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UKLA 55th International Conference 2019

Literacy and Play for All: Improvisation, possibility and imagination

This event took place Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July 2019
UKLA 55th International Conference 2019

Booking is now closed. For further information about the attending conference please click here.

The call for papers has now closed.

Confirmed speakers: Chris Riddell, Writer and Illustrator; Anne Haas Dyson, University of Illinois, USA; Andrew Burn, University College London; Lalitha Vasudevan, Columbia University, USA.

We are delighted to announce that our Regional Rep Rebecca Simpson-Hargreaves has kindly organised a walk in the Peak District on the evening of Thursday 11 July (please note this is not part of the formal conference programme). Full details and booking can be made via Eventbrite here

In an age of accountability, it can be hard to make room for play in education, and yet at all ages it is through play that we experiment, take risks, generate meanings and negotiate our relationships with others and the world around us. Play can also have a disruptive influence, unsettling power relations and challenging convention, and is often characterised by qualities that do not always fit easily with educational frameworks,
such as movement, unpredictability and humour.

In this conference, through reflecting on research and practice, we will consider literacy in relation to play and playfulness. We will explore, for example, the linguistic and textual play that is at the heart of composition; the improvisational storying that emerges in imagined worlds; the free-flowing movements across media that characterise literacies in everyday life; and the playful pedagogies that work responsively with learners’ meaning-making.

By making space for play, this conference will invite delegates to consider the relationships between play, language and literacy. It will explore how, as teachers, researchers and literacy advocates, we can enable others to improvise and to imagine. It will also make space for delegates themselves to improvise, imagine and play with new possibilities.

We invite proposals for  workshopsresearch papers and symposia on these and other topics. We encourage those who wish to be playful with approaches to presenting and involving participants. Please note, we are also playing with the format this year, and individual research papers may be grouped into sessions.

We invite all those currently engaged in postgraduate programmes of research (Masters, EdD, PHD) to contribute to our  Postgraduate Research Student Slam which will feature brief presentations of work in progress.

Keynote Speakers

Friday 12 July 2019

Lalitha Vasudevan: Lalitha is Professor of Technology and Education and Director of theMedia and Social Change Lab (MASCLab)atTeachers College, Columbia University. She also serves as Vice Chair for the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, is affiliated faculty in the Programs in Anthropology at Teachers College, and has held appointments at the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute of Education at the University College London.Her work examines literacy, communicative, and media practices of youth across a variety of settings and brings attention to the role of technology in their educational trajectories and wellbeing. She has done research with adolescents in classrooms, afterschool programs, detention facilities, and in the context of social service organisations; conducted professional development with K-12 teachers about the integration of technology and media into their pedagogy; and maintains long-term research-practice partnerships with organisations that are committed to improving the life chances for youth. 

Creativity, Play and Digital Media: Panel Session

Chaired by Becky Parry and Fiona Scott, Centre for the Study of Literacies, School of Education, University of Sheffield with Sharna Jackson, Leigh Hodgkinson, Chris Lindgren and Iain Simons.

Sharna Jackson is the Artistic Director at Site Gallery, Sheffield’s leading international contemporary art space, specialising in moving image, new media and performance. She is also a children’s author, her debut novel HighRise Mystery will be released in April 2019. She is on the board of Sheffield Doc/Fest, and a member of BAFTA’s Children’s and Learning and New Talent committees and the Children’s Media Conference advisory board.

Leigh Hodgkinson is an animation director, illustrator and author. Her films include Moo(n) for Channel 4 and Stalk for Film London. Her awards include a BAFTA (for CBBC Newsround On Poverty) and Annecy Crystal (for Channel 4 comedy Fonejacker). She was also the art director for the first series of Charlie & Lola. Leigh has written and illustrated 11 books, and illustrated many more. Leigh is co-creator and art director of Cbeebies animated pre-school series Olobob Top which she makes with her co-creator husband, director/producer Steve Smith. They have made 2 series to date. Olobob Top has been distributed to many countries worldwide with a range of board and activity books being published by Bloomsbury.

Chris Lindgren is a UX Researcher and Play Designer in the field of digital children’s culture. She spent the last eight years making kids’ apps at the award-winning play studio Toca Boca and is now pursuing her mission in her own company. She has shaped the way Toca Boca includes kids in the design process to make sure their perspectives are taken into account in every little detail and is the designer of nine app titles such as Toca Pet Doctor, Toca Boo and Toca Tea Party. She has also created children’s content for the Swedish Public Service TV and Radio websites. Chris is an advocate for inclusive and ethical design for kids

Iain Simons is the cultural director of the BGI, a new institute set up to support videogame culture in the UK. He has written extensively about videogames in culture for both the popular and academic press as well as for broadcast. In 2005 he instigated and curated the first videogames festival at London's SouthBank Centre, which led to the creation of GameCity, the pioneering videogame arts festival in Nottingham in 2006. His most recent book (with James Newman),'A History of Videogames' was published by Carlton books in 2018. In 2015 he co-founded the National Videogame Arcade, the acclaimed cultural centre for games, which recently relaunched in Sheffield as the National Videogame Museum. 

Saturday 13 July 2019

Anne Haas Dyson: Anne is a former teacher of young children and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Among her previous appointments was as a longtime professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award. She has spent over 35 years studying the childhood cultures and literacy learning of young schoolchildren, for which she has received numerous awards. Dyson aims, first, to bring respect and intellectual attention to childhood cultures and their relationship to school learning. Young children do not participate in school because they are concerned about the national economy, international competition, or climbing a ladder to academic accolades from a grateful nation. They desire to make sense of their world and to gain companionship in what can be a confusing world. Second, she aims to document the diversity of resources (languages, popular culture texts, semiotic tools, everyday experiences) our diverse school children bring with them with which to participate intellectually and socially in school, especially in written language development. Her newest publications are both Spencer-funded: ReWRITING the basics: Literacy learning in children’s cultures (2013) and, published in 2016, Child cultures, schooling, and literacy: Global perspectives on children composing their lives.

Chris Riddell: Chris, the 2015-2017 UK Children’s Laureate, is an accomplished artist and the political cartoonist for the Observer. He has enjoyed great acclaim for his books for children. His books have won a number of major prizes, including the 2001, 2004 and 2016 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals.Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse won the Costa Children’s Book Award 2013. His work for Macmillan also includes the bestselling Ottoline books,The Emperor of Absurdia, and, with Paul Stewart, the Muddle Earth books, the Scavenger series and the Blobheads series. Chris lives in Brighton with his family.

Sunday 14 July 2019

Andrew Burn: Andrew is Professor of English, Media and Drama at the UCL Institute of Education, and director of the DARE research centre (Digital|Arts|Research|Education) He was for 24 years a secondary teacher of English, Media and Drama.He has researched and published work on many aspects of the media arts, including young people’s production of digital media such as computer games, digital video and animation. He has directed two large projects on children’s playground games with the University of Sheffield, the British Library and the Bodleian Library. He has spoken on media education, arts education, literacy and games at conferences throughout Europe as well as elsewhere in the world. His books include Making New Media: creative production and digital literacies (New York: Peter Lang); Media Literacy in Schools: Practice, Production, Progression (London: Sage); and Children’s Games in the New Media Age (Farnham: Ashgate). Personal website:

The Call for Papers is now closed.

UKLA will not be offering a residential package for this conference. If you wish to book accommodation for this conference, please visit the Sheffield Hallam accommodation webpage for special deals at nearby hotels.

To find out more about the city of Sheffield visit the Welcome to Sheffield website.

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