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


Redesigning Civic Education for the Digital Age

Thursday, August 11, 2016 Comment teens using a tablet

“Ms. Tate asked the ninth graders in her social studies class in Oakland to choose a contemporary issue related to a social movement they had studied and to develop their own Taking Action Plan. One student used Facebook to show her peers that feminism is still relevant today. On her Facebook page, she circulated links to information and thought-provoking memes about the status of women in today’s society. Another student produced a music video about marriage equality that she circulated to her networks on YouTube in order to raise awareness about gay rights. The ease with


Watchworthy Wednesday: A Dreamer’s Guide to College Funds

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Comment Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca with her DREAMer's Roadmap app

Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca would not be studying at Cañada College in Redwood City, getting ready to transfer to a four-year college and major in political science and communications, were it not for the help of a scholarship for undocumented students. Unable to apply for federal student loans because of her status and discouraged by naysayers, she thought it would be impossible to go to college, and she knows many other undocumented youth feel the same way. (About 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year in the U.S.) That’s why she created DREAMer’s Roadmap, a


Deconstructing Disneyland: An App-Based Media Literacy Experience

Monday, August 08, 2016 Comment Deconstructing Disneyland

If Pokémon Go marked the beginning of the era of mass-market Augmented Reality Games (ARGs), Deconstructing Disneyland may mark the beginning of ARGs as mobile media literacy education tools. Media scholars, game designers, technologists, educators, and students at Brigham Young University are finishing an “immersive mobile app that encourages users to critically engage with the popular theme park, expanding their media literacy skills while enhancing their Disney experience.” associate professor of design Brent Barson, student Chris Bowles, associate professor of media arts Jeff Parkin, and assistant professor of media arts Benjamin Thevenin plan to present their


Engaging Introductions for First Day of Class

Thursday, August 04, 2016 Comment gold-colored water drops

One of the things I always try to do at the beginning of class or even a short workshop is give participants opportunities to start building community — and this means that introductions should be engaging for everyone! Here are a few I have tried myself. Collaborative/Connected Introductions I recently tried this approach in a workshop on scholarly collaboration, that I called “collaborative introductions” but can better be called “connected introductions.” I think it would work well for any classroom context, even very young kids. It goes like this: As I introduce myself, I highlight elements of myself


Watchworthy Wednesday: Expounding on Educational Equity

Wednesday, August 03, 2016 Comment cla-equity-banner

Schools are just one place where learning takes place. Education can also be had at libraries, after-school programs, summer camps and online. In fact, today’s abundance of technological resources provides myriad learning opportunities. But, not all youth have the chance to take part, due to barriers such as access and cost. This Connected Learning Alliance video addresses educational equity and how connected learning can help close the access gap. It’s based on research evidence, proving that “we need a learning ecosystem that challenges inequality by empowering people to create opportunity together. The tools of the digital


From ‘Connected Learning’ to ‘Learning Lives’

Monday, August 01, 2016 Comment kids walking to school

It’s too late now but having worked with the Connected Learning Research Network for some time now, I wonder whether the concept of connected learning should really have been called connecting learning on the basis that our interest is about forging links, crossovers and travel across and between the activity of learning rather than thinking of learning as a static body (or bodies) of knowledge. Finding ways to capture and theorise the linking process or activity is, of course, not easy. At the same time, as I have worked with the Connected Learning Research Network, I have been


Augmented Wearables and the Future of Museums: An Update

Thursday, July 28, 2016 Comment mixed reality

A year ago, I wrote “Augmented Wearables and the Future of Museums” for DML Central. Back then, most everything was in the conceptual realm. Tools were not yet for sale and most weren’t even available yet for developers. Boy, has a lot changed in one year (and I’m not even talking about Pokémon Go, which I did write about here a few weeks ago). When I was a kid, no baseball game was complete without a box of Cracker Jacks. I still feel that way. A few weeks ago, at a game with my family, I


Watchworthy Wednesday: Check Facts With Crap Detection Resources

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 Comment magnifying glass on newspaper

Want to know if someone plagiarizes a speech? Is the content on a website copied from another website? Do those song lyrics sound familiar? What about those statements? Have they been stolen from books, articles or other public documents? Has a photograph been manipulated? Suspecting minds should check. And, DML Central’s most prolific and highly respected blogger Howard Rheingold shares a guide, listing more than 100 helpful websites he calls “crap detection resources.” His constantly updated and curated list includes sites that can: instantly verify whether a celebrity is dead or alive; research statements made by


Digital Media as Interactive Textbook

Monday, July 25, 2016 Comment museum patrons using tablet in museum.

