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Blurring educational boundaries

Young people’s agency in learning practices

Barcelona, November 6th – 7th, 2014

The research group Esbrina — Subjectivities, Visualities and Contemporary Educational Environments of the University of Barcelona will host a symposium dedicated to exploring the agency young people have in their learning practices, in formal and/or informal educational contexts. This event comes at the end of the national research project Living and learning with new literacies in and outside school: contributions for reducing school dropout, exclusion and disaffection among youth (MEC EDU2011-24122) and aims to generate an international forum for debate and discussion.

The Symposium

Today the term learning reaches far beyond the classroom; the popular use of phrases such as lifelong learning or life-wide learning are a reflection of the ubiquitous status of the word in today's knowledge society. However, in educational discourse learning still remains closely linked to scholastic notions related to student assessment or curriculum objectives. Within this broad portrayal of learning, young people's agency is often ambiguous. On one hand, the literature often paints a picture of a body of connected youth who use new technologies to engage in learning activities tailored to their personal interests. On the other hand, there is increasing criticism around the notion of lifelong learning as a key competence, as educational policies seem to respond more to new market demands than to a holistic approach once promoted by progressive educators. Therefore a tension exists between research into learning experiences that contributes to the pedagogization of young people lives, and the studies that attempt to articulate and recognize a more personal and social form of engagement that, for some young people, is allusive in a formal school context.

This conference aims to problematize and interrogate our understanding of the role of learning in young people's lives and will look critically at research objectives and methods. In order to transfer knowledge and generate new perspectives in the field, this conference encourages both scholars and PhD students to submit their research.

We specifically seek contributions that address the following issues:

  1. The expanded notion of learning, and how it relates to how we understand and discuss the boundary between inside and outside school;
  2. The relationship between learning and young people's use of digital technologies;
  3. The methodological and ethical issues that arise when studying learning in informal and/or virtual contexts;
  4. Doing research collaboratively (with young people); the advantages and limits of using 'with' as a methodological stance.


Thursday, November 6th
11:30 Public registration opens
12:00 Opening remarks: Fernando Hernández-Hernández
SESSION 1: The methodological and ethical issues that arise when studying learning in informal and/or virtual contexts
CHAIR : Juana M. Sancho Gil

Learning lives connected: Studying young people across school and community spaces

Ola Erstad (University of Oslo)


The construction of the school identity through significant learning projects: an experience report

Sergio Vale da Paixão (UNESP/IFPR)


Methodological contributions from a collaborative ethnography with young people

Rachel Fendler & Fernando Hernández-Hernández (University of Barcelona)

14:00 Lunch
SESSION 2: The advantages and limits of using ‘with’ as a methodological stance
CHAIR : Fernando Hernández

Multisensory inquiry and the knowledge that comes-from-the-outside

Laura Trafí Prats (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)


What’s the Problem? Creating Points of Opening for Critical Engagement with Youth Concerning Educational Constraints and Possibilities

Anne Galletta (Cleveland State University)


Perspectives on art teaching: mass culture, identity and criticism

Cristiane Herres Terraza (Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Brasilia), Felipe Ferreira de Paula Pessoa (Professional Education Center - School of Music of Brasilia)


Reflecting on our lives: inclusive research on the transition to adulthood from the view of young people with disabilities

Judit Fullana, Maria Pallisera, Carolina Puyalto, Montserrat Vilà, Montse Castro (University of Girona)

20:00 Dinner — Location TBA
Friday, November 7th
SESSION 3: The relationship between learning and young people's use of digital technologies
CHAIR : Julian Sefton-Green

Learning and attitudes towards the knowledge of the young producers of visual culture

Imanol Aguirre (Public University of Navarra)


What do we learn about youth learning when we move ICT out-of-focus?

Raquel Miño (University of Barcelona), Juana M. Sancho (University of Barcelona), Adriana Ornellas (Open University of Catalonia)


Educational uses of transmedia storytelling

Núria Molas Castells (University of Barcelona)


Digital natives and learning in practice: Towards hybrid educational opportunities

Kristiina Kumpulainen (University of Helsinki)

11:00 Coffee break
SESSION 4: Blurring educational boundaries
CHAIR : Laura Trafí Prats

The demise of ‘folk learning’ and the rise of the totally pedagogicized society

Julian Sefton-Green (London School of Economics)


Disrupting the “scholastic culture”. Reproduction vs. Resistance in Vocational Education

Najate Zouggari (University of Lausanne)


Extended Education in Germany - Status Quo, Developments, and Research Issues

Ludwig Stecher (University of Giessen)


Researching with students and teachers: tensions and uncertainties

Adriana Ornellas (Open University of Catalonia), Raquel Miño (University of Barcelona), Juana M. Sancho Gil (University of Barcelona)

13:30 Lunch
SESSION 5: Learning in and outside school
CHAIR : Kristiina Kumpulainen

Benefits of informal learning and successful migratory trajectories

Zaihia Zeroulou (University of Lille)


Creating Space for Success by Providing ‘Permission to Fail’: An Innovative Collaborative Project Based Learning Initiative with Urban Students, Teachers, and Community

Anthony M. Collatos (Pepperdine University), Jodi Council (University of Phoenix)


Young foreign people’s learning strategies inside and outside school. Literacy strategies in the mosque and in the school: exploring levels of participation in different learning environments

Rosario Reyes Izquierdo (University Autonoma of Barcelona)

16:00 Coffee break
SESSION 6: The expanded notion of learning
CHAIR : Rachel Fendler

Self-authorization and engagement of children and young people in science education: An informal teaching and learning experience in the university

Constanza Ruiz-Danegger (National University of Salta)


Affordances for moral agency in classroom interaction

Kreeta Niemi (University of Jyväskylä)


Rapping in Catalan in and beyond a rhyme workshop in Secondary Education: focusing on linguistic, academic and social agency

Cristina Aliagas Marín (University of Sheffield), Júlia Alba Fernàndez i Gayà (INS Lluís de Peguera), Pau Llonch (At Versaris)


Closing remarks & debate

Juana M. Sancho



Abstracts should be sent in a text document to:, together with contact details for the author(s) and a brief mention of the author(s) affiliation.

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words (excluding references) and should clearly communicate the key points and conclusions of the paper, indicating the methodology, theoretical framework and the relationship to the call.


A short list of keywords should be provided with the abstract (no more than five).


The conference will be held in English. Abstracts, as well as the full paper, should be submitted in English.


We are limiting acceptance to 40 presentations. All abstracts will be reviewed by the scientic committee and authors will be notified of acceptance by July 15th.

Conference papers

Once approved, a short paper with a minimum of 2000 words must be submitted. These papers will be shared with all delegates prior to the conference, so that we may spend less time on presentations and more time engaged in debate and discussion during the symposium.

Either one of the following templates must be used for submitting the paper.

Important Dates

July 15th2014Call for Papers deadline

July 30th2014Notification of acceptance

October 15th2014Full papers (draft) due


Registration is free. The organization will issue certificates of attendance and participation.


Sala 240

Edifici Llevant
Campus Mundet
Universitat de Barcelona
Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171
Barcelona, Spain


With support from

Universitat de Barcelona

Facultat de Belles Arts

Departament de Didàctica i Organització Educativa

Miniterio de Economía y Competitividad


If you have any questions please contact