A Call for Increased Critical Media Literacy in Schools


The racial profiling and racist treatment that followed Ahmed Mohamed’s clock, and the intense media punditry that buzzed and died out in typical fashion highlighted many powerful lessons for young people. And, while I’ve appreciated the ongoing dialogue about racialized perspectives of the maker movement and who gets to be seen as an innovator and who is profiled, the entire exchange: from a viral photo of young Mohamed in handcuffs to a trending hashtag to Obama’s invitation to the White House has been a crucial case study in the need for increased critical media literacy within

My Exploration of Connected Learning as a Framework for Teacher Education


I was living in Los Angeles in 2013 when the Los Angeles Unified School District began implementing its ill-fated plan to provide all of its 640,000 students with iPads. I am now living in El Paso, Texas, where the El Paso Independent School District just completed its (admittedly much smoother) roll-out of laptops for all of its 60,000 students. I could likely be telling a similar story regardless of where I lived considering the frenzy across the country to get devices into the hands of students. While I think the goal of providing equitable access to

Cursive Writing and the Importance of Teaching Skills


For most of the past decade, I have spent a week each summer reading essays by high schoolers in the Advanced Placement program. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend: They are getting easier to read. Not in the sense that the students are better at organizing their ideas or crafting sentences than they have been in previous years, but rather they are literally easier to read. This past year, while reading through my 100th or so essay one day, I realized why: Most of the students aren’t writing in cursive anymore. Of course,

Taking Another Look at the Digital Credentials Landscape


Recently, I’ve been having some interesting conversations about the digital credentials landscape. On the surface, it’s a bit messy. There are arguments over whether the term “Open Badges” should be used over the more generic “digital badges”; startups are talking about“‘micro-credentials”; and in my own work consulting with City & Guilds (an awarding body in the UK), we’ve been talking about “professional digital credentials.” In this post, I want to spend a little time teasing out the differences between the various terms and explaining why I think the diagram at the top of the post might help

Feeling Machines: The Psychopedagogies of Emotion-maximizing Media


It is now possible to measure and manage emotions through mobile apps and other digital devices. As part of my current research exploring the expert practices and knowledge base of the emerging field of “educational data science,” I have been gathering examples of educational technologies that are designed to both monitor learners’ emotions through data mining techniques, and also to manipulate their feelings. I term these “psychopedagogies” of emotional maximization that are based on insights from the psychological sciences and delivered through digital media. They are also part of a wider trend in the digital control

Selfie Pedagogy II: Internet Identity and Selfie Practices


As part of a series of blog postings exploring teaching and learning with selfies, it was logical to go next to Alice E. Marwick, Fordham professor and author of “Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age.” After all, Marwick was the one who published the Selfie Course online to make its open access materials available to other educators. As Marwick explained, “my big research interest is identity and the Internet in very broad terms, people’s self presentation and self expression, and how it changes when they have access to the very large

Where We Stand: A Decade of Digital Media and Learning


This October will mark nine years since the official launch of the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, at an event held right down the hall from my desk at the American Museum of Natural History (yes, we offer a lovely room you too can rent out). At the time, I didn’t work at the museum, but the path that eventually lead me here was very much paved by the innovations in digital learning advanced by the foundation in the years that followed. And, I suspect that journeys like mine, which benefitted immeasurably from the