Mimi Ko Cruz

mimi ko cruz headshot

Mimi Ko Cruz joined the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub in 2014 with more than two decades of experience in communications. She has worked as a journalist, including 14 years at the Los Angeles Times, and as a higher education public information officer, including eight years at Cal State Fullerton. Her work has earned a number of awards over the years. As communications manager for the Hub, an initiative of the UC Humanities Research Institute based at UC Irvine, she is responsible for public and media relations and publications, as well as for overseeing content development for DMLhub.net and DMLcentral.net.


Blogs (31)


Watchworthy Wednesday: Virtual Field Trip Delves into Museum Science

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Infrared xray of artwork With a camera that sees infrared light pointed at a centuries-old painting by artist Jan Provost, the original sketch underneath appears. The x-rayed image shows how different the original drawing was from what was ultimately painted. To analyze the minerals in the paint used, scientists use XRF (X-ray fluorescence), a non-destructive analytical technique that determines the elemental composition of materials. Such science and technology can be used to answer all sorts of art history and scientific questions. That was the point of a virtual field trip today behind the scenes at the Detroit Institute of Arts


Watchworthy Wednesday: Gratitude Increases Well-being

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

world gratitude map As Americans gather to celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, people around the globe can take part in giving thanks through free online projects that aim to boost well-being and resilience year-round. Crowd-Sourced Gratitude Map Some 23,000 people from 100 countries so far have posted notes about what they’re grateful for on the World Gratitude Map, a crowd-sourcing project founded by Jacqueline Lewis five years ago. It, Lewis said, “encourages users to document and celebrate the good things in life and helps keep their eyes on all that’s good and beautiful and possible in the world.” A few


Watchworthy Wednesday: Letters for the 45th President

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

topics of letters to the president from young people Gun control, immigration, education, abortion and police brutality are among the top issues that young people care about and want President-elect Donald J. Trump to care about, too. As part of the Letters to the Next President 2.0 project, students, ranging in age from 13 to 18, from across the country wrote letters expressing their views on myriad issues. Nearly 12,000 letters were penned online. The following are  a few excerpts: “Gun violence across America has been getting progressively worse, and something needs to be done in attempt to resolve this crisis. Given the violent world we live


Watchworthy Wednesday: iCivics Game Delivers Lessons on U.S. Presidency

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

screenshot of icivics game As Donald Trump was declared president elect early this morning, the website iCivics debuted a new edition of Executive Command, an animated educational game aimed at teaching kids all about the role of the president. The game has players take on the role and select an agenda for the country. They learn what it takes to accomplish their goals while facing the challenges and responsibilities that appear along the way. “We don’t learn civics and how to be involved as a citizen, genetically. We have to learn it, every generation,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says in a


Watchworthy Wednesday: How to Make Digital Civic Change

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

ypp The Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network has debuted a new website, featuring its “Action Frame” — 10 questions designed to guide young people on how to make civic change in this digital age. From the website: Sixties activists insisted the personal is political. Change-makers in the digital age get that idea, and one-up it with another rallying cry: the political is social and cultural. Your platforms and digital strategies need to make this principle count, so that you, your peers, and your audiences engage each other, and the allies you all want, in high-quality, equitable,


Watchworthy Wednesday: Closing the Homework Gap

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

students at computers doing homework in library Franny Millen was in the 7th grade four years ago when she realized that many of her classmates couldn’t do their homework because they didn’t have a computer or internet access at home. To her, that was simply unfair and she and her family started a nonprofit organization, Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D), to help her peers. “As educators, we recognize that we don’t have digital equity in our community but to Franny, it was just not fair,” Valerie Truesdale, chief technology officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, recalled. “Some students could extend learning beyond


Watchworthy Wednesday: 15 DML Speakers Ignite, Enlighten

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

ignite speakers Fifteen inspiring speakers took the stage Oct. 6 and 7 during the 7th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference at the University of California, Irvine. With 20 slides and 5 minutes each, they delivered some powerful talks, enlightening conference-goers about the DML projects that fuel their passions. The following are excerpts from the speakers and videos of their full Ignite presentations. Fresh Rap From Prof Ross “Well, this is a story about how my teaching got flipped, turned upside down…. In So California, born and raised, watching TV is how I spent most of my days,


