Barry Joseph

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Barry is Associate Director For Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History. He has developed innovative programs in the areas of youth-led online dialogues, video games as a form of youth media, the application of social networks for social good, the educational potential of virtual worlds like Second Life, the educational application of mobile phones and alternative assessment models. In his position at the AMNH he works with out-of-school, on site youth programs to explore the intersection of digital media and museum-based learning, with a focus on science and cultural topics. His work can be followed at mooshme.org and on twitter at @mmmooshme.
Before his time at AMNH, he did all sorts of fancy pancy things. He served on the initial steering committee of the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative and his writing appears in the Foundation’s Ecology of Games volume. (In fact, his desk is just down the hall from the room where the Foundation first launched the initiative in October, 2006). He founded and directed for twelve years Global Kids’ Online Leadership Program, when he combined youth development practices with the development of high profile digital media projects that advance 21st Century Skills and New Media Literacies. During his time at Global Kids, Barry also successfully launched Games For Change and the book project Give Me Seltzer.


Blogs (44)


Preparing Museums to Lead Future Learning

Monday, March 14, 2016

How do museums prepare for the arrival of the future, positioning themselves to be leaders in the learning ecology of tomorrow? To find out I spoke with one person who keeps an eye on that horizon — Elizabeth Merritt — from the Center for the Future of Museums. We spoke about augmented reality, digital badges and how museums can become a transformative force in education. Welcome, Elizabeth. Please introduce yourself. I’m Elizabeth Merritt, vice president for strategic foresight and founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums at the American Alliance of Museums. That’s


Museum’s MediaLab Explores Digital Innovation

Thursday, January 07, 2016

I recently took a walk across the park from American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), where I work, to our sibling museum founded on the other side of Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. For the first time, I got to go behind the scenes and visit their MediaLab, run by Marco Castro Cosio. After the tour, I met with both Marco and Neal Stimler, digital asset specialist in Collection Information. Both work together in the museum’s centralized Digital Department. I spoke with them about the Met MediaLab and what roles it plays spreading digital


Providing Museum Access to All Through Open Badging

Thursday, December 03, 2015

When the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) a few years ago announced it was doing away with museum membership (gasp!), it made big news. Its membership was replaced with an open-badging system called DMA Friends, open to visitors, new and old. I recently contacted Robert Stein, DMA’s deputy director to learn more about DMA Friends, how it empowers visitors, and the ways museum officials analyze the resulting big data to better serve their city. Hi Rob. Please introduce yourself and the Dallas Museum of Art. I’m Robert Stein. The DMA has been in Dallas for 112


How Games Transform Museum Experience

Monday, October 12, 2015

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


Where We Stand: A Decade of Digital Media and Learning

Thursday, September 03, 2015

This October will mark nine years since the official launch of the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, at an event held right down the hall from my desk at the American Museum of Natural History (yes, we offer a lovely room you too can rent out). At the time, I didn’t work at the museum, but the path that eventually lead me here was very much paved by the innovations in digital learning advanced by the foundation in the years that followed. And, I suspect that journeys like mine, which benefitted immeasurably from the


How a Digital Pen is Turning a Museum into a Library

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Right now, in New York City, a digital pen is turning a museum into a library — a 21st century library, that is. And, its potential impact across civic and cultural spaces offers considerable lessons for those interested in participatory and digital learning and the future of museums. If, like me, you work in a museum you’ve probably already guessed what I am talking about, as it’s all the buzz: the newly renovated Cooper-Hewitt’s Pen. The Cooper-Hewitt is the Smithsonian’s design museum located in NYC within the stately Andrew Carnegie Mansion. After a six-year renovation project,


Minecraft and The Future of Transmedia Learning

Thursday, April 23, 2015

EPIC HEADSHOP: The Evolution of Minecraft When my 8-year-old son typed “epic headshop at 31;65” into the command prompt, I realized the Minecraft I knew was dead. In its place something new had emerged. If I wanted to keep using it as a vehicle for advancing learning goals, it was high time for a serious reevaluation. BEYOND GAME: The Rise of Transmedia Learning “Minecraft is not a game.” If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that since first learning of the worldwide phenomenon in Spring of 2011 at the Games For Change Festival…


