Epic Learning: Large Class as Intentional Design

Thursday, February 23, 2017 Comment Jumbo class

Last October, I gave an Ignite talk at the Digital Media and Learning Conference called “Epic Composition.” Below, I offer a more extended look at the design and structures of my “jumbo” first-year writing course at California State University, Chico. Walking into our “jumbo” first-year writing course as an outsider can be a bit intimidating. The room is packed with people: 90 students, nine writing mentors, and the instructor. Students sit in new desks: rolling chairs with a bottom “saucer” for storing backpacks, a moving tray designed for a laptop. Students have nicknamed the chairs “George


Watchworthy Wednesday: Celebrate Digital Learning Day Feb. 23

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Comment kids using tech to figure out a puzzle

Students and educators nationwide will be taking part in Digital Learning Day (DLDay) tomorrow, focusing on innovative ways technology enhances teaching and learning. “In some classrooms and out-of-school programs across the country, educators are doing some pretty amazing things with technology,” according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. “Yet, these pockets of innovation are confined to a small number of schools and communities. Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.” As part of


Safely Guiding Students on Learning Journey

Monday, February 20, 2017 Comment classroom with teacher and students

I remember the first year I started teaching. It was exhilarating and confusing and led me to a mini-existential crisis of sorts that I imagine often when you walk into a class with a bunch of faces staring at you who assume you have all the answers and the key to their future. Why else would they be there? I had a conversation with a dear friend and I asked her the point of teaching. She said: “To remember that students don’t know what they don’t know, but that they are in that space to learn


Engaging Parents in After-School Programs

Thursday, February 16, 2017 Comment kids in after-school program

As part of the Leveling Up: Parenting study, a project of the Connected Learning Research Network at the DML Research Hub, I and my fellow researchers wondered: How can we help interest-driven after-school programs better engage with parents? Though we had spent a lot of time in these spaces interviewing and observing students and their families, we realized we hadn’t systematically talked to the educators and administrators in these spaces to get their perspective on what works and what doesn’t. We’ve just finished interviewing educators and administrators at a dozen interest-based after-school enrichment programs in Orange


Watchworthy Wednesday: Creating Connections Through Music

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 Comment concert

A simple informal invitation brought musician Laura Ritchie and a few of her University of Chichester students to California two years ago to perform and teach a few impromptu music lessons. She returned last year with different students and is back this month with three undergraduate music majors, delivering more formal performances and workshops for students of a high school and an elementary school in Santa Maria as part of their study. “We co-create the entire program, from writing the handbook, to deciding the hand-in dates, and planning the scope of the trip, and it’s different


Fighting for Critical Civic Education in Dangerous Times

Monday, February 13, 2017 Comment

The actions that Donald Trump has taken during the first weeks of his presidency have struck many Americans as shockingly antithetical to the values upon which our country was purportedly founded. Posts on Twitter note the terrible irony of refugees and immigrants being detained at our nation’s airports while our Statue of Liberty beckons the world to “give us your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Those outraged at the prospect of religious tests to enter the country ask, “didn’t we already find it self-evident that all men are created equal?” Statue of Liberty to huddled


Verified and Fake: Identity, Fear and SLAM School

Thursday, February 09, 2017 Comment

The Paradox of Verification A mundane media literacy concept specific to Twitter is the fact that the blue checkmark on individuals’ profiles means that they have been “verified.” Ostensibly, the statements funneled from such accounts could be trusted sources of information. However, as has been noted several years ago, a verified account and person behind it are not always one and the same. While there is a dizzying amount of swift policy change from the new Trump administration that makes me fret for the future of U.S. democracy, the quickly mounted resistance to his efforts have


Watchworthy Wednesday: About Frederick Douglass

Wednesday, February 08, 2017 Comment Frederick Douglass

Have you seen the Frederick Douglass memes all over social media? They mostly take aim at President Donald J. Trump for his brief comment on the first day of Black History Month this year. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job, that is being recognized more and more, I notice,” Trump said, leading people to speculate whether the president knows who Douglass was.  Douglass, the civil rights icon who escaped slavery and fought for human rights until his death in 1895, has been trending on Twitter and other sites as people


Travel Ban, Muslim Scholars and How to Help

Monday, February 06, 2017 Comment protestors protesting Muslim ban

Everyone is talking about the impact of the Executive Order from Trump to ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The big tragedy is, of course, families who are unable to be reunited. But, universities are also affected, and people are trying to do what they can to express their disagreement with the executive order: Arab students are unable to go back to their campuses. In solidarity, some academics are considering boycotting U.S. conferences. Several institutions are considering moving conferences to other places. For example, Digital Pedagogy Lab is considering creating an event


Augmented Reality and Learning in Museums

Thursday, February 02, 2017 Comment AR in museum

When I read Camillia Matuk’s The Learning Affordances of Augmented Reality For Museum Exhibits on Human Health, I knew I wanted to speak with her about AR and learning. Camillia is assistant professor of educational communication and technology at New York University (with a Ph.D. in the learning sciences from Northwestern University, an MSc in biomedical communications from the University of Toronto, and a BSc in biological sciences from the University of Windsor.) She does design-based research investigations to better understand how innovative technologies and learning environments can better support teaching and learning. Q: Camillia, thank


