Some Thoughts on Interest-based Pathways to Learning

I have a confession to make. It’s a shameful, dark secret that I fear may be common to many adults around the world. And, when I was teaching, it was certainly one that I saw shared by many students I came into contact with. It’s something you don’t tend to admit to — especially as an educator. What is this thing that I’m reticent to admit? I’m not sure how I learn best. Do I learn best by listening to podcasts? What about by studying diagrams? I seem to find those useful. I dropped out half-way

Remembering Aaron Swartz, Taking Up the Fight

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


MOOCs, it seems, are driving us to distraction. The objects of so much current investment, fiscal and psychological, if MOOCs (massive open online courses) haven’t reached you yet, they are just a click away, coming to a screen near you soon. Cathy Davidson caused a stir last week by arguing that, if humanists are unable to convey compellingly to various publics what we do and why it is important, we will be replaced by a screen; she had MOOCs in mind. It turns out that the challenge has had a longer history in cultural consciousness: “mooc,”

eBooks Want to Be Free

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

Connected Learning: Interdisciplinary Researchers Recommend Core Changes

It has been almost a year since the release of the connected learning principles in March 2012 on For the Connected Learning Research Network, this has been a year of digging into our research agenda for connected learning, and testing our hypotheses with ethnographic case studies, design experiments, and the deployment of a national survey. In tandem with these new research activities, we have also been involved in the collaborative writing of a report which synthesizes what we see as the current state of theory and empirical research underlying the connected learning model. We are


Does the information age free us to pursue learning centered on individuals and not institutions? Does each of us have a part to play in the possibility of education? Can a broader definition and responsibility for education bring us all closer together? Those are questions tackled in this short film by “soul biographer” Nic Askew. We commissioned Nic to help explore the underlying thinking of connected learning. Here is what he had to say in his introduction to the short film: This film is about the possibilities of change in education. As are the others in

‘Imagine A World Where You Only Have To Go To School Because You Truly Want To’

Lately, I’ve been pleased with the ways digital tools are allowing me to engage and collaborate with the media producers that most challenge my thinking. I had intended to blog about how the comic book Wild Children terrifies and motivates me as an educational researcher. However, through a handful of Twitter exchanges, I, instead, was able to talk with the book’s author, Ales Kot. Last summer, I picked up an unassuming, stand-alone comic book. This is nothing new. I’m still a regular reader of comic books today and the parallels between the serialization of monthly comic

Creativity: A Literacy?

You could make the argument that of all the ills perpetuated by the industrial age approach to education the worst is conformity. Originality had no place in a factory production line. Or so it was thought. Likewise, standardized education and testing has all too often promoted a numbing uniformity. But, our networked society and the information age want, need, and prize something altogether different when it comes to creativity. This commissioned film by “soul biographer” Nic Askew (part of a series of films on connected learning) asks: 
‘In this rapidly changing world might creativity need to