Standardizing Human Ability


Here’s a thought experiment.  Let’s try to imagine a society (there were lots of them before modernity) where there is no interest in measuring educational success.  Let’s imagine a society where the only goal of teaching (it’s a high bar) is to help every child master what they need in order to lead the most fulfilling life they are capable of leading—productive, creative, responsible, contributing to their own well-being and that of their society.  No grades.  No tests.  Just an educational system based on helping each child to find her or his potential for leading the

Professor Alec Couros: “The Connected Teacher”


One powerful benefit of networked learning is that when you find something interesting, it often leads to someone interesting – and that someone often leads to entire networks of interesting people. Or, as Dr. Alec Couros puts it, “the tools come and go, but the relationships endure.” I found Professor Couros the way many people did, by coming across the intriguing diagram of “The Networked Teacher” that many educators now use in their slide presentations. By the time I discovered Dr. Couros, now professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina, I had

Web Literacies: What is the ‘Web’ Anyway?


I’ve recently started in a new role for the Mozilla Foundation. At least half of my job there is to come up with a framework, a White Paper, around the concept of ‘web literacies’. It’s got me thinking about both parts of that term — both the ‘web’ and the ‘literacies’. In this post I want to consider the first of these: what we mean by the ‘web’? I’ve already considered the latter in quite some detail in my doctoral thesis (available at neverendingthesis.com). Defining the Web Sometimes it’s important to step back from the things

Declaration of Interdependence


We have massive research and many evidences available…[ie: Diane Ravitch is declaring a bunch of them here, we’ve gathered particular ones here]…that what we’re doing in the name of public education is not serving us well. Perhaps we declare some new laws in regard to public education, in regard to interdependency. The term interdependency came as we were researching laws for homeless teens. While some states allow 14-year-olds to declare independence, often resulting in homelessness, some are trying to restate that to a declaration of interdependence where each teen is matched up with an adult. If

Programmable Pedagogy: Reconfiguring the Future of Learning


What is “pedagogy” and what does it do? In the digital age, the future of education is being redefined in relation to new technologies and digital media, and we are having to rethink what we understand by pedagogy and its possible effects on learners. What kinds of pedagogies, then, are being configured in discussions about the future of education, and how might they configure the future learner? Programmable Pedagogy Pedagogy is often taken to be a technical term for teaching. But it is important to define it a little more expansively. In its wider definition, pedagogy

Writing Without Networks


In his essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Nicholas Carr relates an exchange between Nietzsche and one of his friends, in which the friend remarked that the philosopher’s writing style had changed after he began to use a typewriter. As Carr tells us, Nietzsche’s reply was to agree, stating, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Those who study technology (Carr credits Kittler, who has written extensively about the effects of technology on culture, as the source of the Nietzsche story) tend to readily agree with these conclusions: technologies impact our behavior

Hacking the Curriculum 101


At a time when so many teachers and administrators fear and forbid student access to the internet from school, a high school teacher on the California coast is encouraging students by the hundreds to blog, Skype, gamify, and mindmap collaboratively in public. Problems? Zero. Enthusiasm — I can personally testify as one of the people Dr. Preston invited to videoconference with his students — blows the roof off. Preston’s students are enthusiastic about the texts, the ideas, the possibility of reaching out to the authors of those texts and inviting them into the class, and the

Revisiting Techno-euphoria


In my last post, I talked about techno-euphoria as a condition that seems to mark much of our discourse around digital technologies and the promise of the future. The euphoria, as I had suggested, manifests itself either as a utopian view of how digital technologies are going to change the future that we inhabit, or woes of despair about how the overdetermination of the digital is killing the very fibre of our social fabric. A way out of it, for some of us working with young people and their relationships with (as opposed to usage of)

Back to the Drawing Board


For people on the academic calendar, resolutions tend to be undertaken in the summer months rather than at the start of the new year in January.  This summer I am picking up a pencil and rethinking my relationship to visual communication with a resolution to spend more time in the weeks to come drawing.  I would urge others in the DML community to try to do the same. To prepare myself for this task, I’ve bought some sketchbooks and pencils for the first time in decades.  Of course, this activity feels strange to hands that have spent so