Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Systems and the Learning Brain

Monday, May 30, 2016 Comment hand holding multi-colored wires

New ideas about artificial intelligence and cognitive computing systems in education have been advanced this year by major computing and educational businesses, including Pearson and IBM. Pearson’s promotion of AI reflects its growing interests in data analytics and other digital methods while IBM is seeking to extend its existing R&D on cognitive computing into the education sector. AI has been the subject of serious debate recently. High profile figures including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk have voiced concern about the threats it poses, while awareness about cognitive computing has been fueled by widespread media


Dear Future President

Thursday, May 26, 2016 Comment three girls composing letter on ipad

As the candidates and the media concentrate on issues that matter to voters in this election season, how can young people engage and have a voice? Young people should have a say on the issues that matter to them, their communities, and our country. How can we support our youth to participate as productive and active citizens? This post is an invitation to support youth voice and civic participation through “Letters to the Next President,” an initiative that empowers young people to voice their opinions and ideas on issues that impact them. Join teachers and mentors


Childhood and the Pursuit of Meaning in Today’s Connected World

Monday, May 23, 2016 Comment Group of London-based students in school uniform

Most adults reckon they know about children because they were one once. This is a strange kind of qualification. First of all, there is a tendency to universalize childhood as if the child you were once can stand for all children. Secondly, the childhood you experienced is for all its similarities to the ones being lived today, structurally, materially and existentially quite different. My colleague, Sonia Livingstone, and I spent a whole year with 28 13- and 14-year-olds trying to get a grip on what it means to grow up in London in the second decade of the


The Power of Debate as Form of Civic Communication

Thursday, May 19, 2016 Comment Empty podium on stage

In the popular imagination, debate is usually perceived in one of two ways — as a stuffy academic exercise (think policy wonks) or a raucous shouting match (think recent Republican presidential debates). Urban educators across the country are working to change these perceptions and re-cast debate as a creative and critical means for middle and high school students to develop and express their opinions about matters of social concern — in the process bolstering their academic, socio-emotional, and civic skills. I have been fortunate enough to be part of the New York City debate community for over a


The Construction of Civic Identities in Pop Culture

Monday, May 16, 2016 Comment Beyonce Knowles singing

“I said, ‘Well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles.’ ” — “Excursions,” A Tribe Called Quest A fever dream in 15 steps. This past weekend, Ukrainian singer Jamala won the globally popular 2016 “Eurovision” Contest. A turn from the saccharine love ditties that often take the competition, the winning song, “1944,” is a harrowing narrative of historical deportation of under Stalin’s soviet regime: When strangers are coming They come to your house They kill you all And say We’re not guilty Not guilty A week earlier, the album “Hopelessness” by Anohni was released. Its


Schooling Silicon Valley

Thursday, May 12, 2016 Comment close-up of computer hardware components

Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies, startups and venture capitalists are “the centre of a techno-economic revolution” that is “now spreading outwards across the world, with major societal effects and implications,” argues Alistair Duff in a new article. Surprisingly little research has been conducted on the Silicon Valley workers whose labor and learning contributes to this revolution. Here, I try to piece together some sense of how education is being organized in Silicon Valley as an initial attempt to answer the question: how are the forms of knowledge, skills, practices and ways of thinking that contribute to a


Full STEAM Ahead: Remodeling Learning

Monday, May 09, 2016 Comment students working on a small electric car

Yes, it’s relatively easy to introduce technology and to experiment with project-based learning. It’s not so easy to change the law, norms, and practices that are so strongly associated with high schools in the U.S.A. (for example, sequester students on school grounds five days a week), which is why Justin Bathon added a law degree to his education credentials. Dr. Bathon, associate professor at University of Kentucky, Director of Innovative School models and leader of STEAM Academy, in Lexington, Kentucky, is interested in “the ‘code’ of education which includes things like the legal structure upon which


Meet ‘The Class’

Thursday, May 05, 2016 Comment Four teenagers looking at smartphone screens while sitting

Our book is about a class of 13- to 14-year-olds at an ordinary urban secondary school in London, England. It is a famously tricky age, difficult for parents and teachers, and for the young people themselves. In conducting the research, we became increasingly curious about what young people want, how do they see the world, and how do they find a path through the opportunities and constraints they face?


