Education

Equitable Connected Learning Requires Diverse Research Perspectives

Monday, April 25, 2016 Comment Andrew Slack sitting at table talking to people at DML Conference

As a former high school English teacher in two large, urban school districts, I completely understand how educators, parents and policymakers who are wrestling each day with the most pressing issues facing public education — standardized testing, the effects of poverty on learning, opportunity gaps — might be a bit impatient with educational theory and research. Is this new theory about the intersection of culture, politics, and digital media going to give me the answers about how to help my most struggling students today? If not, it can wait. My students need me right now. So,


Mockingbirds and Thing Explaining: Knowledge Shared and Consumed in Today’s Classrooms

Thursday, March 31, 2016 Comment composite image of two book covers: 'Thing Explainer' and 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Let’s talk about how knowledge is valued and dispersed in schools today: last week, two stories percolated in online media that related to the kinds of texts that students will encounter while in schools. First, notable web comic author and best-selling author Randall Munroe’s work will be excerpted in forthcoming textbooks for high school students. As the author of the recent “Thing Explainer,” Munroe’s simplistic illustrations function exactly as their title implies; using basic vocabulary and clear line art, Munroe’s book explains things. From a submarine (i.e. “Boat that goes under the sea”) to the Large


Exploring Virtual Reality in Education

Thursday, March 17, 2016 Comment Boy wearing virtual reality headset and earphones

When looking at the state of digital media and learning today, virtual reality (VR) is barely a blip in many of the broader conversations. Much of the work being done focuses on peer-to-peer learning and practices of social pedagogy, which are in many ways, the opposite of the current state of VR. About 20 years ago, VR in education had something of a research heyday. A search on Google scholar turns up thousands of results between 1991-1999. While the research never slowed, the technology never became accessible enough for virtual reality to become mainstream.That is changing


ClassDojo and the Measurement and Management of Growth Mindsets

Thursday, March 10, 2016 Comment Class Dojo mascot image

ClassDojo is one of the most successful educational technologies in history. Originally developed as part of a Silicon Valley ed-tech accelerator program, it is highly illustrative of how the entrepreneurial culture and politics of high-tech innovation is now infusing the field of education. Through successful products like ClassDojo, Silicon Valley is seeking to radically disrupt education, and in the process to popularize new psychological theories of behaviour modification that align with emerging governmental agendas around the “non-academic” measurement of school performance. Changing Behaviours ClassDojo is a free mobile app that allows teachers to award “positive behaviour”


From Changing Education Systems to Changing Society

Monday, February 29, 2016 Comment Group of young people working at individual computer stations

Whether stated explicitly or not, a core proposition of DML is that there are deep consequences to the ways that young people are learning both in and out of school and using digital technology with peers, in affinity groups, as they develop interests and expertise. In the context of the U.S., digital media and learning (DML) offers challenges to the school curriculum and significantly to the organization of the out-of-school, community-based non-formal learning sector. But, what could it mean in other places around the world? I recently visited TUMO Centre for Creative Technologies, in Yerevan, the capital


Amplifying the Teacher Perspective on Connected Learning

Thursday, February 25, 2016 Comment workflow drawing for teacher

This is my second post in a series exploring my journey to develop and teach a graduate “Multimodal Literacies” course for pre-service and in-service teachers based on the connected learning framework. (Here are my first and second posts in the series, as well as my original inspiration.)    And, we’re off! In the blink of an eye, the first five weeks of my graduate course focusing on “New & Multimodal Literacies” with pre-service and in-service teachers have flown by. My six committed students and I have been engaged in an exploration of Connected Learning and its applications to


Love and Animation as Missing Ingredients: A Discussion With Marjorie Faulstich Orellana

Monday, February 22, 2016 Comment Prospective students and former staffers alike laugh hysterically at "Spimprov" (SPOP + Improv).

Books. Laptops. Construction paper. Text books. Desks. Bells. Backpacks. Pens. Smart board styluses. White boards. LCD projectors. Hall passes. The list goes on. The spaces of learning — whether we are discussing classrooms, libraries, extracurricular clubs — are full of a lot of tangible stuff. However, if we want to improve learning, the gaze of educators needs to look beyond the materiality of classrooms and closer at the individuals within these spaces. We need to consider how the relationships between participants in learning spaces captivate and thrill. Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Marjorie Faulstich Orellana,


The Possibilities of Badges and Blockchain

Thursday, February 11, 2016 Comment open badges plus blockchain equals bit of trust

In March 2015, I wrote “Peering Deep into the Future of Educational Credentialing” for DML Central. In it, I explored the potential for the blockchain technology (best known for underpinning Bitcoin) to add an extra layer of trust and verification to Open Badges. Now, a year later, we’re a lot closer to that reality than I originally envisioned. The diffusion of innovation has moved so quickly that even government ministers are excited about the possibilities afforded by the blockchain. Let’s back up a bit first. The great thing about the Open Badges Infrastructure is that it’s


Annotation, Rap Genius and Education

Monday, February 08, 2016 Comment 3 young female students sitting at table and looking at their laptop screens

Annotation educator Jeremy Dean came to me through my serendipity amplifier: Twitter. I watch some people think aloud in public and some people attend to my public online musings; when I think out loud in perceiving range of the right publics, the serendipities start amplifying. One of my Rheingold U students asked me via an open tweet whether I still use Diigo for social bookmarking; I replied that I also liked Diigo as a way to have conversations with learners about online texts through highlights and comment threads. I had not known Dr. Dean, but he


Making Learning Matter in the Digital Classroom

Thursday, February 04, 2016 Comment Online Course description screenshot

In a recent blog post, I discussed the noteworthy success of a web-based course launched by a research university in a high-profile initiative that emphasized online access as much as digital education. As I pointed out, student evaluations are almost never universally positive about large courses, particularly required courses with many drafts due for projects that can feel like “busy work” to skeptical undergraduates. I interviewed the course instructor, Alexandra Sartor, in this blog post and wanted to follow up with the instructional designer, Ava Arndt, as well. A disclaimer is probably in order here, since