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


There are No Lessons for Alton or Philando

Monday, July 11, 2016 Comment rally after Alton and Philando murders

Like many of you, I cried on Wednesday as I watched Alton Sterling’s son cry for his daddy a day after he was murdered by the police of Baton Rouge. I watched that teenage boy and I wept in sadness, anger, and exhaustion. I watched that teenage boy knowing what Roxane Gay wrote later that day: “We have to bear witness and resist numbness and help the children of the black people who lose their lives to police brutality shoulder their unnatural burden.” And, while mainstream media spent the day in a cycle of did-she-or-didn’t-she about


Is It Time to Rethink Most Everything We Think About ‘Screen Time’?

Thursday, July 07, 2016 Comment screen time: dad and son in bed on ipads

Is “screen time” equivalent to… crossing the road? Necessary but don’t let little ones go unsupervised. Eating a balanced diet? Prioritize things that are “good for you” but you can occasionally sneak in some treats. Smoking? OK to experiment but stop before you do permanent damage. These and other sometimes-apt comparisons have emerged during our research project, Parenting for a Digital Future, where we asked parents how they imagine the role of digital media in their children’s lives — in the present and projected into the future. Part of the Connected Learning Research Network, our study demonstrates


Watchworthy Wednesday: The Minecraft Effect

Wednesday, July 06, 2016 Comment minecraft fortress

Minecraft, the Lego-like building video game, is such a massive hit that the New York Times Magazine recently made it the subject of a cover story. What makes the game such a global sensation is its power to encourage an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) — those pesky fields that Americans don’t seem to be able to conquer. U.S. students lag behind 34 other countries in math and behind 26 countries in science, according to a Pew Research Center study. “The game encourages kids to regard logic and if-then statements as fun things


Connecting Digital Media to Civic Learning

Monday, July 04, 2016 Comment two men with headsets sitting and looking at multiple screens at broadcast work station

Since the printing press, communication media and citizen political engagement have been intertwined. Now that we have a global generation of young people who have printing presses, broadcasting stations, and organizing tools in their pockets, educators see ways to connect young people’s enthusiasm for Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube with civic learning. I’ve been interested personally in the use of social media to encourage civic engagement among young people since the olden days of 2008, when I contributed a chapter on “Using Participatory Media and Public Voice to Encourage Civic Engagement” for an MIT Press volume: Civic Life


Critical Digital Citizenship: Promoting Empathy and Social Justice Online

Thursday, June 30, 2016 Comment Magnified image of dew on a dandelion stem

I wrote Critical Citizenship for Critical Times in 2013, responding to the political upheaval in Egypt. I argued that teaching critical thinking traditionally promotes skepticism (a good thing, particularly when authorities like the government are corrupt or untrustworthy like the media) but what ended up happening in Egypt is that those who questioned media and political power turned their advocacy into oppositional advocacy that topples regimes but does little to co-construct a better future. I suggested we reconsider what we mean by “critical,” and proposed that universities aim to promote criticality that centers around social justice


Watchworthy Wednesday: Infographics Showcase Edtech, eLearning, Gamification

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 Comment Infographic illustration of child looking through vr virtual reality headset

Infographics: they pack facts and stats with colorful visuals; the best ones teach you something in a quick and alluring way. That’s why I’m digging this website: elearninginfographics.com. It curates some of the most informative infographics on topics including edtech, e-learning (blended and mobile learning, distance education, instructional design), MOOCs (massive open online courses), school (from preschool to adult education), gamification and social learning. There are so many, I stopped counting after 100. But, I picked three recent ones that I think the DML community might find useful. This one gives a timeline on education’s evolution from


STEM Design Strategies to Engage Underrepresented Students

Monday, June 27, 2016 Comment 4 kids in classroom learning computer program

Although “making is a stance toward learning,” Minecraft is proving to be an object to learn with as well as think with in many after-school programs. “Talking about tinkering while doing it, in person and online, can enhance social contexts for peer learning and for learning thinking skills,” however, inequities continue to exist in underserved communities — what Henry Jenkins has called “the participation gap.” Digital Youth Network, among others, has been busy trying, assessing, and spreading the word about practices that effectively bridge the gap. At DML 2016, on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 12:30 p.m.,


