Making Learning Matter in the Digital Classroom

Thursday, February 04, 2016 Comment collage#2

In a recent blog post, I discussed the noteworthy success of a web-based course launched by a research university in a high-profile initiative that emphasized online access as much as digital education. As I pointed out, student evaluations are almost never universally positive about large courses, particularly required courses with many drafts due for projects that can feel like “busy work” to skeptical undergraduates. I interviewed the course instructor, Alexandra Sartor, in this blog post and wanted to follow up with the instructional designer, Ava Arndt, as well. A disclaimer is probably in order here, since


Online Literacy and the College Learner: Transfer Research and Technology

Monday, February 01, 2016 Comment ucsdlibrary

Recently, I wrote a post for DML Central about an online course that’s receiving unusually high course evaluations and is being offered by the Culture, Art, and Technology program at UC San Diego. It’s a course in which online literacy is both the form and the content of the assigned curriculum. The instructor, Alexandra Sartor, took time out from teaching for an interview with DML Central to talk about her experiences, teaching the course. She laughed about the fact that her ultimate achievement was probably having “almost no comments about the form of the course.” Despite the digital focus


The Boundaries of Data Collection

Thursday, January 28, 2016 Comment data-privacy

I want to take a moment to examine how data collection has changed for us who teach and assess students. In the digitally augmented classroom, there should be concern for both corporate privacy and interpersonal privacy. While we have limited control over the corporate tracking and data-collection that takes place, it is possible to allow varying levels of interpersonal privacy in the digital classroom. To make participation highly visible, down to seeing who contributed what line in a paper or slide in a slideshow, brings in echos of the dreaded panopticon. Often, when I speak to


Turning Digital Learning Into Intellectual Property

Monday, January 25, 2016 Comment 9990016123_b58fa297eb_h

The world’s largest publisher of educational textbooks and resources, Pearson, recently extended its work into digital media and learning. As well as producing innovative new digital learning resources and platforms, Pearson is also positioning itself as a major center for the analysis of educational big data. This has implications for how learning is going to be conceptualized in the near future, and begs big questions about how the private ownership of educational data might impact emerging understandings and explanatory theories of the learning process itself. The Big Data Gatekeeper Originally established in 1844, by 2014 Pearson


Listening to the Field: Lessons on Multimedia and Technology in English Classrooms

Thursday, January 21, 2016 Comment franki-tweet

While I know my DML Central blogging colleagues and I try to stay abreast of the educational, social, and economic implications of digital media on the lives of young people today, sometimes actually asking teachers what they use, learn with, and feel inspired by illuminates most brightly the role of technology in schools. As such, I was pleased when on Sunday, I was able to co-host a Twitter chat with many of my dearest friends from across the country: members of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). As a bit of background, I recently helped


#SlaveryWithASmile: How Twitter Can Raise Social Consciousness

Monday, January 18, 2016 Comment twitter-slave

I love Twitter. I love Twitter because it makes silly questions about dog pants go so viral that the President feels the need to weigh in with his opinion. I love Twitter because it allows me to follow the thoughts of all of the actors in my current theatrical obsession: the “Hamilton” musical. But most of all, I love Twitter because of its ability to bring stories to light from around the country (and around the world) that spark social and political dialogue. While some consider tweeting about social causes to be a form of “slacktivism” because


What Failure? Supporting a Succeeding UC Online Course

Thursday, January 14, 2016 Comment collage_v03

I’m certainly no starry-eyed uncritical worshipper of online learning. In fact, I have something of a reputation as a very frank critic, which was solidified with my book The War on Learning. This status as a skeptic is likely to be further reinforced with my new edited collection about “the MOOCs moment” that is slated to appear soon from the University of Chicago Press. So, it’s not surprising that I regularly get sent news items about bone-headed failures from people chortling about the obvious shortcomings of instructional technology in higher education. What has been disconcerting is


How Unplanned Learning Led to Online Book Group

Monday, January 11, 2016 Comment mooc-hr

Learning by stumbling upon things — and cultivating the ability to recognize when you’ve stumbled onto something valuable — can be amplified manyfold if you regularly look where people in your personal learning network are pointing. Focused, systematic, pre-planned learning is still a powerful tool in the learning toolbox but, sometimes, you need to put yourself into the position of stumbling upon and dipping into learning that you had not planned. Autumm Caines, for example, participated in focused, systematic learning as a master’s student (now graduate) at Ohio State University and associate director of academic technology


Museum’s MediaLab Explores Digital Innovation

Thursday, January 07, 2016 Comment met-medialab

I recently took a walk across the park from American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), where I work, to our sibling museum founded on the other side of Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. For the first time, I got to go behind the scenes and visit their MediaLab, run by Marco Castro Cosio. After the tour, I met with both Marco and Neal Stimler, digital asset specialist in Collection Information. Both work together in the museum’s centralized Digital Department. I spoke with them about the Met MediaLab and what roles it plays spreading digital


The Spread and Evolution of Learning Labs

Monday, January 04, 2016 Comment AMX big stage.2

For much of its duration, the Digital Media and Learning (DML) initiative has made a serious investment in not only reimagining learning but also remaking the kinds of institutions and places that support learning. This effort has come in many forms including the design of new kinds of spaces for children and teens to learn and cultivate the skills that are relevant in a knowledge-driven economy. One of the enduring outcomes of the initiative, for example, has been the design of learning labs across a number of cities. What are Learning Labs? The report, Learning Labs in