Introducing New Book Series: ‘Connected Youth and Digital Futures’

Monday, May 02, 2016 Comment Book Series Collage of book covers for 'Any Media Necessary' and 'The Class'

Building on research supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative, a new series “Connected Youth and Digital Futures,” is debuting its first two books — By Any Media Necessary: The New Activism of American Youth and The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age. This series offers books that describe the ways that the day-to-day lives and futures of young people are being reconfigured at the intersection of civil and political reform, transformation in employment and education and the penetration of digital technologies across all domains of social and personal life. Why


3 Types of EdTech Baggage: Toolsets, Mindsets, Skillsets

Thursday, April 28, 2016 Comment sketch of man stuck under baggage saying "baggage? What baggage?"

Anyone with a background in technology integration will, of course, be familiar with the diffusion of innovation curve. This is a method to explain the way that different groups of people will react to new technologies. It’s useful, but tends to be used in a very two-dimensional way — as if people will always react in the same way to something new placed in front of them. In particular, I think using the diffusion of innovation curve in a simplistic way can leave out that the adoption and use of technologies has an affect on the


Equitable Connected Learning Requires Diverse Research Perspectives

Monday, April 25, 2016 Comment Andrew Slack sitting at table at DML Conference

As a former high school English teacher in two large, urban school districts, I completely understand how educators, parents and policymakers who are wrestling each day with the most pressing issues facing public education — standardized testing, the effects of poverty on learning, opportunity gaps — might be a bit impatient with educational theory and research. Is this new theory about the intersection of culture, politics, and digital media going to give me the answers about how to help my most struggling students today? If not, it can wait. My students need me right now. So,


The Politics of Reticence: Beyond Number Games

Thursday, April 21, 2016 Comment People standing under a large LGBTQ flag

Politics by numbers is a funny game. It allows for large structures like universities to reduce the question of diversity, plurality, dissent, and acceptance into quantified rubrics of access, inclusion, and representation. So that universities can often build coherently diverse groups, where the markers of identity tick the boxes of conformity and resemblance to diversity ideologies, but more often than not, these tick marks are ways to gloss the reinforced cultures of containment and the persistent poetics of silence. In the last two blogs, I had looked at #DalitLivesMatter, as arising from the politics of despair,


Air-B-N-Me: Self Representation in the Digital Age

Monday, April 18, 2016 Comment Computer-generated image of two women dancing in ballroom dresses

Is your real life anything like your online version of it? How have open networks and social media shaped our perceptions of both ourselves and others? The politics of representation in the digital age continue to shed provocative light on the divide between what is real and what is represented. In my current New Media Studies class, my students and I have found it useful to consider this question by investigating the idea of “filtering” — a concept that Jill Walker Rettberg writes about extensively in Seeing Ourselves Through Technology. Filters may refer to both the


New Coke and Transforming American Public Schools

Thursday, April 14, 2016 Comment Coca Cola bottles lined up

In April of 1985, the Coca-Cola Company announced it was changing the recipe that had been used for 99 years and would now produce a new and improved product. When New Coke came on the market, Coke was the No. 1 soft drink in the U.S. Nevertheless, the executives in Atlanta felt it was time to innovate and make a good product even better. If the company was expecting plaudits, it was badly mistaken. New Coke was met with overwhelming opposition from Coke drinkers. Protests sprang up throughout the nation. People hoarded bottles of “old Coke” and


Opening Learners’ Minds

Monday, April 11, 2016 Comment illustration by Nick Sousanis of mermaid and sewing needle

