Teaching Surveillance


Across the US, schools are back in session. My university started back last week, and, as I usually do, I spent the first day of class discussing the syllabus, explaining to students my expectations for them and the course. When I do this, I always devote some time to explain the different digital tools we will use in the course and suggest additional tools students can use to make their lives easier. In this additional tools category, I like to emphasize the importance of backing up one’s data and in one of my classes I suggested

Literacies and Fallacies


As someone who inhabits multiple learning worlds in libraries and public schools, concepts of literacy–traditional and emerging–are central to my work as I think about pedagogies that inform literacy practices in these spaces.  Educational policies and curricular standards, economic factors, local and federal legislation, and political mandates are increasingly a driving force in the literacy practices championed by libraries (public, academic, K-12) and public schools.  As library and educational organizations craft programming and curriculum in response to traditional literacy mandates like grade-level reading as well as contemporary literacies like digital, new media, and information literacy that

Summer Reading: The Privilege, Petulance, and Passion of Steve Jobs


Like many, I spent part of my summer catching up on books I’ve been meaning to read and haven’t committed the time to do so during the rest of the year. Along with fun genre fiction, one book I finally picked up was Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Steve Jobs. I should note that I am typing this post on a MacBook Pro, that I regularly rely on an iPad Mini for writing while traveling, and that much of my leisure “reading” today comes from playing audiobooks (at double speed no less!) on my iPhone.

Unhangouts


Computers and the Internet are really good at copying information and sending it to lots of people at low cost. That’s why many of the recent innovations in online learning focus on packaging knowledge in the form of short video lectures, and sharing them online. Khan Academy and the recent spate of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are successful examples. They take the traditional model of instruction (sage on the stage) and scale it to vast audiences. But there is another approach to learning, that turns around the top-down model of instruction, and places the learner

Creative Solutions for Tablets and the Common Core


The recent international conference of researchers on human-computer interaction CHI 2013 in Paris presented the opportunity to survey current trends in the so-called “learning sciences” and to assess new methodologies for computer-assisted education (In 2010, DMLcentral covered the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles here). One of the up-and-coming HCI innovators, PhD student Derek Lomas, presented twice at the CHI 2013 conference, describing his experiences both in K-12 classrooms in the U.S. and in digital literacy projects in India.  Lomas agreed to an interview to discuss his experiences in PlayPower  and PlayPower Labs, now based at Carnegie

Super Awesome Sylvia


When I was ten years old, one television program was magical to me: Meet Mr. Wizard. Mr. Wizard was a friendly, knowledgeable old guy (he was probably in his 40s) who explained scientific phenomena to his young friends through various experiments and contraptions. At that time, the notion of science – of using knowledge to make things happen (blow up, emit smoke, become visible, change colors) – was as magical to me as Harry Potter’s magic wand was to a later generation. Chemistry sets for kids were still legal. I could buy potassium permanganate and glycerin

Teaching and Learning with Minecraft, Part Two: Sara Kaviar


When Sara Kaviar’s students study comparative religions, they don’t just read and view videos. They visit houses of worship, then recreate them in the Minecraft online sandbox and design games in their virtual world that test each others’ knowledge. For these students, the process of building and then navigating through models of physical churches, temples, and mosques gives them both a medium through which they can co-construct knowledge and a social environment that encourages collaborative learning. The pizazz of the technology many students choose to use even when their teachers aren’t encouraging it certainly plays a

How Software Sees Us


How we think about digital media is paralleled by how we think about learner identities. What kinds of learning identities are being promoted for an anticipated future in an increasingly softwarised society? About ten years ago, the designers Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Igoe asked the question “how does the computer see us?” The striking image of a hand with one finger, one eye, and two ears that they produced as a response to this question—a simple yet weirdly obscene finger-eye-being—reminds us that the technologies we create carry built-in assumptions about the people who will use them.