This is Why Kids Need to Learn to Code


Proclamations like ‘kids need to learn to code!’ may be accurate but, without some context and conceptual unpacking, they can be rather unhelpful. Thankfully, fellow DMLcentral contributor Ben Williamson has done a great job of problematising the current preoccupation with coding by asking questions like: “What assumptions, practices and kinds of thinking are privileged by learning to code? Who gains from that? And who misses out?” In many ways what follows builds upon these ideas so it’s worth reading Ben’s article first if you haven’t already. Along with the landscape issues identified in Ben’s article there’s a couple of

The Crisis in the Humanities and STEM – and Why We Must Recreate Higher Education


Here’s the punchline: The humanities in the U.S. are in crisis for the same reason that STEM is in crisis – not because of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).  And vice versa.  The crisis comes from declining or at least stagnant numbers of students in these areas.  Faculty members are panicking and making snide, demeaning, and sometimes insulting comments about one another instead of coming to terms with the basic issue of why students today aren’t flocking to these subject areas.  To my mind, therein lies one of academe’s biggest problems.  We’re better at defensively placing

How Can We Make Open Education Truly Open?


I have spent the last month being unpopular. I have been in conversation with many ‘Open Everything’ activists and practitioners. At each instance, we got stuck because I insisted that we begin by defining what ‘Open’ means in the easy abuse that it is subject to. It has been a difficult, if slightly tedious exercise, because not only was there a lack of consensus around what constitutes openness, but also a collective confusion about what we mean when we attribute openness to an object, a process or to people. It was easy to define openness as

Beyond the MOOC: ‘Reclaim Open Learning’ Winner Jaaga, A Creative Community Space


The initiative to Reclaim Open Learning launched a competition that was covered here at DMLcentral to recognize projects that were transforming higher education with innovative uses of technology and learner-centered programs.  As Anya Kamenetz argued, publicity for the project recognized the need to get beyond the headlines and “move beyond the MOOC” to highlight new approaches to the “course” part of massive open online courses and divert some of the attention being paid to companies such as Coursera or Udacity that were quickly standardizing formats that did little to effect substantive reform to more creative experiments

Programming Power? Does Learning to Code Empower Kids?


The idea that young people should learn to code has become a global educational aspiration in the last few years. What kinds of questions should digital media and learning researchers ask about these developments? I want to suggest three approaches: first, to take a historical look at learning to code; second, to consider it in political and economic context; and third, to understand its cultural dimensions. The importance of learning to code is expressed in catchy slogans and ideas like Douglas Rushkoff’s “program or be programmed,” and the view that if you are not working on

What Counts As Learning?


I have recently contributed to a new issue of the Bank Street occasional papers. The issue is called “The Other 17 Hours: Valuing Out of School Time” and explores recent attention to the meaning and nature of learning during the time not spent at school. My essay describes some of the research I am involved with as part of the Connected Learning Research Network and examines how learning is constructed and enacted in six different kinds of families in London. By showing that who defines learning in domestic contexts and on what basis, I argue that

How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension?


Although electronic texts have been with us for many decades, in the past few years electronic reading has become increasingly popular. The ready availability of mobile, connected devices like smartphones and tablets, along with dedicated ereaders like the Kindle and Nook, have moved electronic reading out from behind a desk into the environment. This change has brought increasing attention to the differences between reading in print and reading via digital devices. In a recent article in Scientific American, Ferris Jabr argues that “paper still has advantages over screens as a reading medium,” claiming that “most studies