Educating for the Future, Not the Past

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 Comment Einstein writing on chalk board quote

Historian Robert Darnton has argued that we are currently in the fourth great Information Age in all human history.  The first information revolution came with the development of writing in 4000 B.C. Mesopotamia.  The second was facilitated by the invention of movable type (in 10th Century China and 15th Century Europe).  The third was marked by the advent of mass printing (presses, cheap ink and paper, mass distribution systems, and mass literacy) in late 18th Century Europe and America. The current Information Age is the fourth such era, marked by the development of the Internet and,


An Emerging Theory: Things Rule

Thursday, January 14, 2010 Comment pictures of presentation trash technology

The international conference on Digital Arts and Culture is often a place for previewing coming theoretical trends in digital scholarship.  Long before the formation of separate conferences for the Electronic Literature Organization and the Digital Games Research Association, DAC was at the forefront of interactive literature and game studies.  This year’s DAC conference, “After Media: Embodiment and Context,” included a prominent “Interdisciplinary Pedagogy” theme led by digital artist Cynthia Beth Rubin that tried to make connections between the cutting-edge, sophisticated theory that the conference represented and the more mundane practical challenges posed by instructional technology and


Social Networks and Civic Mobilization in Latin America

Monday, January 11, 2010 Comment christalk tweet #projectoenchentes

Translation of the Tweet: “People with more than one thousand followers: RT (Retweet) is a good way to contribute with #projetoenchentes (flood relief in Brazil).” Access to the Internet as well as social networking sites has been growing steadily and rapidly in Latin American countries, despite economic impediments. It is increasingly common to hear discussion of the growth of social network sites such as Facebook in Argentina. In one month, between October and November of 2009, the number of Facebook users in Argentina grew 10 percent, by 3.9 million users, to a total of 39.3 million,


Global Kids: Recommended Reading…Viewing…Listening

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 Comment 3 diverse global kids girls posing for photo

Global Kids’ New York City-based programs address the urgent need for young people to possess leadership skills and an understanding of complex global issues to succeed in the 21st century workplace and participate in the democratic process. Now in its ninth year, Global Kids’ Online Leadership Program (OLP) integrates a youth development approach and international and public policy issues into youth media programs that build digital literacy, foster substantive online dialogues, develop resources for educators, and promote civic participation. To keep the work connected to emerging research and practice, OLP staff feed their voracious appetite reading


The Social Media Classroom

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 Comment college classroom full of male students

The Social Media Classroom, a browser-based, free and open source environment for teaching and learning, grew directly out of the first minutes I stepped into a physical classroom and began to realize that I needed to readjust my assumptions about students, classrooms, and educational media. Five years ago, when I began to teach at Stanford and UC Berkeley, two places where I had expected web-based media to have permeated the classrooms, I was surprised to see blank looks on so many faces when I announced that students should start their personal blogging and wiki collaborations. In


Classroom Authority and Twitter

Monday, December 21, 2009 Comment rows of empty college classroom chairs

An interesting aspect of Twitter’s recent surge in popularity has been how educators have embraced the technology, not just for networking and personal communication, but also in the classroom. Many teachers have found Twitter to be a helpful tool for accessing the backchannel—the discussion students are having about what is going on in the classroom—in real time. In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Jeffrey R. Young interviewed two teachers who use Twitter in large lecture courses, projecting students’ Twitter posts in the classroom live. Experiments like these frighten many instructors. As Young puts it:


Digital Media and Learning Conference 2010

Thursday, December 17, 2009 Comment DML 2010 conference diversifying participation

Earlier this year, we issued a call for proposals for panels and presentations for the first Digital Media and Learning Conference, an annual event supported by the MacArthur Foundation and organized by the Digital Media and Learning Hub at University of California, Irvine.  I was honored to be asked to be this year’s conference chair. Our initial theme is “Diversifying Participation.” Here’s some of the language we used in formulating that theme: “A growing body of research has identified how young people’s digital media use is tied to basic social and cultural competencies needed for full


Social Games and Facebook in Brazil and Latin America

Monday, December 14, 2009 Comment farm game

A recent post from Inside Facebook has shown that Facebook is growing fast in Latin America, and a large part of this growth is happening in Brazil (33 percent each month, according to the same set of data). Interestingly, other news pieces about research from institutes such as Ibope (link is in Portuguese) have also shown that social games are increasingly popular in the country, especially among young adults. One hypothesis researchers here have is that Facebook growth has spiked partially because of the burgeoning popularity of the social network’s apps, especially the games. Social games


Reinterpreting the Digital Divide

Thursday, December 10, 2009 Comment art piece of black students learning making

digital divide: the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all. The digital divide is understood to be the gap between those who use and are familiar with computers and technology and those who aren’t. I’m 17, African-American, live in a considerably urban neighborhood in Chicago, and would seemingly contradict many of the statistics about race and ethnicity and their relationship to the digital divide. I have broadband internet, I use it frequently, I know my way around the computer, and I like


On Gaming, Politics, and Reform

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 Comment educators working meeting around conference table

As the new year rolls around, like many political science professors, Kareem Crayton is thinking about the possible repercussions of next year’s 2010 census and what he calls the “opening skirmishes” of the partisan fight over “who’s going to be counted” and where the boundaries of congressional districts should be drawn for the next decade.  However, since working on the civic education website, The Redistricting Game, with a team of interactive media designers at the University of Southern California, Crayton’s attitudes about collaboration within the academy and participation in broader political conversations probably differ somewhat from