Watchworthy Wednesday: Awards Available for Scholars to Study Connected Learning Data

Wednesday, February 01, 2017 Comment Hive fashion

Digital media and learning scholars interested in analyzing connected learning data are being invited to apply for awards from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and UC Irvine. The data comes from the Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project, led by Richard Arum, dean of UCI’s School of Education, and postdoctoral scholar Kiley Larson. They gathered data on nontraditional educational practices employed by innovative schools, museums, libraries and community centers. “The project focused on studying a set of educational innovations that integrated digital media with progressive pedagogy,” Arum said. “Given the extent to which formal


Emotional Computing in Education

Monday, January 30, 2017 Comment emotional tech

Psychology has long played a role in education by providing the surveys and questionnaires required to monitor students’ attitudes, dispositions and habits of mind. Today, psychology is coming to play an increasingly prevalent role in schools through intertwined developments in digital technology and education policy. New technologies of emotional computing and big data-driven “psycho-informatics” are being developed to conduct new forms of mood-monitoring and psychological experimentation within the classroom, supported by policy agendas that emphasize the social and emotional aspects of schooling. Psycho-policy A significant emerging area of education policy development focuses on the measurement and


Call for Diversity in Ed Tech Design

Thursday, January 26, 2017 Comment cell phones

In late December, I attended an educational technology conference hosted at New York University. Rather than highlighting current research, the goal of the conference was to explore the future of the ed tech landscape through company pitches and think tank panels that focused on different areas of ed tech innovation. While the ed tech landscape isn’t known for its diversity, I was stunned at the lack of diversity in each session I went to. I was also dismayed as I heard the different people pitching and the think tanks discuss their imagined college student.  The student


Watchworthy Wednesday: New Book Questions Tech Assumptions

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 Comment ipad

“Giving voice to the voiceless” is a familiar phrase, says Meryl Alper, author of “Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality” (MIT Press, 2017). “It has Biblical origins, is foundational to journalism, and often describes technologies like civic media and open data,” she notes. “But, I’m looking at voice not just metaphorically (as self-expression and agency), but also alongside the more literal sense (oral vocalization). The popular press, as well as tech companies like Apple and Microsoft, have historically used the phrase to characterize non-speaking and minimally speaking individuals with disabilities (and youth in particular) as


Using Escape Rooms to Gamify Learning

Monday, January 23, 2017 Comment minecraft-escape-room-banner

Escape Rooms first came to America in 2012-2013 from Asia and Europe, quickly spreading across the country. As defined by Professor Scott Nicholson, “escape rooms are live action team based games where players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to accomplish a specific goal (usually escaping from the room) in a limited amount of time.” It should come as little surprise, but before long, innovative educators were adapting the escape room format for a wide-range of content. Last year, at Minefaire, I met Adam Bellow. Adam was honored


The Importance of Imagination: An Invitation

Thursday, January 19, 2017 Comment network narratives

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times recently quoted President Obama as he reflected on his Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books. “At a time,” Obama says, “when so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.” In today’s polarized environment, where the internet has let people increasingly retreat to their own silos (talking only to like-minded folks, who


Watchworthy Wednesday: Podcast Examines Human Rights Data Analysis

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 Comment Iraq body count

“Data is always lying to you… but, we can fix it, sometimes, maybe.” That’s how Patrick Ball, director of research for the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, opens his podcast, “Understanding Patterns of Mass Violence with Data and Statistics.” Published earlier this month, the podcast is part of Databites, a speaker series by Data & Society, a research institute in New York City that focuses on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development. The idea that observable data are the same as patterns of behavior is a “naïve model,” Ball says, adding that


Netprov: Storytelling as Performing Art

Monday, January 16, 2017 Comment netprov

I’m no longer surprised when new media trends turn out to be rooted in decades-old practices. Netprov — networked, improvised storytelling in available media — is a “new” media form that actually goes back to the early days of computer-mediated communication (decades before the term “social media” emerged). Improvised storytelling online was one of my early joys when I discovered text-only conversations on BBSs, Usenet, MUDs, Compuserve, The Source and the WELL in the early 1980s. At that time, I called the practice “writing as a performing art.” A comment thread sometimes started out as or turned into


Did Media Literacy Backfire?

Thursday, January 12, 2017 Comment map

Anxious about the widespread consumption and spread of propaganda and fake news during this year’s election cycle, many progressives are calling for an increased commitment to media literacy programs. Others are clamoring for solutions that focus on expert fact-checking and labeling. Both of these approaches are likely to fail —  not because they are bad ideas, but because they fail to take into consideration the cultural context of information consumption that we’ve created over the last 30 years. The problem on our hands is a lot bigger than most folks appreciate. What Are Your Sources? I remember a


Watchworthy Wednesday: Incarcerated Parents Connect With Kids Through Reading

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 Comment Mother and children read stories with incarcerated dad via video

“If you stare at a painting and do not see yourself there, paint your own portrait.” — Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, “Giant Steps to Change the World” At her neighborhood library in Philadelphia recently, an 8-year-old girl enthusiastically sang a couple songs, danced, shared jokes, discussed her birthday wishes and read several books with her incarcerated mom via video conference. The hour-long encounter, made possible by the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Stories Alive program, was the second for the mother and daughter. “She was so excited to see her mother again,” said Titus Moolathara,