Julia Gillen is Director of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre and Senior Lecturer in Digital Literacies in the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University. After gaining her PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University she worked as a Senior Research Fellow there, followed by five years with the Open University. Her research interests are diverse: including the literacy practices of children and teenagers in virtual worlds and how very young children learn (all sorts of things!) from the world around them. She is a co-editor of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. Interested in literacies, learning and technologies she also finds inspiration in historical studies of material culture that deepen insights into contemporary practices.