Tag Archives: gender sensitivity

This Friday is your last chance to pick our panel for SXSWedu 2016!

There are only THREE days left to pick our panel for SXSWedu! Get your votes in before time runs out! 

Julie Evans is featured in a proposal for SXSWedu 2016’s panel picker,where educators can cast their votes for the most compelling ideas and ultimately shape the conference line-up. Voting ends on this FridaySeptember 4th so make sure to give our sessions a “thumbs up” – you’ll need to create a SXSW username and password if you don’t already have one, but the process is simple and free! Check out the session information below:

Pink or Blue? Examining gender in games

Contrary to what we may want to believe, emerging research indicates that use of digital tools and content within learning is not gender-blind. While girls and boys share a common interest in technology to support personalized learning, their uses of and aspirations for digital learning are often quite different. This is especially true with game-based learning. In this workshop, we will roll up our sleeves and interact with a variety of games that are popular in education. Using a new evaluation tool, participants will gain an insider perspective on gender-bias or sensitivity within games by examining the characterization, imagery and language, storyline and results of the game play.

Additional Supporting Materials
http://www.tomorrow.org/docs/Guide_EvaluatingGender-Sensitivity_DigitalGames.pdf

Questions Answered

  1. Learn background and terminology associated with the emerging field of gender-sensitivity in digital learning, most notably in digital content & games
  2. Gain first-hand experience in determining the gender-sensitivity of specific types of games through the use of a new evaluation tool and game play
  3. Understand the importance and impact of gender-sensitivity when designing, implementing and evaluating games for K-12 education

Don’t forget to pick our panel and vote us onto the official SXSWedu 2016 line-up!

There are only two weeks left to pick our panel ! Julie Evans is featured in a proposal for SXSWedu 2016’s panel picker,where educators can cast their votes for the most compelling ideas and ultimately shape the conference line-up. Voting ends on September 4th so make sure to give our sessions a “thumbs up” – you’ll need to create a SXSW username and password if you don’t already have one, but the process is simple and free! Check out the session information below:

Pink or Blue? Examining gender in games

Contrary to what we may want to believe, emerging research indicates that use of digital tools and content within learning is not gender-blind. While girls and boys share a common interest in technology to support personalized learning, their uses of and aspirations for digital learning are often quite different. This is especially true with game-based learning. In this workshop, we will roll up our sleeves and interact with a variety of games that are popular in education. Using a new evaluation tool, participants will gain an insider perspective on gender-bias or sensitivity within games by examining the characterization, imagery and language, storyline and results of the game play.

Additional Supporting Materials
http://www.tomorrow.org/docs/Guide_EvaluatingGender-Sensitivity_DigitalGames.pdf

Questions Answered

  1. Learn background and terminology associated with the emerging field of gender-sensitivity in digital learning, most notably in digital content & games
  2. Gain first-hand experience in determining the gender-sensitivity of specific types of games through the use of a new evaluation tool and game play
  3. Understand the importance and impact of gender-sensitivity when designing, implementing and evaluating games for K-12 education

Memo #4 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France
February 26, 2015

This year’s Mobile Learning Week was a collaboration of UNESCO and UN-Women.  The collaboration led to a unique theme of how to empower women and girls with mobile devices.  The keynotes, panels and breakout sessions therefore focused on this intersection of technology and gender, and the topic of gender-sensitivity was front and center throughout the week.  But let’s be candid.  Some people do not know what gender-sensitivity means, and too many people have misunderstandings and wrong assumptions around women and girls’ interests in mobile learning.  My goal with this blog posting is to demystify the important topic based upon the research that we did for this week’s workshop. Let’s jump in by examining this gender-sensitivity from several levels!

Why is this topic important? 
Based upon the Speak Up data as well as results from several mobile learning evaluations conducted by Project Tomorrow, we have observed that mobile learning has a gender component.  When students are asked about how they want to use a mobile device to support their learning, girls and boys have different aspirations for schoolwork usage. For example, middle school boys want to use a mobile device to find online videos to help them with homework. Comparatively, middle school girls are often more interested in using their smartphone or tablet for collaborations with classmates, taking notes in class and communicating with classmates and teachers. Despite best efforts, instructional materials including digital content that are used with mobile devices may not be as gender sensitive as they could be.  Given that reality, it makes sense that we should dig more deeply into how digital tools and resources are either reinforcing or debunking traditional gender based norms and/or stereotypes. The goal therefore should be to more gender-sensitive or responsive in our plans for and use of those digital tools so that all students have an equitable opportunity for education.

What is the definition of gender-sensitivity?  
There is an extensive body of research on the many terms used when discussing gender issues in education including gender-unequal, gender-blind, gender-specific and gender-sensitive.  Per the research, the three defining characteristics of gender-sensitivity are as follows:

  • Gender-sensitivity considers gender norms, role and relationships
  • It takes into account the impact of policies, projects and programs on women/girls and men/boys
  • And it tries to mitigate negative consequences of the gender impact.

Comparatively, gender-blind see no differences between how girls and boys approach instructional materials or technology.  Instructional materials that are gender-unequal or bias are developed to favor one gender over another.  Gender-specific is similar but without the inherent negative consequences.