Recently, I was a guest on the Meanwhile in the Future podcast on an episode titled “Flash Forward,” speaking about digital media and education. While speaking with Rose Eveleth, the host, I said something that’s sort of stuck with me in terms of thinking about what the roles of media and communications are in digital media. I do not believe that it can ever replace the classroom space and I worry about all the edtech efforts that are so heavily invested in the attempt to do just that. Loss of other senses and effect on critical


Amino One Makes Bioengineering Useful, Easy to Learn

Thursday, July 21, 2016 Comment bioengineering lab workshop

A chemistry set was a big part of what first interested me in science, back in the 20th century. Today’s scientist of tomorrow has the opportunity to play and learn with a bioengineering set! Yes, you can safely experiment with genetically altering bacteria to create your own pigments and more. It’s called Amino One from AminoLabs — a “laptop size Personal Bioreactor and Transformation Station” that enables learners to experience safe hands-on bioengineering — and make personally useful products. Personally, as a painter, I can’t wait to engineer bacteria to create my own pigments. Julie Legault, CEO


Watchworthy Wednesday: How Pokémon Go Promotes Learning Opportunities

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 Comment Pokémon Go players

In barely two weeks, the virtual reality game Pokémon Go has attracted millions of players. Now, educators are pondering whether the game can be used to promote learning. Three blogs — Aside, Discovery Education and EdTech — are nodding indeed. “Harnessing student excitement of this game can easily be used to support all kinds of fun and pedagogically-sound lessons and activities,” writes Discovery Education’s Kathy Schrock. She offers a number of resources educators can use to create lessons. Among her observations: “The journal component of the game automatically records the time and date of the events as they


Anything but Beautiful and Maidenlike: The Online Civic Engagement of Brazilian Women

Monday, July 18, 2016 Comment Women protesting in Brazil

In 2010, we Brazilians elected our first female president. Dilma Rousseff was re-elected in 2014. Today, she awaits her impeachment trial by the Senate as Vice President Michel Temer assumes her duties. Since Temer took over as interim president in mid-May, he has made unpopular decisions that are impacting the way people react to his new government. During his first days in office, Temer eliminated nine ministries, including the Ministry of Culture. He also put an end to the Union General Control, the institution responsible for overseeing and making transparent the government’s public accounts. And, he replaced all of Rousseff’s


The Secret Sauce in Pokémon Go: Big Data

Thursday, July 14, 2016 Comment Pokemon Go screen shots

Unless you’ve been holed-up in a cave playing Minecraft, you’ve heard about (and possibly even played) the new augmented reality (AR) mobile game sweeping the globe, Pokémon Go. For sure, AR can be exciting and compelling, when properly designed, offering us an experience of co-presence with a virtual character or object. And, it’d be understandable if you attributed Nintendo’s success to its use of the AR camera. But, you’d be wrong. The game’s AR succeeds, in fact, because it turned big data into a game. With Pokémon Go, we are offered the opportunity to pretend our


Watchworthy Wednesday: Music-making Revolution

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 Comment Girl creating music on Looplabs

Today’s stars are born on YouTube, Vine, Instagram and SoundCloud, and people are expressing themselves more than ever through social media using the written word, photographs and video. Musical expression, however, remains massively underserved, according to Craig Swann, co-founder of Looplabs, a cloud-based music studio that offers a free online collaborative production platform that allows anyone to create anywhere with an internet connection. Looplabs’ mission “is to help the world create, share and discover music together,” Swann said. “We’re quickly approaching 100,000 users since launching late last year in public beta. We have top users from 8