The Right to Thrive: Connected Learning at the Digital Edge


A few months ago, I interviewed a former high school teacher and asked him what his hope was for the digital media and learning community in 2013. His answer: to push for a stronger focus on schools. “Students are in schools from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm everyday. Think about how much time that is. Do we want students to get more of the same, or should we give them a transformational education for the 21st century?” For an entire school year, Alexander Cho and a group of researchers immersed themselves in the trenches of a

Writing for Interaction


We are all quite familiar with interactive writing. Business writing is a nearly constant stream of emails and memos that reply to and reference other texts. Teachers and students engage in a dialectic of writing, response, and revision, using tools from electronic texts to margin scribbles. The Internet is built on the back of blogs and comment threads and message boards, while everyone from teenagers to the Pope send texts and tweets. If we expand our understanding of writing to include not just words on paper or a screen but also verbal communication practices like leaving

Re-Designing Learning For Democracy


Ann Pendleton-Jullian, the architect and educational redesigner, notes that:  “Design has the capacity to shape contexts as frames for things to happen.”  My excitement at being part of the connected learning movement and the Digital Media and Learning initiative sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is that, together, thousands of us are thinking and working and making in order to design new ecosystems for learning in which the democratic, egalitarian, and innovative can thrive and flourish. If you think you hear a critique of the status quo in that sentence, you are

Are We in Danger of Losing Sight of Urban Schools and their Libraries?


The rhetoric around libraries today is largely filled with enthusiasm in the digital media and learning world. And it probably should be: YOUmedia, makerspaces, and expanding digital opportunities for young people to learn and to grow are happening every day. However, right now, I have a problem with libraries. More specifically, I have a problem with libraries in urban schools. A Bit of Background To say the library at the school I worked at in South Central Los Angeles faced challenges would be too gracious. One year, for example, the staff was greeted with the welcomed

Navigating Privacy and User Rights Issues in an “I Agree” Era


Last fall, a New York man rented out his apartment bedroom through Airbnb, a popular website for short-term stays. Unbeknownst to him, he was breaking the law. When he returned to his apartment days later, he was facing more than $40,000 in fines. Airbnb is not legally obligated to post explicit warnings on its site notifying users of the possible legal ramifications of renting rooms for short lengths of time. Instead, this information is listed deep within the terms and conditions agreement. Stories like this are becoming all too common. Tamara Shepherd, a postdoctoral fellow at

The Latest in Digital Media, Learning and Museums


The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project published a recent report after surveying the role of the internet and social media within arts organizations that have received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. They found that “the internet, social media, and mobile connectivity now permeate their operations and have changed the way they stage performances, mount and showcase their exhibits, engage their audiences, sell tickets, and raise funds.” Some interesting findings: 77% of respondents agree with the statement that the internet has “played a major role in broadening the boundaries of what

Is Facebook Destroying the American College Experience?


Sitting with a group of graduating high school seniors last summer, the conversation turned to college roommates.  Although headed off to different schools, they had a similar experience of learning their roommate assignment and immediately turning to Facebook to investigate that person.  Some had already begun developing deep, mediated friendships while others had already asked for roommate transfers.  Beyond roommates, all had used Facebook to find other newly minted freshman, building relationships long before they set foot on campus. At first blush, this seems like a win for students.  Going off to college can be a

Why We Need Badges Now: A Bibliography of Resources in Historical Perspective


It was something over a year ago when we first began talking about badges as a powerful new tool for identifying and validating the rich array of people’s skills, knowledge, accomplishments, and competencies that happens everywhere and at every age.  That’s when we decided that this year the Digital Media and Learning Competition would be dedicated to an array of competitions on badging.  I remember when we started writing, blogging, talking, speaking, and in other ways trying to create a conversation around badges as an alternative mode of assessment, people would look at me like I