Defining Digital Media, Museum-based Learning Connection


Clive Thompson is a longtime contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired. I recently had the opportunity to bring him to my office in the American Museum of Natural History, tour the dino halls, and explore how his new book — “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better” — can help us understand how digital media can support museum-based learning (read full interview). At the end of our tour, we explored what his book has to say about Connected Learning and work funded by

Recasting the Bullying Narrative


Youth media production is often seen as an admirable way to help underserved K-12 students find voices in their communities. With the advent of more accessible multimedia technologies and the means for sharing production practices on social media, traditional after-school programs with computer labs are changing — sometimes in response to the wishes and needs of young clients and sometimes in response to the agendas of donors.  A unique research partnership at the University of Washington Bothell in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences division is examining how certain kinds of public messaging may be promoting particular

Addressing Race, Inequity Issues Through Social Media Power


The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. began dominating the national headlines instantly. One of the biggest factors, as Newsweek’s Elijah Wolfson points out, was the use of social media by the residents of Ferguson as well as those sympathetic to the concerns about hyper-aggressive police tactics. Speaking about Ferguson, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes told a New York Times reporter, “this story was put on the map, driven, and followed on social media more so than any story I can remember since the Arab spring.” Amidst the surge of social media, a number of journalists reported on what they perceived

The Case for Open Courses in Higher Ed: Q&A with Connected Learning Educator Kim Jaxon


Kim Jaxon is interested in having her students “do the thing,” which, she says, means that she’s less interested in preparing them for some later occupation or activity, and more excited about having them “participating right now in ideas that matter to them right now.” The Chico State assistant professor of English is one of a stellar group of open-learning pioneers who I met when they gathered at UC Irvine over the summer to create “Connected Courses,” a free online course for higher education faculty members to learn how to offer their own open online college

Channeling Engelbart: Augmenting Human Education


Gardner Campbell not only teaches the ideas of Doug Engelbart — the visionary who invented the mouse, hypertext and many more of the digital tools so many people use every day — he understands that Engelbart’s technological attempt to “augment human intellect” also ought to be a central goal of pedagogy. Fortunately, as vice provost for learning innovation and associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Campbell is in a good position to pursue this goal in practice. If, as Engelbart insisted, digital media should be seen as means of helping individuals and communities think

Wolf Sharks, Energy Drinks and Learning Standards: Reflections from White House Education Game Jam


It’s 6:30 Sunday morning and the loft-like space that houses the educational software company Difference Engine echoes the metronome like taps of a ping pong ball flying across the table. It’s not clear how much the Rovio team members (the trio from Finland that were partly responsible for unleashing Angry Birds upon the world) have slept, but their energy has yet to slow as they move steadily into hour 20 of intense programming. This is what happens when you throw a bunch of game developers and educators in a room and encourage them to make better,

What We Miss by Comparing MOOCs to Traditional Classrooms


“They hear a program about sea creatures, another about the North Pole. Werner’s favourite is one about light: eclipses and sundials, auroras and wavelengths. When they find it, Werner feels as if he has been launched into a different existence, a secret place where great discoveries are possible, where an orphan from a coal town can solve some vital mystery hidden in the physical world.”— Anthony Doerr, “All the Light We Cannot See” (2014)  Perhaps imagining vivid worlds unlocked by new knowledge is a romantic notion or perhaps not. Movies and novels depict hallowed halls at Oxford,

Looking to South Central L.A. for Back-to-School Inspiration


The past few weeks have yielded the sleepy grumbles of students, parents, and teachers alike as the school year begins anew. In preparing for my own school year, and the dozens of future teachers I’ll be learning with over the year, I was struck by the kinds of innovations that my colleagues are engaged in all across the country. While a question the DML community must revisit throughout the year, I am starting my year off by asking myself: What are the key principles for integrating digital media, connected learning, and fun within a school year?

Addressing Trust Challenges in Connected Learning


Any learning is inherently risky. The second we enter spaces to learn stuff, we are acknowledging that there are things we don’t know and that we trust the environment, place and people we are learning with and from to help us fill in those knowledge holes. By entering learning spaces, we are agreeing to form a community around the knowledge attained. We go through this process socially, even if only in a time-constrained environment like a museum. We do all of this without questioning the risk because we’ve come to some sort of social contract that