New MIT Book Series Seeks Authors

Monday, April 16, 2018 Comment classroom

How large-scale online environments — such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), intelligent tutoring systems, learning games, collaborative programming communities, community tutorial systems, social learning networks and numerous informal communities of learners on platforms like Reddit, YouTube or fanfiction sites — are contributing to learning is the topic of a new book series from MIT Press. And, the series editors are seeking proposals for books that investigate, critique and explain these large-scale environments. “Just as large-scale learning environments are diverse, we seek a diverse set of methodological and theoretical perspectives to inform our series, ranging from


Rethinking Black Digital Literacy, Part 1

Monday, April 09, 2018 Comment IBM computer

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a three-part post featuring the fourth interview in a multi-part series with participants in the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities Conference. The series features public intellectuals discussing digital literacy issues. Jessica Marie Johnson is one of the country’s leading scholars on black code literacy. I’ve had the privilege of teaching with her at the Digital Humanities Summer Research Institute. At the conference my campus organized, she recently gave a thought-provoking and inspiring keynote address. Professor Johnson’s own digital literacy story started early: “I have what feels now like


Creativity is Fundamental for Lifelong Learning

Monday, April 02, 2018 Comment kindergartners

Creativity is for everyone, according to Mitchel Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, where he directs the Lifelong Kindergarten research group. “It’s fundamental. It’s not just about personal expression. Having creative ways of thinking will be important in the workplace, but it’s also important in your civic life. If you really want to make a real contribution to your community, you need to be thinking creatively,” he explained in an online conversation with Mimi Ito, director of the Connected Learning Lab at the University of California,


Reteaching Teaching: Pedagogy and Teacher Training for the Digital Age

Monday, March 26, 2018 Comment girl holding phone in class (pedagogy)

Digital media and networks, like blackboards and post-it notes, are tools whose effectiveness depends on how they are used. Whether you call it “connected learning” or a “new culture of learning,” deploying the tools depends on changing the mindset of educators. Connected learning elements are openly networked, interest powered, production centered, peer supported, shared purpose, academically oriented. Educators and trainers of educators are leading the way by experimenting with pedagogy that engages students by connecting their academic curriculum with their personal interests, involving the networked world that students live in, encouraging collaboration and peer support, scaffolding


Media and Civic Engagement: Growing Youth Enthusiasm

Monday, March 19, 2018 Comment Constitution

Democracy is not just about choosing your own leaders. Democracy can only take root in a population that is free enough and educated enough to discuss issues, form public opinion, and influence policy. The public sphere is one of information. As James Madison, “the father of the U.S. Constitution” at age 36 put it (in words now carved in marble at the Library of Congress): “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And


Young People’s Nonpolitical Online Activity Supports Democratic Life

Monday, March 12, 2018 Comment

Emma González, a high school student from Parkland, now has more Twitter followers than the NRA. Indeed, numerous students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have turned the social media skills and practices they use every day into tools that enable political impact. While their traumatic experience is tragically extreme, their example sheds light on a more general process: When digital skills and social networks are joined with a motivation to effect change, they become potent political resources. Our study of youth social media practices and politics indicates that this dynamic is more common and more


Taking Control of Digital Identity

Monday, March 05, 2018 Comment

My college freshmen, all 84, are deep into a study of digital cultures and digital literacies as we head toward Week 4 of our semester. I designed this first-year comp class so we could weave the practices of academic writing — research, citation, revision, editing, etc. — while also working toward, in a nutshell, simply being more awesome at using the web. I am deeply committed to cultivating the democratic potential of an open web, still believing in the possibility that our most marginalized students can be heard and their ideas amplified in ways that traditional distribution


Networked Publics: Learning and Creating as Global, Interconnected, Interactive Community Enterprise

Monday, February 26, 2018 Comment

“Openly networked” is one of the connected learning principles because learning always has been as much or more of a social than a strictly individual enterprise — and because the age-old human proclivity for operating in social networks has been vastly amplified by digital media and networks. Consider the difference between writing an essay for the teacher and maybe getting a gold star or a good grade, and publishing the same essay online and receiving comments from people around the world. In the old days, student presentations had a critical audience of one. These days, presentations


Parenting in the Age of Screen Time

Monday, February 19, 2018 Comment

Setting screen time rules isn’t simple, but Anya Kamenetz’ new book, “The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life,” aims to help parents moderate technology in their children’s lives. Kamenetz, an expert on education and technology, spoke with Mimi Ito, director of the Connected Learning Lab at the University of California, Irvine, in the first in a series of online conversations and podcasts, featuring books and research that aim to help educators, scholars, parents and technology makers make sense of learning in the digital age. Many parents, Kamenetz said,


Making Is a Stance Toward Learning: Combining Learner Agency with Tinkering, Debugging and Project-based Learning

Monday, February 12, 2018 Comment kids in classroom

The tyranny of correct answers masks a vital and essential element of learning — the practice of debugging. When you make something, however, especially something that involves code and/or electronic or mechanical components, it is to be expected that your project will not work the first time you turn it on. Coding and making involves a great deal of systematic problem-solving to find and eliminate bugs. There’s nothing like the feeling when the last bug has been squashed and your creation beeps or moves or lights up. This kind of learning isn’t confined to tangible DIY


Teaching Underrepresented Students How to Navigate Higher Ed Via Digital Humanities

