How to Answer John Gardner’s Challenge

Monday, November 23, 2015 Comment jwg-hg-blog-600

John W. Gardner (1912-2001, no relation) was the most impressive public citizen of my time. Trained as a psychologist, president of the Carnegie Foundation at an early age, and a dedicated public servant who served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the cabinet of President Lyndon Johnson, Gardner achieved his most important influence in the latter part of his life, as a private citizen. He launched and helped guide important initiatives like Common Cause, the Independent Sector, the White House Fellowship, and Encore; of equal importance, he served as a role model and mentor

The Closed Loop of Digital Literacy Debate

Thursday, November 19, 2015 Comment isolation

Here’s a quiz for you, reader. The following quotes were written about popular books on the effect of technology on our behavior and culture. One was written in the late 1990s and one was written this year. See if you can guess which is which (no Googling, cheaters). Our rapturous submission to digital technology has led to an atrophying of human capacities like empathy and self-­reflection, and the time has come to reassert ourselves, behave like adults and put technology in its place. And …computer-based environments for the practice of literacy are described as contributing to

Connecting Colleagues in Cyberspace

Monday, November 16, 2015 Comment 18595857319_48fcd5480b_k

If #connectedlearning is an educational approach designed for our ever-changing world, then Virtually Connecting is a #connectedlearning community that is reshaping the ways we think about professional collegiality.   In a traditional model of professional development, conferences have always been the key location to build conversations and connections. Conferences enrich our growth as educators and scholars in countless ways. That said, some conferences are simply more friendly than others (read accessible/open vs. elite/prestigious). Either way, it has always been the case that there are more wonderful conferences on the annual calendar than one could ever possibly

Loss, Trauma and the Digital Language of Empathy in Schools

Thursday, November 12, 2015 Comment Forgotten Future

My father passed away part way through my second year as a teacher. This happened in the middle of one of our school breaks and I was able to use the time away from kids to take care of family arrangements. What I didn’t do during this break was find the time to process, reflect, grieve. And so, when the time came to go back to school, I made the rookie mistake of putting on a smiling face and continuing in my classroom as if it was business as usual. The need to process my own

Henry Jenkins on Participatory Media in a Networked Era, Part 2

Monday, November 09, 2015 Comment book-art

This is the second installment of a two-part interview with Henry Jenkins, co-author with Mizuko Ito and danah boyd of the brilliant new book, “Participatory Culture in a Networked Era.” In the first part, we talked about defining participatory culture; youth culture, youth practices; gaps and genres in participation. In this second part, we talk about learning and literacy; commercial culture; democracy, civic engagement, and activism; and reimagining participatory culture. Although Professor Jenkins articulates the main themes of the book clearly in our video conversation, I should emphasize that this book is a conversation among the

Henry Jenkins on Participatory Media in a Networked Era, Part 1

Thursday, November 05, 2015 Comment jenkins-boyd-ito-book

You are probably reading this because you are interested in the use of digital media in learning. My single strongest recommendation to you: if you want the best and latest evidence-based, authoritative, nuanced, critical knowledge about how digital media and networks are transforming not just learning but commercial media, citizen participation in democracy, and the everyday practices of young people, my advice is to obtain a copy of the new book, “Participatory Culture in A Networked Era,” by Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, and danah boyd. This book is the opposite of so much sound-bite generalization about “digital natives”

Deliberate Practice and Digital Literacies

Monday, November 02, 2015 Comment db-practice

There are some phrases — “communities of practice” and “close reading” spring to mind — that we as educators tend to use automatically. It’s never just an “online community” or “reading.” Sometimes, this is because we’re not aware of the very specific meaning of these terms; sometimes it’s because we want to make what we’re doing sound more important or useful than it is. I have to confess that I was using the term “Deliberate Practice” (which I’ll capitalise for emphasis) incorrectly. I had been using it to mean “practice done deliberately.” My mother sitting me

Digital Writing as Mode of Thinking

Thursday, October 29, 2015 Comment sound

In my current “Writing Theory & Practice” course, we have been discussing the elusive notion of “voice” in writing. What makes a writerly voice distinct, audible, sincere, authentic? What makes a voice compelling? We have recognized that voice is connected to both embodiment and subjectivity. We have talked about the important link between voice and empowerment. We have acknowledged how hard it is to hone one’s writerly voice, as we reach for a kind of agility that allows us to shift our voices depending on audience or context.   All of this to say that finding

Uber for School?

Monday, October 26, 2015 Comment silicon

Disruptive innovation. Bleeding edge. Scalable solutions. The Uber for X. Silicon Valley is routinely ridiculed for the language of technology entrepreneurship and startup culture it has dispersed. Yet, the Silicon Valley vocabulary is fast becoming part of the language of education, and major tech companies are using their massive financial power to create their own new schools. In the last few years, IBM has launched P-TECH, a network of “smarter schools” modeled on its Smarter Cities program. A former Google executive has established AltSchool, a chain of schools designed more like makerspaces than conventional schools. And,

#BoycottStarwarsVII, Racism and Classroom Responsibility

Thursday, October 22, 2015 Comment storm

I don’t want to be “that guy,” but we need to talk about “Star Wars,” race, class, gender, and sexuality today. Apologies in advance. In particular, we need to talk about who gets to be in “Star Wars,” who gets to make this decision, and what happens when nerd culture is removed from the vestiges of historically primarily white, male space. If you avoided the spew of hate that was #BoycottStarWarsVII on Monday, then let me briefly fill you in: On Monday, Oct. 19, a handful of tweets surfaced accusing the new Star Wars film of advancing an

