as a creative executive at DC Comics.

    • 31 min
    Marina Bers, “Coding in Early Childhood: Storytelling or Puzzle Solving?”

    Marina Bers, “Coding in Early Childhood: Storytelling or Puzzle Solving?”

    Computer programming is an essential skill in the 21st century and new policies and frameworks are in place for preparing students for computer science. Today, the development of new interfaces and block-programming languages, facilitates the teaching of coding and computational thinking starting in kindergarten. However, as new programming languages that are developmentally appropriate emerge, it is not enough to copy models developed for older children, which mostly grew out of traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines and instructional practices. In this talk, Prof. Marina Bers will describe current research on a pedagogical approach for early childhood computer science education called “Coding as Another Language” (CAL), grounded on the principle that learning to program involves learning how to use a new language (a symbolic system of representation) for communicative and expressive functions. Due to the critical foundational role of language and literacy in the early years, the teaching of computer science can be augmented by models of literacy instruction. Case studies of young children using either the KIBO robot or the ScratchJr app, designed by Prof Bers, to illustrate the instructional practices of CAL curriculum are presented, as well as novel approaches using fMRI to explore what regions of the brain activate when coding.

    Marina Umaschi Bers (tufts.edu/~mbers01) is a professor at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and an adjunct professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University. She heads the interdisciplinary Developmental Technologies research group. Her research involves the design and study of innovative learning technologies to promote children’s positive development. She also developed and serves as director of the graduate certificate program on Early Childhood Technology at Tufts University.

    Prof. Bers is passionate about using the power of technology to promote positive development and learning for young children. Bers’ philosophy and theoretical approach as well as the curriculum and assessment methods can be found in her books “Coding as Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom” (Routledge, 2018); “The Official ScratchJr Book” (2015; No Starch Press); “Designing Digital Experiences for Positive Youth Development: From Playpen to Playground” (2012, Oxford University Press); and “Blocks to Robots: Learning with Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom” (2008; Teacher’s College Press).

    Prof. Bers loves teaching and in 2016 she received the Outstanding Faculty Contribution to Graduate Student Studies award at Tufts University which recognizes her mentorship.

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Desmond Upton Patton: “Contextual Analysis of Social Media”

    Desmond Upton Patton: “Contextual Analysis of Social Media”

    While natural language processing affords researchers an opportunity to automatically scan millions of social media posts, there is growing concern that automated computational tools lack the ability to understand context and nuance in human communication and language. Columbia University’s Desmond Upton Patton introduces a critical systematic approach for extracting culture, context and nuance in social media data. The Contextual Analysis of Social Media (CASM) approach considers and critiques the gap between inadequacies in natural language processing tools and differences in geographic, cultural, and age-related variance of social media use and communication. CASM utilizes a team-based approach to analysis of social media data, explicitly informed by community expertise. The team uses CASM to analyze Twitter posts from gang-involved youth in Chicago. They designed a set of experiments to evaluate the performance of a support vector machine using CASM hand-labeled posts against a distant model. They found that the CASM-informed hand-labeled data outperforms the baseline distant labels, indicating that the CASM labels capture additional dimensions of information that content-only methods lack. They then question whether this is helpful or harmful for gun violence prevention.

    • 51 min
    Creative Agency: Making, Learning, and Playing towards Understanding Computational Content

    Creative Agency: Making, Learning, and Playing towards Understanding Computational Content

    People often learn complex computational content most easily and deeply when they have “creative agency” – the social network, ability, skills, resources, and support to collaboratively and playfully make creative computational content in feedback-rich environments. This talk will present a lens on how we can create environments where learners are supported in developing creative agency, and how we might assess or evaluate success. Matthew Berland covers his projects in museums, computer science classrooms, after-school clubs, and universities, showing how we can use design-based research, learning analytics, and games to enable creative agency towards more equitable outcomes and better understand how, why, and when people make and learn complex computational content together.

    Matthew Berland is an Associate Professor of Design, Informal, and Creative Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, spending 2019-2020 as a visiting scholar in CMS/W at MIT. In addition, he is the director of the UW Games Program and the Complex Play Lab and Affiliate Faculty in Computer Sciences, Information Studies, STS, and the Learning Sciences. He uses design-based research and learning analytics to design, create, and study learning environments that support students’ creativity in learning computational literacies, systems literacies, and computer science & engineering content.

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Can Journalists Save the Planet?

    Can Journalists Save the Planet?

    The Amazon is burning. Coral reefs are dying. Glaciers are melting, and as Earth gets pushed to its brink, journalists who can translate the impact of climate change and hold the powerful accountable are more needed than ever. Climate reporters Kendra Pierre-Louis (New York Times) and Lisa Song (ProPublica) head to the MIT Communications Forum to discuss the media’s role in illuminating environmental issues, promoting environmental justice and ethics, and the future of climate journalism. Beth Daley, Editor and General Manager for The Conversation, will moderate.

    • 1 hr 52 min
    Eric Klopfer: "Design Based Research on Participatory Simulations"

    Eric Klopfer: "Design Based Research on Participatory Simulations"

    An important part of the work done at the The Education Arcade is based on a process of Design Based Research (DBR). In DBR, we design products that are meant to fill real classroom needs and then iteratively test and refine them. Eric Klopfer and The Education Arcade are currently working on a set of “Participatory Simulations”: mobile collaborative systems-based games.

    During this talk, attendees got a chance to play a couple of these games and participate in a design discussion with one of the games that is currently in progress.

    Professor Klopfer, currently Head of Comparative Media Studies/Writing, is Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT. He is also a co-faculty director for MIT’s J-WEL World Education Lab.

    • 1 hr 7 min

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