Disrupting Class: A New Age for Learning


Book review: one in an occasional series on works that aspire to reimagine learning in the information age. Let’s start with the shocking news that Disrupting Class authors Clayton Christensen, Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson present a hopeful view of the world where K-12 education is utterly transformed. In their view, learner-centered teaching plus information technology will mean the end of the century-old industrialized model of public schooling. From page one, there’s an expression of “high hopes.” They debunk many of the traditional theories about why our schools are failing: funding issues, lack of

Top 5 Blog Posts on Digital Media and Learning for 2010


The DML Central blog is just over a year old, and the close of 2010 marks our first full year of publishing thought leadership from our featured bloggers and highlighting best practices in the emerging field of digital media and learning. It has been an inspiring adventure. Thanks in large part to our growing community, we have learned a great deal about collaboration, conversation, and exploration in digital media and learning in the past year — lessons we will apply in the redesign of this site and the creation of new Web resources in 2011. Meanwhile,

Peer Learning Isn’t Easy (But Some Days It’s Amazing)


I’m not teaching a class this term.  I’m doing something lots harder.  I am making a collaborative, peer-led experience available to students.  There are six of them: three graduate students, two undergraduate students, and one recent alum.  There is no syllabus.  As part of HASTAC and the Digital Media and Learning Competition, my semester has been full of exciting opportunities so I wrote an open letter to Duke students inviting anyone daring enough to join me for a peer-created collaboration to build projects around these events.  I wanted to share the wealth and turn it into pedagogy.  I’ve never done anything like this before so I wanted to handpick the participants in what I call a “Tutorial in Collaborative Thinking.”  I had about two dozen inquiries; if the word “grade” or “requirements” came up in the email to me, I knew the student was wrong for this experiment in independent, self-guided group learning-by-doing.  The six who were bold enough to join have dubbed themselves FutureClass.  They created a class website and even co-created their own logo.  If you’ve never co-designed a logo with six people you don’t know, from different backgrounds, different ages, different kinds of expertise, well, let me just tell you it isn’t easy.  They pulled it off, too. Nothing about FutureClass has been easy.  To begin with, Duke doesn’t really have an institutional category for a six-person group independent study that crosses graduates and undergraduates and alums (including a doctoral student at UNC too), and in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  After an exchange of something on the order of a gazillion emails, a department chair (name omitted to protect the implicated) went out on a limb and just signed the form making this anomaly a reality.

The Joy of Writing – With Ancient Tools or New


The Telegraph recently published an article announcing that, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, “ancient communication technologies” like handwriting “are current like never before.” The title of the article — “How Twitter made handwriting cool” — is a little misleading in that there isn’t much in the article to suggest how Twitter has any impact on the “coolness” of handwriting. Rather, it stands in as a representative of social media, against which the handwriting “movement” establishes itself as cool by rebelling against this new fad. Besides establishing this kind of knee-jerk binary between handwriting and new

Digital Self-Harm and Other Acts of Self-Harassment


Sometimes, things aren’t what they appear to be.  And, in those cases, jumping to the wrong conclusion can be a disservice to everyone.  After I first wrote about Formspring seven months ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about teens who chose to respond to vicious or harassing questions (since only responses are ever posted publicly).  Listening to teens, I had concluded that many out there were trying to prove that they were tough and could handle anything.  And I’ve continued to hear that story in the field.  But as I started looking into the negative commentary on teens’