New Media Literacies

Digital Illiteracy

Thursday, July 14, 2011 Comment The Great Gatsby book cover

Besides being a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, Roger Ebert is a serious reader, and in a recent post on his blog, he blasts a “retelling” of The Great Gatsby that dumbs down the prose of the original novel for “intermediate level readers,” thereby robbing them of the full experience of the novel’s literary richness. After providing a few comparisons between the original and the new version, Ebert made a claim that jumped out at me: “You can’t become literate by being taught illiteracy, and you can’t read The Great Gatsby without reading it.” No doubt


What do new Social Networks tell us about Digital Literacies?

Monday, July 11, 2011 Comment screenshot of google homepage with arrows pointing to the + sign to add new pages

The recent launch of Google+, a new social network, has caused ripples in many different online spaces. From talk of it being a ‘Facebook killer’ because of its enhanced privacy settings to discussion of who one should place in the various ‘Circles’ available to users, the focus has been on technical aspects of the new service. What interests me, however, is how using the lens of digital literacies can cast light on practices and interactions in these spheres. There are two graphs ingrained in the brains of most people interested in technology and its effects on


Search Personalization and Digital Literacy

Thursday, June 30, 2011 Comment man taking photo of himself displayed on computer screen

The near total dominance of computer search over our information gathering has presented our culture with an interesting (and possibly unique) problem in the history of information management: what you see when you search for something can be quite different from what I see when I search. This is because search engines (and other recommendation services, like the suggestions at Amazon and Netflix) monitor our behavior and tailor the results we see to their records of our past behavior. In other words, the search results we are served are based on what we have clicked on


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


How to Make a Million Dollars, One Facebook Class at a Time

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 Comment group of adults at facebook conference holding poke and mouse signs

The fall of 2007 was, in many ways, a simpler time: the most popular social network in the United States was an Los Angeles-based outfit called Myspace; Apple had just released an all-in-one touchscreen iPod, phone, and wireless computing device it called the iPhone; and Facebook, the up-and-coming niche social network for college students, had unveiled something it called the Facebook Platform. Yes, before Apple introduced its phenomenally successful App Store, Facebook developed a plan to turn the site into something more than the sum of its pokes. Building on Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle’s observation


Hype, Reality, Insights on Cyberbullying, Videogaming, and Learning Institutions

Thursday, May 05, 2011 Comment older student helping young student with computer work

At the top of the not-to-be-missed list is “Good and Bad Cyberbullying PSAs: How to Tell the Difference,” an exceptional blog post by childhood expert Rosalind Wiseman, who insightfully frames the cyberbullying issue. As more and more organizations are creating public resources about cyberbullying, criticism has grown, and not just against the over-reaction. Recently, we’ve seen a number of examples of resources explicitly designed to fight cyberbullying that have been criticized as being more harmful than helpful, and in some cases extremely harmful. Some underlying messages in some ads, for examples, would seem to promote suicide.


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


What Should Civic Learning Look Like in an Age of Social and Technological Change?

Monday, April 25, 2011 Comment 2 kids working on computer together in classroom

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her iCivics team recently convened a thought provoking conference, Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age. In partnership with the Aspen Institute, Georgetown Law, and the MacArthur Foundation the conference raised a number of questions regarding the state of civic education. Concerned about the declining state of civic education in American schools, Justice O’Connor assembled a team to create a digital platform, iCivics, for use in formal and informal learning environments. iCivics is a games-based platform and civic curriculum designed to meet students where they are—in the gaming


What Are Digital Literacies? Let’s Ask the Students

Thursday, April 21, 2011 Comment student playing game on the screen of a control room

Two weeks ago I blogged on DML Central on “Doing Better by Generation Y” and the tendency for pundits to criticize Gen Y’s absorption with new media, critique how little they know, blame their lack of attention, and castigate their inability to sustain real friendships (rather than “superficial” social networks).  I argued that, even if this point of view were correct, it neither helps young people by providing them with better ways of understanding the social imperatives of the Internet culture into which they were born, nor does it recognize the social media skills students do


“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