The Construction of Civic Identities in Pop Culture

Monday, May 16, 2016 Comment Beyonce Knowles singing

“I said, ‘Well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles.’ ” — “Excursions,” A Tribe Called Quest A fever dream in 15 steps. This past weekend, Ukrainian singer Jamala won the globally popular 2016 “Eurovision” Contest. A turn from the saccharine love ditties that often take the competition, the winning song, “1944,” is a harrowing narrative of historical deportation of under Stalin’s soviet regime: When strangers are coming They come to your house They kill you all And say We’re not guilty Not guilty A week earlier, the album “Hopelessness” by Anohni was released. Its

How Might Creative Youth Cultures Understand the Nature of ‘Creativity’?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Comment black female student filming using camera and tripad against brick wall

In this post I want to compare two European research projects that investigated creative production by young people in informal, out-of-school and, to a great extent, self organised contexts. Around the world scholars are very interested in the development of any kind of learning community and especially those seemingly stimulated by or reliant on forms of digital technology. It is the key premise for DML. Virtually all of the scholarship is interested in the types of different relationships such cultures have with formal schooling both to see how they might serve as templates for educational reform

Understanding Education through Big Data

Friday, October 25, 2013 Comment close up of data code creating light tunnel

The seduction of ‘Big Data’ lies in its promise of greater knowledge. The large amounts of data created as a by-product of our digital interactions, and the increased computing capacity to analyse it offer the possibility of knowing more about ourselves and the world around us. It promises to make the world less mysterious and more predictable. This is not the first time that new technologies of data have changed our view of the world. In the nineteenth century, statistical ‘objective knowledge’ supplanted the personal knowledge of upper-class educated gentlemen as the main way in which

How Software Sees Us

Friday, August 02, 2013 Comment man sitting in dark room designing bird on 2 computers

How we think about digital media is paralleled by how we think about learner identities. What kinds of learning identities are being promoted for an anticipated future in an increasingly softwarised society? About ten years ago, the designers Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Igoe asked the question “how does the computer see us?” The striking image of a hand with one finger, one eye, and two ears that they produced as a response to this question—a simple yet weirdly obscene finger-eye-being—reminds us that the technologies we create carry built-in assumptions about the people who will use them.

Anonymity, Internet Surveillance & Lessons from the Anthony Weiner Case

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 Comment security camera on facebook sign

As a scholar of privacy and surveillance as well as political activism in repressive societies where government surveillance has consequences much worse than embarrassment and political derailment, my take away lesson from ex-congressman and current NYC mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner’s second-time around exposure for online dalliances is this: there is no easy technical workaround out-of the current crisis of digital surveillance. After NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s allegations made it painfully clear that the world’s intelligence agencies, including our own NSA, were scooping up vast amounts of data with the help of tech giants like Microsoft, Google

A Student-driven, Afterschool Technology Club: When Reality and Policy Collide

Friday, May 17, 2013 Comment male student sitting at classroom desk texting on phone under desk

Taking advantage of the online world’s ability to help youth develop knowledge, expertise, skills and important new literacies involves risks, but how much? Some researchers and authors such as Lenore Skenazy, Sonia Livingstone, and Lynn Schofield Clark have reasoned that a number of policies and strategies, which are intended to protect youth, are actually misguided and may be making youth’s learning experiences even more limiting. Jacqueline Vickery, an assistant professor in the department of Radio-Television-Film University of North Texas, studies the discourse around risk and digital media and how it fuels moral panics and influences policy.

Navigating Privacy and User Rights Issues in an “I Agree” Era

Friday, March 08, 2013 Comment man sitting at laptop looking on facebook page

Last fall, a New York man rented out his apartment bedroom through Airbnb, a popular website for short-term stays. Unbeknownst to him, he was breaking the law. When he returned to his apartment days later, he was facing more than $40,000 in fines. Airbnb is not legally obligated to post explicit warnings on its site notifying users of the possible legal ramifications of renting rooms for short lengths of time. Instead, this information is listed deep within the terms and conditions agreement. Stories like this are becoming all too common. Tamara Shepherd, a postdoctoral fellow at

Is Facebook Destroying the American College Experience?

Monday, March 04, 2013 Comment typical college dorm small bed posters desk

Sitting with a group of graduating high school seniors last summer, the conversation turned to college roommates.  Although headed off to different schools, they had a similar experience of learning their roommate assignment and immediately turning to Facebook to investigate that person.  Some had already begun developing deep, mediated friendships while others had already asked for roommate transfers.  Beyond roommates, all had used Facebook to find other newly minted freshman, building relationships long before they set foot on campus. At first blush, this seems like a win for students.  Going off to college can be a

Datafication: How the Lens of Data Changes How We See Ourselves

Monday, December 31, 2012 Comment image of never ending data numbers

Digital media allow us to produce, collect, organise and interpret more data about our lives than ever before. Our every digital interaction contributes to vast databases of information that index our behaviour from online movie choices to mapping networks of connections across Twitter. In an age of uncertainty, big data sets promise to provide an objective lens through which to understand the world, and both individuals and institutions like schools are turning to data to drive analysis and action. But what does this increasing datafication mean for how we understand the world, and how we understand

Coded Curriculum: The New Architectures of Learning

Monday, October 15, 2012 Comment 3 black female students gathered around a laptop and camera

How should we understand the part played by code in digital media and learning? We are accustomed to arguments that digital media are affecting our existing practices of reading, looking, seeing and hearing, yet relatively little is said of how the underlying code and algorithmic architectures of software actually exert those effects. The work done by code and algorithmic architectures in remediating learning through digital technologies, however, should be treated extremely seriously. Code increasingly affects our notions of agency (who does what), and sociality (how we form attachments and collective belonging). Code is woven into the