Monday, February 05, 2018 Comment VR

This is the third part in a multi-part series about participants in the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities conference. This series features public intellectuals discussing digital literacy issues. Professor Marisa Parham of Amherst College, who has led the Five College Digital Humanities initiative has a long history with digital media. “My earliest experiences with computers and devices mainly stemmed from my grandfather’s obsession with Kaypros in the 1980s. I was 8 or 9 years old. He would take me downtown to ogle what must have been some iteration of the Kaypro II, which for some reason,


Co-Learning: Modeling Cooperative-Collaborative Learning

Monday, January 29, 2018 Comment students hold hands while standing in a circle during class

Moving the classroom chairs in a circle had radical effects on the way we all looked at our learning: As I told my students, if we transported a warrior from 1,000 years ago to a present-day battlefield, he would die quickly; if we transported a surgeon from 1,000 years ago to a modern operating room, he wouldn’t know what to do; but, if we transported students and a teacher from 1,000 years ago to most contemporary classrooms, everyone would know where to sit, who was in charge, who would speak, and who would remain silent. In


10 Connected Learning Lesson Plans from the Remake Learning Network

Monday, January 22, 2018 Comment students making in a library

For me, one of the greatest joys of teaching is the chance to learn from other educators: the opportunity to peek under the hood at all the moving parts behind a dynamite lesson plan, a thriving classroom, an effective teacher. When I started teaching history, my more experienced colleagues were my greatest resources. They recommended discussion questions for starting class, activities for getting my students engaged, and multimedia resources that I never would have found on my own. When I moved to Pittsburgh, I saw some especially effective educators in action through my work on the


Learner Agency: Sharing Control of the Classroom Agenda

Monday, January 15, 2018 Comment student at computer

When I reflect on the 10 years I spent teaching at UC Berkeley and Stanford, and look back over the 127 interviews I did with innovators in digital media and learning, “learner agency” was the first thought that came to mind when I asked myself about what still seems important. What I mean by this phrase: students are explicitly addressed as learners (better yet: co-learners); students are allowed to use their own interests and networks to explore issues that matter to them (scaffolded by teachers with the curricular knowledge that will make more sense to students


Educating for Democracy: What We Can Do

Monday, January 08, 2018 Comment Educating for Democracy

Teresa Chin works with youth in downtown Oakland, Calif. at Youth Radio — a media production company driven by young people. One thing she works with youth on is the development of first-person commentaries. She wants them to learn how to draw on their life experiences in order to share their perspective on a societal issue with a broad audience. As Teresa explains, “Commentaries are a really powerful tool for civic engagement. Your story is how you can get people to build empathy and understanding.” Here is a video of how Teresa does this as well


Connecting Making, Designing and Composing

Monday, January 01, 2018 Comment craft making

In her closing keynote at FabLearn a couple years ago, Leah Buechley turned a critical eye on the maker movement. If you don’t know Buechley’s work, she is arguably one of the maker movement’s central players, founding the former High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab and inventing the LilyPad Arduino, among many other contributions. She is a champion of making, which makes her all the more thoughtful in her critiques. Buechley asks us to consider who gets to make and who is represented in the maker movement. I thought about her keynote a lot


Digitally Improving Historical Knowledge

Monday, December 25, 2017 Comment members of the Colored Conventions Project

This is the second part in a multi-part series about participants in the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities conference. This series features public intellectuals discussing digital literacy issues. “Colored Conventions: Bringing Nineteenth-Century Black Organizing to Digital Life” was recently named by the National Endowment for the Humanities one of its “essentials” a collection of 50 works funded by the organization to reshape “what we know about ourselves and our world.” Like Ken Burns’ sprawling documentary on the Civil War or the preservation and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the NEH lauded “Colored Conventions” for its ground-breaking


Ferguson Syllabus and the Power of Social Media

Monday, December 18, 2017 Comment Marcia Chatelain in studio on public radio program “St. Louis on the Air.”

This is the first part in a multi-part series about participants in the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities conference. This series features public intellectuals in the academy discussing digital literacy issues. I first met Marcia Chatelain at the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities Conference, where she gave an inspiring talk about how her work on The Ferguson Syllabus was connected to her own past at a variety of academic institutions, including the University of Missouri, Georgetown University, and William and Mary. In introducing a syllabus that provided background materials for understanding police violence against unarmed civilians


From Tech Engagement to Tech Scholars

Monday, December 11, 2017 Comment College of DuPage's 50th annual Commencement

One of the reasons I was very excited to join a community college is because there is a gap in how we think about bringing digital media and technology into learning. While there is a lot of research on K-12 and higher education in general, there isn’t as much research on students who are at risk of failing to continue their education at community colleges. These years are a unique opportunity when it is imperative that people in a position to do so work to close the various achievement gaps. The one people are most familiar


Fostering Democratic Dialogue with Digital Annotation

Monday, December 04, 2017 Comment

As a professor at a public, land-grant institution, I consider it my sacred responsibility to produce and share knowledge that directly benefits the communities I have the honor to serve. As a professor of education, I am particularly committed to supporting young people, teachers, and all who champion learning. Because of these commitments, few things frustrate me more than the academic publishing system that places many of the articles I write about literacy and civic engagement behind firewalls, available only to those with access to institutional databases. The people with whom I hope to communicate through