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,


Semi-automated Luxury Parenting

Monday, January 09, 2017 Comment doll house furnishings

The toy company Mattel recently announced a wi-fi speaker-based voice assistant for children. Known as Aristotle, the toddler-proof alternative to Google Home or Amazon Echo is planned for launch this summer. Designed to live in the child’s bedroom, Aristotle can answer children’s questions and act as a “smart baby monitor,” but it also has sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence capacities to augment and automate the complex task of parenting. Is this just a helpful gadget for family life, or a sign of a new kind of AI nanny state where smart systems will be performing


How Brazilians Practice Crap Detection

Thursday, January 05, 2017 Comment The “de-manipulator pen”: it shows how headlines should really be written if telling the truth Source: instagram.com/canetadesmanipuladora

Howard Rheingold says in “Net Smart” (2012) that we all should practice media literacies while online, especially when using social media. With all the issues involving fake news, it seems that critical thinking as a digital literacy is most important. The so-called “crap detection” gets each day harder to use properly when there so much misinformation available. As the rest of the world, Brazil has faced it during the last year, mostly after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in August. Soon after, as Michel Temer became president, social media posts for and against his policies exploded. Brazilians started


Watchworthy Wednesday: What Does Miami Sound Like?

Wednesday, January 04, 2017 Comment miami

For 100 days, Jan. 31-May 12, residents of Miami can contribute their own sound and video clips to the New World Symphony (NWS), America’s Orchestral Academy, as part of Project 305. The project will use selected submissions to compose an orchestral work and accompanying video that will be performed by the NWS on Oct. 21 at the New World Center. Through a partnership between NWS, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and MIT Media Lab, the project is modeled after the collaborative City Symphonies created throughout the world by innovative and influential composer, inventor and educator Tod Machover. His Detroit


Fake News: Not Your Main Problem

Monday, January 02, 2017 Comment child drawing on newspaper

This headline may sound shocking, but I truly understand the urgent need to develop digital literacies in response to the fake news phenomenon. But, let me tell you, I live in Egypt, where “fake” news has been the norm for years. Orwell’s got nothing on us. A couple weeks ago, I tweeted this (and this post expands on that): Everyone's all about the fake news (which is important to tackle critically) but who's talking about preparing youth for the REAL news? — ℳąhą Bąℓi مها بالي (@Bali_Maha) December 14, 2016 I agree with Kris Shaffer, Mike Caulfield,


How the Occupy School Movement is Pushing Connected Learning in Brazil

Thursday, December 29, 2016 Comment students protest

It’s 7 a.m. and a high school student wakes up on a week day. Instead of getting ready to take the bus to school, he is already there with his classmates. This is a common scene at Brazilian public schools. Students have taken over their schools as part of the protest movement called Ocupa Escola (Occupy School in English). The movement launched at the end of 2015 when the government of the State of São Paulo decided to close 93 schools and reallocate more than 311,000 students. At that moment, high school students started taking over their own schools and


Watchworthy Wednesday: Opportunity to Provide Computer Ed in K-12 Schools

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 Comment cs for all

Want to provide a computer science and computational thinking education project in K-12 schools? Teams of educators, researchers, community members and others interested in doing so are being offered the chance to be awarded 19 “CS for All” grants, totaling $20 million, from the National Science Foundation (NSF). “With this solicitation, the NSF focuses on researcher-practitioner partnerships (RPPs) that foster the research and development needed to bring CS/CT to all schools,” says Nichole D. Pinkard, founder of the Digital Youth Network and associate professor in the School of Design College of Computing and Digital Media at


Creating a Safe Space for Women in STEM

Monday, December 26, 2016 Comment zundl

As part of our continuing series that profiles members involved with the Center for Solutions to Online Violence, which was the recipient of funding from the Digital Media and Learning Trust Challenge, we interviewed Elaine Zundl of Rutgers University. “When we started on the project,” Zundl explained, “I was working at Douglass Residential College as assistant dean and director of a program for women in science called the Douglass Project.” At Douglass, she described how she often “heard first-hand from students about maker spaces or labs where they were harassed or treated badly.” She discovered that female


