Organizing Learning Environments for Relational Equity in New Digital Media

  • William R. PenuelEmail author
  • Daniela K. DiGiacomo
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter theorizes the notion of relational equity in the context of new media-supported learning environments. Drawing upon examples from multiyear investigations into the social organization of learning activity in an elementary afterschool program in Colorado and an adolescent music and journalism production program in California, we outline an emerging framework for how to organize learning ecologies in ways that encourage more symmetrical relations among adults and youth across various lines of difference. In articulating design principles at the level of the technology tool, the social interaction, and the broader learning environment, this chapter offers empirically grounded insight for those interested in organizing learning opportunities with new digital media in expansive and equitable ways. Further, it makes visible how attention to (in)equity must not constrain itself to one place, space, or time – cognizant of the ways in which power operates through a multiplicity of relations and processes that serve largely to reproduce inequality in society. It is with this understanding of power that we foreground the ways that new educational technologies might reorganize social relations in educational practices in schools and the community, with careful attention to how such technologies might change the normative yet deeply entrenched relations of power and privilege that exist in contemporary societies.


Relational equity Digital media Teaching and learning Social relations 


  1. Barron, B., Gomez, K., Martin, C. K., & Pinkard, N. (2014). The digital youth network: Cultivating digital media citizenship in urban communities. MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Beach, K. (1999). Consequential transitions: A sociocultural expedition beyond transfer in education. Review of Research in Education, 24, 124–149.Google Scholar
  3. Brennan, K., & Resnick, M. (2012). New frameworks for studying and assessing the development of computational thinking. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Vancouver.Google Scholar
  4. Britt, M. A., & Aglinskas, C. (2002). Improving students’ ability to identify and use source information. Cognition and Instruction, 20(4), 485–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carter, P., & Welner, K. G. (2013). Closing the opportunity gap: What America must do to give every child an even chance. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chang, H. J. (2012). 23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Ching, D., Santo, R., Hoadley, C., & Peppler, K. A. (2015). On-ramps, lane changes, detours and destinations: Building connected learning pathways in Hive NYC through brokering future learning opportunities. New York: Hive Research Lab.Google Scholar
  8. Deitrick, E., Shapiro, R. B., & Gravel, B. (2016). How do we assess equity in programming pairs? In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (pp. 370–377). Singapore: International Society of the Learning Sciences.Google Scholar
  9. DiGiacomo, D.K. (2017). Not everything that counts can be counted: The perplexing viability of a non-instrumental youth program. American Educational Research Association Conference Proceedings, San Antonio.Google Scholar
  10. DiGiacomo, D. K., & Gutiérrez, K. D. (2015). Relational equity as a design tool within making and tinkering activities. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 23(2), 141–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Edwards, A. (2011). Building common knowledge at the boundaries between professional practices: Relational agency and relational expertise in systems of distributed expertise. International Journal of Educational Research, 50(1), 33–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Foucault, M. (1978/1990). The history of sexuality: An introduction, volume I (trans: R. Hurley). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  13. Garcia, A., Seglem, R., & Share, J. (2013). Transforming teaching and learning through critical media literacy pedagogy. LEARNing Landscapes, 6(2), 109–124.Google Scholar
  14. Goodman, S. (2003). Teaching youth media: A critical guide to literacy, video production, and social change. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  15. Goldman, S., Booker, A., & McDermott, M. (2008). Mixing the digital, social, and cultural: Learning, identity, and agency in youth participation. Youth, identity, and digital media, 216.Google Scholar
  16. Gutiérrez, K. D., & Jurow, A. S. (2016). Social design experiments: Toward equity by design. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 25(4), 565–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gutiérrez, K., & Vossoughi, S. (2010). “Lifting off the ground to return anew”: Documenting and designing for equity and transformation through social design experiments. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 100–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gutiérrez, K., Rymes, B., & Larson, J. (1995). Script, counterscript, and underlife in the classroom: James Brown versus Brown v. Board of Education. Harvard Educational Review, 65(3), 445–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Her Many Horses, I. (2016). From lived experiences to game creation: How scaffolding supports elementary school students learning computer science principles in an after school setting. Unpublished dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder.Google Scholar
  20. Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  21. Johnson, S., & Thomas, A. P. (2010, April). Squishy circuits: a tangible medium for electronics education. In CHI’10 extended abstracts on human factors in computing systems (pp. 4099–4104). ACM.Google Scholar
