Howard Rheingold

Howard-hat

Howard’s 2002 book, Smart Mobs, was acclaimed as a prescient forecast of the always-on era. The weblog associated with the book has become one of the top 200 of the 8 million blogs tracked by Technorati, and won Utne Magazine’s Independent Press Award in 2003.

In 2005, Howard taught a course at Stanford University on A Literacy of Cooperation, part of a long-term investigation of cooperation and collective action that Howard undertook in partnership with the Institute for the Future. The Cooperation Commons is the site of his ongoing investigation of cooperation and collective action.

He teaches Participatory Media/Collective Action at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, Digital Journalism and VirtualCommunity/Social Media at Stanford University. He is a non-resident Fellow of the Annenberg School for Communication, and a visiting Professor at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

In 2008, Howard was a winner in the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning competition and he used his award to work with a developer to create a free and open source social media classroom. He has a very popular videoblog that covers a range of subjects.

Most recently, Howard has been concentrating on learning and teaching 21st Century literacies. Howard can be found all over the Web: howard@rheingold.com http://twitter.com/hrheingold http://www.rheingold.com  http://www.smartmobs.com http://www.rheingold.com/university <—Rheingold U! what it is —> is —>up to us


Blogs (75)


How Unplanned Learning Led to Online Book Group

Monday, January 11, 2016

Learning by stumbling upon things — and cultivating the ability to recognize when you’ve stumbled onto something valuable — can be amplified manyfold if you regularly look where people in your personal learning network are pointing. Focused, systematic, pre-planned learning is still a powerful tool in the learning toolbox but, sometimes, you need to put yourself into the position of stumbling upon and dipping into learning that you had not planned. Autumm Caines, for example, participated in focused, systematic learning as a master’s student (now graduate) at Ohio State University and associate director of academic technology


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

Monday, November 09, 2015

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

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”


Taking Control of Your Digital Identity

Monday, October 05, 2015

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,


Teaching Social Studies Through Participatory Citizenship

Monday, September 07, 2015

If you’ve encountered the critical pedagogy of Paolo Freire and have only encountered it in theory, meet Shannon White, who teaches social studies “through a social justice and community-oriented lens, fostering deep critical thinking that challenges the status quo and engages students in as many authentic experiences as possible.” She uses YouTube playlists, hashtag galleries and donorschoose to fund and document her programs. If you are interested in educators who use digital media and networks to connect students with the real world, consider Ms. White. I first heard about Shannon White from Don Wettrick, an extraordinary


Learning English Through Digital Media

Monday, August 03, 2015

Dr. Deborah Cohen, associate professor in the Global Education Innovation Center at Gyeongju University in  South Korea, uses three digital media-based practices to encourage her students: YouTube videos such as the inspirational “Never, Ever Give Up” as “digital media artifacts” for teaching English as a second language. In her classes on “Social Media for Social Change,” she assigns her students to follow, analyze, and discuss social media campaigns in political campaigns as they progress. The third practice is “digital storytelling and life writing through digital stories.” Dr. Cohen started out in South Korea almost five years


Open Networked News Curriculum

Monday, July 06, 2015

Newsactivist was born when Gabriel Flacks, instructor and chair of the Humanities Program at Saint-Lambert Champlain Regional College in Montreal, started looking for ways that students could write about the news in a networked way. “It started as an extracurricular local group,” recalls Flacks, “then expanded to sharing with other students in other parts of the world. Within a year, the idea became a curriculum.” Working with a collaborative teaching partner, Dr. Eric Kaldor, assistant professor of sociology at The College at Brockport, Statue University of New York, Flacks and his partner started with 140 students


Reformatting Traditional Literature

Monday, June 15, 2015

Young faculty who came of age at the same time that social media emerged are beginning to experiment with new containers for old curricular vintages such as English composition. Michael Stewart, lecturer in English at Brown University, is rethinking traditional forms more radically than simply recasting traditional literature in digital media formats: “What happens when we take the form of a dictionary and use it for other, hopefully nefarious purposes? How can an essay be a waltz? How can we rethink the movement of one sentence to the next? If I write an essay in a


Teaching The Humanities Online

Monday, May 11, 2015

So many online courses concentrate on hard sciences and practical skills. How about the humanities? Laura Gibbs, who teaches two purely online courses for the University of Oklahoma, most certainly qualifies as a humanities enthusiast: Dr. Gibbs, who I first met as “OnlineCrsLady” via Connected Courses, teaches purely online courses about mythology and folklore and epics of ancient India.  Dr. Gibbs blogs in Latin, translated Aesop’s Fables for Oxford University Press, and her LOLcats in Latin is probably her biggest Internet meme claim to fame. She is proudest of “a huge collection of Aesop’s fables in


