Member Spotlight: Amanda LaTasha Armstrong

Amanda LaTasha Armstrong is a Doctoral Candidate & Games Lab Coordinator at New Mexico State University.

What do you do?

My work is grounded in lived experiences, passion for research, diligence of an active praxis, and cultivating imagination. I often say I currently have two lives at the university: One as a doctoral candidate in New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) College of Education where I combine critical pedagogies, learning design and technology, and early childhood to inform my research and teaching practice. And another as NMSU’s Learning Games Lab Coordinator in the Department of Innovative Media Research and Extension where I lead user-testing, teach children and youth about design in our summer sessions, and apply my research and knowledge to the design of products and processes when relevant. I am also a research fellow with New America’s Education Policy Program in the Teaching, Learning and Tech subprogram. In all my work, I find I toggle between the lived, research, praxis, and imagination.

Tell us about your latest work or project in media literacy.

  • In December of 2021, I released the New America report “The Representation of Social Groups in U.S. Educational Materials and Why it Matters.” This report provides an overview of what the research says about why a close look at characters in educational materials is essential and captures the frequency and portrayal of different racial, ethnic, and gender groups within printed and digital educational media.
  • In the spring, The Routledge handbook on media education futures post-pandemic will be released, where I contributed a chapter about navigating bias in digital spaces and online search engines.
  • Additionally, I’ve contributed the Innovative Media Research & Extension’s blog about teaching and research I’ve done at the Learning Games Lab, which includes talking with kids about diversity and representation in characters and media, and prioritizing diversity and representation when creating media. The department is also working on making our summer session activities with children and youth available.

Why is media literacy important to you?

In order to be an active, engaged, informed, critical, creative, and collective participant in society, media literacy is crucial. Media literacy guides us in being more intentional and knowledgeable and prompts questions, such as: “What is my relationship with media?” “How do I engage with media in my daily life?” “How does the societal collective interact with, use, and produce media?” “How do I express with media?” “How do local, national, and global communities express themselves differently using different media forms?” Media is a part of our daily experience and its necessary to be curious about media, explore it, understand it, and use it. Media literacy supports that.

What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?

I’m excited that conversations related to social justice, bias, empathy, and culture within media and media literacy are becoming more common. Also, I’m enthused that people aren’t satisfied with conversations— folks want meaningful, sustainable, and contextual actions and are working to generate relevant solutions.

Why did you become a NAMLE member, what benefits do you see to membership, and how will it support your work?

When I started working at Erikson’s TEC Center in 2012, NAMLE became a part of my professional community. Since moving to New Mexico in 2015, the NAMLE community has become more important to me because I can feel disconnected at times. With NAMLE, I stay informed with what’s happening in the field, chat with folks about our struggles, epiphanies, and processes, and have a place to contribute my voice and perspective. There are continual exchanges of information, knowledge, ideas, and growth that I appreciate. I learn and I hope others are learning with me and from my work.

The views and opinions expressed in the M-Passioned Member blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAMLE or its members. The purpose of the M-Passioned Member blog is to highlight our members and give them a place to share their reflections, opinions, and ideas.