DIY Coding


Like many in the digital media and learning community, I am a fan of the free and open source computer programming language, Processing, which can be easily downloaded at Processing.org.  Processing is an incredibly accessible computer language for beginners, but it is also a stepping stone to widely used professional programming languages like Java and C++ that may contribute to success in corporate and academic arenas for those who are code literate. There is a large do-it-yourself community made up of individuals who use Processing for everything from robotics to art projects to sequencing neighborhood Christmas

Stop the Cycle of Bullying


On 22 September 2010, the wallet of Tyler Clementi – a gay freshman at Rutgers University – was found on the George Washington Bridge; his body was found in the Hudson River the following week.  His roommate, Dharun Ravi, was charged with 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and tampering with witnesses and evidence tampering.  Ravi pleaded not guilty. Ravi’s trial officially begins this week, but in the court of public opinion, he has already been convicted.  This is a terrible irony, since the case itself is about bullying. Wading through the news reports, it’s

Can Badging Be the Zipcar of Testing and Assessment?


I’m excited that next week the judges will be listening to the “pitches” and then determining the winners of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition.  Immediately after, will be the opening of what promises to be the best Digital Media and Learning Conference yet, “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World” (to be held in San Francisco, March 1-3, 2012).  I’m thrilled about both of these showcases for new learning innovation.  But I have a confession to make: when I first began learning about badges, I was skeptical.  I was afraid that, rather than

On Digital Badges, Participatory Learning, Flipped Classrooms


If you read this blog, you have undoubtedly heard about the new interest in digital badging systems. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education have all covered the topic in recent weeks (and most more than once). But to prepare for the level of attention sure to ratchet up come March, when HASTAC announces the winners of the $2M “badges for lifelong learning” grants, we thought it worth taking a look back at the talk that launched a thousand badges: Eva L. Baker’s “The End(s) of Testing.” Back in

Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture


Last year, Rio de Janeiro saw the birth of a new type of battle in the streets of the favelas: the “Small Step Battle.” In this battle, hundreds of kids and teenagers from the poor parts of Rio are fighting with a major weapon: dance steps. Everyday, kids are posting videos of themselves performing creative and often very difficult ‘funk’ dance steps on YouTube. These videos are now a fever: some have millions of viewers. The battle is on and these kids are challenging others to create better (and often, even more difficult steps) to dance

eBooks, Writing, and Ownership


One of the great promises of the internet is that it allows for writing to be distributed outside of the restrictions imposed by traditional publications. On the internet there is no scarcity of resources, no oversight by editors, and no need to tap a pre-identified audience, and these features of web publishing have made it possible for anyone with access to post nearly anything to be read by potentially anyone else. However, while the gains for writers have been very real, there remains a distinct hierarchy between the products of the traditional publishing industry and web-based

Bryan Alexander: Emerging Learning Technologies


I knew Bryan Alexander was intense when I first spotted him in the audience at a talk I gave in the late 1990s. Just look at him. Old Testament prophet? Civil War general? Straight out of Middle Earth or Hogwarts? It’s not just the beard and the eyes. When you watch my video interview with Bryan (below), you can’t help but notice he is always in motion. I’ve actually seen him pound the podium. He’s an educator and an educator of educators who can’t disguise his passion and doesn’t care if he stands out in the

Digital Futures: Internet Freedom and Millennials


Last year was a turbulent year for freedom of speech and online expression in India. Early in 2011 we saw the introduction of an Intermediaries Liability amendment to the existing Information Technologies Law in the country, which allowed intermediaries like internet service providers (ISPs), digital content platforms (like Facebook and Twitter) and other actors managing online content, to remove material that is deemed objectionable without routing it through a court of law. Effectively, this was an attempt at crowdsourcing censorship, where at the whim or fancy of any person who flags information as offensive, it could

Conferences as Catalysts for Educational Innovation and Change


Last year I attended, on average, a conference or similar event every other week. As part of my role as Researcher/Analyst at JISC infoNet it’s an important part of what I do: finding out what’s going on in the UK education sector and disseminating our (publicly-funded) work. The face-to-face nature of conferences is, I believe, of even more importance in an extremely digitally connected world. Whilst it’s often the case that you can get to know people very well online, there’s something about embodied interaction that makes your knowledge of that person three-dimensional. I don’t think