How Collaboration Empowers Learning

Monday, April 13, 2015

“I learned more on Twitter in six months than in two years of graduate school” is the epigraph of the first chapter of Tom Whitby’s book (co-authored with Steven W. Anderson), “The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning.” This quote could summarize Whitby’s philosophy of learning and teaching, in which collaboration is the environment, not just an ingredient, in effective learning. A teacher of English in secondary schools for 34 years and an adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s College for six years, he’s officially retired but, you wouldn’t know that from his social media activity. Whitby


KitHub Designed to Empower Young Innovators

Monday, March 02, 2015

KitHub, “creative electronics for young innovators,” is a kit-of-the-month club for young makers, their parents, and their families. It was designed to empower kids and parents who weren’t necessarily close to a physical makerspace, by two women — Tara Tiger Brown and Luz Rivas — who are passionately devoted to maker education, not by an edu-biz conglomerate or VC-founded startup. Brown has served as an entrepreneur, executive director, technical director and lead product manager for the MacArthur Foundation-supported Connected Learning Alliance, Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, Born This Way Foundation, Topspin Media, and Microsoft, and is co-founder


‘Our Common Core’

Monday, February 16, 2015

What if we trusted students as a default and dealt with transgressions when and if they come up? What if we gave them web-accessible devices without filters but taught them common sense and used transgressions as teachable moments? What if we even gave learners of every age a bit of agency in the shaping of their own curriculum — above and beyond recess and show-and-tell? My own 10 years as an instructor of undergraduates and graduate students have been an ongoing lesson in how much more we all learn when learners know they are trusted. Ira


Assessing, Measuring Connected Learning Outcomes

Monday, January 19, 2015

Although the preponderance of publicity about Massive Open Online Courses has focused on well-funded enterprises such as Coursera and Udacity, and superstars of what is mostly an online version of a lecture course, such as Sebastian Thrun, those of us who have been excited about the potential of MOOCs for a more student-centric, discursive, networked, peer-driven kind of course look to pioneers such as Jim Groom, Jonathan Worth, Anne Balsamo, Michael Wesch and Gardner Campbell. These pioneers don’t have the mainstream fame that the venture-backed edupreneurs have attracted, but educators in the thick of connected learning,


Tinkering and Thinking with Maker Kylie Peppler

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some enthusiasts of digital media in learning and inclusion of making/tinkering as a learning activity — including myself — believe that talking about tinkering while doing it, in person and online, can enhance social contexts for peer learning and for learning thinking skills. Although the contemporary availability of resources such as YouTube and Arduino seems particularly suited to an emphasis on social learning and tinkering-thinking, the pedagogy goes back (at least) to the early 20th century Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. A few key Vygotsky ideas about learning seem particularly applicable to connected learning, whether or not


Circuit Stickers, Notebook Hacking and Learning as Debugging

Monday, November 24, 2014

I’ve been writing for 45 years, and have always owned more physical notebooks than I need at any one time, and I’m an enthusiastic novice at electronics, so several of my antennae tingled vigorously when I first came across the term “circuit stickers” — peel-and-stick circuitry and components that are flat enough to make paper pages blink and boop. We’re used to thinking of words as, well, dead — they signify but (in most cases) don’t perform. Documents didn’t connect with each other through clickable links before the Web, either. Why NOT compose writing with light


Connecting Learners Through Hashtags, Focal Points

Monday, October 20, 2014

Like others who have become important co-learners in my personal learning network, I met Dr. Maha Bali, associate professor of practice of the Center for Learning and Teaching at American University in Cairo, through a hashtag. I can’t remember whether it was #ds106 or #etmooc or #clmooc, but it was one of those Twitter conversations that can serve as doorways into new communities of practice. (Hashtags, like the clock in Grand Central Station or Hachiko’s statue outside Tokyo’s Shibuya Station, are what sociologist Thomas Schelling called “focal points” that can help coordinate and introduce strangers in


Channeling Engelbart: Augmenting Human Education

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gardner Campbell not only teaches the ideas of Doug Engelbart — the visionary who invented the mouse, hypertext and many more of the digital tools so many people use every day — he understands that Engelbart’s technological attempt to “augment human intellect” also ought to be a central goal of pedagogy. Fortunately, as vice provost for learning innovation and associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Campbell is in a good position to pursue this goal in practice. If, as Engelbart insisted, digital media should be seen as means of helping individuals and communities think


Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity

Thursday, August 21, 2014

By the end of 2014, more than 3 billion people will have access to the Internet, which means that they (we) have the power to ask any question at any time and get a multitude of answers within a second. The responsibility for distinguishing between accurate, credible, true information and misinformation or disinformation, however, is no longer vested in trained and vetted experts — editors, publishers, critics, librarians, professors, subject-matter specialists. Now, the enormity, ubiquity and dubious credibility of the information available to most of the world’s population is requiring each of us to become something


