Watchworthy Wednesday: The Minecraft Effect

Wednesday, July 06, 2016 Comment 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

Cursive Writing and the Importance of Teaching Skills

Monday, September 21, 2015 Comment kareem trump letter signature written over typed out letter

For most of the past decade, I have spent a week each summer reading essays by high schoolers in the Advanced Placement program. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend: They are getting easier to read. Not in the sense that the students are better at organizing their ideas or crafting sentences than they have been in previous years, but rather they are literally easier to read. This past year, while reading through my 100th or so essay one day, I realized why: Most of the students aren’t writing in cursive anymore. Of course,

Software and Digital Data in Education

Monday, August 24, 2015 Comment coding learning software and digital data in education cover

For the last two years, a group of colleagues from across the universities of Stirling, Edinburgh and Bristol have been working with me on a seminar series exploring how code acts in education. As the project comes to an end, we have produced a free, open access e-book: “Coding/Learning: software and digital data in education.” The seminar series was designed to address two particular matters of concern: first, the extent to which learning processes, practices and spaces are increasingly mediated and shaped through code; and, second, the emergence of a movement based on the idea of

Exploring Digital Media and Museum-based Learning

Monday, February 17, 2014 Comment people walking around natural museum walls covered in animals and insects

As part of my efforts to explore the intersection of digital media and museum-based learning, here is list of items I’ve recently tweeted. I start with the most general and drill down to my specific area of work — informal science learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Envisioning the Future of Educational Technology (infographic) This infographic by Michell Zappa of Envisioning Tech envisions emerging technology impacting learning through 2040. The specific tools are interesting to explore, such as games and badges, but of more interest to me is how they are organized to examine

‘Improving Improvement’ in Education: Louis Gomez, Keynote Speaker for DML2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014 Comment dml connecting practices 2014 logo

While so much attention is focused on improving teaching – the controversy over using text scores as “teacher accountability” measures, for example – isn’t it also important to think about how we improve our notions of improvement? We see no lack of thinking about reforming education: Shouldn’t some attention be directed to how we’re thinking about educational change – and how to improve that thinking? Fortunately, Louis M. Gomez, who is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at DML 2014, has been working on these issues for some time. Perhaps the existing digital media and learning

The Trouble with Testing

Monday, July 15, 2013 Comment female students hands filling out traditional scantron test

It’s obviously summer because my news alerts are no longer steadily reporting concerns about education, our children’s future, the problems with teachers, etc. Perhaps now, then, is the perfect time to address the issue of testing and its troubles, while a little distance might provide perspective. So, why do we test? What do we hope the tests will achieve? Last summer, Thomas Friedman suggested that parents and teachers view classroom performance as CEOs do economic performance to keep us competitive and to overcome our “education challenge.” In this light, testing helps us know where we stand

“Digital Is” Website Accelerates Teacher-to-Teacher Learning and Collaboration

Monday, August 22, 2011 Comment Digital Is graphic of words describing meaning

Over the course of four days earlier this summer at a lush retreat in Seattle, I had the opportunity to write and engage with some of the most exciting teachers I’ve been able to interact with in my career. Aside from the fact that I spent most of the day typing up notes on my iPad, the lush environment was a perfect retreat for allowing me to reflect thoughtfully on what practices had contributed most to my students’ writing practices over the past year. And the best thing about this opportunity to write while being surrounded

Digital Media, Learning, and the Future

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Comment The future of learning agents infographic colorful explaining needs for change

New research findings from a global study of education systems suggest that the promise of a hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage future for kids is a fantasy. Does digital media and learning offer a better future? It’s always important to remember that the future has a history. Back in 1939 the satirical book The Saber-Tooth Curriculum showed how seemingly radical educational innovations can quickly lose their intended utility and become conservative even while they are justified on the basis of their supposed cultural value. The book explains how the “paleolithic curriculum” of practical skills of “fish-grabbing-with-the-hands,” “horse-clubbing,” and

Multiliteracies and Designing Learning Futures

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 Comment students working together on project on computers

Multiliteracies is an area of interest for me and my classroom, and I am hoping to use this post for dialogue and collective theory-building. But first, I want to talk briefly about being a book geek. As an English teacher, I am passionate about literature. During my first two years in the classroom I overextended myself by maintaining an evening and weekend job assistant managing a popular independent bookstore in Los Angeles. Passion, Teaching, and Literacy The pay was paltry and secondary to the opportunity I had at first dibs for advanced readers’ copies of works

The Cosmopolitan Classroom

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 Comment students sitting in theater seats waiting for presentation

The globalization of digital media has put pressure on education systems worldwide to be reformed. The emphasis is on schooling that will promote the cosmopolitan identities of globalized digital citizens. But what kind of cosmopolitan identities? And can we imagine truly cosmopolitan classrooms? Debates about digital media and learning and the need for educational reform have gone truly global. The proof is Rupert Murdoch’s massive News International corporation. At the recent global eG8 forum in Paris in May, Murdoch used his speaking platform to advocate a “digital revolution in schooling.” According to his eG8 speech, the