The Power of Decentralization in the MOOC


Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four blogs on digital technology. Nishant Shah’s Annotation: In the last entry, I had suggested that instead of connectedness, what we really need to think about, in connected and digital learning, is the idea of distributedness. I had argued that the role of technology in MOOC environments is that of consolidation, and it is the act of consolidation that allows for the distributedness of learners, teachers, and resources to be sustained. Building upon this conversation, my colleague Mariam Haydeyan at the Leuphana Digital School, uses the

Advancing New Forms of Scholarship in Writing


I continue to think a great deal about how new media has grown the possibilities of our collective academic work. As the director of a Masters in Writing Studies Program at Kean University, I often reckon with how our traditional forms of scholarship are merely one reference point when considering how to produce and create new knowledge. As a result, I have for some time been a proponent of a more expansive sense of what writing might entail in the 21st century, and I have often spoken about “Writing-as-Making.” The digitized and computational environments of our

The Role of Technology in Digital Learning


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of four blogs on digital learning. In their accidental and ironic hit Youtube song, “What does the Fox say?”, the Norwegian band Ylvis, who first produced it as an “anti-hit” production, takes up a school-book primer describing all the different noises that animals make, and make a critical intervention in this taxonomy of school-room sounds: But, there’s one sound that no one knows, what does the fox say? The viral hit song has been adopted by many different user-movements, who have used it to draw attention to

Book Lacks Digital Reading Details


The goal of “Words Onscreen,” Naomi S. Baron’s new book, is to account for the ways that “digital reading is reshaping our understanding of what it means to read” (p. xii). Baron argues that “digital reading is fine for many short pieces or for light content we don’t intend to analyze or reread,” but it “is less well suited for many longer works or even for short ones requiring serious thought” (p. xii). While Baron largely does an excellent job surveying the changes that new technologies have introduced to our reading habits — her demonstration of

Seeking the Next Steve Jobs


Most practitioners and education researchers argue that digital divides are still the biggest obstacle to ensuring that diverse populations of youth have a shot at becoming the next Steve Jobs. Among these divides are gaps in students’ digital skills. For example, studies find that teachers do not equally teach the same digital skills in Internet use, online collaboration, and digital production. But school technology rollouts in recent history suggest it’s more than just about skills. When in 2013, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) signed a $30 million deal with Apple to buy iPads for its

Setting an Agile School Rhythm


When I moved out of the classroom a few years ago, one of the things I missed immediately was the imposed rhythm of the school year. There’s something inherently useful about knowing everyone’s on the same page. Staff and students alike know what’s coming next, with peaks and troughs of activity evident through a glance at the calendar. Over recent years there have been moves which, for better or worse, could alter this imposed rhythm. An increased focus on personalisation, more opportunities for blended/flipped learning, and concerns about student regression after the long summer break, mean

A Call for Algorithmic Studies


Digital technology and its modes of production, representation, distribution, and circulation remodel the conditions of possibility: the definition of Being, the structuring of the Social, the instrumentalization of the Political, the animation of the Cultural. They re-tool — and in many ways manufacture anew — the very nature of life itself. Even Bruno Latour and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, among others, comment on the growing indistinguishability between humanity and animality, a binary which the technological unhinges. Digital technologies create this third condition with the human and the animal in its developing sensorial capacities and evolutionary “smartness”; in its taction to our flesh and fusion with our skin

Eating Robots: Data Diets and Hungry Algorithms


What do robots eat? Contemporary digital data analytics systems feed on a diet of data produced through human activity. Through this feeding, robotic machines receive the informational nutrition required for their own development: to become smarter, more aware of their environment, more responsive and adaptive in their interactions with people. By eating human data, robots are learning. Feeding Societies The claim that we now live in a consumer society has become commonplace in academic research. People have become voracious consumers, but also, through their participation in social media environments, present themselves as desirable commodities for the