Addressing School Leaders’ Connected Learning Concerns

Thursday, June 23, 2016 Comment Empty desks in classroom

I recently had the opportunity to talk about technology, equity, and learning with a group of administrators, coaches, and support staff in an urban school district during their end-of-year leadership summit. My morning presentation offered Connected Learning as a framework for instructional design that takes advantage of the possibilities for amplification, dissemination, and (of course) connection afforded us by digital media tools. I used a quote attributed to 20th century American philosopher William James to establish my thematic focus – the need for learning experiences that recognize and capitalize upon the interconnectedness of citizens within a


Watchworthy Wednesday: Protego — An Orlando Call to Action

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 Comment illustration of Harry Potter casting the protego spell in response to Orlando tragedy.

Just days before a gunman killed 49 people in a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the Harry Potter Alliance launched its “Protego” campaign, which aims to make the world a safer place for the transgender community. The Pulse nightclub shooting, the 11-year-old nonprofit HPA notes, was a hate crime that “sits at the intersection of many forms of oppression.” In author J.K. Rowling’s books, the heroes fight against injustice and the HPA wants people to do that in real life.  “Protego is the HPA’s first ever transgender rights and safe spaces campaign, named after the shield charm used in the Harry


Research Shows Connected Learning Works

Monday, June 20, 2016 Comment girl with headphones on and laptop

Does connected learning — particularly in disadvantaged communities and for underrepresented youth — work? The answer is important to students, educators, and parents. It’s also of great interest to institutions such as the MacArthur Foundation, which has a multi-decade commitment to improving educational outcomes. After years of granting millions of dollars to schools, the foundation started a broad initiative that was based not strictly on educational institutions, but also on the extra-curricular learning environments that were emerging as more and more young people became immersed in digital media: “In 2004, we decided to consider alternative paths.


Educating for Participatory Politics in the Digital Age

Thursday, June 16, 2016 Comment boy holding ipad watching classroom video

When I earned my teaching credential in the late 1990s, I had to take a class called “Technology for Teachers.” We mostly talked about using programs like Microsoft Office to prepare students for the workplace. Absent were conversations about the ways learning, communication, and engagement have changed in the digital age. Unfortunately, such supports are still rare in teacher education and schools. For example, a district-wide survey conducted in Oakland, California in 2013, found that 93% of teachers believe that technology is essential, but 63% reported not having had ANY technology-related professional development. The innovative teachers


3 Ways Open Badges Work Like the Web

Monday, June 13, 2016 Comment four faces illustration for open badges

“The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world.” — Tim Berners-Lee A phrase that I and other Open Badges strategists use often is:  “Open Badges work like the web.” Recently, I’ve been asked by those less familiar with the technical architecture of the web what exactly we mean by this. My starting point is “Working openly on


Advocating for Online Privacy

Thursday, June 09, 2016 Comment Advocating for Online Privacy

As a researcher who actively engages in tech policy, Seda Gürses considers how a variety of actors may disrupt online wellbeing. She also brings an international perspective to her collaborative work. As part of the Trust Challenge team launching the Center for Solutions to Online Violence, Gürses contributes her expertise as a computer scientist and privacy advocate. Now based at Princeton, she previously held positions at New York University and the University of Leuven. In an interview with DML Central, Gürses mused about the fact that her earliest digital literacy experiences had been shaped by childhood experiences.


Against the Ampersand: Hyperlink Politics for the Future

Monday, June 06, 2016 Comment Chain links connected together

“States are certain loci of power, but the state is not all there is of power. The state is not always the nation-state…So, already the term state can be dissociated from the term ‘nation’ and the two can be cobbled together through a hyphen, but what work does the hyphen do? Does the hyphen finesse the relation that needs to be done? Does it mark a certain soldiering that has taken place historically? Does it suggest a fallibility at the heart of the relation?” — Judith Butler and Gayatri Chakravarti Spivak, authors of Who Sings the Nation-State? The