Augmented Wearables and the Future of Museums

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Wired’s recent cover article, “Microsoft in the Age of Satya Nadella,” is a fascinating piece about how the software giant is aiming to reposition itself to remain dominant in the next operating system revolution. They missed the boat when the rest of us migrated from desktops to mobile devices but, this time, their sights are focused on the next potential disruptor: augmented reality wearables. And, Microsoft’s unanticipated new play in this space was announced in January: Project HoloLens. The article rightly grouped HoloLens with Google Glass, Oculus Rift and the largely-unknown Magic Leap. It’s hard to


2014: A DML Look Back, Forward

Monday, December 29, 2014

For my final post of the year, I thought I would turn the mic around and ask YOU, the ever faithful DML Central reader, what you think about the year in digital media and learning. To get your thoughts flowing, I asked my fellow DML Central columnists to weigh in with their own year-end observations. Please take a moment to review their reflections, then add your own. You know what? Let’s not just look back but forward as well, making some predictions, and then let’s agree to meet back here in a year’s time and see


Defining Digital Media, Museum-based Learning Connection

Monday, September 29, 2014

Clive Thompson is a longtime contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired. I recently had the opportunity to bring him to my office in the American Museum of Natural History, tour the dino halls, and explore how his new book — “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better” — can help us understand how digital media can support museum-based learning (read full interview). At the end of our tour, we explored what his book has to say about Connected Learning and work funded by


Badges Series, Part 4: The Emergence of the BadgeAlliance

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Do you think you can pass the supreme BadgeGeek test? If so, good luck. Your challenge: make it through this interview. To appease my inner BadgeGeek, I reached out to Erin Knight, executive director of the Badge Alliance. To conclude my four-part DMLcentral series on badges, I needed her help. I wanted to gain a better understanding into her fascinating new organization but, more importantly, how it might just have solved a major problem with badge design I explored in my last post: the conflict between local versus network-wide badges. (Note: this is an abridged version


Badges For Learning Series, Part 3: A Case Against Standardized Badges

Thursday, June 05, 2014

In my first two posts in this series (“My Beef With Badges” and “Getting the Full Picture”), I called on the emerging badging community to stop conflating our aspirations with our achievements and then modeled one way to share a more accurate picture of the challenges we all face. In this post, I would like to address my challenges with a vision often shared for digital badges, namely the creation of a broad badging ecosystem. Amongst those like me who aspire to see the flourishing of robust badging systems, to capture and reflect the rich learning


Badges For Learning Series, Part 2: Getting The Full Picture

Thursday, May 01, 2014

In my previous post, “My Beef With Badges,” I called on the emerging badging community to stop conflating our aspirations with our achievements, and to start sharing a more accurate picture of the challenges we all face. I also tried to make clear that I have been a part of the very problem I now aim to address. As I’ve been asked in recent weeks to present and engage our community around these ideas, I’ve often expressed my intent to “walk the talk” and share what we’ve been observing where I work, at the American Museum


My Beef With Badges

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Don’t get me wrong. I love badges, digital badges for learning. And I don’t mean just for some hoped-for potential to transform the learning landscape. I mean I love them for what I’ve seen them actually achieve: new literacies amongst youth to describe their learning within a Brooklyn after-school program; new motivation within an Atlanta private school; pride in portfolios within a Bronx library; a new understanding of how to use learning technology in a New Orleans day school; the emergence of formative assessment within a New York museum. I am informed by the theoretical but


Exploring Digital Media and Museum-based Learning

Monday, February 17, 2014

As part of my efforts to explore the intersection of digital media and museum-based learning, here is list of items I’ve recently tweeted. I start with the most general and drill down to my specific area of work — informal science learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Envisioning the Future of Educational Technology (infographic) This infographic by Michell Zappa of Envisioning Tech envisions emerging technology impacting learning through 2040. The specific tools are interesting to explore, such as games and badges, but of more interest to me is how they are organized to examine


Makers and DML – Separated At Birth?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I have a question for you. What do you think is going on in the photos I’m including in this post? They were taken last month at World Maker Faire NYC. And it fascinates me (Full disclosure: I worked the booth in the photo so I know the answer). Okay, I’ll tell you what I see and how it captures the “separated at birth” story between the Maker Movement (“Makers”) and the Digital Media and Learning (“DML”) communities. But first, about the photos. Let’s see if I can do this in one sentence: the pictures show


