Grappling with Equity and Gaze: A Conversation with Shirin Vossoughi and Meg Escudé

As the maker movement continues to build in numbers, I’ve been particularly interested in the critical research that is scrutinizing the dynamics of interaction and learning within spaces of making. I recently got a chance to talk digitally with Shirin Vossoughi and Meg Escudé about their research into tinkering, equity, and gesture. I’m particularly excited about the scrutiny into aspects of making that are sometimes overlooked and how this work can extend to educator professional development:  For a general audience, can you describe the Tinkering After School Program and what led to it getting started? Meg Escudé: In 2012,

Minecraft and The Future of Transmedia Learning

EPIC HEADSHOP: The Evolution of Minecraft When my 8-year-old son typed “epic headshop at 31;65” into the command prompt, I realized the Minecraft I knew was dead. In its place something new had emerged. If I wanted to keep using it as a vehicle for advancing learning goals, it was high time for a serious reevaluation. BEYOND GAME: The Rise of Transmedia Learning “Minecraft is not a game.” If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that since first learning of the worldwide phenomenon in Spring of 2011 at the Games For Change Festival…

Connected Civics and Learning

What does connected learning look like when it is centered on civic and political interests? A new paper that I co-authored with Lissa Soep, Neta Kliger-Vilenchik, Sangita Shresthova, Liana Gamber-Thompson, and Arely Zimmerman, investigates this question. Drawing from case studies of a wide range of youth affinity groups, we suggest that “connected civics” can be understood as a form of participatory politics grounded in young people’s deeply felt interests and identities. In many of our ethnographic cases of youth pursuing their interests through affinity networks, we’ve observed civic dimensions to their activities alongside academic and career

The Flaws of Online Course Testing

A recent New York Times article titled “Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare” features an interview with a student taking an online course. This part struck me: “a red warning band appeared on the computer screen indicating that Proctortrack was monitoring her computer and recording video of her. To constantly remind her that she was being watched, the program also showed a live image of her in miniature on her screen.” Proctortrack is the company that proctors the exams. The article also looks at a pilot program in Texas that is using the software for

How Collaboration Empowers Learning

“I learned more on Twitter in six months than in two years of graduate school” is the epigraph of the first chapter of Tom Whitby’s book (co-authored with Steven W. Anderson), “The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning.” This quote could summarize Whitby’s philosophy of learning and teaching, in which collaboration is the environment, not just an ingredient, in effective learning. A teacher of English in secondary schools for 34 years and an adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s College for six years, he’s officially retired but, you wouldn’t know that from his social media activity. Whitby

Engaging Students in Critical Social Media Analysis Through Debate

As part of the national celebration of Digital Learning Day last month, I had the opportunity to moderate an online debate between two teams of high school students from opposite ends of California about the merits and risks of social media as a communication tool. Considering that I helped coach a high school policy debate team in my former life, I was thrilled to participate in this lively dialogue. The California Writing Project organized the debate, which was recorded and broadcast through Google Hangout on Air, in order to demonstrate an innovative way that teachers can use technology

Using Design Research to Support Youth Programs

Rafi Santo and Dixie Ching are figuring out how youth programs in New York can best support young people in learning whatever interests them. Santo, a doctoral candidate in learning sciences at Indiana University, and Ching, a doctoral candidate in educational communication and technology at New York University, are the project leads of the Hive Research Lab, an applied research partner of the Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network. The network is a citywide lab where educators, technologists and youth-development experts from more than 70 organizations, museums, libraries, after-school programs, code clubs and others come together to build innovative, connected

The Future and History of Learning to Code

Much of the discussion around ‘learning to code’ is couched in futuristic terms. By learning to code, we are told, young people will be equipped to become the innovators, tech entrepreneurs and civic leaders of the future. Yet, much less is said about the history underpinning learning to code, and how such an appreciation of its past might enrich our understanding of its future. Future Codes Before considering its past, it is worth reviewing some current claims about learning to code and its potential contribution to the future. For example, a recent UK report entitled “Young