Hacking The Classroom with Michelle Cordy, aka, “Teacher on an Urgent Quest”


As soon as she joined one of my online courses and immediately embraced co-learning, I recognized Michelle Cordy as the kind of fearless learner who makes a great teacher. A teacher can do a great deal to facilitate the conditions from which learning communities emerge – but only the learners can make the real magic happen. In my ten years of teaching face to face and online, I’ve discovered that the sine qua non of the truly magical co-learning experience is a lead learner or two – people who will try the activities and read the

“Making is a stance toward learning”: Sylvia Libow Martinez


Messing with Makey-Makey, tinkering with Arduino, building robots or creating wearable art are not primarily about teaching electronic skills, problem-solving, or technological literacy – although those can be benefits of the maker revolution in education. Messing, tinkering, building projects that actually interest learners is about developing skills of autonomous learning, cultivating an appreciation for and fluency in using learning communities and experienced guides, and practice at thinking big. “Making is a stance toward learning that puts the learner at the center of the educational process,” is how Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager put it in

Learning from a Life in Software


In this post I want to think about our intimate relationship with various kinds of software as a way of understanding the development of skills and practices. I want to take the unusual approach of telling the story of a ‘creative life in software’ – building on Brigid Barron’s development of ‘techno-biographies’ as a way of gaining insight into learning over time and across contexts. I want us to think beyond the more self-evident fact that engaging with software is crucial in the development of all sorts of individual capabilities and competencies to how we might

Fanfiction, Capitalism and Draco in Leather Pants


Earlier in the semester, I found myself lecturing to a class and having students in my Young Adult Literature course take notes about “Draco in Leather Pants.” Stay with me. Along with contemporary books like Gossip Girl and classics like The Outsiders and Go Ask Alice, my undergraduates at Colorado State University and I looked at how online environments in the past decade have transformed the world of teen literature. For readers of this blog, such a focus shouldn’t be very surprising. Discussions of the Harry Potter Alliance and John Green’s legions of nerdfighters highlight the

Libraries as ‘Sponsors of Literacy and Learning’: Peeling Back the Layers


In my last two posts, I have reflected on a rationale for looking at the work of libraries through Deborah Brandt’s concept of sponsors of literacy as well as the philosophical and practical imperatives for libraries to examine the forces and ideologies that shape their work.  As libraries begin to examine the ways they function as sponsors of multiple forms of literacy and to consider the kinds of literate practices that are privileged and marginalized, a checklist or inventory of questions for consideration is needed as a starting point for peeling back the layers of influences.

Rethinking the ‘Race Between Education and Technology’ Thesis


This year my research team has been pouring over qualitative data that we collected over a year-and-half period from Freeway High School (previously referred to as Texas City High School in earlier posts), the site of our fieldwork in the study of ‘connected learning.’  Several themes related to young people’s adoption of digital media, the role of technology in schools, social inequality, and the future of learning have emerged from our fieldwork.  For instance, we have thought a lot about the social distribution of new forms of learning in the digital age, especially the skills and