Epic Learning: Large Class as Intentional Design


Last October, I gave an Ignite talk at the Digital Media and Learning Conference called “Epic Composition.” Below, I offer a more extended look at the design and structures of my “jumbo” first-year writing course at California State University, Chico. Walking into our “jumbo” first-year writing course as an outsider can be a bit intimidating. The room is packed with people: 90 students, nine writing mentors, and the instructor. Students sit in new desks: rolling chairs with a bottom “saucer” for storing backpacks, a moving tray designed for a laptop. Students have nicknamed the chairs “George

Watchworthy Wednesday: Celebrate Digital Learning Day Feb. 23


Students and educators nationwide will be taking part in Digital Learning Day (DLDay) tomorrow, focusing on innovative ways technology enhances teaching and learning. “In some classrooms and out-of-school programs across the country, educators are doing some pretty amazing things with technology,” according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. “Yet, these pockets of innovation are confined to a small number of schools and communities. Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.” As part of

Watchworthy Wednesday: Creating Connections Through Music


A simple informal invitation brought musician Laura Ritchie and a few of her University of Chichester students to California two years ago to perform and teach a few impromptu music lessons. She returned last year with different students and is back this month with three undergraduate music majors, delivering more formal performances and workshops for students of a high school and an elementary school in Santa Maria as part of their study. “We co-create the entire program, from writing the handbook, to deciding the hand-in dates, and planning the scope of the trip, and it’s different

Augmented Reality and Learning in Museums


When I read Camillia Matuk’s The Learning Affordances of Augmented Reality For Museum Exhibits on Human Health, I knew I wanted to speak with her about AR and learning. Camillia is assistant professor of educational communication and technology at New York University (with a Ph.D. in the learning sciences from Northwestern University, an MSc in biomedical communications from the University of Toronto, and a BSc in biological sciences from the University of Windsor.) She does design-based research investigations to better understand how innovative technologies and learning environments can better support teaching and learning. Q: Camillia, thank

Watchworthy Wednesday: Awards Available for Scholars to Study Connected Learning Data


Digital media and learning scholars interested in analyzing connected learning data are being invited to apply for awards from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and UC Irvine. The data comes from the Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project, led by Richard Arum, dean of UCI’s School of Education, and postdoctoral scholar Kiley Larson. They gathered data on nontraditional educational practices employed by innovative schools, museums, libraries and community centers. “The project focused on studying a set of educational innovations that integrated digital media with progressive pedagogy,” Arum said. “Given the extent to which formal

Using Escape Rooms to Gamify Learning


Escape Rooms first came to America in 2012-2013 from Asia and Europe, quickly spreading across the country. As defined by Professor Scott Nicholson, “escape rooms are live action team based games where players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to accomplish a specific goal (usually escaping from the room) in a limited amount of time.” It should come as little surprise, but before long, innovative educators were adapting the escape room format for a wide-range of content. Last year, at Minefaire, I met Adam Bellow. Adam was honored

Semi-automated Luxury Parenting


The toy company Mattel recently announced a wi-fi speaker-based voice assistant for children. Known as Aristotle, the toddler-proof alternative to Google Home or Amazon Echo is planned for launch this summer. Designed to live in the child’s bedroom, Aristotle can answer children’s questions and act as a “smart baby monitor,” but it also has sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence capacities to augment and automate the complex task of parenting. Is this just a helpful gadget for family life, or a sign of a new kind of AI nanny state where smart systems will be performing