Poorly Educated and Poorly Connected: The Hidden Realities of Innovation Hubs


When President Barack Obama decided to kick off his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours” in Austin it highlighted once again the city’s reputation as a growth sector in the nation’s creative and high tech economy. Over the last few years the arrival of Apple, Google, Facebook and others has diversified Austin’s creative economy which has long provided a home for Dell, IBM, and Applied Materials Inc. According to the White House, the President’s visit was to observe, listen, and explore how the innovation and industry in Austin might serve as a model for other cities

Are MOOCs An Extension of Academic Publishing into Teaching?


Over the past few months, there has been a growing backlash against MOOCs. If you aren’t familiar with the term, massive open online courses — college courses that (for now) are free and will enroll anyone, generally without any restrictions on the size of a course — have been around in various forms for some time, but the term has gained wider exposure with the very public introduction of the for-profit MOOC startups Udacity and Coursera. These companies have advocated the ability of MOOCs to provide access to education to anyone with an Internet connection. As

Toward A Networked Approach to Improving Education


Which comes first, coordination or collaboration? It’s a classic chicken or egg debate that surfaces among network organizers and one that Peter Wardrip, a Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences and Policy program at the University of Pittsburgh, has been exploring for the past three years. In today’s interconnected world, there seems to be a network to support just about any interest or profession. If you’re a writing teacher or an edtech leader, your options include the National Writing Project or the Consortium for School Networking. Young people from metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York,

Thoughts on Pew’s Latest Report on Teens: Notable Findings on Race and Privacy


Yesterday, Pew Internet and American Life Project (in collaboration with Berkman) unveiled a brilliant report about “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.” As a researcher who’s been in the trenches on these topics for a long time now, none of their finding surprised me but it still gives me absolute delight when our data is so beautifully in synch. I want to quickly discuss two important issues this report raises. Race is a factor in explaining differences in teen social media use. Pew provides important measures on shifts in social media, including the continued saturation of Facebook, the decline

Learning Online in the Second Grade: Teacher Linda Yollis


Blogging, commenting thoughtfully on others’ blogs, staying safe online, creating a positive digital footprint, using audio and video to connect with students in other parts of the world, creating and publishing video – at what grade level should students be introduced to these essential digital literacies? How about the second grade? Linda Yollis, a teacher in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, remembers the classroom in which she started teaching in the 1980s: “Learning was confined to the four walls of the classroom, was entirely paper-based, worksheet-driven, and I was the audience for most of the written

A Student-driven, Afterschool Technology Club: When Reality and Policy Collide


Taking advantage of the online world’s ability to help youth develop knowledge, expertise, skills and important new literacies involves risks, but how much? Some researchers and authors such as Lenore Skenazy, Sonia Livingstone, and Lynn Schofield Clark have reasoned that a number of policies and strategies, which are intended to protect youth, are actually misguided and may be making youth’s learning experiences even more limiting. Jacqueline Vickery, an assistant professor in the department of Radio-Television-Film University of North Texas, studies the discourse around risk and digital media and how it fuels moral panics and influences policy.

Avenging ‘Making’ For All: Challenging Iron Man


With Iron Man 3 raking in millions and marking the official start of summer blockbusters, it is thrilling to recognize that moviegoers are largely staring at a screen enraptured with Hollywood’s most successful maker. As such, I have good news and bad news for the maker movement. First the good news: to state the obvious, the movie’s hero, Tony Stark, has an uncannily familiar special power – he’s a tinkerer. Without diving into the plot too deeply, it is fair to say that the reason Tony Stark can save the world is because he’s a really

Design Thinking and Diversity: A Professional Development Case Study


What do a New York public school, the Howard County Public School system in Maryland, and a small private K-8 school in California all have in common? Each is re-conceptualizing the standard school curriculum by using design thinking, a learning approach that is collaborative, action-based, and experimental, as a way to meet the needs of today’s learners. Design thinking can be a powerful tool for developing higher-order skills such as complex problem solving, creativity and critical thinking. But it can also be an unfamiliar and intangible concept for teachers to grasp, making professional development and pre-service

How to Use Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool: Adrianne Wadewitz


Wikipedia is often not thought of as a platform for pedagogy, since so many teachers explicitly tell their students to steer clear of the site as a source of information.  However, as a site for learner-driven inquiry and informal education, it is without question the chief reference point for many discussions from matters of general knowledge to areas of arcane expertise. Adrianne Wadewitz would like to provide more explicit instruction about not only reading Wikipedia but also writing Wikipedia in the classroom context.  She has helped write a helpful brochure from the Wikimedia Foundation on “How

Philadelphia: A Case Study on the Importance of Internet Access in Public Spaces


We live in a world today where broadband access is becoming increasingly necessary for attaining jobs, expanding innovation and remaining globally competitive. Even in an iconic city like Philadelphia many residents are struggling to gain basic access to technology. Based on findings from a 2011 poll from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Knight Foundation, 41 percent of Philadelphia households lack access to the Internet. Some experts have argued that this number could be as high as 55 percent. According to a report released last year by IBM and the city of Philadelphia, it