Learning Pathways: Descriptive or Prescriptive?


A few months ago, in a post entitled Scaffolding Web Literacy Through Learning Pathways, I differentiated between training pathways (“a series of steps that lead to the individual being able to reproduce knowledge or action”) and learning pathways (“experiences lead[ing] to the re-shaping of… future behaviour”). Descriptive/Prescriptive In this post, I want to dive deeper into learning pathways, dividing these types of pathways into broadly two groups. There are those kinds of pathways that are descriptive and those that are prescriptive. Neither of these labels is pejorative, as each could be appropriate given a particular context. This way of looking at learning

Let’s Ban Bans in The Classroom


It’s starting to seem like there is a new ritual being performed at the beginning of each new semester: debating the use of technology in the classroom. In these debates, “technology” almost never means all human-made tools — I’ve yet to read an earnest blog post calling for a ban on pencils in the classroom — but rather portable electronics, most notably the laptop. Perhaps the most prominent voice calling for a ban on laptops is that of Clay Shirky, a new media scholar. Last fall, he posted an article to Medium explaining why he forbids

Teaching Urban Digital Literacy Outside School, Part 1


Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series highlighting different programs that teach digital literacy outside of school. Under the auspices of the Mayor’s Office of New York City, Global Partners Junior is an “online international exchange program that connects New York City youth ages 9-12 with their peers around the world.” It also is devoted to teaching digital fluency skills for the transnational communication made possible by the Internet. Students “research facts about their communities and international cities, exchange messages on a password-protected website, and share multimedia projects and video greetings.” Partner cities include

Assessing, Measuring Connected Learning Outcomes


Although the preponderance of publicity about Massive Open Online Courses has focused on well-funded enterprises such as Coursera and Udacity, and superstars of what is mostly an online version of a lecture course, such as Sebastian Thrun, those of us who have been excited about the potential of MOOCs for a more student-centric, discursive, networked, peer-driven kind of course look to pioneers such as Jim Groom, Jonathan Worth, Anne Balsamo, Michael Wesch and Gardner Campbell. These pioneers don’t have the mainstream fame that the venture-backed edupreneurs have attracted, but educators in the thick of connected learning,

Learning with Twitter Chats and Socratic Seminars in Virtual Spaces


My fellow librarian Jennifer Lund and I had the opportunity recently to partner with IB Theory of Knowledge teachers Dan Byrne and Dr. James Glenn. Our instructional design challenge was to think about how we might help students process the first chapters of an advanced text, “The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why” by Dr. Richard Nisbett. Inspired by our previous efforts with Socratic circles and Twitter chat with Emily Russell’s language arts classes, we all agreed this medium would help us meet our student learning targets. After two short meetings and one extended planning session,

World as Platform…


Editor’s note: The following post is a summary of a provocation delivered at the Umeå University HUMlab’s “Genres of Knowledge Production” conference on Dec. 10, 2014. (Watch video, starting at 14:18) 1. Platforms That from which we act and project, the grounds of work, productive and representational. Platforms are usually presumed to be steady, stable, solid platforms, then are taken for granted, the givens of production and performance, the base or basis — infrastructures, some would say — of knowledge production and circulation/distribution, availability and access. 2. World as Platform First, platforms are presumed to be flat (though of course they

Designing a More Connected World


It has become increasingly clear that youths’ experiences in schools do not match the kinds of experiences they are likely to have once they have completed school. The push to support “21st century” skills stems from this mismatch, and many have advocated for ensuring that young people learn to think about the world not as a simple set of cause-and-effect experiences, but rather as a set of complex systems. I and a team of colleagues decided to explore the possibilities of enhancing youths’ systems thinking through powerful learning principles found in design. What we came up

Mobile Money, Financial Literacy and Learning Through Digital Media


The fact that a cellular telephone can transmit the value of a particular currency from one party to another may be increasingly obvious, given the rise of specialized digital money services in the United States, such as Square or Apple Pay. Around the world, mobile money does much more than signal access to disposable income or brand name consumer electronics; it can quite literally ensure survival for people on the bottom of the economic pyramid.   For example, adult family members in developing nations often are dependent on the income of migrant workers who send remittances home

Mobile Learning Futures


The United States Census Bureau has been tracking computer use since 1984 and the use of the Internet since 1997. Not surprisingly, much has changed over that span of time. Even though use of computers and the Internet has spread, gaps still remain. In its most recent study the U.S. Census (November 2014) reports that household computer ownership and Internet use were most common in Asian and white households, in high-income households, and in households that report high levels of educational attainment. When the study turns to handheld computer devices these patterns are turned upside down. For example,