What World of Warcraft Teaches About Misinformation

Thursday, December 22, 2016 Comment world of warcraft screen shot

A recent study from Stanford University cited that 82 percent of middle schoolers can’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored news” and a real news story. The authors of the study cited that students need to be better trained in information literacy and use better information seeking strategies to solve this problem. This is a reasonable strategy but runs into issues with implementation. Teaching information literacy, the process of determining the quality and source of information, has been an emphasis of the American Association of School Librarians for decades. However, teaching of information literacy in school has declined as


Watchworthy Wednesday: CLA Debuts Newsletter

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 Comment new CLA newsletter on ipad

The Connected Learning Alliance has debuted a weekly e-mail newsletter, featuring updates from the blog of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and the greater CLA and DML community. Its mission is simple: to keep you informed about the latest news, opportunities and opinion from researchers, educators and innovators who are part of the movement for connected learning. Connected learning is learning that is social, powered by interests, and connected to opportunity, explains Mimi Ito, CLA co-founder. “The connected in connected learning is about putting people and equity first as technology becomes more prevalent in the lives of young


How Well are we Preparing Students for the Future of Work?

Monday, December 19, 2016 Comment comic strip

As a former history teacher, it makes me laugh and cry that so many prominent figures in education (especially education technology) have such a poor understanding of the history of their subject. Many, for example, assume that the school summer vacation was due to children helping get the crops in. Not so. Similarly, the factory origin myth of compulsory education is almost entirely made-up. We’re fond of post hoc explanations that allow us to quickly get onto the point we really want to make. If we sidestep Ivan Illich’s (fairly compelling) arguments that we should be


The DigitalLearningification of Museums

Thursday, December 15, 2016 Comment Child looks through VR glasses

This past October, I had the pleasure of presenting in Irvine, California at the new home for the Digital Media and Learning Conference on digital learning at museums. With my colleagues Eve Gaus of The Field Museum and Rik Panganiban of the California Academy of Sciences, we tried to identify the leading trends we’ve seen emerging in recent years, given our different vantage points as advocates for digital learning in our respective museums. Playfully titled “The DigitalLearningification of Informal Learning Centers: Lessons from Three Museums,” we tried to make the case that museums are unique and


Watchworthy Wednesday: Survey Analyzes Plugged-in Parents

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 Comment parent screen time

While 8- to 18-year-olds are clocking in lots of screen time, their parents are doing the same if not more, according to a new survey, measuring parental media use. The study by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that provides parents, educators and youth with information to help with navigating media and technology, found that parents of teens and tweens spend more than nine hours a day looking at their screens. Of those parents surveyed, 78 percent believe they are good media and technology role models for their children. “The great news is that the report shows


Care and the Teacher’s Role

Monday, December 12, 2016 Comment classroom

In my last post, I drew from my classrooms to suggest that the biggest challenges that the emergence of new political structures of hatred and vengeance posit is to our pedagogies. Finding a vocabulary and framework to express the formation of a political conscience and a voice in the classroom is tough enough because it often requires the researcher to investigate some of the most personal, private and naturalized assumptions about themselves and the world that they live in. When this is accompanied by a persistent system that rewards that which they see and experience as wrong,


Critical Civic Innovation in Action via PhotoVoice

Thursday, December 08, 2016 Comment tweet

In the wake of last month’s election, many Americans of all backgrounds are fearful about the direction in which the U.S. will be heading under President-elect Trump in areas ranging from education and healthcare to immigration and LGBTQ rights. This fear is accompanied by shock among some about the ability of so many of this country’s voters to explicitly or implicitly support xenophobia, racism, and misogyny. But, to many members of underprivileged communities whose histories are marked by oppression and marginalization, shock is the province of the (racially) privileged who are having their vision of America and