How can we become more gender-sensitive in our selection of instructional materials for use in classrooms by girls and boys?
As noted above, the research on this topic including case studies and implications for a wide range of instructional materials is available through multiple sources.  However, despite the extensiveness of the research, there is surprisingly very few resources that could be used by a teacher, school or district to evaluate the tools and content that they are using within instruction. For our workshop on Monday, therefore, we developed that kind of tool that can help you identify the gender-sensitivity of the digital content you may be using with students right now.  The Guide for Evaluating Gender-Sensitivity within Digital Content includes a list of “questions for consideration.”  The questions are categorized into four themes:  categorization, imagery and language, storyline and results.  While the guide will not give you a grade or score for your digital content, it will help to instigate new discussions around gender-sensitivity, the use of digital content within instruction, and education equity.  The best news is that you can access this guide on our website.  Check out both versions of the guide (one for digital content and a similar one for digital games) at www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html.  If you use the guide within your school, district or organization, let us know your thoughts on this new tool.

Memo #1 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France
February 23, 2015
According to Dr. Patience Stephens, Director/Special Advisor on Education for UN-Women, it is no longer appropriate or tolerable to do a minimalist job of providing girls and women with the tools they need to improve their lives – most notably with a second-class education. What a true statement – so obvious, but still not reality, especially not in many places around the globe.  With that inspiration and a call to more fully examine how mobile devices in particular can enable and empower change for girls and women, this year’s Mobile Learning Week 2015 was off to a great start.  Today was the workshop day of the weeklong event and I was honored to be chosen from a field of 70 proposals to lead one of the 12 workshops today.  Additionally, our good friend, Dr. Kari Stubbs, Vice President of Innovation and Learning at BrainPOP asked me to participate in her workshop to provide Speak Up research support.  It was a fun and exciting day examining the intersections of STEM, digital learning, games, coding, mobile devices – and girls!  I am excited to share with you 2 big takeaways based upon the workshops today that I hope may lead to deeper discussions on these important issues in your schools, districts, organizations and communities. If they do, I would love to hear back from you!
Take-away #1:  The morning workshop was led by the BrainPOP team and focused on girls’ interest in playing learning games, creating their own games, and learning how to code using mobile devices. Speak Up data provided the contextual background for many of the learning experiences within this workshop.  What I especially liked was the high level of audience participation and interactivity within the workshop.  Participants had multiple opportunities to play different kinds of games and even try their hand at coding.  While playing learning games is always fun, the play/learn experiences was grounded in examining the content through the lens of gender-sensitivity.  While it may seem easy to identify Game X as a “boy-oriented” game and Game Y as “girl-focused,” the audience quickly realized that those superficial stereotypes were inconclusive.  Using a guide developed by Project Tomorrow for this workshop, the participants had a chance to do a deeper dive as game and content evaluators and in the process, learned a lot of about their own biases and potential blindness to gender issues in digital content, games and other instructional materials.  The guide is available with other workshop materials at http://www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html.   We already know that the inclusion of mobile devices increases student engagement in learning. But what if we could prove that using mobile devices helps create more gender-responsive, transformative learning environments for all students?    We have much more work to do in this arena but I was excited to see the level of interest in this topic amongst the Mobile Learning Week attendees.
Take-away #2:  In the afternoon workshop, the focus was on how to design, implement and evaluate a gender-sensitive mobile learning project.  I led this workshop with support this time from Dr. Stubbs. Based upon Project Tomorrow research in this area, we shared a new way of thinking about the evolution of a mobile planning project from a gender-sensitivity perspective, starting from the identification of your project purpose through the synthesis of research data to share with stakeholders.  But first we had to review what we meant by gender-sensitivity.  A simplified version is basically becoming more aware of gender norms, roles and relationships and how those inherent or un-intended biases or opinions influences students’ learning. The real goal here is to develop new mobile learning projects that recognize gender issues and then, strategically and deliberately create ways to minimize the impact of any gender-blind or unequal priorities or values. As you might imagine these workshop topics instigated new questions and ideas about understanding and identifying gender-sensitivity.  Several points that the audience made on this topic intrigued me; I need to do more thinking on several of the points raised. However, several questions came up as to whether the goal of gender-sensitivity was to right the wrongs of the past in terms of unequal learning opportunities for girls, or to aim for how gender issues can be mitigated to the point of truly equal education for all genders. Both approaches are important to consider especially because in some communities, there is an emerging “boy crisis” where male students are feeling like second class citizens in their schools and that perception is affecting their school performance.  Sound familiar?  So, how do we really design, implement and evaluate new mobile learning projects that enable girls to reach for the stars in educational opportunities while not dashing the dreams and aspirations of their brothers?   I have a few suggestions.  Check out the PowerPoint from today’s workshop.  Spoiler alert – the powerpoint includes brand new data findings from Speak Up 2014. Review, enjoy and pass it on: http://www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html.
Tuesday is the first day of the two day Mobile Learning Symposium.  The Symposium includes inspiring keynotes and plenary sessions – and a myriad of small, TedTalk like sessions on all kinds of topics related to girls, women and mobile learning.  It is going to be a full day.  Be part of the experience by following me on Twitter (@JulieEvans_PT).  I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow my new learnings from this event in our Memo #2 from Mobile Learning Week 2015!