Watchworthy Wednesday: iPadpalooza Pizzazz

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 Comment George Couros presenting keynote address

During the mini-keynotes at iPadpalooza over the summer, George Couros, author of “The Innovator’s Mindset,” talked about a kid who made a YouTube video, hoping somebody would see it. When he gets one “like,” he makes another video in gratitude and ends up going viral. “So, this kid totally reminds me of me when I was a kid,” Couros said. “A little bit awkward, a little bit chubby and just hoping he connects to somebody…. He makes a six-minute video to thank people all around the world for his one like. So, he goes on and


Hacking for Change

Monday, September 26, 2016 Comment young people hacking

In a recent trip to Sub-Saharan Africa, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent time seeing up close the country’s burgeoning technology and social innovation-driven ecosystem. During his visit to countries like Nigeria and Nairobi, Zuckerberg visited a coding camp for children, vibrant innovation hubs, and several tech companies. He also sought to learn more about what makes Kenya the world leader in mobile money. Zuckerberg met with a number of young tech entrepreneurs who are toiling away, striving to remake Africa’s economy, boost civic life, strengthen education, and raise public health standards. According to Zuckerberg, “Africa is where the future


Virtually Connecting at #2016DML

Thursday, September 22, 2016 Comment dml2015

I am pleased to report that the upcoming Digital Media and Learning Conference (to be held at the University of California, Irvine on Oct. 5-7) is slated as rich ground for Virtually Connecting!   Virtually Connecting is a connected learning community that is reshaping the ways we think about professional collegiality. In a traditional model of professional development, conferences have always been the key location to build conversations and connections. In the era of the conference hashtag and the meeting back channel, claims have been made that it is easier to keep up with conference conversations,


Watchworthy Wednesday: Brokering Learning Opportunities

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 Comment Brokering

A new initiative — Building Youth Pathways in Computer Science and Digital Making (CS-Paths) — has been launched in an effort to support teens in computing and digital making programs. CS-Paths, a partnership between the Hive Research Lab (HRL) and the Hive NYC Network, asks: “How might we support young people to pursue computing and digital media pathways that go beyond a single program experience?” The answer: through brokering learning opportunities. This kind of brokering is the practice of a caring adult such as a teacher, counselor, peer, librarian or volunteer helping a young person connect


‘Compojing’: Writing with Emoji for Fun and Profit

Monday, September 19, 2016 Comment emojis on pillows

Over the past year and a half, I have been working closely with a group of researchers and teachers in Northern Colorado on a co-designed curriculum project called Compose Our World. While there is plenty to share about that project at a future date, today I want to talk a little bit about composition practices within our online communication tool, Slack. Specifically, I want to talk about “reactions” within the platform. While many readers may be presently using or are familiar with Slack, what I most appreciate is how seamlessly it moves communication from text to


Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own

Thursday, September 15, 2016 Comment arm

I must have about 10 domain names. That’s a lot less than some people I know, but 10 more than most people. Two of the domain names are those that I own on behalf of other people (my children) while the rest are for various projects and things I’ve done over the years. My doctoral work neverendingthesis.com is on one of them. I’ve got projects I share with other people (tidepodcast.org). And, of course, I have a canonical domain which includes my first and last name (dougbelshaw.com). Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through


Watchworthy Wednesday: New Series Features Extraordinary Women

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 Comment Feminist Frequency

Emma Goldman was born in 1869 in Russia. When she was 15, her father tried to force her to get married and when she refused, he threw her French grammar book in the fire. At 16, she left her homeland, immigrating to the United States where she discovered her calling as a political revolutionary. Her story comes to life as narrated by Anita Sarkeesian, in this just-released video series, “Ordinary Women Daring to Defy History” by Feminist Frequency: “The Revolutionary Life of Emma Goldman” is the first of five videos in the series, telling the stories


A Conversation About Screen Time

Monday, September 12, 2016 Comment kids and screens

I raised a millennial who is now in her 30s. We dealt with the fact that she did her homework while engaging in multiple instant-message conversations and watching television in the background. Her response: “When I stop making straight As in school, maybe it’s a problem.” I’ve talked a lot about my conversations with my daughter about “crap detection” and search engines, which were just coming of age around the time she started using them for middle school research. In those olden days of the early 2000s, smartphones, SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, weren’t issues. The territory is


Critical Educational Questions for Big Data, Part 2

Thursday, September 08, 2016 Comment server

I started a list of critical questions for big data in education earlier this week. This is a big topic, raising lots of big questions and serious topics and problems for further debate and discussion. Here, I focus on questions about big data ownership, divides, algorithmic accountability, issues about voice and literacy, and, finally, ethical implications and challenges of big data in education. Who “owns” educational big data? The sociologist Evelyn Ruppert has asked, “who owns big data?” noting that numerous people, technologies, practices and actions are involved in how data is shaped, made and captured.


