The Importance of Working ‘Open’ in Education


Is working “open” the binary opposite of “closed” ways of working? Could it be that it’s as simple as flicking some kind of switch for your organisation or institution to begin embracing open working practices? Matt Thompson, a former colleague at Mozilla, doesn’t think so. Building on a post he wrote five years ago entitled simply “How to work open,” Matt has recently encouraged us to start small — using the metaphor of a dimmer switch to explain his point. Another metaphor we might want to use is of an elevator, as Bryan Mathers has used

Watchworthy Wednesday: Closing the Homework Gap


Franny Millen was in the 7th grade four years ago when she realized that many of her classmates couldn’t do their homework because they didn’t have a computer or internet access at home. To her, that was simply unfair and she and her family started a nonprofit organization, Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D), to help her peers. “As educators, we recognize that we don’t have digital equity in our community but to Franny, it was just not fair,” Valerie Truesdale, chief technology officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, recalled. “Some students could extend learning beyond

Schooling the Platform Society


Social media platforms have become key parts of everyday life. The use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Spotify and so on has become so widespread that some commentators have begun to speak of an emerging “platform society” and of “platform capitalism.” At the same time, we are seeing the development of new platforms for use in schools. What might be the impact on education of the emergence of a platform society and platform capitalism? The sociologists of social media Jose van Dijck and Thomas Poell have argued that “over the past decade, social media platforms have penetrated deeply

How to Socially Engineer Voluntary Integration


In my first blog post for DML, I proposed that parents in school choice markets interpret and act on school performance data in ways that reinforce racial and socioeconomic segregation. New York City public schools are growing increasingly racially segregated, even public pre-K, according to a recent report from the Century Foundation. Economic segregation is also increasing, particularly within the 100 largest school districts, which saw a 30% increase in economic segregation between 1990 and 2010. Meanwhile, 50 years of high-quality qualitative and quantitative research indicate that socioeconomically integrated schools are a win-win, leading to improved

Teachers Paying Teachers for Lesson Plans


Kacey Potter, 8th grade English teacher in Rice Virginia, has earned more than $150,000 over the past five years by selling her curriculum to other teachers via Teachers Pay Teachers — lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, activities, tests, thematic unit plans, worksheets, mini-courses. Facebook All About Me Back to School Activity is $1.50. An entire 7th-, 8th-  or 9th- grade curriculum is $145. “I started really getting into tech and teaching when our school first started using interactive whiteboards and I was the only teacher who could figure out how to use them. That snowballed into my blogging

Stretch Your Mind: Code


One of the most publicly prominent elements of the current interest in math and science education has been the adage that everyone should learn to code. When arguing for universal coding literacy, promoters often frame the benefits of coding as directly practical — a higher paying job, entry into an important industry, etc. In his thoughtful essay, Basel Farag explains how the direct connection between learning to program and earning a profit is separated by a few question marks. As Farag puts it: We live in an ultra-competitive world, with people turning to all sorts of

Watchworthy Wednesday: 2016 DML Keynote Recap


In case you weren’t among the nearly 500 people at the 7th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference last week at the University of California, Irvine, here are highlights from the keynotes. What is the Intellectual Culture of Games? Thanks to two factors that have emerged — mobile gaming and a healthy indie ecosystem — video games are in “the golden age,” according to games expert Constance Steinkuehler, presently a professor in digital media at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and co-director of the Games+Learning+Society Center at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery and soon to join the UCI

Why It’s Time to Let Go of ‘Meritocracy’


Meritocracy seems like an unassailable concept. Who could argue with a belief that the ‘brightest and the best’ should reach the highest levels in society? In a heavily class-conscious society (like England), meritocracy proves an extremely alluring way of looking at the world. The idea is so simple: we provide objective, universal tests and this avoids nepotism and entrenched privilege. Everyone, it is argued, has a path to the top. Recently, the Conservative government in the UK made it known that they were considering allowing new grammar schools to be created. This proves a controversial topic,