Watchworthy Wednesday: 2016 DML Keynote Recap

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Keynote speakers In case you weren’t among the nearly 500 people at the 7th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference last week at the University of California, Irvine, here are highlights from the keynotes. What is the Intellectual Culture of Games? Thanks to two factors that have emerged — mobile gaming and a healthy indie ecosystem — video games are in “the golden age,” according to games expert Constance Steinkuehler, presently a professor in digital media at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and co-director of the Games+Learning+Society Center at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery and soon to join the UCI


Watchworthy Wednesday: UCI Opens eSports Arena

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

UCI eSports arena Now that the University of California, Irvine has opened the first eSports arena of its kind at a public college, student-gamers soon will be doing battle against the enemy Lexus in “League of Legends” tournaments under big screens to cheering fans. The new 3,500-square-foot arena is outfitted with 80 custom gaming PCs, luxurious ergonomic chairs and a webcasting studio that will broadcast matches. Home to UCI’s elite new “League of Legends” team, the arena also will host summer camps and other special events, and is available to anyone who wants to play for recreation for about


Watchworthy Wednesday: iPadpalooza Pizzazz

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

George Couros presenting keynote address During the mini-keynotes at iPadpalooza over the summer, George Couros, author of “The Innovator’s Mindset,” talked about a kid who made a YouTube video, hoping somebody would see it. When he gets one “like,” he makes another video in gratitude and ends up going viral. “So, this kid totally reminds me of me when I was a kid,” Couros said. “A little bit awkward, a little bit chubby and just hoping he connects to somebody…. He makes a six-minute video to thank people all around the world for his one like. So, he goes on and


Watchworthy Wednesday: Brokering Learning Opportunities

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brokering A new initiative — Building Youth Pathways in Computer Science and Digital Making (CS-Paths) — has been launched in an effort to support teens in computing and digital making programs. CS-Paths, a partnership between the Hive Research Lab (HRL) and the Hive NYC Network, asks: “How might we support young people to pursue computing and digital media pathways that go beyond a single program experience?” The answer: through brokering learning opportunities. This kind of brokering is the practice of a caring adult such as a teacher, counselor, peer, librarian or volunteer helping a young person connect


Watchworthy Wednesday: New Series Features Extraordinary Women

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Feminist Frequency Emma Goldman was born in 1869 in Russia. When she was 15, her father tried to force her to get married and when she refused, he threw her French grammar book in the fire. At 16, she left her homeland, immigrating to the United States where she discovered her calling as a political revolutionary. Her story comes to life as narrated by Anita Sarkeesian, in this just-released video series, “Ordinary Women Daring to Defy History” by Feminist Frequency: “The Revolutionary Life of Emma Goldman” is the first of five videos in the series, telling the stories


Watchworthy Wednesday: The 5 Most Needed 21st Century Skills

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

CharacterDay As the third annual Character Day approaches Sept. 22, the nonprofit Let it Ripple Film Studio will be featuring “The Adaptable Mind,” an 11-minute exploration of the five skills we need most to flourish in the 21st century. Webby Awards creator Tiffany Shlain, who founded Character Day, co-founded the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and leads Let it Ripple, uses Twitter to pose a question at the beginning of the film: “What’s a great example of a 21st century mind in action?” She receives hundreds of responses and focuses on the one from Los


Watchworthy Wednesday: Empowering Youth Through Writing, Digital Media

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ywp-banner 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


Watchworthy Wednesday: Spreading Storytelling Through Photography and Connecting Educators

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Student takes a photo with a mobile device As a documentary photographer, Andrea Birnbaum is a storyteller. But, she emphasizes, “I am very aware that I cannot tell other people’s stories for them. I can only show my perspective on what I see in the world.” So, when she discovered Phonar Nation, the online photography class immediately appealed to Birnbaum, also an educator, as it teaches students how to tell their own stories. Designed by award-winning photographer, Jonathan Worth, Phonar Nation was built to be taught from a mobile device for a mobile device user, and it’s an open course that any student can


Watchworthy Wednesday: Connecting Hip-Hop and Coding

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

teen codes hip-hop dance move How can young people use coding to express their interests in areas such as hip-hop dance? To explore this question, Progressive Arts Alliance and the MIT Scratch team will host the Hip-Hop and Scratch Coding Summit, a two-day workshop for educators and program leaders to learn about creative pathways into computing. The summit, to be held Oct. 21-22 in Cleveland, Ohio, will bring together a diverse group of people who lead programs for young people, especially for youth in underserved communities. Forty participants will be chosen on Sept. 5, so there’s still time to apply. The summit