Addressing “The War on Learning”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I’m always interested in technology critics who are accomplished users of the tools they criticize. Elizabeth Losh, director of Academic Programs, Sixth College at UC San Diego, teaches digital rhetoric, digital journalism, and software studies, and she was one of the organizers of a MOOC, FemTechNet, so she is neither opposed to nor unfamiliar with the uses of digital media in education. Losh is concerned, however, about what she perceives as an attack by educators on the kinds of informal learning young people engage in today — and an attack by education reformers on the human


Learner Interest-Driven Curriculum

Monday, June 23, 2014

What most educators would call “subjects” or “disciplines,” Jeff Hopkins, principal of the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry, regards as “silos” when they restrict the scope of learning and nodes of a knowledge network when they serve as points of interconnection. Rather than teaching, evaluating, and assessing students around distinct subjects, PSII educators guide students in projects that matter to them, which require tying together multiple subjects. Hopkins and his teachers are big on the word “consilience,” which biologist E.O. Wilson popularized as a focus on “the unity of knowledge.” Although this approach may seem


Co-inventing the Curriculum

Monday, May 12, 2014

Student empowerment is the strongest connective theme through the 55 posts and interviews I’ve conducted for this blog.  The educators I’ve interviewed all have one characteristic in common: they all enable students to take more control over and responsibility for their own learning. Digital media certainly makes many things easier — wikis and group blogs, skillfully used, can supercharge some kinds of collaborative work that long predate computers and networks. And digital media can make some things possible that were never possible before —  second grade students can blog and receive useful comments from people on


Conversation with Alan Levine, Pedagogical Technologist

Monday, April 21, 2014

“Instructional technologist” is an inadequate description for what Alan Levine has done at Maricopa Community Colleges, the New Media Consortium and the University of Mary Washington, often from his connected cabin in the Arizona highlands.  A better description might be: Alan Levine is a pedagogical technologist and architect of open, connected learning systems that enable students to take power over and responsibility for (and joy in!) their own learning. In Levine’s worlds of ds106, Phonar, and other open online courses, his coding and technical design often go beyond supporting existing pedagogy, by enabling learners to become


Theory of Knowledge, Social Media and Connected Learning in High School

Monday, March 24, 2014

I’m an advocate of cultivating and tuning the network of people I follow on Twitter, a practice that includes my willingness to respond to those I didn’t previously know who solicit my attention by directing an @reply to my Twitter handle. Far more often than not, the call to my attention by a stranger leads me to enrich my personal learning network. It’s also one way I meet people to videoblog about here on dmlcentral. That’s how Amy Burvall’s Theory of Knowledge course for high school students at Le Jardin Academy in Hawaii came to my


Feminist Theory, Online Action, and Networked Learning

Monday, March 03, 2014

“It’s not just about studying and learning,” says Pitzer College student Susanna Ferrell. “It’s also about activism,” adds fellow student Jade Ulrich, both of whom were beta testers for a Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC) about “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology” that started with Pitzer, University of California, San Diego, and Bowling Green State University students and spread to 18 colleges and a worldwide community of online learners. (Ferrell and Ulrich presented at the experiential learning conference in San Diego, January 2014.) As Ms. Ulrich noted, participants in DOCC 2013 did not just view the texts


‘Improving Improvement’ in Education: Louis Gomez, Keynote Speaker for DML2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

While so much attention is focused on improving teaching – the controversy over using text scores as “teacher accountability” measures, for example – isn’t it also important to think about how we improve our notions of improvement? We see no lack of thinking about reforming education: Shouldn’t some attention be directed to how we’re thinking about educational change – and how to improve that thinking? Fortunately, Louis M. Gomez, who is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at DML 2014, has been working on these issues for some time. Perhaps the existing digital media and learning


Hacking The Classroom with Michelle Cordy, aka, “Teacher on an Urgent Quest”

Monday, December 30, 2013

As soon as she joined one of my online courses and immediately embraced co-learning, I recognized Michelle Cordy as the kind of fearless learner who makes a great teacher. A teacher can do a great deal to facilitate the conditions from which learning communities emerge – but only the learners can make the real magic happen. In my ten years of teaching face to face and online, I’ve discovered that the sine qua non of the truly magical co-learning experience is a lead learner or two – people who will try the activities and read the