Disruption and Innovation: Divided By Design

Monday, October 19, 2015 Comment uber-ad

Every day that I arrive to and leave from work, I’m greeted by an Uber billboard. The photograph shows a women of color, probably in her 30s squinting as she looks at the camera. The accompanying text says, “Driving with Uber means I can provide for my daughter.” The “Uber means” text is in blue. This billboard replaced a previous Uber billboard that simply featured a car and said “Drive with Uber.” There is an obvious link between the existence of these billboards and education as they were placed directly outside of a community college. There

Connected Learning and Teacher Education, Part 1: Choosing Texts

Thursday, October 15, 2015 Comment books-600

In my last post, I described my rationale for developing a “New and Multimodal Literacies” course for pre-service and in-service teachers grounded in the principles of connected learning. Even though the start of the course is still more than three months away, the journey has begun. In one of the more painful routines of the academic world, professors need to submit book orders for their spring courses just as they are settling into their fall ones. (Sigh) On the bright side, this deadline has spurred me to begin thinking seriously about some of the texts that will

How Games Transform Museum Experience

Monday, October 12, 2015 Comment DSCF0421

Officially, James Collins is the Digital Media Project Manager at the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, working across all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, and the National Zoo. But, to me, as someone deeply interested in how games can transform museum visitor experiences, he’s the right guy in the right place at the right time. His email sig reads “Games are a series of interesting choices.” Yup, the guy I want to speak with. I ran into James recently at the Serious Play Conference in Pittsburgh and we sat down to explore his

Doing Innovation: How Millennials Are Navigating Today’s Economy

Thursday, October 08, 2015 Comment Hackathon-600

Millennials live in a world of contradictions. They are the most educated generation in U.S. history and yet they earn less than the previous generation of young workers. They live in the richest economy the world has ever seen and yet stable and meaningful employment remains elusive. This year, the U.S. Census announced that millennials now make up a greater share of the workforce than any other population segment. Millennials are coming of age at a time when many of our notions about work, identity, opportunity, and mobility are undergoing profound change. How are young 20 and 30-somethings navigating these

Taking Control of Your Digital Identity

Monday, October 05, 2015 Comment digital-id

A friend told me I was “going rogue” when I leased a slice of off-campus server to host The Social Media Classroom for my UC Berkeley and Stanford courses. The social affordances for the learning management systems at both institutions did not fulfill my needs for sophisticated forum, blog, wiki, and chat tools in courses about social media that used social media intensively as part of the curriculum. It cost me $50/year for a server that enabled me to install the SMC, MediaWiki, WordPress, and other online publishing platforms. When I taught Digital Journalism at Stanford,

Selfie Pedagogy III: Networked Spaces, Slut Shaming and Putting Selfies in Dialogue with Theory

Thursday, October 01, 2015 Comment Bland

Those looking for a top authority on how to teach effectively with selfies would be wise to put Terri Senft of New York University at the top of any list. Senft founded two influential Facebook groups of international researchers: the Selfies Research Network, which has more than 2,600 members; and a closed group with a smaller cohort, which is dedicated to collaborative teaching experiments with selfies. This group includes Alice Marwick (profiled on DML Central) and Miriam Posner (also profiled on DML Central). In a Skype interview with DML Central, Senft explained that “the impulse for the research group and

A Call for Increased Critical Media Literacy in Schools

Monday, September 28, 2015 Comment ahmed

The racial profiling and racist treatment that followed Ahmed Mohamed’s clock, and the intense media punditry that buzzed and died out in typical fashion highlighted many powerful lessons for young people. And, while I’ve appreciated the ongoing dialogue about racialized perspectives of the maker movement and who gets to be seen as an innovator and who is profiled, the entire exchange: from a viral photo of young Mohamed in handcuffs to a trending hashtag to Obama’s invitation to the White House has been a crucial case study in the need for increased critical media literacy within

My Exploration of Connected Learning as a Framework for Teacher Education

Thursday, September 24, 2015 Comment cl-graphic

I was living in Los Angeles in 2013 when the Los Angeles Unified School District began implementing its ill-fated plan to provide all of its 640,000 students with iPads. I am now living in El Paso, Texas, where the El Paso Independent School District just completed its (admittedly much smoother) roll-out of laptops for all of its 60,000 students. I could likely be telling a similar story regardless of where I lived considering the frenzy across the country to get devices into the hands of students. While I think the goal of providing equitable access to

Cursive Writing and the Importance of Teaching Skills

Monday, September 21, 2015 Comment kareem-trump-letter

For most of the past decade, I have spent a week each summer reading essays by high schoolers in the Advanced Placement program. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend: They are getting easier to read. Not in the sense that the students are better at organizing their ideas or crafting sentences than they have been in previous years, but rather they are literally easier to read. This past year, while reading through my 100th or so essay one day, I realized why: Most of the students aren’t writing in cursive anymore. Of course,

Taking Another Look at the Digital Credentials Landscape

Thursday, September 17, 2015 Comment 05

Recently, I’ve been having some interesting conversations about the digital credentials landscape. On the surface, it’s a bit messy. There are arguments over whether the term “Open Badges” should be used over the more generic “digital badges”; startups are talking about“‘micro-credentials”; and in my own work consulting with City & Guilds (an awarding body in the UK), we’ve been talking about “professional digital credentials.” In this post, I want to spend a little time teasing out the differences between the various terms and explaining why I think the diagram at the top of the post might help