The Importance of Connected Learning Leadership


At the beginning of our conversation, Emily Vickery cautioned: “I can’t talk about being a connected educator without talking about teacher leadership.” In addition to teaching English at Pensacola (Florida) Catholic High School, Vickery also serves as a “21st Century Learning Specialist” who designs and delivers professional learning for teachers on curriculum design, pedagogy, assessment, learning management and the use of digital tools. “I kind of backed into it — I was a reluctant teacher leader,” she was quick to add. Coming from “a family of teachers, preachers, and farmers,” Vickery swore she would never become

Epic Learning: Large Class as Intentional Design


Last October, I gave an Ignite talk at the Digital Media and Learning Conference called “Epic Composition.” Below, I offer a more extended look at the design and structures of my “jumbo” first-year writing course at California State University, Chico. Walking into our “jumbo” first-year writing course as an outsider can be a bit intimidating. The room is packed with people: 90 students, nine writing mentors, and the instructor. Students sit in new desks: rolling chairs with a bottom “saucer” for storing backpacks, a moving tray designed for a laptop. Students have nicknamed the chairs “George

Watchworthy Wednesday: Celebrate Digital Learning Day Feb. 23


Students and educators nationwide will be taking part in Digital Learning Day (DLDay) tomorrow, focusing on innovative ways technology enhances teaching and learning. “In some classrooms and out-of-school programs across the country, educators are doing some pretty amazing things with technology,” according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. “Yet, these pockets of innovation are confined to a small number of schools and communities. Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.” As part of

Safely Guiding Students on Learning Journey


I remember the first year I started teaching. It was exhilarating and confusing and led me to a mini-existential crisis of sorts that I imagine often when you walk into a class with a bunch of faces staring at you who assume you have all the answers and the key to their future. Why else would they be there? I had a conversation with a dear friend and I asked her the point of teaching. She said: “To remember that students don’t know what they don’t know, but that they are in that space to learn

Engaging Parents in After-School Programs


As part of the Leveling Up: Parenting study, a project of the Connected Learning Research Network at the DML Research Hub, I and my fellow researchers wondered: How can we help interest-driven after-school programs better engage with parents? Though we had spent a lot of time in these spaces interviewing and observing students and their families, we realized we hadn’t systematically talked to the educators and administrators in these spaces to get their perspective on what works and what doesn’t. We’ve just finished interviewing educators and administrators at a dozen interest-based after-school enrichment programs in Orange

Watchworthy Wednesday: Creating Connections Through Music


A simple informal invitation brought musician Laura Ritchie and a few of her University of Chichester students to California two years ago to perform and teach a few impromptu music lessons. She returned last year with different students and is back this month with three undergraduate music majors, delivering more formal performances and workshops for students of a high school and an elementary school in Santa Maria as part of their study. “We co-create the entire program, from writing the handbook, to deciding the hand-in dates, and planning the scope of the trip, and it’s different

Fighting for Critical Civic Education in Dangerous Times


The actions that Donald Trump has taken during the first weeks of his presidency have struck many Americans as shockingly antithetical to the values upon which our country was purportedly founded. Posts on Twitter note the terrible irony of refugees and immigrants being detained at our nation’s airports while our Statue of Liberty beckons the world to “give us your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Those outraged at the prospect of religious tests to enter the country ask, “didn’t we already find it self-evident that all men are created equal?” Statue of Liberty to huddled

Verified and Fake: Identity, Fear and SLAM School


The Paradox of Verification A mundane media literacy concept specific to Twitter is the fact that the blue checkmark on individuals’ profiles means that they have been “verified.” Ostensibly, the statements funneled from such accounts could be trusted sources of information. However, as has been noted several years ago, a verified account and person behind it are not always one and the same. While there is a dizzying amount of swift policy change from the new Trump administration that makes me fret for the future of U.S. democracy, the quickly mounted resistance to his efforts have