“Making is a stance toward learning”: Sylvia Libow Martinez

Monday, December 23, 2013

Messing with Makey-Makey, tinkering with Arduino, building robots or creating wearable art are not primarily about teaching electronic skills, problem-solving, or technological literacy – although those can be benefits of the maker revolution in education. Messing, tinkering, building projects that actually interest learners is about developing skills of autonomous learning, cultivating an appreciation for and fluency in using learning communities and experienced guides, and practice at thinking big. “Making is a stance toward learning that puts the learner at the center of the educational process,” is how Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager put it in


Freedom, Autonomy, and Digital Media at an Indiana High School

Monday, October 28, 2013

“Freedom and autonomy are the key words for this class,” says Don Wettrick, describing the “Innovations” course he teaches at Franklin Community High School in Franklin, Indiana. I believe these words also convey the most important reason for using digital media in schools. While the availability of open education resources is indeed a bonanza for those who know how to use them, and iPads can lighten backpacks by holding hundreds of books, these new ways of delivering traditional texts and lectures multiply the power of old media, but don’t otherwise change the role of learners as


When Students Say They Want to Change the World, Listen: Angela Maiers

Monday, October 07, 2013

Ask any teacher why they teach, and for all their other reasons, I bet they agree that teaching matters. Doing something that matters is being someone that matters. How could young learners today learn that they can teach and contribute to others’ learning? How could they learn that what they are doing – and they, themselves – matter? Angela Maiers has been igniting a movement around what she and others are calling Genius Hour. Maiers, a former teacher and now full time education advocate, activist, and consultant, brings together passion-based learning, activist learning, and the peer


Arduino and Learning: H.S. Teacher Ariel Simons

Monday, September 30, 2013

A powerful recipe for engaged learning: Show students how to command actions in the physical world – make lights blink, sounds sound, motors move, robots roam, sensors sense. Combine this concrete act of control over physical objects activity with the abstract power of programming – show students how to make those lights blink in response to the sounds, make the sensors guide the motors. Apply this combination of software and hardware hacking to measuring the radiation levels near Fukushima and aggregating radiation data, a task that the Japanese government apparently failed to do for months. Now


Digital Storytelling 106: Open, Participatory, Student-centric, Social…the Future?

Monday, September 09, 2013

Far more important to me than all the venture-capitalized consortia of elite university MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and the hundreds of thousands of students flocking to them is a course taught by an adjunct professor at University of Mary Washington. In my personal learning network, Jim Groom and ds106 are the stuff of legend. I’ve conducted more than 40 interviews for DMLcentral, and without a doubt, Jim Groom is the most excited and exciting educator I’ve talked to. If I had one wish regarding the way online education will happen in the future, it would


Super Awesome Sylvia

Thursday, August 08, 2013

When I was ten years old, one television program was magical to me: Meet Mr. Wizard. Mr. Wizard was a friendly, knowledgeable old guy (he was probably in his 40s) who explained scientific phenomena to his young friends through various experiments and contraptions. At that time, the notion of science – of using knowledge to make things happen (blow up, emit smoke, become visible, change colors) – was as magical to me as Harry Potter’s magic wand was to a later generation. Chemistry sets for kids were still legal. I could buy potassium permanganate and glycerin


Teaching and Learning with Minecraft, Part Two: Sara Kaviar

Monday, August 05, 2013

When Sara Kaviar’s students study comparative religions, they don’t just read and view videos. They visit houses of worship, then recreate them in the Minecraft online sandbox and design games in their virtual world that test each others’ knowledge. For these students, the process of building and then navigating through models of physical churches, temples, and mosques gives them both a medium through which they can co-construct knowledge and a social environment that encourages collaborative learning. The pizazz of the technology many students choose to use even when their teachers aren’t encouraging it certainly plays a


Teaching and Learning with Minecraft: Liam O’Donnell

Monday, July 08, 2013

Playing with blocks certainly predates constructionist theories of learning by playing with “tangible manipulatives,” but the culturally universal practice is probably as old as human social learning. What is new is the ability to use simulated blocks to teach comparative religion by enabling students to construct navigable models of famous houses of worship. Or explore biology by assembling giant DNA molecules, or manifest millions of blocks by performing the proper calculations and applying appropriate logical operations. Manipulatives aren’t containers of knowledge, but can be used as “objects to think with,” as Seymour Papert noted more than thirty


MOOCs, Hype, and the Precarious State of Higher Ed: Futurist Bryan Alexander

Monday, June 10, 2013

Does it continue to make sense to go to college when the sticker price of a college education is soaring, the amount of debt college students are taking on – even for the non-elite universities and what were formerly affordable public universities – is severely constraining their choices post-graduation, and job prospects for new graduates are dismal? A year ago, I talked with Anya Kamenetz, who delved into these issues in her book, DIY U. Since then, the ballyhooed arrival of free MOOCs into this frightening intersection of economic, intellectual, and social forces has ignited debate


