Advancing Access for Digital Youth with Disabilities


“Disability is central to the human experience,” writes Meryl Alper in the opening chapter of her book, “Digital Youth with Disabilities.” The report summarizes how children with disabilities use media for social and recreational purposes and identifies areas where more research on the topic is needed. “At one time or another, those of us who are ‘temporarily able-bodied’ will become disabled, whether as part of the aging process or unexpectedly at any age,” says Alper, a USC doctoral candidate in communication. “People with disabilities have the same human rights to live with dignity and self-worth as

Hackerspaces and Homeschooling: Making ‘Startup Schools’


The rapid growth of learning to code clubs, makerspaces, hackerspaces and even makercities has been remarkable. It’s fairly logical, then, that the focus for various coders, makers and hackers has switched back around to focus on education and learning itself. We’ve learned to code, hack and make new stuff, why not code, hack and make a new kind of education? Neo-unschooling A recent article entitled “Hacking Education” in Wired makes the case that many coders, hackers and makers are now choosing to educate their own children through the DIY logic of digital making. It profiles a

The Computer Ate My Homework


The family computer recently stopped working. This wouldn’t be the end of the world normally, however, my oldest son’s second-grade classroom implemented a new homework policy. Instead of having homework on paper, all homework is done on the computer across three sites. This new policy was implemented because it makes the homework “smarter.” The difficulty of the work can automatically adjust as the student improves. A report is sent to the teacher right away, letting her know how long it is taking the student to do the work. She gets a readout that can compare the

‘Our Common Core’


What if we trusted students as a default and dealt with transgressions when and if they come up? What if we gave them web-accessible devices without filters but taught them common sense and used transgressions as teachable moments? What if we even gave learners of every age a bit of agency in the shaping of their own curriculum — above and beyond recess and show-and-tell? My own 10 years as an instructor of undergraduates and graduate students have been an ongoing lesson in how much more we all learn when learners know they are trusted. Ira

Is the Maker Movement Equitable?


The title of the article from The Atlantic stopped me in my tracks as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed: “Why I am Not a Maker.”  I was perplexed. Why would someone not want to engage in the fun, creativity, and imagination of the maker movement? Within the connected learning and DML communities (at least my involvement in them), making has always had a positive connotation, bringing with it the possibility of turning teaching and learning toward a focus on producing new things/ideas instead of simply consuming the status quo. But, perhaps I was ignorant

The Reader in Digital Humanities


The Reader in Paradise Lost DIgital Humanities  When Stanley Fish wrote his magnificent treatise on the role of the reader in John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost, he was making an argument that the real fallen angel, lost in sin, in Milton’s retelling of the Christian myth, was the reader. Fish argued that the epic was not about Satan or Adam or Eve, but about the reader, who was taught the lesson, every time s/he was attracted to the poetic splendour or to Satan or dismayed by the cruel acts of God. Fish successfully argued, that the reader was

Taking a Leap of Faith


In my previous DML blog, “Striving for New Ways to Learn How to Learn,” I wrote about co-learning as the heart of the connected learning experience. We have heard quite a bit about the limits of the “sage on the stage” approach and the dawning of new affordances in teaching with the “guide on the side” model. It goes without saying that a changing relationship to authority and hierarchy in the classroom is no small feat. It can certainly induce anxiety for all involved — the teacher must relinquish familiar control, the student must claim learning

Defining a Participatory Critical Literacy


The screen in the room offered the expected prompt: “What is your definition of critical literacy?” The familiar scratching of pen to paper could be heard throughout the auditorium as ideas were being generated. There is a strange dissonance to sit in a full room and silently write (like with a pen and paper!) for five minutes. Yes, today’s modern conference is one often obsessed with a backchannel. (Watching Obama’s State of the Union two weeks ago, I spent nearly the entire speech staring at my twitter feed and engaging in dialogue; Obama’s main-attraction content mainly