Global Transmedia MOOCs


Nearly two years before Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun shook up educational institutions with their massive open online course on artificial intelligence, using videos, blogs, wikis, and online tests, photography educators Jonathan Worth, Matt Johnston, and Jonathan Shaw at Coventry University organized online classes for thousands of students in hundreds of cities, using blogs, podcasts, RSSfeeds, a Flickr group, an iPhone app, a Soundcloud group, and a Vimeo group, and hashtags (#phonar and #picbod). Phonar, the course on photography and narrative, and Picbod, the course on photography and the body, were open to third year Coventry

Expertise, Redefined


What makes an “expert”? What makes for “expert knowledge” in the digital age? In today’s culture of digital media, new forms of expertise and knowledge seem to be increasingly available, with the result that young people are now being encouraged into new knowledge practices and incited to learn from and identify with new models of expertise. As educators, what kinds of expertise are we trying to develop in our students? It is fairly safe to say, in general terms, that, historically, education has tended to emphasize a “great minds” model of knowledge and expertise. What gets

Social Media Discourse: Violence, Olympiads and Our Everyday Life


All the world’s attention was recently focused on the Olympic Games in London. The competition was widely broadcasted by traditional and online media, with an astronomic audience, reaching many countries. Social media became a place for discussing, commenting and cheering for the athletes. However, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook also drew the world’s attention to the spread of violence and hate through discourse. Athletes were banned from the Olympiad because of racist and aggressive posts on social networking sites. A Greek triple jumper posted on Twitter: “With so many Africans in Greece, at

Digital Literacies and Web Literacies: What’s the Difference?


I’m currently iterating some work around Web Literacies for the Mozilla Foundation (you can see the latest version of my thinking here). Perhaps the biggest consideration when dealing with so-called ‘New’ Literacies is distinguishing them from one another. As I’ve discussed many times before, without some clear thinking on this issue both theorists and practitioners alike tend to talk past one another using imprecise terminology. What I want to consider in this post is the relationship between Digital literacies and Web literacies. Aren’t they just synonyms? The topic of digital literacies was the focus of my

Writing Like the Web


In my last few posts, I have argued that network writing—that is, writing that mimics the conventions of emerging, online genres—should occupy a larger place in writing instruction. However, it can be challenging to imagine how literacies that students have developed in writing, say, text messages, can be applied to writing traditional genres like the argumentative essay or the academic writing that are the centerpiece of most writing instruction. While many innovative instructors have developed assignments that integrate network-native writing like Twitter into classroom settings, how does this writing inform or lead to writing that is

Learning from Failure: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part II


Professor Anne Balsamo has been collaborating with Professor Alexandra Juhasz and a group of more than one hundred feminist scholars to pilot a new kind of online course devoted to feminist dialogues on technology. Balsamo recently left the University of Southern California to occupy a new post as dean of the School of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement in New York.  In this position she will continue to work on one of her other ambitious new projects that involves collaboration with an extended network of researchers and designers to create a digital

Bodies in Classrooms: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part I


Next year, over a hundred feminist scholars are slated to teach a new kind of online course—the first “MDCLE” or “massively distributed collaborative learning experiment”—tentatively titled “Feminist Dialogues on Technology.”  Drawing on the model of the “MOOC,” or the massively open online course, like the artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction courses at Stanford that have enrolled tens of thousands of students, this venture is also aimed at a very large audience, although taught and thought through a feminist architecture and pedagogy.  With some start-up funding from the Mellon Foundation, Pitzer professor Alexandra Juhasz and University of

From Theory to Design: Exploring the Power & Potential of ‘Connected Learning’, Part One


This summer I attended summer school…well kind of.  For three weeks in June I worked with a great team to implement a digital media and design project with high school students.  We followed that project with a two-week game design camp in July at the University of Texas with middle school students.  Both projects are what you might call ‘connected learning’ design pilots.  What exactly is that?  The goal of each project was to put into action some of the ideas that we have been theorizing about in our work with the Connected Learning Research Network.