Antero Garcia on Alternate Reality Gaming in South Central Los Angeles

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Interview conducted by Howard Rheingold.

Video via


"Antero Garcia, who teaches English at a high school in South Central Los Angeles, is a PhD candidate, focusing on critical literacies and civic identity through the use of mobile media and game play. He utilizes his classroom as a center of youth participatory action research. His students assess and address real-life needs in their South Central community. Garcia is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Garcia is heading up one of four important sub-themes in the conference, “innovations for public education.” A strong advocate for youth and teachers in public education settings, he is also one of the featured bloggers at DMLcentral, where he consistently pushes the digital media and learning community to be innovative, yes, but also relevant and meaningful. In this video he discusses why it is so important for technology and digital media to be aimed at the very real needs of contemporary public education." (


"Here are just a few provocations from the video, but the full interview (below) is laced with Garcia’s unique insights into 21st century theory, practice and policy:

- All of this technology and all these things that are happening with digital media are really cool, but unless they are impacting very traditional things that are debated in the world of education like the "achievement gap,” they really aren't all that useful for us right now. My concern is how are we going to use this to impact traditionally marginalized youth.

In my own research, I've been looking at ways we can use things like cell phones, ways we can use low-cost technologies that students already have that are pretty much ubiquitous in schools and that policies, as they currently exist, are really kind of limiting.

We have an identity problem as an educational community. If you look at school policy and district policy, often times it is very different and runs counter to the types of policies and statements that are coming out of the state departments of education and the U.S. Department of Education in terms of what we're saying about technology.

I have created an alternate reality game in my classroom where students are communicating with Anansi, the West African folklore spider character, to create their own stories in and around their own communities. As we did this, we engaged in critical literacy acquisition.

My big goal for this conference is to get as many teachers and even students as possible to engage in the conversation of DML. It's a really big group that I think is important to have represented at this conference." (