Modding New Social Futures in Virtual and Everyday Worlds: Co-designing Speculative Pedagogies in Videogame Play
Arturo Cortez

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Research Development Award

Award Year



University of Colorado Boulder

Primary Discipline

Teacher Education/Teaching and Learning
A teacher learning framework that strategically engages with the sociopolitical dimensions of learning and the design towards new social futures?specifically with the use of everyday technologies?is more relevant and necessary than ever. Speculative approaches to education provide a robust framework to understand and design justice and future-oriented pedagogies for civic teaching and learning. This project draws on speculative approaches to inquiry to examine the affordances of gaming, an everyday digital technology, as a site for consequential and future-oriented teacher learning where educators, alongside youth, creatively prototype agentic identities, equitable forms of participation, and new spatial architectures towards a just world. Specifically, the study explores how young people and educators learn to decode and recode videogames and develop new storylines that center justice and liberation. Toward this end, this design-based research project engages: 1) the design of intergenerational learning ecologies that explicitly center play as a leading activity for learning ; 2) centering the everyday digital cultural practices of youth as springboards for learning design for teachers; and 3) expanding understandings of where and how consequential learning occurs for teachers, underscoring transformational practices that emerges in co-learning with youth in informal learning environments. A central conjecture of this study is that play-rich spaces can foster speculative pedagogies, which cultivate imaginings of new social futures that are equitable and can inform the development of justice-centered pedagogies for educators.
About Arturo Cortez
Arturo Cortez is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development and a Fellow of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. Drawing on critical approaches to the learning sciences, Cortez explores the possibilities of co-designing for consequential learning in intergenerational and transdisciplinary learning environments that include young people, educators, researchers, and multiple community members, such as game designers, social media influencers, and content creators. In particular, he is interested in how young people and educators speculate new possible futures, opening up opportunities for building imaginary and real worlds, while using everyday technologies. More recently, Cortez founded The Learning To Transform (LiTT) Video Gaming Lab to help build models for equity-centered educator and student learning through the design of deeper relationships across the various learning ecologies people traverse in their everyday lives. His work has been published in Cognition and Instruction, Journal of Futures Studies, Review of Research in Education, and Mind, Culture, and Activity. Furthermore, his research has been funded by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. Cortez?s early commitments to amplifying the everyday practices of youth were jointly-honed and developed while he was a middle school teacher in East Palo Alto and a high school teacher in San Francisco. Cortez holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, an M.A.T. from the University of San Francisco, and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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