Learning Online in the Second Grade: Teacher Linda Yollis

Monday, May 20, 2013

Blogging, commenting thoughtfully on others’ blogs, staying safe online, creating a positive digital footprint, using audio and video to connect with students in other parts of the world, creating and publishing video – at what grade level should students be introduced to these essential digital literacies? How about the second grade? Linda Yollis, a teacher in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, remembers the classroom in which she started teaching in the 1980s: “Learning was confined to the four walls of the classroom, was entirely paper-based, worksheet-driven, and I was the audience for most of the written


In Pursuit of In(ter)dependent Learning: Kio Stark

Monday, April 22, 2013

Humans are by far the most skilled social learners of this planet’s millions of species. We’re biologically equipped to pay attention to and learn from each other, and we’ve devised cultural tools such as speech and writing to augment our biologically endowed cognitive capabilities. We’ve created institutions to equip our young people to benefit from and contribute to civilization. Unfortunately, as is often the case with powerful inventions, schooling has its drawbacks – foremost among them the dulling of many young people’s hunger for independent learning. I’ve thought about these issues ever since I was identified


In Praise of Peer to Peer Connectivity: Technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci

Monday, March 25, 2013

Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist who uses, as well as studies, social media, offers a refreshingly rigorous and empirically-scaffolded perspective amid the frenzy of armchair social science regarding the impact of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and other participatory media. Too often, public discourse about the influence of social media, both positive and negative, devolves into a Manichaean rhetoric of utopia-or-apocalypse. While strong points of view from all quarters are necessary when new technologies are debated in the public sphere, Tufekci captured my attention by her combination of empirical scholarship, ability to tackle nuanced explanations in straightforward prose,


DML Conference 2013: Democratic Futures (Ethan Zuckerman, Keynote)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ) will deliver the keynote at this year’s Digital Media & Learning Conference, “Democratic Futures,” March 14-16 in Chicago, and we asked Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold) to vlog with Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and co-founder of Global Voices. As Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs and Net Smart, writes below: “Don’t miss the video. Zuckerman does most of the talking, and he knows what he’s talking about.” “What’s the most important possible effect of many-to-many communication?” I asked myself when I first started writing about life online. The term “social


Community Innovation Lab: Mashups of Youth, Activists, Technologists, Policymakers

Monday, December 17, 2012

If you seek examples of civic engagement by young people, look no further than the Community Innovation Lab, a mashup of Harvard students and faculty, the city of Boston, and established neighborhood associations. The core of this town-gown-local government hybrid is a course jointly taught by Harvard Graduate School of Design professor Michael Hooper and Harvard Kennedy School professor Susan Crawford. The Lab is the activist portion of the course, which also includes weekly seminars taught separately by each professor. Crawford’s syllabus on ”Solving Problems Using Technology” and Hooper’s syllabus on “Advanced Workshop in Participatory Urban


Assessment: Turning a Blunt Instrument Into a Powerful Learning Tool

Monday, November 26, 2012

It’s ironic that assessment in schools is most often “something adults do to students,” as Rick Stiggins puts it, because all humans are highly evolved for learning, and self-assessment is a powerful tool all learners use. Whether you are trying to master a recipe, solve an equation, improve your golf swing, you continually ask yourself questions such as “Have I learned to do what I need to do?” “What did I do wrong?” “How do I improve?” and, most importantly, “How did I learn that?” All, assessment. Wouldn’t it be great if schools didn’t turn a


Elizabeth Lawley: “Just Press Play” — Adding a Game Layer to the Undergraduate Experience

Monday, October 29, 2012

I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t aware of Professor Elizabeth Lawley. Ten years ago, there weren’t many tenure-track academics who were also active bloggers, avid gamers, and social media researchers. Now Professor of Interactive Games and Media at Rochester Institute of Technology, Lawley has chaired the annual invitation-only “Social Computing Symposium” sponsored by Microsoft Research since 2006 — before the term “social media” emerged. In 2004, she founded RIT’s Lab for Social Computing, which Lawley says was “the first interdisciplinary academic lab centered on social computing.” But social computing per se wasn’t the topic


Passion, Projects & Play: Restoring Creativity in the Classroom

Thursday, October 04, 2012

At my elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona, problem students like me were often sent to the art teacher’s room. Unfortunately for me, my objection to sitting in a little desk, arranged in rows with other little desks, then moving in single-file to another room full of desks in rows whenever a loud bell rang, made me a problem student. Fortunately for me, the art teacher was my mother, beloved by many as Mrs. Rheingold. After the pin-drop quiet, pin-neat order of our homerooms, the happy chaos of Mrs. Rheingold’s art studio was like travelling to an


The ‘Presence’ Project and the ‘Be Here Now’ Box: Digital Media and Family Attention