Watchworthy Wednesday: A Dreamer’s Guide to College Funds

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca with her DREAMer's Roadmap app Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca would not be studying at Cañada College in Redwood City, getting ready to transfer to a four-year college and major in political science and communications, were it not for the help of a scholarship for undocumented students. Unable to apply for federal student loans because of her status and discouraged by naysayers, she thought it would be impossible to go to college, and she knows many other undocumented youth feel the same way. (About 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year in the U.S.) That’s why she created DREAMer’s Roadmap, a


Watchworthy Wednesday: Expounding on Educational Equity

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

cla equity banner students looking at aquarium Schools are just one place where learning takes place. Education can also be had at libraries, after-school programs, summer camps and online. In fact, today’s abundance of technological resources provides myriad learning opportunities. But, not all youth have the chance to take part, due to barriers such as access and cost. This Connected Learning Alliance video addresses educational equity and how connected learning can help close the access gap. It’s based on research evidence, proving that “we need a learning ecosystem that challenges inequality by empowering people to create opportunity together. The tools of the digital


Watchworthy Wednesday: Check Facts With Crap Detection Resources

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

magnifying glass on newspaper Want to know if someone plagiarizes a speech? Is the content on a website copied from another website? Do those song lyrics sound familiar? What about those statements? Have they been stolen from books, articles or other public documents? Has a photograph been manipulated? Suspecting minds should check. And, DML Central’s most prolific and highly respected blogger Howard Rheingold shares a guide, listing more than 100 helpful websites he calls “crap detection resources.” His constantly updated and curated list includes sites that can: instantly verify whether a celebrity is dead or alive; research statements made by


Watchworthy Wednesday: How Pokémon Go Promotes Learning Opportunities

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pokémon Go players In barely two weeks, the virtual reality game Pokémon Go has attracted millions of players. Now, educators are pondering whether the game can be used to promote learning. Three blogs — Aside, Discovery Education and EdTech — are nodding indeed. “Harnessing student excitement of this game can easily be used to support all kinds of fun and pedagogically-sound lessons and activities,” writes Discovery Education’s Kathy Schrock. She offers a number of resources educators can use to create lessons. Among her observations: “The journal component of the game automatically records the time and date of the events as they


Watchworthy Wednesday: Music-making Revolution

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Girl creating music on Looplabs Today’s stars are born on YouTube, Vine, Instagram and SoundCloud, and people are expressing themselves more than ever through social media using the written word, photographs and video. Musical expression, however, remains massively underserved, according to Craig Swann, co-founder of Looplabs, a cloud-based music studio that offers a free online collaborative production platform that allows anyone to create anywhere with an internet connection. Looplabs’ mission “is to help the world create, share and discover music together,” Swann said. “We’re quickly approaching 100,000 users since launching late last year in public beta. We have top users from 8


Watchworthy Wednesday: The Minecraft Effect

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

minecraft fortress Minecraft, the Lego-like building video game, is such a massive hit that the New York Times Magazine recently made it the subject of a cover story. What makes the game such a global sensation is its power to encourage an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) — those pesky fields that Americans don’t seem to be able to conquer. U.S. students lag behind 34 other countries in math and behind 26 countries in science, according to a Pew Research Center study. “The game encourages kids to regard logic and if-then statements as fun things


Watchworthy Wednesday: Infographics Showcase Edtech, eLearning, Gamification

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Infographic illustration of child looking through vr virtual reality headset Infographics: they pack facts and stats with colorful visuals; the best ones teach you something in a quick and alluring way. That’s why I’m digging this website: elearninginfographics.com. It curates some of the most informative infographics on topics including edtech, e-learning (blended and mobile learning, distance education, instructional design), MOOCs (massive open online courses), school (from preschool to adult education), gamification and social learning. There are so many, I stopped counting after 100. But, I picked three recent ones that I think the DML community might find useful. This one gives a timeline on education’s evolution from


Watchworthy Wednesday: Protego — An Orlando Call to Action

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

illustration of Harry Potter casting the protego spell in response to Orlando tragedy. Just days before a gunman killed 49 people in a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the Harry Potter Alliance launched its “Protego” campaign, which aims to make the world a safer place for the transgender community. The Pulse nightclub shooting, the 11-year-old nonprofit HPA notes, was a hate crime that “sits at the intersection of many forms of oppression.” In author J.K. Rowling’s books, the heroes fight against injustice and the HPA wants people to do that in real life.  “Protego is the HPA’s first ever transgender rights and safe spaces campaign, named after the shield charm used in the Harry