Both Sides of the Screen: Museums Seeking Balance in a Digital Age

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Museums, like many public sites of informal learning, are struggling to understand the roles digital media can play within their walls. In short, are they an obstacle to engagement or a new path to knowledge? I recently saw both ideas reflected in popular media and the experience left me hoping for a third path between the two extremes. There’s a New Yorker cartoon, published this past March, that shows a mother and child in a museum, the child pointing a device towards a painting. “It’s an audio guide, sweetheart,” the mother explains, “not a remote.” The


The Latest in Digital Media, Learning and Museums

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project published a recent report after surveying the role of the internet and social media within arts organizations that have received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. They found that “the internet, social media, and mobile connectivity now permeate their operations and have changed the way they stage performances, mount and showcase their exhibits, engage their audiences, sell tickets, and raise funds.” Some interesting findings: 77% of respondents agree with the statement that the internet has “played a major role in broadening the boundaries of what


On Digital Badging, Edge Work, 12 Lessons After 12 Years

Thursday, December 06, 2012

For two years I have worked with my team at Global Kids to highlight some of the best online resources that inspire digital media and learning projects. It has been some time, however, since I made a new post. I am excited to share the reason why: I am now working at the American Museum of Natural History as the new Associate Director For Digital Learning, focusing on on-site, youth-oriented programs. I look forward to shifting the focus of these posts to highlight the most inspiring online resources I can find about digital media and museum-based


Worthy Reads: Mobile Learning, Flipped Lessons, New Media Literacies

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Fast Company magazine recently featured this article, from design studio Frog’s Fabio Sergio, on how mobile devices will provide learning opportunities for people across age and income spectrums. It offers a nice overview, from a design perspective, on how mobile is opening new opportunities for learning. He details the following: 1. Continuous learning2. Educational leapfrogging3. A new crop of older, lifelong learners (and educators)4. Breaking gender boundaries, reducing physical burdens5. A new literacy emerges: software literacy6. Education’s long tail7. Teachers and pupils trade roles8. Synergies with mobile banking and mobile health initiatives9. New opportunities for traditional


Recommended Reads: On What Kids Can Learn, Minecraft, Generation Y

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Common Sense Media, known as the go-to resource for solid reviews of movies, books, and television, just released a new ratings initiative to evaluate the learning potential of websites, video games, and mobile apps. You can learn more about it here. The Huffington Post published a useful overview and welcome to the ratings. They found value in how it shifts Common Sense Media towards “a more holistic view and analysis of media.” In addition, it provides both parents and educators a common language to use for talking about media and learning. “Their system, which is more


Very Worthy Reads

Thursday, April 05, 2012

In a new report from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, “Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality,” the authors set out to “map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities.” Their key findings: 1. Search shapes the quality of information that youth experience online.2. Youth use cues and heuristics


On Digital Badges, Participatory Learning, Flipped Classrooms

Friday, February 17, 2012

If you read this blog, you have undoubtedly heard about the new interest in digital badging systems. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education have all covered the topic in recent weeks (and most more than once). But to prepare for the level of attention sure to ratchet up come March, when HASTAC announces the winners of the $2M “badges for lifelong learning” grants, we thought it worth taking a look back at the talk that launched a thousand badges: Eva L. Baker’s “The End(s) of Testing.” Back in


Recommended Resources: Mobile Learning, Digital Activism, Multitasking

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Professor of urban planning, Amy Hillier, recently spoke at TEDxPhilly to talk about how data visualization technology can map a city’s emotions and memories. Geographic Information System (G.I.S.) technology has become more commonplace and allows statistics to be easily mapped, but in this article, “Mobile Technology: Mapping a City’s Emotions, Memories,” Hillier argues that we can go one step further. By using data visualization to map the city that isn’t visible to the eye (i.e. sewage system, water pipes, and other underlying infrastructure), it can be used as an experiential tool. She gives an example of


Recommended Resources: Digital Citizenship, New Media Literacies, Games and Learning

Monday, November 21, 2011

Our Space: Being a Responsible Citizen of the Digital World is nearly 500 pages of workshops and lessons plans dedicated to teaching youth ethics for a digital age.  Produced through a unique collaboration of Harvard’s GoodPlay Project and Project New Media Literacies, it is all free online, as one giant download or as separate files.  We were delighted to see it released, as Global Kids youth leaders played a role advising on various aspects of the project (such as through our Media Masters program, which tested some of the early curriculum).  For those interested in the


