‘Compojing’: Writing with Emoji for Fun and Profit


Over the past year and a half, I have been working closely with a group of researchers and teachers in Northern Colorado on a co-designed curriculum project called Compose Our World. While there is plenty to share about that project at a future date, today I want to talk a little bit about composition practices within our online communication tool, Slack. Specifically, I want to talk about “reactions” within the platform. While many readers may be presently using or are familiar with Slack, what I most appreciate is how seamlessly it moves communication from text to

Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own


I must have about 10 domain names. That’s a lot less than some people I know, but 10 more than most people. Two of the domain names are those that I own on behalf of other people (my children) while the rest are for various projects and things I’ve done over the years. My doctoral work neverendingthesis.com is on one of them. I’ve got projects I share with other people (tidepodcast.org). And, of course, I have a canonical domain which includes my first and last name (dougbelshaw.com). Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through

Watchworthy Wednesday: Empowering Youth Through Writing, Digital Media


Four 16-year-old Muslim-American girls are getting their stories heard through slam poetry. Thousands of other young people are sharing their hopes, fears, aspirations and observations, too, as part of the Young Writers Project. YWP, a nonprofit organization based in Burlington, Vermont and founded 10 years ago, is dedicated to helping youth develop the confidence and communication skills needed to shape their world via creative writing, performance and visual and audio mediums.  “We develop effective methods to help youths explore their own ideas, share with peers and mentors and present best work to affirming audiences,” says Geoffrey

Closing Digital Gap: Libraries Offer Youth STEM Programs


It seems today that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and coding are constantly in the news, especially in relation to youth and learning. But, despite near incessant news coverage, there is a continuing uneven access for youth to STEM and coding classes in school, as well as after school. Gaining prominent attention at the national level is President Obama’s recently released Computer Science for All initiative, focusing on offering more computer science classes. But, it does not emphasize the opportunities for interest-driven learning outside of the school structure.   One group — libraries — working

Air-B-N-Me: Self Representation in the Digital Age


Is your real life anything like your online version of it? How have open networks and social media shaped our perceptions of both ourselves and others? The politics of representation in the digital age continue to shed provocative light on the divide between what is real and what is represented. In my current New Media Studies class, my students and I have found it useful to consider this question by investigating the idea of “filtering” — a concept that Jill Walker Rettberg writes about extensively in Seeing Ourselves Through Technology. Filters may refer to both the

Opening Learners’ Minds


If you agree that the best teachers help students learn how to think, Dr. Nick Sousanis’ extraordinary hybridization of words and images, “Unflattening,” ought to be one of your texts. Indeed, “unflattening” struck me as an ideal metaphor for the results an ideal teacher should expect: the opening of learners’ minds to new ways of seeing the world as well as the acquisition of knowledge. Written as an Ed.D. dissertation for Columbia University and published by Harvard University Press, “Unflattening” combines words and images that not only tell but show how visual perception actively shapes our understanding of

Mockingbirds and Thing Explaining: Knowledge Shared and Consumed in Today’s Classrooms


Let’s talk about how knowledge is valued and dispersed in schools today: last week, two stories percolated in online media that related to the kinds of texts that students will encounter while in schools. First, notable web comic author and best-selling author Randall Munroe’s work will be excerpted in forthcoming textbooks for high school students. As the author of the recent “Thing Explainer,” Munroe’s simplistic illustrations function exactly as their title implies; using basic vocabulary and clear line art, Munroe’s book explains things. From a submarine (i.e. “Boat that goes under the sea”) to the Large

Reading as a Social Act


It’s commonly acknowledged that writing is a social act. What does it mean to write online? When we write in the digital age, we are writing to share and to connect. But, what about the act of reading? I open this reflection by quoting myself from a prior DML post: These days, the role of the reader is much like the role of the learner (in a 21st century digitized context). I see a kind of inherent transformation in both of these roles. Reading used to be a more solitary act, bound to a private and

Online Literacy and the College Learner: Transfer Research and Technology


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

Learning The Terms of Digital Literacy


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