Monday, September 17, 2012

Enthusiasts and skeptics agree that digital media are attention magnets. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that one in six Americans admitted to bumping into someone or something while texting, and a video from a mall surveillance camera that showed a woman falling into a pool while she attended to the screen of her phone has been viewed four million times. Every professor in the world now faces students who no longer look at the professor, other students, their notepads or out the window, but gaze fixedly at their laptops. Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone


Global Transmedia MOOCs

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nearly two years before Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun shook up educational institutions with their massive open online course on artificial intelligence, using videos, blogs, wikis, and online tests, photography educators Jonathan Worth, Matt Johnston, and Jonathan Shaw at Coventry University organized online classes for thousands of students in hundreds of cities, using blogs, podcasts, RSSfeeds, a Flickr group, an iPhone app, a Soundcloud group, and a Vimeo group, and hashtags (#phonar and #picbod). Phonar, the course on photography and narrative, and Picbod, the course on photography and the body, were open to third year Coventry


Professor Alec Couros: “The Connected Teacher”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One powerful benefit of networked learning is that when you find something interesting, it often leads to someone interesting – and that someone often leads to entire networks of interesting people. Or, as Dr. Alec Couros puts it, “the tools come and go, but the relationships endure.” I found Professor Couros the way many people did, by coming across the intriguing diagram of “The Networked Teacher” that many educators now use in their slide presentations. By the time I discovered Dr. Couros, now professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina, I had


Hacking the Curriculum 101

Monday, July 09, 2012

At a time when so many teachers and administrators fear and forbid student access to the internet from school, a high school teacher on the California coast is encouraging students by the hundreds to blog, Skype, gamify, and mindmap collaboratively in public. Problems? Zero. Enthusiasm — I can personally testify as one of the people Dr. Preston invited to videoconference with his students — blows the roof off. Preston’s students are enthusiastic about the texts, the ideas, the possibility of reaching out to the authors of those texts and inviting them into the class, and the


George Couros: Why School Administrators Should Embrace the Social Web

Thursday, June 28, 2012

By encouraging administrators to become learner-leaders, to use social media to connect with each other, share best practices and experiment, Canadian school principal George Couros is leading by example, exhortation, and instigation the people who are supposed to be leading our schools into the future. He created and regularly contributes to the website that serves as an online gathering place especially for school principals, Connected Principals, and has blogged in detail about why and how school administrators should be using social media in practical ways in their schools — linking in this one compendium post to


DIY U: Interview with Anya Kamenetz

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

I was very excited by Anya Kamenetz’s book, DIY U, which I highly recommend, and her free ebook, The Edupunk’s Guide! I’m also very interested in what Anya is doing with P2PU and teaching people, helping people, learn to be self learners. Her work serves as a bridge between blended learning and peeragogy. I previously wrote about Shelly Terrell and personal learning networks. Kamenetz has introduced the idea of the ‘personal learning plan’ in the course she taught at P2PU. Here are a few highlights of our interview, but check out the whole video below: Most


Reality, the Game: Interview with Interactive Expert Jeff Watson

Friday, April 27, 2012

When I read Henry Jenkins’ description of the Pokemon-like card game he played with entering students at USC’s interdisciplinary Cinema School, I realized that the project Tracy Fullerton had described in September, 2011, had come to pass. Don’t think “gamification of education.” Think “turning a social icebreaker into transdisciplinary collaboration among former strangers.” Jenkins described his own encounter with the game: A few weeks ago, I was sent a pack of collector’s cards — with my picture on them! — and asked to show up in the courtyard outside the USC Cinematic Arts facilities so that


Teaching Teachers, Honoring Learners: Interview with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Friday, April 20, 2012

As digital media and networks make possible more networked and collaborative pedagogies, who teaches the teachers how to take advantage of the opportunities (and avoid the pitfalls) that new technologies afford? I have recounted previously on this blog how I discovered Will Richardson’s book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, when I started combining my own classroom teaching with social media. Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, a former classroom teacher, charter school principal, district administrator, technology coach, and university instructor, teamed up to found the Powerful Learning Practice Network to not only enable,


Bryan Alexander: Emerging Learning Technologies

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I knew Bryan Alexander was intense when I first spotted him in the audience at a talk I gave in the late 1990s. Just look at him. Old Testament prophet? Civil War general? Straight out of Middle Earth or Hogwarts? It’s not just the beard and the eyes. When you watch my video interview with Bryan (below), you can’t help but notice he is always in motion. I’ve actually seen him pound the podium. He’s an educator and an educator of educators who can’t disguise his passion and doesn’t care if he stands out in the


