What do new Social Networks tell us about Digital Literacies?

Monday, July 11, 2011 Comment screenshot of google homepage with arrows pointing to the + sign to add new pages

The recent launch of Google+, a new social network, has caused ripples in many different online spaces. From talk of it being a ‘Facebook killer’ because of its enhanced privacy settings to discussion of who one should place in the various ‘Circles’ available to users, the focus has been on technical aspects of the new service. What interests me, however, is how using the lens of digital literacies can cast light on practices and interactions in these spheres. There are two graphs ingrained in the brains of most people interested in technology and its effects on


Great Resources (July): Assessment, Youth Culture, Games & Learning

Friday, July 08, 2011 Comment students posing excited after giving class presentation

Do we need badges, specifically badges for learning? In recent years, the answer has been increasingly, if not exactly “yes” then something more like “we better find out before it’s too late.” The new interest around badges appears to have begun in response to a talk by Eva L. Baker, “The End(s) of Testing,” her 2007 Presidential Address for the American Educational Research Association. Critiquing assessment within schools, she never actually used the term “badges” but rather, “qualifications.” The response by some academics and foundations soon converged with, as described to me by James Paul Gee,


Gamechanger: Digital Media plus Student-centered, Immersive, Peer-led Learning

Tuesday, July 05, 2011 Comment Recycle art collage made out of recycled paper

In the middle of one of the hottest and driest summers on record, twenty Austin, TX, area high school students showed up for school everyday for four weeks. While the four-week project took place inside a school, how the students worked, the roles they assumed, and what they produced was a total redesign of school and what it means to be a learner. Their mission: create a casual video game for AMD that highlights the green architecture that earned the company’s Lone Star Campus (based in Austin) a gold certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design


Search Personalization and Digital Literacy

Thursday, June 30, 2011 Comment man taking photo of himself displayed on computer screen

The near total dominance of computer search over our information gathering has presented our culture with an interesting (and possibly unique) problem in the history of information management: what you see when you search for something can be quite different from what I see when I search. This is because search engines (and other recommendation services, like the suggestions at Amazon and Netflix) monitor our behavior and tailor the results we see to their records of our past behavior. In other words, the search results we are served are based on what we have clicked on


Four Questions about Civic Media

Monday, June 27, 2011 Comment man holding up sign saying Egypt using social media icons during protest

The civic media field is often better defined by example than in abstractions. The field is so nascent and fluid that any comprehensive, conceptual definition will likely miss key aspects of the field. For those of us who believe civic media – the various ways communities create, find and share actionable information – is transforming media and civic life, exciting examples are always an opportunity to think about the future of the field.


Digital Learning and the Arab Spring

Thursday, June 23, 2011 Comment close up of computer keyboard

As revolution and revolt spreads across the Arab world, Americans often see social networking sites and online video as playing a starring role. Whether it is testimony about police brutality or jubilation in the squares, examples of so-called witness journalism captured by cell phone cameras, webcams, and other mobile devices have made many citizens feel more engaged with the political plight of those struggling against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.


A Teenager Taps Social Media to Help Change his Struggling Community

Monday, June 20, 2011 Comment large pictures of human portraits covering front of buildings in poor community

“Intense shootings happening at this moment in the Complexo do Alemao!” tweeted teenager Rene Silva on Nov. 9, 2010.  Using his personal Twitter account (@Rene_Silva_RJ) and the Twitter account of a newspaper he created, “Voz da Comunidade,” (Community Voice – @vozdacomunidade), Rene was able to broadcast information about a standoff between police and drug traffickers from inside the “Complexo do Alemão,” one of the major groups of favelas in Rio de Janeiro. During the dangerous conflict, Rene and two other kids drew media attention in Brazil because they were able to send out news in real


Redefining School, Success

Monday, June 13, 2011 Comment Be You Points of difference colorful art graphic

We’re a district InnovationLab in Loveland, Colorado, where students have crafted, and just completed year one, of a four-year plan of disruption to redefine school. Based on findings that learning at its best is voluntary, per passion/choice, and self-directed, we are working towards community as school. After our experience this past year, we are thinking: It’s prime time for some much needed detox from traditional assumptions. The Web is offering a new space, new connections, new life, if we so choose. What Tech Wants is to set us free. It wants to let us get back


Rethinking the “New” in “New Media”

Friday, June 10, 2011 Comment chalk on sidewalk spelling internet

I’m not a label person. Really, I usually don’t care what we call something. However, sometimes the words we call the tools and practices of teachers get in the way of acceptance, adoption, and policy. At the recent Urban Sites Network Conference in Boston, always-inspiring educator and writer Linda Christensen led a group of teachers through a “mixer.” In her book, Reading, Writing, and Rising Up, this activity–one I use in my classroom–was called a “tea party.” It was with amusement and a tinge of sadness to realize why the name has changed. And though couched


The Cosmopolitan Classroom

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 Comment students sitting in theater seats waiting for presentation

The globalization of digital media has put pressure on education systems worldwide to be reformed. The emphasis is on schooling that will promote the cosmopolitan identities of globalized digital citizens. But what kind of cosmopolitan identities? And can we imagine truly cosmopolitan classrooms? Debates about digital media and learning and the need for educational reform have gone truly global. The proof is Rupert Murdoch’s massive News International corporation. At the recent global eG8 forum in Paris in May, Murdoch used his speaking platform to advocate a “digital revolution in schooling.” According to his eG8 speech, the


Share, Grow, Do: The Potential of Digital Age Learning

Saturday, June 04, 2011 Comment female student working on paper work and laptop

The National Writing Project has launched a fantastic new web site, Digital Is, to build a community amongst educators exploring how the digital age is changing how we write, share, collaborate, publish and participate in the digital age. More importantly, what does this mean for the teaching of writing? The site offers resources, news and discussions. It is fairly new, so check it out and consider being part of building this community. Global Kids has already contributed to Digital Is by adding multimedia curriculum for Supporting Youth to Develop a Mental Map of Where They Learn.


