How to Teach Self-Directed Digital Media


The digital world has many moving parts, and bringing it into the classroom can seem overwhelming, both for the instructor, and the student. Once it gets broken  down to the pieces that are relevant to the learning outcomes, however, it becomes a bit more manageable, at least from a planning standpoint, for the instructor. For the student, without the proper framework for success, it can still seem pretty overwhelming. Most students are in multiple classes where there is little to no overlap between instructors. Teaching styles, material, technology, and subject are all disjointed. When a digital

How a Digital Pen is Turning a Museum into a Library


Right now, in New York City, a digital pen is turning a museum into a library — a 21st century library, that is. And, its potential impact across civic and cultural spaces offers considerable lessons for those interested in participatory and digital learning and the future of museums. If, like me, you work in a museum you’ve probably already guessed what I am talking about, as it’s all the buzz: the newly renovated Cooper-Hewitt’s Pen. The Cooper-Hewitt is the Smithsonian’s design museum located in NYC within the stately Andrew Carnegie Mansion. After a six-year renovation project,

What’s ‘Value Added’ About Tech Tools in the Classroom?


I always cringe when educational pundits talk about evaluating teachers according to “value-added” assessment models, as if the value that teachers offer their students could be easily quantified or evaluated according to any standardized metric. Conversely, I am not averse at all to interrogating the value that digital tools bring to teaching and learning in classrooms; in fact, I think the connected learning community needs to speak up and encourage this conversation, considering the mad rush among many school districts to acquire technological resources without sufficient discussion about or planning for how these tools will enrich

Designed Equity: Reflection on Youth-focused Game Jam in South Central LA


In his concluding remarks during his DML 2015 session, “Designing Classroom Equity: Connected Learning and Co-Designed Research from Across the National Writing Project,” DML Conference Committee member and Columbia University Professor Ernest Morrell noted: “Technologies are tools; love is a foundation; humanity is the end.” Dr. Morrell’s note pushes educators to move beyond an idolization of digital gadgetry and think purposefully about what work related to connected learning looks like in sustained execution. To this extent, while I spent most of the last week in downtown Los Angeles basking in the inspired scholarship on display at

Reformatting Traditional Literature


Young faculty who came of age at the same time that social media emerged are beginning to experiment with new containers for old curricular vintages such as English composition. Michael Stewart, lecturer in English at Brown University, is rethinking traditional forms more radically than simply recasting traditional literature in digital media formats: “What happens when we take the form of a dictionary and use it for other, hopefully nefarious purposes? How can an essay be a waltz? How can we rethink the movement of one sentence to the next? If I write an essay in a

Speculative Design for Emergent Learning: Taking Risks


As I look in the rear view mirror at this past semester, I marvel at the grand experiment of my #WritingRace class at Kean University that I blogged about as we embarked on our journey. I decided to take co-learning one step further. When I first met my fantastic group of graduate and undergraduate students for this course, I announced that they were in charge of their own learning outcomes. I also mentioned that there was no prescribed syllabus for the course.  Rather, they would design their own syllabus as they considered their collective goals. Along with

DML History and Future: Share Your Story


What is DML (digital media and learning)? Where does it come from and what might its future look like? And, what has it meant for those involved? Every movement has stories to tell. Every field has one or more founding narratives. This year, a new “#DML2055 — DML in Action” thread at the DML Conference will give us all an opportunity to share our stories; the stories that shape this field and movement. To get us started, we invite all participants to share their own DML story (Why are you connected with DML?) using the #DML2055

Making Education as Machine-readable as Digital Data


Data have long been used to manage education. Data appear to make the messy complexity of schools and schooling more easy to understand, and help policymakers in their decision making. Now, with the rise of “big data” and associated data processing, mining and analytics software, a new style of digital education policymaking is making education increasingly machine-readable. In particular, education policy is now being influenced to a significant degree by the design of the devices through which educational data are collected, calculated, analysed, interpreted and visualized. As a result, schools and classrooms are being configured as

Summer of Minecraft and the Magic of Peer Mentorship


One summer day when he was 12 years old, my son declared with delight that his application to join a prominent Minecraft server had been accepted. He had discovered this server through the Machinima.com “Top 5 Minecraft Creations” series, which featured the winners of challenges like building castles or gardens. He started at the bottom of the ladder in the server hierarchy, gradually earning his right to a larger plot of land, and learning from some of the best builders in the scene along the way. Eventually, he became an accomplished builder and redstone specialist. Now