Toward Peeragogy

Monday, January 23, 2012

Editor’s Note: This evening Howard will deliver the 2011 Regents’ Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley. His topic: the transformative power of social media and peer learning. Here, in a continuing series, Howard reflects on his ongoing experiment in high-end, peer-to-peer, global learning via the internet and social networks. The more I give my teacher-power to students and encourage them to take more responsibility for their own learning, the more they show me how to redesign my ways of teaching. At the end of the first course I taught solo, I asked students for their


Steve Hargadon: Reimagining Education as Networked, Participatory, Social, Global

Monday, December 19, 2011

Steve Hargadon is the Charlie Rose of technology, learning and teaching. On his website, the Future of Education, he has interviewed everyone: from Clay Shirky to Diane Ravitch to Ken Robinson to Howard Gardner, and nearly all those in between. He’s been at the center of open education resources, Web 2.0, and social networking for as long as anyone I can think of. He is a master of virtual live events. His Teacher 2.0 site is essentially a megasized personal learning network for teachers. I caught up with him recently and am excited to share his


Democratizing Learning Innovation

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mark Surman is in the business of connecting things: people, ideas, everything. A community technology activist for almost 20 years, Mark is currently the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, with a focus on inventing new ways to promote openness and opportunity on the Internet. He is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif., Mar. 1-3: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Surman is leading an important conference sub-theme, “Democratizing Learning Innovation.” Before joining Mozilla, he was an open philanthropy fellow at the Shuttleworth


Re-imagining Media for Learning

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tracy Fullerton is an experimental game designer and associate professor in the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she directs the Game Innovation Lab. Her design research center has produced several influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and The Night Journey, a collaboration with artist Bill Viola. She is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Fullerton is heading up one of four important sub-themes


Seeing the Classroom as a Hub of Technology-enabled Social Change

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Antero Garcia, who teaches English at a high school in South Central Los Angeles, is a PhD candidate, focusing on critical literacies and civic identity through the use of mobile media and game play. He utilizes his classroom as a center of youth participatory action research. His students assess and address real-life needs in their South Central community. Garcia is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Garcia is heading up one of four important sub-themes in the


Mitch Resnick: The Role of Making, Tinkering, Remixing in Next-Generation Learning

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mitch Resnick is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference, “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” As Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, he develops new technologies and activities to engage people (especially children) in creative learning experiences. His Lifelong Kindergarten research group developed ideas and technologies underlying the LEGO Mindstorms and WeDo robotics kits, used by millions of young people around the world. His group also developed the Scratch programming language and online community, enabling young people to create and share interactive stories, games,


Digital Media & Learning Conference 2012: Learning Innovations in a Connected World

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference, it’s being announced today, will explore the richer, deeper learning enabled by the emergence of Web-enabled, mobile-based platforms that promote new models of peer-to-peer learning, anywhere/anytime learning, blended learning and game-based learning, both in school and out of school. The conference, to be held in San Francisco Mar. 1-3, 2012, will feature four core threads – democratizing learning innovation, innovations for public education, re-imagining media for learning, and making/tinkering/remixing – and steer headlong into pressing debates around the role of technology and the future of education and learning, including: 


Learning Reimagined: Participatory, Peer, Global, Online

Friday, July 22, 2011

This is a golden age for motivated self-learners, given the availability of open educational resources – from MIT’s OpenCourseWare, Wikipedia, Wikiversity, and YouTube EDU to the Khan Academy and Apple’s iTunes U, together with every possible online communication tool a learner could want – audio, video, forums, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, whiteboards, social bookmarking, mindmapping, and curation services, all free of charge or inexpensive. A population interested in online learning, a mountain of content, and a cornucopia of communication media are almost sufficient for explosive growth of networked, collaborative learning, but require one additional key ingredient:


How does Digital Media impact Youth Political and Civic Engagement?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

There’s a lot of conversation about young people’s use of digital media and how it impacts their engagement — or lack of engagement — in civic affairs and politics, but not a great deal of empirical work has been done. Until now. Joseph Kahne is the chair of a newly-formed research network, Youth and Participatory Politics (YaPP), that is looking at the ways youth are using digital media and the Internet to engage in meaningful ways in civic affairs and social issues. I had an opportunity to talk with Kahne about his latest research findings and


Pop-Up University

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If Rheingold U, my current experiment in cultivating wholly online, multimedia, unaccredited, for-not-much-pay learning communities, originally germinated out of fun and impulse, the next stage was more scary-serious. As soon as I took people’s money and started telling the world about my intentions, I was obligated as well as motivated to make it work – not just to deliver a rich set of learning materials, but to conjure actual social learning magic. Networked social learning is most effective and truly magical when students who don’t know one another one day start scouring the world for knowledge


