What Schools are Really Blocking When They Block Social Media


The debates about schools and social media are a subject of great public and policy interests.  In reality, the debate has been shaped by one key fact: the almost universal decision by school administrators to block social media.  Because social media is such a big part of many students social lives, cultural identities, and informal learning networks schools actually find themselves grappling with social media everyday but often from a defensive posture—reacting to student disputes that play out over social media or policing rather than engaging student’s social media behaviors. Education administrators block social media because

Why We Need a 4th R: Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic, algoRithms


When Frederick J. Kelly invented the Kansas Silent Reading Test, now known as the “multiple-choice test” or the “bubble test,” he was looking for an efficient way to pass students through the U.S. public education system during the teacher shortage of 1914.  With the advent of World War I, men were off to the frontlines in Europe, women were working in war-time factories, and there was a population boom of new immigrants flooding into the schools.  Taking his inspiration from Henry Ford’s assembly line, Kelly came up with a way to standardize learning and assessment for

Toward Peeragogy


Editor’s Note: This evening Howard will deliver the 2011 Regents’ Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley. His topic: the transformative power of social media and peer learning. Here, in a continuing series, Howard reflects on his ongoing experiment in high-end, peer-to-peer, global learning via the internet and social networks. The more I give my teacher-power to students and encourage them to take more responsibility for their own learning, the more they show me how to redesign my ways of teaching. At the end of the first course I taught solo, I asked students for their

Teaching Art in a Connected World: the Possibilities


Aaron Knochel is an assistant professor at SUNY New Paltz, teaching upper division courses in curriculum theory and practice and “technology in the art classroom” in the university’s Art Education program. This past August, Knochel received his PhD in Art Education at Ohio State University, where his research focused on the possibilities and opportunities that new media and technology provide to art education. He was also one of twelve scholars to take part in the DML Research Hub’s Research Associates Summer Institute 2011. As an artist and an educator, Knochel believes that visual skills and digital

Social Reading and the Foundations of Digital Literacy


Not long ago, I was on an airplane waiting for takeoff. Due to the completely reasonable FAA restrictions on using electronic devices, I was reading the print version of a magazine while we waited to taxi to the runway. I soon found I was absorbed in the content of the article, and, when a passage caught my eye, I reflexively tapped the page with my index finger in an attempt to highlight the passage, just as I would have done when reading on my tablet computer. Of course, I quickly realized that print does not work that

Wikirriculum: The Promises and Politics of an Open Source Curriculum


The idea of an “open source curriculum” has until now seemed entirely at odds with the political standardization and prescription of the curriculum. Are there any signs that curriculum will catch up with the decentered open source potential of digital media, and what are the political implications? “Advances in technology should … make us think about the broader school curriculum in a new way. In an open-source world, why should we accept that a curriculum is a single, static document? A statement of priorities frozen in time; a blunt instrument landing with a thunk on teachers’

School 3.0: Design. Create. Learn. Repeat.


Karen Brennan is a PhD student in the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, where she is a member of the Scratch Team, a group responsible for creating and developing a user-friendly educational programming language, and leader of the ScratchEd project. Her work focuses on Scratch and the Scratch educator community, studying how participation in the Scratch online community and how professional development for educators can support young people as creators of computational media. Brennan was also a Summer Fellow thi s past August at the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub’s Research Associates

When Traditional Policy Goes Bad: Teen Social Use of Mobile Devices in High Schools


As I’ve been lately analyzing my data set related to in-school use of mobile devices at an urban school in South Central Los Angeles, I’ve been intrigued by some of the general tensions that exist in mobile media use in schools and the way teens tend to utilize mobile devices in ways that oppose traditional school power structures. Though the initial findings I will share in this post come from one research site over the course of a year, the social practices, based on my ongoing conversations with both high school youth and teachers, mirror the

Are they Students or are they Innovators?


Lisa Schwartz is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Colorado, Boulder, working with Dr. Kris Gutierrez and a research team on the Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN). She recently completed her dissertation, “Forming a Collaborative Model for Appropriating Youth and Digital Practices for New Literacies Development with Teachers and Latino Students,” at the University of Arizona in the Department of Language, Reading & Culture. Her dissertation documents ethnographic research involving high school English teachers and predomi nantly Latino students who they were asked to work together to develop new ways to approach schooling and