‘Improving Improvement’ in Education: Louis Gomez, Keynote Speaker for DML2014

While so much attention is focused on improving teaching – the controversy over using text scores as “teacher accountability” measures, for example – isn’t it also important to think about how we improve our notions of improvement? We see no lack of thinking about reforming education: Shouldn’t some attention be directed to how we’re thinking about educational change – and how to improve that thinking? Fortunately, Louis M. Gomez, who is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at DML 2014, has been working on these issues for some time. Perhaps the existing digital media and learning

How Might Creative Youth Cultures Understand the Nature of ‘Creativity’?

In this post I want to compare two European research projects that investigated creative production by young people in informal, out-of-school and, to a great extent, self organised contexts. Around the world scholars are very interested in the development of any kind of learning community and especially those seemingly stimulated by or reliant on forms of digital technology. It is the key premise for DML. Virtually all of the scholarship is interested in the types of different relationships such cultures have with formal schooling both to see how they might serve as templates for educational reform

Phonar: A Massive, Free, Open Photography Class

When asked to explain his attitude toward arts education, British photographer Jonathan Worth describes what he is teaching as “storytelling” that should be an integral part of everyone’s “digital literacy and digital citizenship” rather than a rarified artistic skill for niche training of a cadre of aesthetic elites.  Worth is currently the instructor of Phonar, the sprawling massive, free, and open undergraduate photography course that he teaches to as many as 30,000 participants at one time. Worth’s initiative was one of five recognized recently for outstanding innovation in the international Reclaim Open Learning Challenge and Symposium. 

The End of Theory in Digital Social Research?

Computer code, software and algorithms have sunk deep into the “technological unconscious” of our contemporary “lifeworld.” How might this affect academic research in the social sciences and the formation of the professional identities of academics? These are important questions for researchers working in Digital Media and Learning, asking us to consider how the digital devices and infrastructures that we study might actually be shaping our practices, shaping our production of knowledge, and shaping our theories of the world. Professional work across the natural, human and social sciences is now increasingly mediated and augmented by computer coded

The 5 Most Interesting Writing Developments for 2014

It is a common theme to complain about the way that writing (or reading or math) skills are declining as our society becomes increasingly digitized. In this post, I look at some examples of the way that digital technologies are making writing more interesting by exploring stories or trends from the past year that have impacted writing and the teaching of writing. Not all of these examples suggest that writing is getting better (or that it is getting worse). Rather, they illustrate how writing is changing under the influence of emerging technologies. 1. Writing is in

Going Beyond ‘Learning to Code’: Why 2014 is the Year of Web Literacy

In January 2012 the Mayor of New York tweeted, along with thousands of other people, that he planned to ‘learn to code’ during the course of that year. Whether or not he was successful in this venture, it’s a good indication of how ‘learn to code’ has captured the zeitgeist and become a movement. A recent Computer Science Education week, for example, was  re-branded as ‘Hour of Code’ – and Code.org features celebrities urging everyone to just learn a little bit of code. The argument is largely economic and aligned with agendas around science, technology, engineering

Hacking The Classroom with Michelle Cordy, aka, “Teacher on an Urgent Quest”

As soon as she joined one of my online courses and immediately embraced co-learning, I recognized Michelle Cordy as the kind of fearless learner who makes a great teacher. A teacher can do a great deal to facilitate the conditions from which learning communities emerge – but only the learners can make the real magic happen. In my ten years of teaching face to face and online, I’ve discovered that the sine qua non of the truly magical co-learning experience is a lead learner or two – people who will try the activities and read the

“Making is a stance toward learning”: Sylvia Libow Martinez

Messing with Makey-Makey, tinkering with Arduino, building robots or creating wearable art are not primarily about teaching electronic skills, problem-solving, or technological literacy – although those can be benefits of the maker revolution in education. Messing, tinkering, building projects that actually interest learners is about developing skills of autonomous learning, cultivating an appreciation for and fluency in using learning communities and experienced guides, and practice at thinking big. “Making is a stance toward learning that puts the learner at the center of the educational process,” is how Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager put it in

Learning from a Life in Software

In this post I want to think about our intimate relationship with various kinds of software as a way of understanding the development of skills and practices. I want to take the unusual approach of telling the story of a ‘creative life in software’ – building on Brigid Barron’s development of ‘techno-biographies’ as a way of gaining insight into learning over time and across contexts. I want us to think beyond the more self-evident fact that engaging with software is crucial in the development of all sorts of individual capabilities and competencies to how we might