Introducing UCI’s Connected Learning Lab


Spring is a fitting season to announce the launch of our new Connected Learning Lab (CLL) at UC Irvine, an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to studying and mobilizing learning technologies in equitable, innovative, and learner-centered ways. I am humbled to serve as the founding director, and to be working with our founding faculty, Richard Arum, David Theo Goldberg, Bill Maurer, Kurt Squire, and Constance Steinkuehler. I am looking forward to expanding our ranks with more faculty, postdocs, students, and community members as we get our efforts off the ground. The founding of CLL is motivated by

Watchworthy Wednesday: Google Scientist Tells How Tech Affects Learning


When his daughter was studying linguistics, Daniel M. Russell observed her reading a book on Turkish grammar while connected to her earbuds, listening to Turkish news on an online app. “She was multiple coding,” he explained Tuesday to a group of UC Irvine computer scientists. Russell, a senior research scientist at Google, said that as technology rapidly changes, “it’s tied to our ways of thinking. It affects us in the way we think, the way we frame and the way we reason. And, how we learn is highly dependent upon the technology we bring into the

What Teachers Can Learn from Students


I remember being a college student. The problem with being a professor who remembers being a college student, is that we’re probably misremembering, or our experience is different from those of our current students. Last week, I got to experience being in students’ shoes a little more than usual, and I found the experience particularly enlightening. I felt that being in closer or more intense contact with students for a couple of days and experiencing their lives helped me empathize with them more. This is very different from teaching them, because when I teach them, I

Avoiding ‘Dark Pits of Yuck’: Connected Learning for Military Spouses


“We moved nine times in 14 years…It wore me down. Anything I started and developed on my own got taken away.” — Joanna McGuffey, founder and CEO of Unconventional Works I met Joanna in 2015 at Nucleus CoShare, a coworking office in Dayton, Ohio that serendipitously opened not long after we both moved there to accompany our service member spouses at their new duty locations. She was a seasoned Air Force spouse, having moved nine times in 14 years and I was brand new. Joanna told me that she joined the coworking office because she was “in

Watchworthy Wednesday: Meet 10 Women Championing Connected Learning


As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s turn our attention to 10 women scholars making their mark as champions of connected learning. (Connected learning calls for broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven and oriented toward educational, economic or political opportunity. It is based on evidence that the most resilient, adaptive and effective learning involves individual interest as well as social support.) As connected learning advocates, these 10 scholars, among a number of others worldwide, argue that new media broadens access to opportunity and meaningful learning experiences that can happen anytime, anywhere.

Making Science: When Does Spaghetti Become a Light Ray?


For the past few years, we have been fortunate to work together in a scientific inquiry class. Bringing together science faculty and composition faculty makes for some lively conversations about the teaching of writing. The course is offered to future elementary school teachers who are typically non-science majors. We recently co-wrote with Irene Salter Composing Science: A Facilitator’s Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom (TCPress 2016), which describes our work with these future teachers and our practices for teaching writing in science. The book lays out how we engage students in practices that mirror the

The Power of Digital Writing and Connected Learning


“Sharing power in a system rooted in not sharing power is a pretty tough go,” was the first thing Terry Elliott said when I asked him about his longstanding work in student empowerment — from unschooling his own, now grown, children, to encouraging high school students to blog about a real local issue (bus safety) way back in 2002. These days, in addition to the systemic obstacles to real student empowerment, Elliott faces the challenge of teaching writing to students who, for one reason or another, have difficulty writing. He starts by asking students to “think

Badges, Proof and Pathways


How do you prove what you know and can do these days? Sure, you can show someone your CV, résumé or LinkedIn profile, but what does that prove? Isn’t that just a bunch of claims you’ve got about the stuff you can do? Where’s the evidence? What can you point to in order to say: “This is me. This is who I am. This is my value to the world?” Sometimes, it’s quick and easy to show that you’ve got the skills that are required. A quick on-the-spot check proves that you can build the wall,