Equity

A Teenager Taps Social Media to Help Change his Struggling Community

Monday, June 20, 2011 Comment large pictures of human portraits covering front of buildings in poor community

“Intense shootings happening at this moment in the Complexo do Alemao!” tweeted teenager Rene Silva on Nov. 9, 2010.  Using his personal Twitter account (@Rene_Silva_RJ) and the Twitter account of a newspaper he created, “Voz da Comunidade,” (Community Voice – @vozdacomunidade), Rene was able to broadcast information about a standoff between police and drug traffickers from inside the “Complexo do Alemão,” one of the major groups of favelas in Rio de Janeiro. During the dangerous conflict, Rene and two other kids drew media attention in Brazil because they were able to send out news in real


Mobile Phones, Digital Media, and America’s Learning Divide

Monday, May 30, 2011 Comment 2 students sitting in stairwell with backpacks on phones

During a recent research related visit to New York City I decided to take a stroll down 125th Street in Harlem.  Among the assortment of shops and vendors on the famous stretch that is home to the legendary Apollo Theater were an abundance of mobile phone providers.  Even a few of the street vendors offered mobile phone accessories such as cases, covers, and car adaptors.  It struck me that while you could easily purchase a mobile phone on 125th Street you could not purchase a desktop or laptop computer.  Not that long ago the assumption that


Should We Design Social Justice into Learning?

Monday, May 02, 2011 Comment group of adults sitting in home around couches working on computers

The notion of design is central to the way we think about learning, and to how we think about digital media. Some would argue that learning is “designed in” to digital media such as good video games. But what can this concept tell us about “designing in” social justice to learning experiences? Thinking about digital media from a design perspective compels us to recognize how much of what we take for granted as “just the way things are” are the consequences of design decisions, and reveals how things could be otherwise. It shows how individuals can


“We are Meant to Pulse”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 Comment group of diverse students celebrating after presentation

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


How Can We Help Miguel?

Friday, April 08, 2011 Comment photo of man walking in alley and sun flare

One of the hardest parts of doing fieldwork is hearing difficult, nuanced stories that break my heart.  The more complicated the story, the harder it is to tell, but I feel a responsibility to at least try.  Given how many educational reformists read this blog, I want to provide a portrait of some of the teens I’ve met who are currently being failed by the system.  My goal in doing so is to ask a hard question: how do we help these specific teens?  Let me start with Miguel. Miguel is 17 and in the 10th


Hacking Higher Education

Friday, March 18, 2011 Comment green graphic of shot injecting brain representing hacking higher education

Times of crisis are times of change and provide an opportunity to imagine alternative educational futures. Following the UK’s winter of protests about cuts to education budgets and rising tuition fees, students and staff are raising questions about what kind of education they are fighting for. Even before tuition fees were introduced, access to higher education was exclusive, with young people from well off backgrounds disproportionately represented. With the value of higher education increasingly framed as a financial investment that pays off against future earnings, there is much about the current system that many would not


Identity, Avatars, Virtual Life – and Advancing Social Equity in the ‘Real’ World

Tuesday, March 01, 2011 Comment girl peaking over laptop only showing her eyes

This semester, MIT professor Fox Harrell is teaching an ambitious new course on “Identity Representation” that includes studying identities adopted in computer games and social network sites.  In the course description posted online, Harrell explains that he is more broadly interested in getting students to “look at how humans express multiple identities for different purposes both in the real world and online.”  As the first researcher both in MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Harrell is developing what he calls a “toolkit” for the “Advanced Identity Representation


Young Black Males, Learning, and Video Games

Thursday, February 17, 2011 Comment 4 black males playing video game together

A recent report on educational achievement among young black males describes a “national catastrophe” in primary, secondary, and higher education that is reinforced by policy failures and funding shortfalls. “A Call for Change: The Social and Educational Factors Contributing to the Outcomes of Black Males in Urban Schools” uses data largely from the U.S. Department of Education to paint a grim picture of an achievement gap between black and white students, reinforcing the message of recent books like Pedro Noguera’s The Trouble with Black Boys: Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education. While the Obama


New Media Literacy: Critique vs Re-design

Thursday, November 18, 2010 Comment mouse staring at a large barcode

A central concern of media education has been to empower young people with the ability to question, analyze, critique and deconstruct messages they encounter in media. But in a global remix culture, the power and relevance of critique itself may be due for critique. Critique is retrospective: it turns its attention on artifacts and texts that have already been produced and exist in the world in a relatively stable form. It also assumes a separation between the producer of media, and its consumer – a separation that is called into question by the increasing ease with


Social Justice and Diverse Cultures of Participation

Monday, October 18, 2010 Comment baby holding onto table looking at laptop computer

Many educators are excited by the new opportunities and challenges for learning that digital media brings us. Stories about 11-year-old Kai, a learner at Quest to Learn school in New York, paint a picture of a young person for whom digital media are an integral constituent of his learning at school and at home, his social life and his hobbies and interests. This picture of the digital native (pdf) – a young person who has grown up surrounded by digital media and is expert in its use – is a familiar concept in the field of