If you agree that the best teachers help students learn how to think, Dr. Nick Sousanis’ extraordinary hybridization of words and images, “Unflattening,” ought to be one of your texts. Indeed, “unflattening” struck me as an ideal metaphor for the results an ideal teacher should expect: the opening of learners’ minds to new ways of seeing the world as well as the acquisition of knowledge. Written as an Ed.D. dissertation for Columbia University and published by Harvard University Press, “Unflattening” combines words and images that not only tell but show how visual perception actively shapes our understanding of


Reassessing Collective Intelligence

Thursday, April 07, 2016 Comment Donald Trump's campaign manager grabbing reporter's arm

“@MichelleFields you are totally delusional”: Collective intelligence in 2016 Back in 2005, Tim O’Reilly, publisher and technology pundit, posted an essay describing “Web 2.0.” In it, O’Reilly attempted to describe what had changed about the internet since the early 2000 tech bubble and what had become called “Web 1.0,” the first generation of the  business-oriented, public web. One of the changes of Web 2.0 that O’Reilly identified was “harnessing collective intelligence,” using the group features of the web to develop new smart products. One effect of this collective intelligence, “turning the web into a global brain”


Designing Youth Participatory Action Research Pathways: Bringing YPAR to DML

Monday, April 04, 2016 Comment graphic design for DML Geekout Day workshop, Designing Youth Participatory Action Research Pathways

Sometimes when you are immersed in a community and surrounded by friends with like-minded interests, beliefs, and ideas, you begin to forget that an entire world that does not understand your lingo or share your experiences exists outside that community. I re-learn this lesson often in the context of the Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) community. I feel so fortunate to have been invited to share my YPAR experiences across multiple audiences over the past few weeks. I participated in an Educator Innovator webinar alongside several members of the UCLA Council of Youth Research to discuss


Mockingbirds and Thing Explaining: Knowledge Shared and Consumed in Today’s Classrooms

Thursday, March 31, 2016 Comment composite image of two book covers: 'Thing Explainer' and 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Let’s talk about how knowledge is valued and dispersed in schools today: last week, two stories percolated in online media that related to the kinds of texts that students will encounter while in schools. First, notable web comic author and best-selling author Randall Munroe’s work will be excerpted in forthcoming textbooks for high school students. As the author of the recent “Thing Explainer,” Munroe’s simplistic illustrations function exactly as their title implies; using basic vocabulary and clear line art, Munroe’s book explains things. From a submarine (i.e. “Boat that goes under the sea”) to the Large


Speaking for the Oregon Trail Generation: Meet the Center for Solutions to Online Violence Team

Monday, March 28, 2016 Comment 11/03/15 - BOSTON, MA. - Scenes during the Sex, Gender, and Justice event held in the Raytheon Amphitheater at Northeastern University on Nov. 3, 2015. Photo by: Emma Putnam AMD'17/for Northeastern University

Moya Bailey brings her enthusiasm for transforming the digital humanities and her interest in asking critical questions about basic conditions for digital community engagement to her position at Northeastern University. Bailey has been an integral member of the #transformdh hashtag campaign to promote digital inclusion efforts to prioritize born-digital materials and complicate the potential meanings of “access” to technology.  As a core team member of the newly founded Center for Solutions to Online Violence, which received start-up funding from the recent DML Trust Challenge, she has been seeking innovative approaches to combatting the online sexism and racism that terrorizes


Reading as a Social Act

Thursday, March 24, 2016 Comment young girl reading book while standing in front of other books

It’s commonly acknowledged that writing is a social act. What does it mean to write online? When we write in the digital age, we are writing to share and to connect. But, what about the act of reading? I open this reflection by quoting myself from a prior DML post: These days, the role of the reader is much like the role of the learner (in a 21st century digitized context). I see a kind of inherent transformation in both of these roles. Reading used to be a more solitary act, bound to a private and