Worthy Reads: Youth Media Production, Games & Learning, Pottermore, Web Freedom


A new report on YOUmedia, a youth-centered digital learning initiative at the Chicago Public Library, explores what it means to reimagine learning, literacies and libraries. The report takes a hard look at the first year of the YOUmedia project. It details “what aspects of the program were successful in the first year and explores implementation challenges encountered when balancing a youth-driven approach with an adult agenda for learning.” This report comes at an important time within the development of digital media and learning theory and practice, offering a frank assessment of the transition required to bring

Serendipity, aka “Accidental Discovery”: Does the Web Help or Hurt?


I am obsessed with serendipity. It’s become an almost pathological fascination since 2009, when I was inspired by a happy confluence of what I was doing then, and something that bumped up against it. I’m curious about what serendipity is, how it can be predicted and the things that help facilitate it and hinder it. And, being a student of the social psychology of the web, I’m interested in how the digital space affects it. Serendipity has become a topic of debate for web scholars and web developers. Author Stephen Johnson has declared the web the

Digital Literacies for Writing in Social Media


The following is a shortened version of a talk I gave at the “Engaging the Public” symposium held at Washington & Jefferson College on Oct. 1. According to Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It, 65 percent of students entering school today will have careers in fields that haven’t been invented yet. While #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp, I’m willing to make the following prediction about writing: a full 100% of these students, at some point in their lives, will be required to use writing technologies that haven’t been invented yet. Consider this: as recently as four years ago, who would have

Democratizing Learning Innovation


Mark Surman is in the business of connecting things: people, ideas, everything. A community technology activist for almost 20 years, Mark is currently the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, with a focus on inventing new ways to promote openness and opportunity on the Internet. He is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif., Mar. 1-3: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Surman is leading an important conference sub-theme, “Democratizing Learning Innovation.” Before joining Mozilla, he was an open philanthropy fellow at the Shuttleworth

First Person: The Book Tour in the Age of the Internet


Note: We asked tech-savvy scholar Cathy Davidson to reflect on the realities of an author’s tour in the digital age.  Her new book, “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn” explores whether our brains are cut out for the age of ubiquitous connection.  I’m just back from Washington, DC, where I gave talks at the Howard Hughes Janelia Research Center and at the NEH Start-Up Grant Conference.  I signed books supplied by Politics and Prose Independent Bookstore, as organized by Perry Pidgeon Hooks, and

Privatizing Public Education and ‘Learning to Cheat’ as a Digital Literacy


I’m usually pretty optimistic about the possibilities available to innovative teachers and students. Lately, however, I’ve been worried about the wholesale apathy and universal shoulder-shrug that’s been the response to “What do we do about public education?” At the school I teach at in Los Angeles, in particular, things have been pretty bleak. Let’s put some pieces together regarding this topic by looking at a few news articles. Recently, these were the headlines of three articles I read in the span of a few days: “YA Authors Asked to ‘Straighten’ Gay Characters“ “Water District Taps Google