New for DML2016: Geek Out Day Features Hands-on Workshops

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Geek Out Day at DML Conference happening October 5, 2016 On behalf of all of us at the DML Research Hub, I’m using this blog as an open invitation to our 7th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference, taking place Oct. 5-7 at UC Irvine. New this year: “Geek Out Day,” Oct. 5, featuring three- and six-hour workshops on such topics as civic engagement, designing online courses, digital storytelling, learning analytics, using Minecraft to teach academics and building youth social capital. Experts in their field will lead the nine workshops and participants should expect to fully immerse themselves. In fact, space is limited so seats are


Making Upstanders in Today’s World

Thursday, August 27, 2015

group of young upstanders marching protesting for anti bullying rally Oppression happens. So, what can students do? How can young people become upstanders (people who stand up for social justice and equality) in their communities? In the fourth of a four-part Connected Learning TV and Facing History and Ourselves webinar series, activists and educators tackled those questions. The webinar speakers — Mary Hendra, who leads the Los Angeles program team for Facing History and Ourselves; Jon Lego, who teaches at Animo Jackie Robinson High School in Los Angeles; Emily Weisberg, a program associate for Facing History and Ourselves; Andrew Slack, co-founder of the Harry Potter Alliance; Milton Reynolds, a senior program


Using Design Research to Support Youth Programs

Monday, April 06, 2015

Dixie Ching teaching 2 students a project in classroom Rafi Santo and Dixie Ching are figuring out how youth programs in New York can best support young people in learning whatever interests them. Santo, a doctoral candidate in learning sciences at Indiana University, and Ching, a doctoral candidate in educational communication and technology at New York University, are the project leads of the Hive Research Lab, an applied research partner of the Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network. The network is a citywide lab where educators, technologists and youth-development experts from more than 70 organizations, museums, libraries, after-school programs, code clubs and others come together to build innovative, connected


Advancing Access for Digital Youth with Disabilities

Thursday, February 26, 2015

meryl alper headshot and quote disability central to human experience “Disability is central to the human experience,” writes Meryl Alper in the opening chapter of her book, “Digital Youth with Disabilities.” The report summarizes how children with disabilities use media for social and recreational purposes and identifies areas where more research on the topic is needed. “At one time or another, those of us who are ‘temporarily able-bodied’ will become disabled, whether as part of the aging process or unexpectedly at any age,” says Alper, a USC doctoral candidate in communication. “People with disabilities have the same human rights to live with dignity and self-worth as


Educating Educators: Q&A With Connected Learning Advocate Kira Baker-Doyle

Thursday, November 27, 2014

kira baker boyle teaching 2 students in classroom Kira J. Baker-Doyle, assistant professor of education at Arcadia University, and her colleagues designed Arcadia’s Connected Learning Certificate program so educators of all levels, from Kindergarten through graduate school, could build a network and teach and learn from each other. The program launched this fall and it’s driven by students who propose and select the content and topics of discussion. “The program embodies connected learning,” Baker-Doyle said. Connected learning is an educational approach designed for our ever-changing world. It leverages the advances of the digital age to make that dream a reality — connecting academics to


The Case for Open Courses in Higher Ed: Q&A with Connected Learning Educator Kim Jaxon

Thursday, September 18, 2014

kim jaxon teaching at desk to adult students in classroom Kim Jaxon is interested in having her students “do the thing,” which, she says, means that she’s less interested in preparing them for some later occupation or activity, and more excited about having them “participating right now in ideas that matter to them right now.” The Chico State assistant professor of English is one of a stellar group of open-learning pioneers who I met when they gathered at UC Irvine over the summer to create “Connected Courses,” a free online course for higher education faculty members to learn how to offer their own open online college


Learning That Connects

Thursday, May 08, 2014

colorful graphic of connie yowell quote on connected learning engagement with kids A single question — “How are young people changing socially in terms of how they learn and how they civically engage because of digital media?” — launched the John D. and Catherine T.  MacArthur Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative back in 2000. Soon after, the foundation awarded three grants for the formal study, advocacy and practice of connected learning, a 21st century educational approach that takes advantage of today’s abundance of digital information and social connection and makes learning relevant to everyone. Years of study by the Connected Learning Research Network led to the creation of