Digital Fluency: Empowering All Students


Although “digital literacy” is often a phrase associated with programs that have utopian pedagogical visions, it also can become a term attached to rigid curricular requirements, standardized testing, and models of education that stigmatize some students as remedial when it comes to their basic programming skills or their abilities to use software productively.  Furthermore, the term “digital literacy” can generate conflicts among educators because many different disciplines may claim sole responsibility for providing any needed instruction, as I’ve argued elsewhere.  Computer scientists, media scholars, librarians, composition teachers, and digital arts instructors have all made supposedly exclusive

Digital Media, Learning, and the Future


New research findings from a global study of education systems suggest that the promise of a hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage future for kids is a fantasy. Does digital media and learning offer a better future? It’s always important to remember that the future has a history. Back in 1939 the satirical book The Saber-Tooth Curriculum showed how seemingly radical educational innovations can quickly lose their intended utility and become conservative even while they are justified on the basis of their supposed cultural value. The book explains how the “paleolithic curriculum” of practical skills of “fish-grabbing-with-the-hands,” “horse-clubbing,” and

Learning Reimagined: Participatory, Peer, Global, Online


This is a golden age for motivated self-learners, given the availability of open educational resources – from MIT’s OpenCourseWare, Wikipedia, Wikiversity, and YouTube EDU to the Khan Academy and Apple’s iTunes U, together with every possible online communication tool a learner could want – audio, video, forums, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, whiteboards, social bookmarking, mindmapping, and curation services, all free of charge or inexpensive. A population interested in online learning, a mountain of content, and a cornucopia of communication media are almost sufficient for explosive growth of networked, collaborative learning, but require one additional key ingredient:

Multiliteracies and Designing Learning Futures


Multiliteracies is an area of interest for me and my classroom, and I am hoping to use this post for dialogue and collective theory-building. But first, I want to talk briefly about being a book geek. As an English teacher, I am passionate about literature. During my first two years in the classroom I overextended myself by maintaining an evening and weekend job assistant managing a popular independent bookstore in Los Angeles. Passion, Teaching, and Literacy The pay was paltry and secondary to the opportunity I had at first dibs for advanced readers’ copies of works

Digital Illiteracy


Besides being a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, Roger Ebert is a serious reader, and in a recent post on his blog, he blasts a “retelling” of The Great Gatsby that dumbs down the prose of the original novel for “intermediate level readers,” thereby robbing them of the full experience of the novel’s literary richness. After providing a few comparisons between the original and the new version, Ebert made a claim that jumped out at me: “You can’t become literate by being taught illiteracy, and you can’t read The Great Gatsby without reading it.” No doubt

What do new Social Networks tell us about Digital Literacies?


The recent launch of Google+, a new social network, has caused ripples in many different online spaces. From talk of it being a ‘Facebook killer’ because of its enhanced privacy settings to discussion of who one should place in the various ‘Circles’ available to users, the focus has been on technical aspects of the new service. What interests me, however, is how using the lens of digital literacies can cast light on practices and interactions in these spheres. There are two graphs ingrained in the brains of most people interested in technology and its effects on

Great Resources (July): Assessment, Youth Culture, Games & Learning


Do we need badges, specifically badges for learning? In recent years, the answer has been increasingly, if not exactly “yes” then something more like “we better find out before it’s too late.” The new interest around badges appears to have begun in response to a talk by Eva L. Baker, “The End(s) of Testing,” her 2007 Presidential Address for the American Educational Research Association. Critiquing assessment within schools, she never actually used the term “badges” but rather, “qualifications.” The response by some academics and foundations soon converged with, as described to me by James Paul Gee,

Gamechanger: Digital Media plus Student-centered, Immersive, Peer-led Learning


In the middle of one of the hottest and driest summers on record, twenty Austin, TX, area high school students showed up for school everyday for four weeks. While the four-week project took place inside a school, how the students worked, the roles they assumed, and what they produced was a total redesign of school and what it means to be a learner. Their mission: create a casual video game for AMD that highlights the green architecture that earned the company’s Lone Star Campus (based in Austin) a gold certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design