Participatory Learning

Defining a Participatory Critical Literacy

Monday, February 02, 2015 Comment musicians band performing song on SNL with Black lives matter I cant breathe shirts

The screen in the room offered the expected prompt: “What is your definition of critical literacy?” The familiar scratching of pen to paper could be heard throughout the auditorium as ideas were being generated. There is a strange dissonance to sit in a full room and silently write (like with a pen and paper!) for five minutes. Yes, today’s modern conference is one often obsessed with a backchannel. (Watching Obama’s State of the Union two weeks ago, I spent nearly the entire speech staring at my twitter feed and engaging in dialogue; Obama’s main-attraction content mainly

A Collaborative Guide to Best Digital Learning Practices for K-12

Monday, April 09, 2012 Comment picture taken through a window of teacher helping student with work

Below you will find a collaboratively written document produced in Bangkok, Thailand, at the March 28-31 teacher’s meeting of EARCOS, the East Asia Regional Council of Schools.  EARCOS is an organization of 130 primary and secondary schools that primarily use English as the language of instruction.  These include AP and IB schools and a number of other private schools.  We produced the document below on a public Google doc at a workshop, which I structured on the model of an “innovation challenge” of the kind that web developers use to bring together communities to complete a

The Ethics and Responsibilities of the 21st Century Classroom: Part One

Monday, April 02, 2012 Comment lecture hall full of students

When I think about the “ethics and responsibilities of the 21st century classroom,” I think not only about our ethical responsibilities toward students but about our ethical responsibilities toward teachers.  I am very concerned that the drop-out rate of K-12 teachers is even higher than the drop-out rate of K-12 students in the U.S. and in many other countries around the world.  As I’ve gone around the U.S. and abroad talking with teachers, I’ve seen over and over how beleaguered they are: by (a) too many rules, (b) too many constantly-changing systems and theories, by (c)

Democratizing Learning Innovation

Thursday, October 06, 2011 Comment group of adult educators sitting working at conference table

Mark Surman is in the business of connecting things: people, ideas, everything. A community technology activist for almost 20 years, Mark is currently the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, with a focus on inventing new ways to promote openness and opportunity on the Internet. He is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif., Mar. 1-3: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Surman is leading an important conference sub-theme, “Democratizing Learning Innovation.” Before joining Mozilla, he was an open philanthropy fellow at the Shuttleworth

Re-imagining Media for Learning

Thursday, September 29, 2011 Comment group of teen boys sitting together having classroom collaboration

Tracy Fullerton is an experimental game designer and associate professor in the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she directs the Game Innovation Lab. Her design research center has produced several influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and The Night Journey, a collaboration with artist Bill Viola. She is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco, Calif: “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” Fullerton is heading up one of four important sub-themes

Worthy Reads: On Minecraft, Borges, Khan, Next Generation Museums

Thursday, September 01, 2011 Comment group of students giving presentation goofing off in front of class

If you haven’t yet heard about Minecraft, then get ready. We can’t go to an education conference without hearing talk about it. The widely popular sandbox game has sold more than 3 million units, though it’s still in beta. Each player gets their own world to “mine” for resources and then “craft” those resources to build whatever they imagine. A great introduction to Minecraft and its potential for education, especially for the younger set, is this Teacher Teaching Teachers podcast, which features educators from around the world sharing how they are using it in and out

What do Google, Open Source Software and Digital Literacies have in Common?

Monday, August 29, 2011 Comment graphic of many words describing Digital information

Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, hit the headlines recently with an attack on the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) curriculum in UK schools. It “focuses on teaching how to use software,” he said to the audience gathered for the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, “but gives no insight into how it’s made.” According to Schmidt that equates to “just throwing away your great computing heritage.” The link to the BBC News article containing Schmidt’s comments quickly did the rounds in the educational technology and elearning social media circles of which I am part.

Turning Fifth Graders into Game Designers and Mobile Learners

Friday, August 12, 2011 Comment
young students sitting outside playing games on cell phones

Take 40 precocious fifth graders, a box full of iPhones, and a group of game designers and educators, stir, and release onto the busy streets of New York City. What may sound like chaos is actually Mobile Quest, a mobile game design camp in its third year. The camp is hosted by Institute of Play at the New York City public school it co-designed and developed, Quest to Learn, and supported by the New Learning Institute, a program operated by the Pearson Foundation.    A highlight of the week is the trip out to High Line Park,

Wanted (And Needed): ‘Radical’ Collaborations

Monday, August 01, 2011 Comment painting with words 20 Learn

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. This insight from Anne Frank is evidenced today all across the world in education and many other domains. People are doing amazing things. Start ups, reforms, revolutions. It’s good news. It’s happening everywhere. And it all fits together, whether we see the connections today or not. Pointillism. Perpetual beta. If you’re not feeling it, if you’re wondering if you’re a part of education’s big picture…we’re thinking, more than anything, you need to know that you are – assuming you

Digital Fluency: Empowering All Students

Thursday, July 28, 2011 Comment female student working on spoken word at DYN You Media

Although “digital literacy” is often a phrase associated with programs that have utopian pedagogical visions, it also can become a term attached to rigid curricular requirements, standardized testing, and models of education that stigmatize some students as remedial when it comes to their basic programming skills or their abilities to use software productively.  Furthermore, the term “digital literacy” can generate conflicts among educators because many different disciplines may claim sole responsibility for providing any needed instruction, as I’ve argued elsewhere.  Computer scientists, media scholars, librarians, composition teachers, and digital arts instructors have all made supposedly exclusive