Pop Culture Criticism as 21st Century Skill


As part of the Digital Youth Network’s (DYN) 2011-2012 professional development, we have set out to explore how critical media literacy can help Chicago middle school students become responsible and savvy digital producers. Through hours of discussion and self-reflection, we have decided that the challenge to integrate critical theory into our tech-heavy digital production curriculum is no easy task. In what ways can we make critical media literacy relevant to our students’ desires to produce media that imitates the same mainstream content we want them to deconstruct? While teaching a DYN afterschool video production class at

Going Low-Tech to Teach New Literacies


Ethnic Studies professor Wayne Yang takes a distinctive approach to new media literacies to get UC San Diego students to host their own Comic-Con comic book convention with original graphic novel projects.   Although print artifacts are central to the culminating activity of the course, students also work on their digital skills as they lay out pages in software programs such as Adobe Photoshop or post the video “trailers” that advertise their wares on sites such as YouTube. In an interview, Yang described how his work in the classroom with comic books was influenced by Ernest

Beyond the Console: Gaming, Learning & Literacy


Tanner Higgin is a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Riverside studying race, gender, and power in digital media cultures. He’s also researching and developing play and project-based curriculum at the nonprofit organization GameDesk. Higgin’s dissertation, Race and Videogames, draws from his own gaming experiences and develops a new type of literacy attached to the u nique ways race functions in videogame culture. He discussed his research with 11 other participants and a handful of mentors this past August at the DML Research Associates Summer Institute. In the video below, Higgin talks about

How and Why to Make Your Digital Publications Matter


I don’t have the metrics, but I’ll stake my professional reputation on the following  statement:  In the last one or two years, there has been a seachange in how even the most traditional academic, nonprofit, or corporation values, respects, and “counts” relevant, professional online publication and interactivity.  The keywords are “relevant” and “professional” and how you present your digital contributions is not only key to your success, but also itself contributes to the larger culture of peer learning. This year, as I’ve been on leave and been on what is turning into a never-ending lecture tour

Recommended Reads: On What Kids Can Learn, Minecraft, Generation Y


Common Sense Media, known as the go-to resource for solid reviews of movies, books, and television, just released a new ratings initiative to evaluate the learning potential of websites, video games, and mobile apps. You can learn more about it here. The Huffington Post published a useful overview and welcome to the ratings. They found value in how it shifts Common Sense Media towards “a more holistic view and analysis of media.” In addition, it provides both parents and educators a common language to use for talking about media and learning. “Their system, which is more

Digital Underlife and the Writing Classroom


In a 1987 paper, Robert Brooke argued that instructors needed to pay attention to the ways that students didn’t pay attention, like passing notes in class or whispering conversations. Building on the work of Erving Goffman, Brooke argued that these behaviors represented a writing “underlife” that was a means for students “to show that their identities are different from or more complex than the identities assigned them” in the classroom or school as a whole (p. 230). Fast forward to now. In a recent paper, Derek Mueller argues that the underlife needs to be reexamined, as

Technology, Cities & Collaboration


As Assistant Professor of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, Laura Forlano’s interests converge at the intersection of technology, cities, and culture. Prior to her professorship in design, Forlano was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Interaction Design Lab in the departments of Communication and Information Science at Cornell University. Her research focuses on urban informatics — the integration of digital technologies into urban spaces — and the emergent forms of organizing and collaboration that are possible through the use of ubiquitous technologies. Her current project, “Design Collaborations as Sociotechnical Systems,” is a worldwide

DIY U: Interview with Anya Kamenetz


I was very excited by Anya Kamenetz’s book, DIY U, which I highly recommend, and her free ebook, The Edupunk’s Guide! I’m also very interested in what Anya is doing with P2PU and teaching people, helping people, learn to be self learners. Her work serves as a bridge between blended learning and peeragogy. I previously wrote about Shelly Terrell and personal learning networks. Kamenetz has introduced the idea of the ‘personal learning plan’ in the course she taught at P2PU. Here are a few highlights of our interview, but check out the whole video below: Most

Exploration: Digital Media and Social Inequality


Christo Sims is a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley’s School of Information and a graduate researcher for the Connected Learning Research Network’s Leveling Up project. The project team is investigating the learning dynamics of interest-driven online groups that support academically relevant knowledge-seeking and expertise development. Sims, whose research interests include youth culture, digital media practices, and social inequalities, developed an on-the-ground research methodology while working on the Digital Youth Project. A t hree-year ethnographic research project, Digital Youth brought together a cohort of researchers who jointly worked to understand how digital media and technology are meaningful