Worthy Reads: Youth Media Production, Games & Learning, Pottermore, Web Freedom

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A new report on YOUmedia, a youth-centered digital learning initiative at the Chicago Public Library, explores what it means to reimagine learning, literacies and libraries. The report takes a hard look at the first year of the YOUmedia project. It details “what aspects of the program were successful in the first year and explores implementation challenges encountered when balancing a youth-driven approach with an adult agenda for learning.” This report comes at an important time within the development of digital media and learning theory and practice, offering a frank assessment of the transition required to bring


Worthy Reads: On Minecraft, Borges, Khan, Next Generation Museums

Thursday, September 01, 2011

If you haven’t yet heard about Minecraft, then get ready. We can’t go to an education conference without hearing talk about it. The widely popular sandbox game has sold more than 3 million units, though it’s still in beta. Each player gets their own world to “mine” for resources and then “craft” those resources to build whatever they imagine. A great introduction to Minecraft and its potential for education, especially for the younger set, is this Teacher Teaching Teachers podcast, which features educators from around the world sharing how they are using it in and out


Recommended Reads (August): Youth Culture, Games & Learning, Teaching 2.0

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The latest fascinating report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, “Families Matter: Designing Media for a Digital Age,” offers one of the first large-scale studies to explore ideas parents have about their young children’s use and access of media. A review on the web site for the New America Foundation, “Parental Worries, Or the Lack Thereof, About Digital Media,” does an excellent job covering the key findings and putting them in context. “It’s encouraging to see these robust conversations among early childhood experts about the roles that families and educators are playing as they guide their


Great Resources (July): Assessment, Youth Culture, Games & Learning

Friday, July 08, 2011

Do we need badges, specifically badges for learning? In recent years, the answer has been increasingly, if not exactly “yes” then something more like “we better find out before it’s too late.” The new interest around badges appears to have begun in response to a talk by Eva L. Baker, “The End(s) of Testing,” her 2007 Presidential Address for the American Educational Research Association. Critiquing assessment within schools, she never actually used the term “badges” but rather, “qualifications.” The response by some academics and foundations soon converged with, as described to me by James Paul Gee,


Share, Grow, Do: The Potential of Digital Age Learning

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The National Writing Project has launched a fantastic new web site, Digital Is, to build a community amongst educators exploring how the digital age is changing how we write, share, collaborate, publish and participate in the digital age. More importantly, what does this mean for the teaching of writing? The site offers resources, news and discussions. It is fairly new, so check it out and consider being part of building this community. Global Kids has already contributed to Digital Is by adding multimedia curriculum for Supporting Youth to Develop a Mental Map of Where They Learn.


Hype, Reality, Insights on Cyberbullying, Videogaming, and Learning Institutions

Thursday, May 05, 2011

At the top of the not-to-be-missed list is “Good and Bad Cyberbullying PSAs: How to Tell the Difference,” an exceptional blog post by childhood expert Rosalind Wiseman, who insightfully frames the cyberbullying issue. As more and more organizations are creating public resources about cyberbullying, criticism has grown, and not just against the over-reaction. Recently, we’ve seen a number of examples of resources explicitly designed to fight cyberbullying that have been criticized as being more harmful than helpful, and in some cases extremely harmful. Some underlying messages in some ads, for examples, would seem to promote suicide.


“We are Meant to Pulse”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Topping the new recommended resources list from Global Kids is “Gaming to Re-engage Boys in Learning,” a provocative video looking at the discrepancies in performance and achievement between boys and girls aged 3 to 13 and discussion of why school culture itself may be alienating to male students. Central to instructional designer Ali Carr-Chellman’s arguments are the lack of male representation in teaching, zero tolerance policies that disproportionately affect boys and the anti-gaming rhetoric of some schools that is hostile to youth invested in game culture. Though Carr-Chellman sidesteps the broader issue of what social factors


Humans, Technology and the Digital Future

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

At the top of the must-read list this month is “How the Internet Gets Inside Us,” an article by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnick who offers an insightful overview of the range of opinions found in recent books regarding the shifting relationship between humans and technology. He categorizes books about the Internet into the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers. The Never-Betters believe that we’re on the brink of a new utopia, the Better-Nevers think that we were better off without the Internet, and the Ever-Wasers insist that at any moment in modernity something like this