Einstein, YouTube, and New Media Literacies in the Connected Age

Monday, March 28, 2011

When I started using digital media in my classroom, I began my search for mentors by inspecting Will Richardson’s social bookmarking networks on Diigo, then followed on Twitter some of the people Will paid attention, which led to Web 2.0 learning expert Steve Hargadon. When Hargadon invited me to participate in an online Elluminate session with 100 educators and librarians, it was an opportunity to learn about a subject I’m deeply interested in — the literacy of critical consumption of online information (or, as Hemingway put it more plainly, “Crap Detection“). So I told Steve I’d


D.I.Y.U.: An Experiment

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rheingold U, my current experiment in cultivating wholly online, multimedia, unaccredited, for-not-much-pay learning communities, grew out of a desire to follow the fun and act on impulse. When I impulsively tweeted  a couple of weeks ago, “Anyone willing to pay $100 for five-week Intro to Mind Amplifiers course?” I was long-practiced in the art of riding the waves of personal impulse. In fact, the most productive learning trails I’ve followed or blazed in life started with singular impulses that fulfill life-long interests but were triggered by superficial, even accidental proximate causes. I started thinking about computers


Mozilla Drumbeat: Open Web Meets Open Learning

Thursday, January 06, 2011

What if the same energy, ideals, organizational effectiveness, global army of volunteers and code wizardry that created the Firefox web browser could be applied to learning and education? Don’t forget that the Mozilla Foundation is all about maintaining the openness and generativity of the Web. Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, told me recently “we need to do more than make a browser” for Mozilla to advance its larger goals. I asked him why Mozilla decided to turn its attention and formidable energies to education and learning. “We looked at each other,” Surman said,


Learning, Playing, Designing: Video Games in School

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Most education has been fashioned around the reasonable-sounding objective of equipping students with tools to solve problems. This is one facet of what some educators call the “eat your broccoli” approach to education — “Sit still and learn this; it will come in handy later,” parents and teachers repeat to their children and students. Unfortunately, it turns out that too many students resist sitting still and learning things that have no immediate use to them, but which adults insist are necessary. What would happen if you inverted that strategy? What would happen if you presented students


Shelly Terrell: Global Netweaver, Curator, PLN Builder

Friday, October 15, 2010

When I started using social media in the classroom, I looked for and began to learn from more experienced educators. First, I read and then tried to comment usefully on their blog posts and tweets. When I began to understand who knew what in the world of social media in education, I narrowed my focus to the most knowledgeable and adventurous among them. I paid attention to the people the savviest social media educators paid attention to. I added and subtracted voices from my attention network, listened and followed, then commented and opened conversations. When I


It’s the Learning, Not the Technology – Jessica K. Parker

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Without a doubt, your 15-year-old daughter can text one-handed while holding her phone under her desk. Your 11-year-old brother leads his own World of Warcraft guild. Your fellow college students are Googling you during the first class you have together. And if you are the professor, you know that your lectures are now competing against the entire Web for your students’ attention. Without a doubt, today’s youth are tech-savvy. That doesn’t mean, however, that their proficiencies automatically grow into literacies, that they appreciate the lasting social implications of an inappropriate photo on Facebook, know how to


It’s an amazing time to be a learner – Will Richardson

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Your personal learning network is not just a network of people you learn from. A “pln,” as enthusiasts call them, is a network of people who are learning together. I was given this essential lore – and truth be told, much of what I know about social media in education – by Will Richardson. The reciprocal nature of learning networks is only the latest useful insight Richardson has given me and the rest of his network. In part, this blog post and interview is a form of reciprocation: you know you have succeeded as an educator


Librarian 2.0: Buffy J. Hamilton

Monday, May 03, 2010

Which of the following two assignments is more likely to engage high school students and inspire them to learn something?1.  Write a paper about contemporary US war veterans.2.  Create a multimedia resource of news feeds, archival video, student interviews with veterans, document how you accomplished it, and share your findings with the world. Buffy J. Hamilton, “The Unquiet Librarian,” teamed with classroom teacher Susan Lester at Creekside High in Canton, Georgia, and betting on the second alternative, they created “the veteran’s issues research project.” Each student started by using the free Netvibes feed aggregator to create


Diana Rhoten: The Science of Reimagining Learning

Monday, March 29, 2010

“From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in the school comes from his inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside the school in any complete and free way within the school itself; while, on the other hand, he is unable to apply in daily life what he is learning at school. That is the isolation of the school – its isolation from life. When the child gets into the schoolroom he has to put out of his mind a large part of the ideas, interests, and activities that predominate in his home and


The Social Media Classroom

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

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


Meet Meredith Stewart: Teacher…Innovator…Collaborator

Thursday, December 03, 2009

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


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

Friday, November 20, 2009

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


Esther Wojcicki’s H.S. Journalism Learning Community

Thursday, November 05, 2009

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