Why I Still Believe in Badges

“Badges are plots by for-profit institutions to disrupt state-funded higher education. It’s all about money and trying to turn a public good into a privatized for-profit revenue stream. You need to get your critical theory books out and read Marx.” — Anonymous philosophy professor   I have sympathy for those who see certain developments in technology as being fueled by dark, hidden forces aiming at nothing less than to overturn life as we know it. We certainly need to be cognisant of those seeking to enclose public good for private profit, and never more so than

Reading Like a Computer Reads

Spritz is a startup that wants to change how people read on small screens. The startup has created an app that feeds texts to readers one word at a time, arranged so that their eyes are not “forc[ed]…to spend time moving around the page.” You can see a demonstration in this video. The Spritz reading technique allows readers to see as many as 1,000 words per minute, and promises developers that it will make “streaming your content easy and more comfortable, especially on small displays.” When writing about Spritz, one commonplace has been to note that the technique

Theory of Knowledge, Social Media and Connected Learning in High School

I’m an advocate of cultivating and tuning the network of people I follow on Twitter, a practice that includes my willingness to respond to those I didn’t previously know who solicit my attention by directing an @reply to my Twitter handle. Far more often than not, the call to my attention by a stranger leads me to enrich my personal learning network. It’s also one way I meet people to videoblog about here on dmlcentral. That’s how Amy Burvall’s Theory of Knowledge course for high school students at Le Jardin Academy in Hawaii came to my

Gaming and New Gender Paradigms

Previously, I’ve written about role-playing racial history through digital games, so it is perhaps not surprising that I would be interested in an Ellis Island MMORG or a game about the Harlem Renaissance, initially conceptualized in the research of Professor Bryan Carter of the University of Arizona. As feminist game designer and Georgia Tech Professor Celia Pearce observed, “both games are specifically designed to be intergenerational.”  In an interview for DMLcentral, Pearce noted that her background probably gave her a unique perspective. “My main experience in educational games comes from working in a museum environment, which

The Rise of Writing Literacies, Implications for Libraries

The look of any library — school, academic, or public — is always dependent on local needs in a community, but the feature that has traditionally characterized all types of libraries is reading literacy and the tools and practices that support readers. Walk into any library and the feature that tends to dominate and define library for most people is the print collection housed in stacks and stacks of books. Even as libraries continue to transition to digital formats of eReading like databases and eBooks, most people associate print books and reading literacies with libraries.   In the December

My Beef With Badges

Don’t get me wrong. I love badges, digital badges for learning. And I don’t mean just for some hoped-for potential to transform the learning landscape. I mean I love them for what I’ve seen them actually achieve: new literacies amongst youth to describe their learning within a Brooklyn after-school program; new motivation within an Atlanta private school; pride in portfolios within a Bronx library; a new understanding of how to use learning technology in a New Orleans day school; the emergence of formative assessment within a New York museum. I am informed by the theoretical but

The Great Peer Learning Pyramid Scheme

I often get asked questions like these: Does peer learning really work? Don’t we need experts to learn from? Can the (proverbially) blind really lead the blind? Those are good questions and I will get back to them in a second. Then, there is another question about peer learning that doesn’t get asked very much, which I would like to talk about in this post: Could peer learning be the (only) answer to scale meaningful learning and education for a growing global population? Let’s briefly talk about the first set of questions. Peer learning works because

Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom: New Report

Last week saw the release of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, a free Connected Learning report I edited. I’m hoping you’ll spend some time reading it — it features a plethora of powerful contributions by members of the National Writing Project. When you riffle through Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, what you’ll see is a series of narratives from educators from across the country sharing how they are already exemplifying connected learning principles in practice in schools. As educators and researchers, we often talk about the possibilities of advances in learning sciences and pedagogy.

Feminist Theory, Online Action, and Networked Learning

“It’s not just about studying and learning,” says Pitzer College student Susanna Ferrell. “It’s also about activism,” adds fellow student Jade Ulrich, both of whom were beta testers for a Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC) about “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology” that started with Pitzer, University of California, San Diego, and Bowling Green State University students and spread to 18 colleges and a worldwide community of online learners. (Ferrell and Ulrich presented at the experiential learning conference in San Diego, January 2014.) As Ms. Ulrich noted, participants in DOCC 2013 did not just view the texts