Meet Meredith Stewart: Teacher…Innovator…Collaborator

Thursday, December 03, 2009 Comment ms stewart now using twitter screen shot

This is how personal learning networks work. When I first started using Second Life for education, I was helped by a teacher there, Kevin Jarrett, who I started following on the del.icio.us social bookmarking service. I use del.icio.us for social discovery — that is, when I find someone knowledgeable about a topic that interests me, I add them to my social bookmarking network and I also look for the people whose bookmarks they often use — their del.icio.us or diigo network, another great social bookmarking service. Through Kevin, I found Bud The Teacher. I follow both


Sociality Is Learning

Monday, November 30, 2009 Comment 2 students sitting on subway texting listening to music

As adults, we take social skills for granted… until we encounter someone who lacks them.  Helping children develop social skills is viewed as a reasonable educational endeavor in elementary school, but by high school, educators switch to more “serious” subjects. Yet, youth aren’t done learning about the social world. Conversely, they are more driven to understand people and sociality during their tween and teen years than as small children.  Perhaps it’s precisely their passion for learning sociality that devalues this as learning in the eyes of adults. For, if youth LIKE the subject matter, it must


When Is an Art Museum a Workshop? A Field Report from Korea

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 Comment outdoor art museum installation

Earlier this month, I participated in the Digital Natives Workshop hosted by KAIST, the MIT of Korea, and attended by researchers from the U.S. and across the Pacific Rim. My talk on adolescence and the science of attention (entitled “The Kids Are All Right”) has been recorded along with the other presentations and posted on Google Wave by Dave Sonntag, one of the organizers. I also live-blogged at www.hastac.org. After the workshop, we took the three-hour bus trip from Daejeon to Seoul where we had a field day at the Samsung D’Light interactive showcase and then,


$2 Million Competition Seeks Ideas to Transform Learning

Monday, November 23, 2009 Comment
reimagining learning logo

Today, in conjunction with an announcement by President Obama calling for new efforts to reimagine and improve education in science and math, we are announcing a $2 million open competition supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for ideas to transform learning using digital media. The competition seeks designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others to build digital media experiences – the learning labs of the 21st Century – that help young people interact, share, build, tinker, and explore in new and innovative ways. Supported by a grant to the University of California Humanities


Getting into College? There’s a Game for That.

Friday, November 20, 2009 Comment comic drawing of college acceptance letter opening

While One Laptop per Child and other programs to address the digital divide are important, I have come to believe it is counterproductive to couple discussions of the transformative potential of digital media in learning too closely with discussions about institutional and cultural problems plaguing public education (failing schools, illiterate graduates, students who start school with inadequate vocabularies and little home support for studying, for example). The main problem is that systemic problems can’t be fixed by technology alone, and popular narratives about computers in schools are fraught with magical thinking and moral panics. Computers won’t


Empowering Youth-directed Learning in a Digital Age

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Comment students gathered in circle meeting working together

Tashawna is a high school senior in Brooklyn, NY. In the morning she leaves home for school listening to MP3s, texting her friends about meeting up after school at Global Kids, where she participates in a theater program, or FIERCE, the community center for LGBT youth. On the weekend she’ll go to church and, on any given day, visit MySpace and Facebook as often as she can. While she misses television and movies, she says she just can’t find the time. This describes what I call Tashawna’s distributed learning network, the most important places in her


Social Media in South America: Orkut & Brazil

Friday, November 13, 2009 Comment Orkut banner Brazil

To start my participation here in DMLcentral, I want to write about social media outside the U.S., specifically in South America. Let’s take the case of Orkut in Brazil, an interesting and relatively-unknown subject that I’ve researched and followed closely for years. Orkut is very much a cultural phenomenon in Brazil. Although Brazilians had experience with other social networking sites (Fotolog, for example, was very popular among young Brazilians in 2003 and 2004, before Orkut appeared), Orkut caused a revolution in Internet access in Brazil.  As Orkut grew quickly in Brazil starting in 2004, it became


Digital Media and Democracy: Early Returns

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Comment colorful picture of man holding megaphone

The relationship between digital media and democracy is complicated, because it is difficult for researchers to draw causal connections between adopting new social computing technologies and promoting what Joseph Kahne, Mills College professor and head of the Civic Engagement Research Group, has characterized as behaviors and values consistent with an “effective, just, and humane democratic society.” Kahne asserts that there is “no doubt” that multimedia literacies can promote civic participation, because “looking up information,” “having access to networked communities,” and “communicating and sharing perspectives” depends on having developed those literacies, but having basic literacies with computational


Esther Wojcicki’s H.S. Journalism Learning Community

Thursday, November 05, 2009 Comment bright blue puzzle pieces being put together

I learned about Esther Wojcicki’s high school journalism program and learning community from my personal learning network – the people I sought out on Twitter because they seemed to know something about the topics that interest me, including digital journalism and digital media and learning. When I want to learn about a topic, I look for people who know what they are talking about, find out who THEY pay attention to, add them to my RSS or Twitter network, subtract them if I’m not learning what I want to learn, follow the links they provide and


Crowdsourcing Authority in the Classroom

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 Comment art work of colorful people assigning student work

“A wacko holding forth on a soapbox.  If Ms. Davidson just wants to yammer and lead discussions, she should resign her position and head for a park or subway platform, and pass a hat for donations.” That is an example of some of the negative comments I received when I wrote a blog on grading in my “Cat in the Stack” column on a website for the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory( HASTAC). I titled the post How To Crowdsource Grading and its premise grew out of a course I taught last year at