How Can VR be Used for Learning?

Thursday, April 27, 2017 Comment beads

The hype around virtual reality (VR) has died down a bit, though the conference keeps going. I was happy to attend the Versions conference earlier this year, though I was disappointed (but not surprised) that there wasn’t that much new stuff. Rather, it seems there is less happening than there was before as the medium continues to figure out what its best use cases are if it is to become a consumer technology. Since last year, I’ve learned that, for me personally, I prefer room scale VR to other experiences. The ability to move through space


Watchworthy Wednesday: Apply to Present at DML2017 by May 1

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Comment dml conference

Got an innovative program or research project dealing with connected learning or digital media and learning? We want to hear about it at this year’s Digital Media and Learning Conference, and the deadline to apply to be a featured speaker has been extended to May 1. The 8th annual DML Conference is an international gathering that brings together a vibrant and diverse community of innovators, thinkers, and progressive educators to delve into leading-edge topics in digital media and learning. Attendees build connections across research, design, and practice in the service of progressive, equitable, and youth-centered approaches


Does Digital Media Have a Place in Hands-On Science Learning Space?

Monday, April 24, 2017 Comment Smithsonian

I reached out to Rebecca Bray, the chief of experience development at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., to learn about how the museum developed and now runs its innovative Q?rius (pronounced “curious”) space, opened in 2013 as an interactive and educational lab with microscopes, touch screens, interactive activities and a “collection zone,” housing over 6,000 different specimens and artifacts visitors can handle. In our conversation below, we explore their design process, the role of youth learners, the pros and cons of integrating digital media into a hands-on learning space, and more.


Rescuing Student Participation Through Digital Platforms

Thursday, April 20, 2017 Comment two students in fox masks

Like many of my colleagues who think carefully about digital literacy and pedagogies, I began seriously considering the use of social media platforms in educational settings — sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr — around 2008. Despite nearly a decade of innovative uses of digital platforms in educational settings, the use of these platforms and spaces continues to be trivialized by the public and teachers alike, with cries echoing about attention spans and nostalgia for the loss of face-to-face interaction, which seem more “real.” But, to continue to dismiss digital platforms, particularly those focused on social


Watchworthy Wednesday: How AI Will Transform Medical Practice

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 Comment Dr. Chang

Armed with reams of data, a patient’s father convinced Dr. Anthony C. Chang, his daughter’s pediatric cardiologist, to proceed with her surgery. “A data scientist, the father of one of my congenital heart defect patients, really wanted to give me more data than we typically get so he tabulated the pulse oximetry readings on his daughter and plotted it out for me and convinced me that we needed to push ahead with surgery,” Chang said. The chief intelligence and innovation officer and medical director of the Heart Failure Program at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC),


Critical Literacy, Civic Engagement and Connected Learning in the Classroom

Monday, April 17, 2017 Comment poem

I am on a personal crusade to make civic education the responsibility of every teacher regardless of subject area, despite the fact that it is consistently assumed to be the concern of social studies teachers alone. I believe that the way to accomplish this paradigm shift is to move away from a focus on discrete civic learning opportunities that engage students in particular projects geared only toward formal politics and instead turn toward the idea that what takes place in classrooms on an everyday basis — what we study, how we talk to each other, what we


Turning Bullies Into Leaders Through Writing

Thursday, April 13, 2017 Comment Young Writers Project

When their writing is read and praised by others, “bullies become class leaders — they want attention, acknowledgement, appreciation. In this case, appreciation of creative risk.” Journalist-turned educator Geoffrey Gevalt is speaking of the Young Writers Project, an online writing magazine and community by and for more than 3,000 young people: “This site is a community that provides peer, mentor and professional support through reactions to individual posts, projects (youth-led, artist-supported initiatives) and, formal learning Playlists — offered for a small fee (or free if you can’t afford it.) This community has only one rule — RESPECT


Watchworthy Wednesday: UCI Dreamers Take a Stand, Help Each Other

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 Comment ballet folklorico

As a junior computer science major at the University of California, Irvine, she felt “hopeless” watching fellow classmates landing scholarships, federal financial aid and paid internships. “I could not do the same things due to my status,” the student noted. Undocumented students are not eligible for most scholarships because they require U.S. citizenship or residency status. But, thanks to a fundraising effort, created and organized by UCI’s undocumented students themselves, they are raising money and awareness to help each other get through school successfully. With the support of the campus community and generous donors, the students


Diversity Makes Design Sense

Monday, April 10, 2017 Comment women engineers

The 2017 NCES report “Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering” notes that the participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities (WMPD) in science and engineering fields does not match their proportion of the population. For more than two decades, women have earned about half the bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering, although they overrepresented in some fields (70% of psychology degrees) and underrepresented in others (women are only 18% of computer science degree-holders). While the report provides many reasons to be optimistic, it also shows that we have some ways to


Screen Time for Kids: Getting the Balance Right

Thursday, April 06, 2017 Comment screen time infographic

From digital homework platforms to extended video chats with friends, from remote working to family WhatsApp groups, there are infinite ways that digital media are becoming integrated into both children’s and parents’ lives. Despite parents reporting how they benefit in their personal, professional and parenting lives from digital media, it is remarkable that so many in this generation of parents are still anxiously watching the “screen time” clock. “Screen time” is not “good” or “bad” in and of itself, but is rather a shorthand (though fairly out-dated) way of talking about millions of different ways of


Watchworthy Wednesday: How You Could Win $250,000 for Being Disobedient

Wednesday, April 05, 2017 Comment MIT Award

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words — “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws” — open MIT’s Media Lab video, inviting nominations for its Rewarding Disobedience Award. The award, which comes with a no-strings-attached $250,000 cash prize, will go to a living individual or group engaged in “an extraordinary example of disobedience for the benefit of society.” From the award description: The MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award seeks to highlight effective, responsible, ethical disobedience across disciplines, and around the world. Disobedience Award objectives are to build awareness and support of disobedience-robust work being done, and


Coding for What?

Monday, April 03, 2017 Comment coding

The most recent series of the popular conspiracy drama “Homeland” features a shadow intelligence agency dedicated to producing and circulating fake news and computational propaganda via fake social media user accounts. Run by a TV shock-jock whose authority seems to surpass that even of the CIA, and who bears obvious resemblance to Steve Bannon, the agency is primarily staffed by young coders and programmers, who have been tasked with waging a secret information war against an incoming President-elect. This part of the plot of “Homeland” dramatizes quite well troubling current events whereby computer coding is now understood


Introducing UCI’s Connected Learning Lab

Thursday, March 30, 2017 Comment students at UCI

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 Comment Daniel Russell speaking at UCI

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

Monday, March 27, 2017 Comment

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017 Comment

“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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Comment 10 women connected learning scholars

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?

Monday, March 20, 2017 Comment spaghetti artifact

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017 Comment Terry Elliott

“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


Watchworthy Wednesday: The Importance of Media Literacy in Partisan Times

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 Comment

“It’s crucial that we cultivate students’ ability to judge the credibility of online political content and build their commitment to carefully assessing such content.” — Joseph Kahne and Benjamin Bowyer Taken from research by Joseph Kahne, the Ted and Jo Dutton Presidential Chair in educational policy and politics at UC Riverside, chair of the MacArthur Foundation Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) Research Network and director of the Civic Engagement Research Group, and Benjamin Bowyer, political science lecturer at Santa Clara University, the infographic above points to the importance of media literacy today as partisanship is dramatically