Digital Media & Learning

Learning from Healthcare.gov

Thursday, December 05, 2013 Comment close up on black keyboard

“But I just want to remind everybody, we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website.” – Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act,” Oct. 21, 2013 The disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov gives an opportunity for everyone invested in digital media and learning initiatives to reflect critically about what we do and to ask some hard questions.  Although it may be “just” a website, according to the president, the flawed federal Internet portal intended to enroll millions of consumers into a system of affordable healthcare coverage exposes a


Rethinking the ‘Race Between Education and Technology’ Thesis

Monday, December 02, 2013 Comment graphics representing education bus globe student books

This year my research team has been pouring over qualitative data that we collected over a year-and-half period from Freeway High School (previously referred to as Texas City High School in earlier posts), the site of our fieldwork in the study of ‘connected learning.’  Several themes related to young people’s adoption of digital media, the role of technology in schools, social inequality, and the future of learning have emerged from our fieldwork.  For instance, we have thought a lot about the social distribution of new forms of learning in the digital age, especially the skills and


This is Why Kids Need to Learn to Code

Thursday, November 28, 2013 Comment colorful stacked spools of thread

Proclamations like ‘kids need to learn to code!’ may be accurate but, without some context and conceptual unpacking, they can be rather unhelpful. Thankfully, fellow DMLcentral contributor Ben Williamson has done a great job of problematising the current preoccupation with coding by asking questions like: “What assumptions, practices and kinds of thinking are privileged by learning to code? Who gains from that? And who misses out?” In many ways what follows builds upon these ideas so it’s worth reading Ben’s article first if you haven’t already. Along with the landscape issues identified in Ben’s article there’s a couple of


The Crisis in the Humanities and STEM – and Why We Must Recreate Higher Education

Monday, November 25, 2013 Comment packed college lecture hall of students with laptops

Here’s the punchline: The humanities in the U.S. are in crisis for the same reason that STEM is in crisis – not because of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).  And vice versa.  The crisis comes from declining or at least stagnant numbers of students in these areas.  Faculty members are panicking and making snide, demeaning, and sometimes insulting comments about one another instead of coming to terms with the basic issue of why students today aren’t flocking to these subject areas.  To my mind, therein lies one of academe’s biggest problems.  We’re better at defensively placing


Programming Power? Does Learning to Code Empower Kids?

Thursday, November 14, 2013 Comment close up of hands working at laptop

The idea that young people should learn to code has become a global educational aspiration in the last few years. What kinds of questions should digital media and learning researchers ask about these developments? I want to suggest three approaches: first, to take a historical look at learning to code; second, to consider it in political and economic context; and third, to understand its cultural dimensions. The importance of learning to code is expressed in catchy slogans and ideas like Douglas Rushkoff’s “program or be programmed,” and the view that if you are not working on


What Counts As Learning?

Monday, November 11, 2013 Comment child taking picture with camera in crowd of adults

I have recently contributed to a new issue of the Bank Street occasional papers. The issue is called “The Other 17 Hours: Valuing Out of School Time” and explores recent attention to the meaning and nature of learning during the time not spent at school. My essay describes some of the research I am involved with as part of the Connected Learning Research Network and examines how learning is constructed and enacted in six different kinds of families in London. By showing that who defines learning in domestic contexts and on what basis, I argue that


How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 Comment people sitting in seats on subway

Although electronic texts have been with us for many decades, in the past few years electronic reading has become increasingly popular. The ready availability of mobile, connected devices like smartphones and tablets, along with dedicated ereaders like the Kindle and Nook, have moved electronic reading out from behind a desk into the environment. This change has brought increasing attention to the differences between reading in print and reading via digital devices. In a recent article in Scientific American, Ferris Jabr argues that “paper still has advantages over screens as a reading medium,” claiming that “most studies


Expanding Women’s Participation for Wikipedia in India: Access to Knowledge

Thursday, October 31, 2013 Comment classroom full of students sitting at desks in india

In the past DMLcentral has covered efforts to recruit more women to edit Wikipedia and to produce more women’s studies content.  As a blogger, I have presented this story as a relatively uncontroversial initiative to improve the accuracy and coverage of the sprawling online encyclopedia (See my interview with Wikipedia’s Adrianne Wadewitz here).  Working with the Project Feminism Wikipedia community to produce digital material, students trained in classes involved in Dialogues on Feminism and Technology have worked to improve the rigor of Wikipedia entries on topics that range from Afrofuturism to disability art. Recently, Fox News


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

Monday, October 28, 2013 Comment webpage screenshot social media education videos and posts

“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


Makers and DML – Separated At Birth?

Thursday, October 17, 2013 Comment adult and child playing card game outside with google glasses

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