Elizabeth Lawley: “Just Press Play” — Adding a Game Layer to the Undergraduate Experience

I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t aware of Professor Elizabeth Lawley. Ten years ago, there weren’t many tenure-track academics who were also active bloggers, avid gamers, and social media researchers. Now Professor of Interactive Games and Media at Rochester Institute of Technology, Lawley has chaired the annual invitation-only “Social Computing Symposium” sponsored by Microsoft Research since 2006 — before the term “social media” emerged. In 2004, she founded RIT’s Lab for Social Computing, which Lawley says was “the first interdisciplinary academic lab centered on social computing.” But social computing per se wasn’t the topic

Five Elements to Help Redefine Public Ed

Imagine we redefine public education so that Dewey’s democratic society is co-created ongoingly, bettering each moment we practice it. The purpose of public education is a democratic society — John Dewey Imagine public education becomes the vehicle to social change, rather than, as Illich notes, a potential addiction to dependency. Imagine someone like Schmidt meets up with someone like Thiel and they agree on a premise that people are good, that human capital is our gold, that we really can learn/be/do anything today, and that the more we facilitate that for everyone, rather than regulate/manage some

Habits of Living: Being Human in a Networked Society

Recently, in Bangalore, a cluster of academics, researchers, artists, and practitioners, were supported by Brown University, to assemble in a Thinkathon (a thinking marathon, if you will) and explore how our new habits of everyday life need to be re-thought and refigured to produce new accounts of what it means to be human, to be friends, and to be connected in our networked societies. There is no denying the fact that life on the interwebz is structured around various negotiations with information. Even as we go blue in the face, in the face of information overload,

Some Thoughts on iPads and One-to-One Initiatives

In my experience, there’s broadly three ways to relate to any kind of educational technology: 1) Technological — decide on the technology (for whatever reason) and that determines what you do pedagogically; 2) Pedagogical — settle upon the pedagogy and then look for a technology that fits; 3) Ecological — combine pedagogies and technologies to promote certain kinds of behaviours. I’d like to think that most of what I’ve done so far in my career, from training teachers to implementing multi-site learning systems to evangelising Open Badges, has been focused upon evangelising this ‘third way’ of

Coded Curriculum: The New Architectures of Learning

How should we understand the part played by code in digital media and learning? We are accustomed to arguments that digital media are affecting our existing practices of reading, looking, seeing and hearing, yet relatively little is said of how the underlying code and algorithmic architectures of software actually exert those effects. The work done by code and algorithmic architectures in remediating learning through digital technologies, however, should be treated extremely seriously. Code increasingly affects our notions of agency (who does what), and sociality (how we form attachments and collective belonging). Code is woven into the

From Theory to Design: Exploring the Power & Potential of ‘Connected Learning,’ Part Two

One of the more compelling aspects of connected learning is the opportunity for students to create personalized learning pathways that establish important links across the different nodes in their learning ecology. I had a chance to witness the power and potential of connected learning during a three-week summer digital media and design camp that we conducted with students at Texas City High School (TCHS). Like so many schools populated by students from low-income households, TCHS struggles with the stigma that its students are low-performing and “at-risk.” And yet, outsiders might be surprised to see the range

Passion, Projects & Play: Restoring Creativity in the Classroom

At my elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona, problem students like me were often sent to the art teacher’s room. Unfortunately for me, my objection to sitting in a little desk, arranged in rows with other little desks, then moving in single-file to another room full of desks in rows whenever a loud bell rang, made me a problem student. Fortunately for me, the art teacher was my mother, beloved by many as Mrs. Rheingold. After the pin-drop quiet, pin-neat order of our homerooms, the happy chaos of Mrs. Rheingold’s art studio was like travelling to an

Why We Need a Reddit and Kickstarter for Educational Research

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what digital media can do to improve what we know about learning. And you know what I’ve decided? I think it is time that learning needs to be kickstarted (kickstarter.com) and I think we need Reddit (reddit.com) to help us out. These two wildly popular websites are currently used to guide production of films, music, clothing, and public opinion. I think we can wield these online tools to guide better understanding of learning. But first, a little bit about what Kickstarter and Reddit actually do: Over the summer I helped actualize