  22. Jurow, A. S., Tracy, R., Hotchkiss, J. S., & Kirshner, B. (2012). Designing for the future: How the learning sciences can inform the trajectories of preservice teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(2), 147–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kensing, F., & Greenbaum, J. (2013). Heritage: Having a say. In J. Simonsen & T. Robertson (Eds.), Routledge international handbook of participatory design (pp. 21–36). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Kirshner, B. (2009). “Power in numbers:” Youth organizing as a context for exploring civic identity. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 19(3), 414–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Matias, C. E., & Zembylas, M. (2014). ‘When saying you care is not really caring’: Emotions of disgust, whiteness ideology, and teacher education. Critical Studies in Education, 55(3), 319–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McDermott, R., & Raley, J. (2011). Looking closely: Toward a natural history of human ingenuity. In E. Margolis & L. Pauwels (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (pp. 372–391). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McDermott, M., Schweidler, C., Basilio, T., & Lo, P. (2015). Media in action: A field scan of media and youth organizing in the United States. New York: Global Action Project, Research Action Design, Data Center.Google Scholar
  29. Moll, L. C. (1998). Turning to the world: Bilingual schooling, literacy, and the cultural mediation of thinking. In National Reading Conference Yearbook (Vol. 47, pp. 59–75). Chicago: National Reading Conference.Google Scholar
  30. Nacu, D., Martin, C. K., Pinkard, N., & Gray, T. (2014). Analyzing educators’ online interactions: A framework of online learning support roles. Learning, Media and Technology, 41(2), 283–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nasir, N. I. (2012). Racialized identities: Race and achievement among African American youth. Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. O’Connor, K. (2003). Communicative practice, cultural production, and situated learning: Constructing and contesting identities of expertise in a heterogeneous learning con- text. In S. Wortham & B. Rymes (Eds.), Linguistic anthropology of education (pp. 63–91). London: Praeger.Google Scholar
  33. Penuel, W. R., & Means, B. (2004). Implementation variation and fidelity in an inquiry science program: Analysis of GLOBE data reporting patterns. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(3), 294–315.Google Scholar
  34. Philip, T., Jurow, S.A., Vossoughi, S., Bang, M., & M. Zavala. (2017). The Learning Sciences in a New Era of US Nationalism. Cognition and Instruction, 35(2), 91–102.Google Scholar
  35. Pinkard, N., Penuel, W. R., Dibi, O., Sultan, M. A., Quigley, D., Sumner, T., & Van Horne, K. (2016). Mapping and modeling the abundance, diversity, and accessibility of summer learning opportunities at the scale of a city. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  36. Repenning, A., Webb, D. C., Koh, K. H., Nickerson, H., Miller, S. B., Brand, C., ... & Gutiérrez, K. (2015). Scalable game design: A strategy to bring systemic computer science education to schools through game design and simulation creation. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 15(2), 11.Google Scholar
  37. Resnick, M., & Rosenbaum, E. (2013). Designing for tinkerability. In M. Honey & D. E. Kanter (Eds.), Design, make, play: Growing the next generation of STEM innovators (pp. 163–181). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Rogoff, B. (2014). Learning by observing and pitching in to family and community endeavors: An orientation. Human Development, 57(1), 69–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Salleh, N., Mendes, E., & Grundy, J. (2010). Empirical studies of pair programming for CS/SE teaching in higher education: A systematic literature review. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 37(4), 509–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schwartz, L. H., DiGiacomo, D. K., & Gutiérrez, K. D. (2015). Designing “contexts for tinkerability” with undergraduates and children within the El Pueblo Mágico social design experiment. IJREE-International Journal for Research on Extended Education, 3(1), 94–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shapiro, R. B., Kelly, A., Ahrens, M., & Fiebrink, R. (2016). BlockyTalky: A physical and distributed computer music toolkit for kids. In NIME, Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. Brisbane.Google Scholar
  42. Soep, E. (2006). Critique: Assessment and the production of learning. Teachers College Record, 108(4), 748–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Soep, E. (2014). Participatory politics: Next-generation tactics to remake public spheres. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  44. Soep, E., & Chávez, V. (2010). Drop that knowledge: Youth Radio stories. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  45. Stone, L. D., & Gutiérrez, K. D. (2007). Problem articulation and the processes of assistance: An activity theoretic view of mediation in game play. International Journal of Educational Research, 46(1), 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. The Politics of Learning Writing Collective. (2017). The role of the learning sciences in an era of U.S. nationalism. Cognition and Instruction, 35(2), 91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Toffler, A. (1980). The third wave. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  49. Varnelis, K. (2008). Networked publics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vossoughi, S., & Bevan, B. (2014). Making and tinkering: A review of the literature. National Research Council Committee on Out of School Time STEM, 1–55.Google Scholar
  51. Vossoughi, S., Hooper, P. K., & Escudé, M. (2016). Making through the lens of culture and power: Toward transformative visions for educational equity. Harvard Educational Review, 86(2), 206–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of California RiversideRiversideUSA

Personalised recommendations