Watchworthy Wednesday: The 5 Most Needed 21st Century Skills

Wednesday, September 07, 2016 Comment CharacterDay

As the third annual Character Day approaches Sept. 22, the nonprofit Let it Ripple Film Studio will be featuring “The Adaptable Mind,” an 11-minute exploration of the five skills we need most to flourish in the 21st century. Webby Awards creator Tiffany Shlain, who founded Character Day, co-founded the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and leads Let it Ripple, uses Twitter to pose a question at the beginning of the film: “What’s a great example of a 21st century mind in action?” She receives hundreds of responses and focuses on the one from Los


Critical Educational Questions for Big Data

Monday, September 05, 2016 Comment computer wires

Big data has arrived in education. Educational data science, learning analytics, computer adaptive testing, assessment analytics, educational data mining, adaptive learning platforms, new cognitive systems for learning and even educational applications based on artificial intelligence are fast inhabiting the educational landscape, in schools, colleges and universities, as well as in the networked spaces of online learning. I was recently asked what I thought were some the most critical questions about big data in education today. This reminded me of the highly influential paper “Critical questions for big data” by danah boyd and Kate Crawford, in which


Generic v. Specialized Tools in Assignments

Thursday, September 01, 2016 Comment popcorn

I would like to share my thinking process for designing an assignment for my class this semester and hopefully this will be beneficial to others as well. I have an idea to ask my students to create a simple empathy game that is a choose-your-own-adventure type of thing, which is also sometimes called interactive story/narrative. Two great examples are SPENT (take on the role of a poor person in America) and the BBC’s Syrian refugees game where you pretend to be part of a Syrian family fleeing to Europe. There are a variety of tools students


Watchworthy Wednesday: Empowering Youth Through Writing, Digital Media

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 Comment ywp-banner

Four 16-year-old Muslim-American girls are getting their stories heard through slam poetry. Thousands of other young people are sharing their hopes, fears, aspirations and observations, too, as part of the Young Writers Project. YWP, a nonprofit organization based in Burlington, Vermont and founded 10 years ago, is dedicated to helping youth develop the confidence and communication skills needed to shape their world via creative writing, performance and visual and audio mediums.  “We develop effective methods to help youths explore their own ideas, share with peers and mentors and present best work to affirming audiences,” says Geoffrey


Parent Choice: Using Data to Justify Decisions that Perpetuate Segregation?

Monday, August 29, 2016 Comment pre-school classroom

As a researcher of urban education and parent of a child entering public pre-K in New York City this fall, my professional and personal interests converged this past year as I visited schools and poured over school performance data, along with every other parent of a 3-year-old in the city. I practically squealed with pleasure when the Department of Education released its newest data tool, the School Performance Dashboard. The Dashboard makes the process of at-a-glance school comparison that much easier, at least for parents conversant in the languages of data and quantitative measurement, who are


The Contradiction of Borderless Technology in a Border-Filled World

Thursday, August 25, 2016 Comment cars at U.S.-Mexico border

As I am slowly making my way through an analysis of the mission statements and strategic technology plans of the United States’ largest K-12 public school districts, one thing is becomingly increasingly clear to me — nearly every district is striving to prepare students to be “21st century ready,” but none define what exactly this means. Instead, what they are doing is throwing around terms like “global citizenship” or “21st century economy” to stress the necessity of new investments in pedagogical models (e.g. blended learning) and digital infrastructure. I’ve realized that education policy discourse (particularly when it


Watchworthy Wednesday: Spreading Storytelling Through Photography and Connecting Educators

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 Comment Student takes a photo with a mobile device

As a documentary photographer, Andrea Birnbaum is a storyteller. But, she emphasizes, “I am very aware that I cannot tell other people’s stories for them. I can only show my perspective on what I see in the world.” So, when she discovered Phonar Nation, the online photography class immediately appealed to Birnbaum, also an educator, as it teaches students how to tell their own stories. Designed by award-winning photographer, Jonathan Worth, Phonar Nation was built to be taught from a mobile device for a mobile device user, and it’s an open course that any student can


Teaching Computational, Abstract Thinking

Monday, August 22, 2016 Comment computer chip

Visual programming languages and programming as a learning tool are old dreams, rooted in the late Seymour Papert’s creation of the Logo programming language for children. Lately, many promising variants — all of them based on visual rather than command-line interfaces — are popping up: Scratch, a successor to Logo, has been evolving in the MIT Media Lab’s “Lifelong Kindergarten;” Google has entered this arena with Blockly, “a library for building visual programming editors;” UC Berkeley’s Snap focuses on robotic control, as does Roberta. Many of these are powerful learning instruments, but because they run in


The Situational Approach to Learning with New Media

Thursday, August 18, 2016 Comment A situational approach to learning: electronic reading and pencil and paper writing

The topic of whether or how children should use new and emerging technologies for learning is evergreen, particularly as the new school year commences. I’ve written in this space before about reactions to tools for electronic reading and writing, and I’ve begun to notice that commentators on these subjects adopt a few different approaches for discussing learning with new (and old) media. I call them the nostalgia, work habits, and the situational approaches. Nostalgia Approach The nostalgia approach tends to focus on personal and emotional connections to books. When this approach is evoked, advocates note their


Watchworthy Wednesday: Connecting Hip-Hop and Coding

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 Comment teen codes hip-hop dance move

How can young people use coding to express their interests in areas such as hip-hop dance? To explore this question, Progressive Arts Alliance and the MIT Scratch team will host the Hip-Hop and Scratch Coding Summit, a two-day workshop for educators and program leaders to learn about creative pathways into computing. The summit, to be held Oct. 21-22 in Cleveland, Ohio, will bring together a diverse group of people who lead programs for young people, especially for youth in underserved communities. Forty participants will be chosen on Sept. 5, so there’s still time to apply. The summit


A Learning Life: How Connected Learning Might Work Over Time

Monday, August 15, 2016 Comment Korean pop group sings on stage

In my last blog, I talked about Learning Identities, Education and Community: young lives in the cosmopolitan city as an example of an attempt to study connected learning in action — catching the process of travel across learning sites and focusing on the process of building a learner identity. In that study, we paid particular attention to how participants in Oslo in Norway constructed narratives about themselves to suggest an almost existential meaning for the choices they made about education such as which school to attend, what courses to follow. How individuals “storied” themselves, what forms of