Digital Divides, Blog Bans, Games That Cause Change

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Global Kids points us to important new resources in the digital media and learning field each month. “It’s how you play the game” (article): Followers of games and education are familiar with the opening last year in New York City of Quest to Learn (Q2L), the new 6-12 school. What is lesser known is the Ein Hayam Experimental School in Haifa, Israel, whose games-based pedagogy within this working class community of both Jews and Arabs is now five years old. While this past fall’s New York Times profile of Q2L highlights the high energy of the


Social Learning, Literacies and Recommended Resources

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paleontologist from American Museum of Natural History shows I Dig Brazil kids images of ancient animals. Editor’s note: Global Kids does a great job each month pointing us to excellent new resources. Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan for Action (report)This report by media literacy scholar Renee Hobbs for The Aspen Institute and the Knight Foundation is a call to arms. It begins with the declaration that “the time to bring digital and media literacy into the mainstream of American communities is now.” These literacies include the ability to make responsible choices, analyze messages, create content,


Literacies, Semantic Web and Recommended Resources

Monday, November 01, 2010

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a stellar job each month pointing us to excellent resources.  The 2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition (report) The 2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition, part of the New Media Consortium‘s Horizon Project, looks at emerging technologies and their potential impact on museums. The report, like all Horizon reports, identifies six key technological trends. For museums, the report features: mobile technology, social media, augmented reality, location-based services, gesture-based computing, and semantic Web. The report delves into each technology in much more detail, provides a list of museums that are exemplary in their use


Recommended Reading, Viewing, Clicking

Monday, October 11, 2010

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a stellar job each month pointing us to key resources. We are not Waiting for Superman, We are Empowering Superheroes (Presentation)Social entrepreneur and learning researcher Diana Rhoten, at a recent conference, presented, “Design for Learning: We Are Not Waiting for Superman, We are Empowering Superheroes,” a response to the recent film about the failures of American education, “Waiting For Superman.” Interested in re-designing the face and the future of learning, Diana laid out three assumptions and three aspirations that offer a great summary (with much better articulation) of how we at


Recommended Reading, Viewing, Clicking 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a great job mining the 24/7 flow of resources coming out of the digital media and learning field. They share some of their favorites each month. Please tell us what you’re reading or watching and why others should as well! How do we pick what to put on this list? Often, when we come across something more than once, from different sources, we usually know we’re on to something fast becoming a meme. A video, “Daniel Pink: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” is one of them. The author of


Recommended Reading, Viewing, Clicking

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a great job searching, sorting, and filtering the 24/7 flow of resources in the digital media and learning field.  We’ve asked them to sift through their current picks and point us to some of the best.  Please share what you’re reading or watching and why others should as well! At the top of this month’s list is an amazing music video,”Virtual Love” by Legrand.  A collaboration among 20 Japanese students at Temple University in Tokyo and Philadelphia based on hip hop artist Legrand, the music video integrates a variety of social


Recommended reads, links from Global Kids

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Editor’s note: Global Kids regularly points us to their current favorite resources. Please tell us what you’re reading or watching and why others should as well! At the top of our list is the best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It’s described as: “Race, poverty and science intertwine in the story of the woman whose cancer cells were cultured without her permission in 1951 and have supported a mountain of research undertaken since then.” It’s a great example of how to use a personal narrative to introduce an audience to broader issues about racism,


Recommended Resources from Global Kids

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Editor’s note: Global Kids each month points us to their current favorite resources. Please take a moment and share some of yours, too, in the comments section. Also, we always value knowing what the knowledge-hungry leaders at GK are reading, watching and listening to, but in the spirit of full disclosure want to acknowledge (and appreciate) that two items in this month’s list involve our research director, Mimi Ito, and our supporter, the MacArthur Foundation. Topping this month’s list: “Are Virtual Worlds Over?” a provocative blog post by digital games guru Raph Koster, who provides a


Recommended reading, watching, listening

Monday, February 15, 2010

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. The staff has a wonderful appetite for learning and we regularly provide DMLcentral.net a snapshot of resource picks we consider insightful and relevant. Please comment and tell us what you are reading and watching, too! Topping our current list: Feed by M.T. Anderson, a dystopic science fiction novel about a world where technology has become such a part of


Global Kids: Recommended Reading…Viewing…Listening

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

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


Empowering Youth-directed Learning in a Digital Age

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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