A Triptych on Changing Language, Changing Minds

Thursday, December 31, 2015 Comment racistcomment-600

Reading the Comments “Go home you stupid illegal.” I heard it a lot in 2014. As part of a larger effort protesting the racist name of a local eatery, I was struck by how angry the responses were. Voicing concern for both myself and for society about what language does meant that commenters often assumed I was concerned about the racist name of a restaurant because of my own legal status in the country. (And to lay any readers’ thoughts to rest: I grew up multiracial in southern California, I’m half white, and the closest thing


The Book Test

Monday, December 28, 2015 Comment books

Launa Hall’s recent essay in the Washington Post describes her misgivings and concerns about her third-grade students using ipads in the classroom. Hall describes a handful of arresting moments when her students’ ipad use caused them to tune out both her and each other in favor of their devices, setting the contemporary technology aesthetic of “sleek devices” and “shining screens” against the “give-and-take” of “human interaction.” Hall’s essay is one of a modern genre that despairs over the growing ubiquity of mobile technologies and their impact on human values like conversation and connectedness, but it is


The Learning Village of Our Hybrid Reality

Thursday, December 24, 2015 Comment 18777075852_56254224a6_k

If you are reading this, you have a hybrid life. There are things that you encounter and find meaning in or meaningful both offline and digitally. The device you are reading this from is part of your offline world even as the words you are reading are a digital artifact. Think about the way you found this post, the device you are reading from, and the physical location in which you presently exist. Many, if not all of these things will be different for each individual who accesses this post, just as if, where, and how


What the Connected Learning Research Community Can Learn from YPAR

Monday, December 21, 2015 Comment Council of Youth Research

Last month, the two of us (along with our mentor, Dr. Ernest Morrell) celebrated the release of our book, Doing Youth Participatory Action Research: Transforming Inquiry with Researchers, Educators, and Youth. The book tells the story of the UCLA Council of Youth Research (YPAR), a long-running youth participatory action research program that mentors young people from South and East Los Angeles to develop research questions about the educational and social challenges they recognize in their communities and then conduct rigorous inquiry into those questions for the purposes of fostering empowerment and action for social justice. We


Selfie Pedagogy IV: Diversity, Netprov and Service Learning

Thursday, December 17, 2015 Comment selfie3

We profiled Mark Marino of the Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab at USC on this blog five years ago in a post about innovative approaches to service learning. In 2015, we wanted to return to his digital pedagogy in the college writing classroom as part of a four-part series on teaching with selfies. National and international news organizations have been reporting on his recent work at the University of Southern California, but unfortunately this coverage has sometimes reinforced generalizations about the supposed superficiality, narcissism, and anti-intellectualism of young people, stereotypes that he had hoped to dispel. In


Seeking Meaning Through Connected Learning

Monday, December 14, 2015 Comment cosmos

As we close out 2015, I would like to engage the notion of “connection” for a moment. What does this word mean to all of us in the Connected Learning community? Exactly why do we pair the word “connected” with learning? What essential role does “connecting” play in expanding what is possible in learning, and how does connecting open the gateway for all of us to envision a better world? This blog post is dedicated to the transformative aspiration of connecting that buttresses the Connected Learning movement. And that aspiration is indeed spiritual at its core.


Creating Cyber Connections

Thursday, December 10, 2015 Comment networks

We have been reflecting lately on the significance of our network in helping us learn and grow as scholars, as teachers, and as co-learners. Often, people associate the term network with the infrastructure of computer systems. But, what has this important term come to mean for learning in the context of digital pedagogy and the social web? Who do we connect with and how do we share on the web? How do networks facilitate and expand the scope of our own learning? We have met and worked with many new colleagues from around the globe, thanks


Learning The Terms of Digital Literacy

Monday, December 07, 2015 Comment terms

Often when we talk about digital literacy, we are speaking about giving students the tools they need to be successful in a digitally-augmented world. In learning digital literacy, students also learn the social protocols, expectations, and risks that come along with engagement in digital devices, something I’ve written about many times before. Recently, I’ve been working closely with faculty members and asking them a simple question: “Have you read the ‘Terms of Service’ of any of the digital tools and platforms you are using?” More often than not, the answer has been, “no.” This is not


Providing Museum Access to All Through Open Badging

Thursday, December 03, 2015 Comment dma

When the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) a few years ago announced it was doing away with museum membership (gasp!), it made big news. Its membership was replaced with an open-badging system called DMA Friends, open to visitors, new and old. I recently contacted Robert Stein, DMA’s deputy director to learn more about DMA Friends, how it empowers visitors, and the ways museum officials analyze the resulting big data to better serve their city. Hi Rob. Please introduce yourself and the Dallas Museum of Art. I’m Robert Stein. The DMA has been in Dallas for 112


Learning in the Digital Microlaboratory of Educational Data Science

Monday, November 30, 2015 Comment calculator

In the last few years, Educational Data Science has emerged as a new field of inquiry in educational research. Where did it come from, what is its likely future impact on the production of knowledge about educational practices and learning processes, and how might it affect studies in digital media and learning? In sociological research, it has become quite fashionable to conduct studies of particular academic fields, their historical origins and development, and their methods of knowledge production. Influential research has been conducted, for example, to trace the development of psychology, neuroscience, behavioural sciences, and the