New Media Literacies

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

Engaging Students in Critical Social Media Analysis Through Debate

Thursday, April 09, 2015 Comment students holding debate on video conference

As part of the national celebration of Digital Learning Day last month, I had the opportunity to moderate an online debate between two teams of high school students from opposite ends of California about the merits and risks of social media as a communication tool. Considering that I helped coach a high school policy debate team in my former life, I was thrilled to participate in this lively dialogue. The California Writing Project organized the debate, which was recorded and broadcast through Google Hangout on Air, in order to demonstrate an innovative way that teachers can use technology

Circuit Stickers, Notebook Hacking and Learning as Debugging

Monday, November 24, 2014 Comment notebook with drawing and electrical wiring on pages making lights

I’ve been writing for 45 years, and have always owned more physical notebooks than I need at any one time, and I’m an enthusiastic novice at electronics, so several of my antennae tingled vigorously when I first came across the term “circuit stickers” — peel-and-stick circuitry and components that are flat enough to make paper pages blink and boop. We’re used to thinking of words as, well, dead — they signify but (in most cases) don’t perform. Documents didn’t connect with each other through clickable links before the Web, either. Why NOT compose writing with light

Addressing “The War on Learning”

Thursday, July 17, 2014 Comment classroom presentation with presenter on War on Formal learning

I’m always interested in technology critics who are accomplished users of the tools they criticize. Elizabeth Losh, director of Academic Programs, Sixth College at UC San Diego, teaches digital rhetoric, digital journalism, and software studies, and she was one of the organizers of a MOOC, FemTechNet, so she is neither opposed to nor unfamiliar with the uses of digital media in education. Losh is concerned, however, about what she perceives as an attack by educators on the kinds of informal learning young people engage in today — and an attack by education reformers on the human

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

Digital Humanists Should Be Copyright Activists

Friday, September 27, 2013 Comment infographic illustration showing importance of copyrighting activities

In a recent blog post for the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, Ben Alpers argues that iBooks Author is not very well suited for humanities learning. I have written before about problems with iBooks Author’s Terms of Service, but Alpers critiques the program’s authoring tools, arguing that its bias towards the presentation of “concepts and facts,” along with whiz-bang features like live manipulation of 3D models and short video clips, are designed to support the learning that occurs in scientific and technical fields, rather than the humanities (In fairness, I would argue that the focus on

Is There Such a Thing as Digital Creativity?

Monday, September 23, 2013 Comment students sitting at desks in classroom working on laptops

In some ways, this question is of course impossible. Given the difficulty of defining creativity in the first place with scholarship, trying to focus on the distinctions between what is new, what is expressive, what is individual and what is social, trying to work out what difference the digital makes may seem like splitting angels on a pinhead. However, it is equally impossible to ignore the fact that the last two digital decades have closely entwined ideas about creativity with our emerging understanding of how digital technology works in practice. I don’t want to focus here

The View From Home

Thursday, September 19, 2013 Comment male student sitting at computer editing photo video of girl

Classes recently began in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest school district in the country, a place where the best practices of digital media and learning face the difficulties of effecting change at a truly massive scale.  This post serves as a challenge to philanthropic organizations, which often focus on boutique programs with younger children when aiming to reform K-12 education, and suggests that there is a vast pool of motivated digital learners who are currently underserved. I don’t tend to talk about my personal life as a DMLcentral blogger, but

Creativity, Criticality and Curriculum Reform in Australia

Tuesday, September 03, 2013 Comment close up of student using video camera to do interview of student

I was recently at the biannual conference for the Australian teachers of media (ATOM) in Brisbane, Queensland. The teachers, university lecturers, educators and media producers who were at the event were all excited because the new arrangements for the national curriculum in Australia named ‘Media Arts’ as one of the five arts subjects that were now mandatory across the education system. Like all stories of curriculum reform there is a level of detail that does not travel well to other countries: however, if we set aside some of the details that concerned the locals and if

Teachers, Youth, and Social Media: Experiments

Friday, April 26, 2013 Comment young students hand in the air to answer ask question to teacher in classroom

While young people are often adept at navigating networked spaces for social purposes in their everyday lives, it is less clear what role schools and teachers should play in that process. In what ways can educators support, mentor, and scaffold youth’s navigation of online spaces to foster rich learning experiences and ethical communication practices? Amy Stornaiuolo, an assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, explored this topic from 2008-2011 while serving as the research coordinator for a large-scale design research project that studied how youth around the world communicated on a private social