Extending Badges


At the beginning of this month, the Badge Alliance published version 1.1 of the Open Badges specification. This is a technical reference for developers. However, it has exciting, far-reaching pedagogical and social possibilities that are worth highlighting. In this post, I want to explore just a couple of these: mapping and endorsement. Mapping The Open Badges specification has always included a standard set of metadata fields that organisations use to issue badges. These include things like: Name: what the badge is called Description: what the badge is for Criteria: what individuals have to do to earn

Parenting in a World of Social and Technological Transformation


As educators, policy makers and community activists look to build more equitable futures, a considerable amount of attention remains focused on families, especially parents. Families represent an important node in the learning ecologies of children and teens. When parents are able to connect their children to resources, material and immaterial, they provide substantive support in the pursuit of academic (i.e., higher grades) and non-academic (i.e., character building) outcomes. Moreover, when the home can serve as a rich and vibrant space for learning through inquiry, curiosity and play, the social and educational payoffs can be immeasurable. But,

Why Theory is Practical


A recent editorial by Jason Ma in Forbes documents a fascinating array of experiential learning programs. While I am not against experiential learning, it concerned me that Ma made the case for this learning by placing it against theory. As he puts it: As a college student decades ago, I generally disliked overly theoretical and impractical courses without real-world references or applicability that were taught by professors with seemingly minimum experience working in the real world. I really enjoyed the more creative or practical ones taught by engaging professors who have experience outside academia. As his

Avengers, Privilege and Internet Nerdrage


I want to complain for a minute about a certain Hollywood superhero blockbuster. Then, I want to complain for a minute about people who complain about superhero blockbusters on the Internet. Hypocrite? Probably. (A brief note on the general plot of the film before moving on: there is another DML Central post that should be written about Hollywood’s depiction of evil artificial intelligence, mustache-twirling robots, education and Marc Goodman’s recent book, “Future Crimes.” However, I’m hoping someone else will write the ultimate Skynet et al., kiss-off instead of me.) Shortly after seeing “Avengers: Age of Ultron,“ I

Teaching The Humanities Online


So many online courses concentrate on hard sciences and practical skills. How about the humanities? Laura Gibbs, who teaches two purely online courses for the University of Oklahoma, most certainly qualifies as a humanities enthusiast: Dr. Gibbs, who I first met as “OnlineCrsLady” via Connected Courses, teaches purely online courses about mythology and folklore and epics of ancient India.  Dr. Gibbs blogs in Latin, translated Aesop’s Fables for Oxford University Press, and her LOLcats in Latin is probably her biggest Internet meme claim to fame. She is proudest of “a huge collection of Aesop’s fables in

Collaborative Thinking Through Writing, Libraries, Markerboards


How might mediums for writing in school libraries be opportunities to grow academic literacies for students across different grades and academic tracks? How might these opportunities to engage in both individual and collaborative writing experiences as pathways to academic literacies close participation gaps and make literacy as a social practice more visible to students and teachers (Kiili, Mäkinen, and Coiro 224)? I recently partnered with teachers Sean O’Connor, Dan Bynre, and James Glenn to incorporate writing literacies as part of larger inquiry activities for two very different classes: 9th-grade Language Arts and IB Theory of Knowledge. Formulating

Teaching Urban Digital Literacy Outside Schools, Part 3


World making or world building as a pedagogical activity emphasizes authoring entire environments and systems collaboratively rather than merely having students compose one discrete text at a time in isolation. A few years ago, DML Central covered the large enrollment college course of Wayne Yang at UC San Diego, which included a curriculum of graphic novels, video trailers, and live performances dramatizing possible dystopian outcomes that might emerge from present structures of injustice. Other sites in higher education also are experimenting with the world-building paradigm. For example, the World Building Institute at USC encourages experts in cinematic