Open Access

The Power of Decentralization in the MOOC

Thursday, July 30, 2015 Comment old illustration of rhinoceros

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four blogs on digital technology. Nishant Shah’s Annotation: In the last entry, I had suggested that instead of connectedness, what we really need to think about, in connected and digital learning, is the idea of distributedness. I had argued that the role of technology in MOOC environments is that of consolidation, and it is the act of consolidation that allows for the distributedness of learners, teachers, and resources to be sustained. Building upon this conversation, my colleague Mariam Haydeyan at the Leuphana Digital School, uses the

Remembering Aaron Swartz, Taking Up the Fight

Thursday, January 24, 2013 Comment man standing on stage speaking to protesters with signs at save the internet rally

I encountered the Aaron Swartz memorial the other day that helps ‘liberate’ a randomly selected article from JSTOR, as an act of civil disobedience, to commemorate both the legacy that Swartz leaves behind, but also the high-profile witch-hunt case which was a crucial factor in him taking his own life. Much has been said about Swartz and much more will have to be said about him, and about his work, to make sure that the good that men do does not get interred with their bones. And there are people more articulate, closer to him in

eBooks Want to Be Free

Friday, January 18, 2013 Comment hand holding amazon kindle showing book cover of I drink your bookshelf

In my last post, I argued that an alternative to the Web 2.0 vision of the Internet—one where individuals “create value” for the corporations that run online networks—are the decentralized networks of the Occupy movement. Perhaps the clearest outline of the Web 2.0 philosophy applied to the Web is in Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It, in which he describes how the trend of Web development has been to limit the Internet’s traditional openness, that of any device being connected to the network and the ability to transfer any type of

The Network Society After Web 2.0: What Students Can Learn From Occupy Wall Street

Monday, December 24, 2012 Comment occupy wall street banner on city building

Web 2.0 is a common buzzword used to describe social media. The term gained traction in the mid-2000s to describe a change in the way people interacted with media online. Rather than simply being passive consumers, individuals could now interact with media, by making mashups with Google Maps or leaving comments on purchases at Amazon. They could blog about issues that were important to them and interact with a community of other like-minded individuals. In short, the promise of Web 2.0 is that individuals were no longer beholden to media corporations but had gained a kind

Learning from Failure: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part II

Thursday, August 09, 2012 Comment Girl sitting on outside bench in the evening working on laptop

Professor Anne Balsamo has been collaborating with Professor Alexandra Juhasz and a group of more than one hundred feminist scholars to pilot a new kind of online course devoted to feminist dialogues on technology. Balsamo recently left the University of Southern California to occupy a new post as dean of the School of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement in New York.  In this position she will continue to work on one of her other ambitious new projects that involves collaboration with an extended network of researchers and designers to create a digital

Bodies in Classrooms: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part I

Monday, August 06, 2012 Comment 2 girls intensely focussing on their hand held games

Next year, over a hundred feminist scholars are slated to teach a new kind of online course—the first “MDCLE” or “massively distributed collaborative learning experiment”—tentatively titled “Feminist Dialogues on Technology.”  Drawing on the model of the “MOOC,” or the massively open online course, like the artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction courses at Stanford that have enrolled tens of thousands of students, this venture is also aimed at a very large audience, although taught and thought through a feminist architecture and pedagogy.  With some start-up funding from the Mellon Foundation, Pitzer professor Alexandra Juhasz and University of

Professor Alec Couros: “The Connected Teacher”

Thursday, July 26, 2012 Comment 4 students in computer class working at the same computer

One powerful benefit of networked learning is that when you find something interesting, it often leads to someone interesting – and that someone often leads to entire networks of interesting people. Or, as Dr. Alec Couros puts it, “the tools come and go, but the relationships endure.” I found Professor Couros the way many people did, by coming across the intriguing diagram of “The Networked Teacher” that many educators now use in their slide presentations. By the time I discovered Dr. Couros, now professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina, I had

Web Literacies: What is the ‘Web’ Anyway?

Monday, July 23, 2012 Comment graphic design depicting network connections

I’ve recently started in a new role for the Mozilla Foundation. At least half of my job there is to come up with a framework, a White Paper, around the concept of ‘web literacies’. It’s got me thinking about both parts of that term — both the ‘web’ and the ‘literacies’. In this post I want to consider the first of these: what we mean by the ‘web’? I’ve already considered the latter in quite some detail in my doctoral thesis (available at Defining the Web Sometimes it’s important to step back from the things

On the Importance of Webmaking

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 Comment kids and adults working on laptops at table

I’ve come to realize over the last couple of years just how important the Open Web is for online innovation. It’s a standards-based platform that allows anyone to use relatively low-cost technologies to connect things and people together in new ways. It’s radical in its egalitarian, open, and democratic approach. But it’s under threat. When Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone only five years ago in 2007 he emphasized the importance of getting Web browsing right on a mobile device. Hot on the heels of the announcement, of course, came the wildly successful App Store. A

Digital Literacies for Writing in Social Media

Thursday, October 13, 2011 Comment close up shot of leather bound notebook

The following is a shortened version of a talk I gave at the “Engaging the Public” symposium held at Washington & Jefferson College on Oct. 1. According to Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It, 65 percent of students entering school today will have careers in fields that haven’t been invented yet. While #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp, I’m willing to make the following prediction about writing: a full 100% of these students, at some point in their lives, will be required to use writing technologies that haven’t been invented yet. Consider this: as recently as four years ago, who would have