Big Data, People’s Lives, and the Importance of Openness


Openness has become the buzzword for everything in India right now. From the new kids on the block riding the wave of Digital Humanities investing in infrastructure of open knowledge initiatives to the rhetoric of people-centered open government data projects that are architected to create ’empowered citizens’, there is an inherent belief that Opening up things will make everything good. I am not an Open-data party pooper. In fact, I firmly believe that opening up data – through hardware, through software, through intellectual property regimes on content – and enabling access to information and data is

Privacy, the NSA and Web Literacies


I work for Mozilla. We were one of 86 civil liberties groups that signed an open letter demanding swift access from Congress in the light of recent revelations around NSA surveillance. The website StopWatching.Us has seen a surge in people signing up to find out what they can do to campaign for a more visible, transparent and accountable government. I’m a UK citizen. This does not make me exempt from this story. In fact, it makes it even more relevant for ‘foreign nationals’. The NSA has admitted to routinely surveilling those outside US borders – in other words, people like me.

Wanted: A New Generation of Problem Solvers


It has been more than a decade since Marc Prensky popularized the term “digital natives” to describe young people’s inherent connection with digital technologies, and while students may be able to successfully navigate these technologies to accomplish everyday tasks, researchers such as Ugochi Acholonu are exploring the extent to which this theory holds true when it comes to a student’s ability to innovate using technology.   Acholonu tested this theory by asking a group of community college students, ages 18-20 who had grown up in technology inclusive environments, to complete a set of problems on paper.

MOOCs, Hype, and the Precarious State of Higher Ed: Futurist Bryan Alexander


Does it continue to make sense to go to college when the sticker price of a college education is soaring, the amount of debt college students are taking on – even for the non-elite universities and what were formerly affordable public universities – is severely constraining their choices post-graduation, and job prospects for new graduates are dismal? A year ago, I talked with Anya Kamenetz, who delved into these issues in her book, DIY U. Since then, the ballyhooed arrival of free MOOCs into this frightening intersection of economic, intellectual, and social forces has ignited debate

‘Making’ and Education Reform: Learning to Ride the Wave


At this moment in time, on both sides of the Atlantic, digital making and the maker movement is enjoying its time in the sun. A combination of policy concerns, technological developments, learning theories, social opportunities and articulate enthusiasts have come together and, although the maker movement is a bit of a minority sport, it seems to have broken through into the mainstream. In the UK, for example, there is a terrific program of support offering a range of activities from maker-faires to hacking events to coding clubs working with apps and mash-ups and the new pliable,