Mobile Phones, Digital Media, and America’s Learning Divide

Monday, May 30, 2011 Comment 2 students sitting in stairwell with backpacks on phones

During a recent research related visit to New York City I decided to take a stroll down 125th Street in Harlem.  Among the assortment of shops and vendors on the famous stretch that is home to the legendary Apollo Theater were an abundance of mobile phone providers.  Even a few of the street vendors offered mobile phone accessories such as cases, covers, and car adaptors.  It struck me that while you could easily purchase a mobile phone on 125th Street you could not purchase a desktop or laptop computer.  Not that long ago the assumption that


How does Digital Media impact Youth Political and Civic Engagement?

Thursday, May 26, 2011 Comment women with pink hair taking a photo on digital camera

There’s a lot of conversation about young people’s use of digital media and how it impacts their engagement — or lack of engagement — in civic affairs and politics, but not a great deal of empirical work has been done. Until now. Joseph Kahne is the chair of a newly-formed research network, Youth and Participatory Politics (YaPP), that is looking at the ways youth are using digital media and the Internet to engage in meaningful ways in civic affairs and social issues. I had an opportunity to talk with Kahne about his latest research findings and


P2PU: Learning for Everyone, by Everyone, about almost Anything

Monday, May 23, 2011 Comment group of people casually having a meeting with beer pizza and swing

Meet Philipp Schmidt, co-founder and executive director of Peer to Peer University, an emerging, Web-based global learning community. At P2PU, study groups form and gather online to learn a particular topic. They do group work together and provide constructive feedback for one another. All courses are free and open. Schmidt started P2PU after he and a few friends wanted to learn more about psychology together. After that initial experience, they created a wiki offering seven more courses to see if people would be interested, and P2PU was born. Entrepreneurial and committed to open learning culture, Schmidt


Going Interactive in a Big Way: How Can We Transform the Lecture Class?

Monday, May 16, 2011 Comment man sitting in shared work space working on laptop sitting on beanbag chair

This is the last in a three-part “end of term” series of blog posts on “Doing Better by Gen Y.”  In the first post, one of my students spoke about the paucity of opportunities to actually think critically about the role of digital media in society, in learning, in global relations, in local and global inequalities, and in the workplace.  In the second post, “What Are Digital Literacies:  Let’s Ask the Students,” both of my classes, “This Is Your Brain on the Internet” and “Twenty-First Century Literacies,” helped us understand what about my peer-led, peer-assessed, peer-designed


How to Make a Million Dollars, One Facebook Class at a Time

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 Comment group of adults at facebook conference holding poke and mouse signs

The fall of 2007 was, in many ways, a simpler time: the most popular social network in the United States was an Los Angeles-based outfit called Myspace; Apple had just released an all-in-one touchscreen iPod, phone, and wireless computing device it called the iPhone; and Facebook, the up-and-coming niche social network for college students, had unveiled something it called the Facebook Platform. Yes, before Apple introduced its phenomenally successful App Store, Facebook developed a plan to turn the site into something more than the sum of its pokes. Building on Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle’s observation


Hype, Reality, Insights on Cyberbullying, Videogaming, and Learning Institutions

Thursday, May 05, 2011 Comment older student helping young student with computer work

At the top of the not-to-be-missed list is “Good and Bad Cyberbullying PSAs: How to Tell the Difference,” an exceptional blog post by childhood expert Rosalind Wiseman, who insightfully frames the cyberbullying issue. As more and more organizations are creating public resources about cyberbullying, criticism has grown, and not just against the over-reaction. Recently, we’ve seen a number of examples of resources explicitly designed to fight cyberbullying that have been criticized as being more harmful than helpful, and in some cases extremely harmful. Some underlying messages in some ads, for examples, would seem to promote suicide.


Should We Design Social Justice into Learning?

Monday, May 02, 2011 Comment group of adults sitting in home around couches working on computers

The notion of design is central to the way we think about learning, and to how we think about digital media. Some would argue that learning is “designed in” to digital media such as good video games. But what can this concept tell us about “designing in” social justice to learning experiences? Thinking about digital media from a design perspective compels us to recognize how much of what we take for granted as “just the way things are” are the consequences of design decisions, and reveals how things could be otherwise. It shows how individuals can


Pop-Up University

Thursday, April 28, 2011 Comment young hip girl sitting outside working on laptop

If Rheingold U, my current experiment in cultivating wholly online, multimedia, unaccredited, for-not-much-pay learning communities, originally germinated out of fun and impulse, the next stage was more scary-serious. As soon as I took people’s money and started telling the world about my intentions, I was obligated as well as motivated to make it work – not just to deliver a rich set of learning materials, but to conjure actual social learning magic. Networked social learning is most effective and truly magical when students who don’t know one another one day start scouring the world for knowledge


What Should Civic Learning Look Like in an Age of Social and Technological Change?

Monday, April 25, 2011 Comment 2 kids working on computer together in classroom

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her iCivics team recently convened a thought provoking conference, Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age. In partnership with the Aspen Institute, Georgetown Law, and the MacArthur Foundation the conference raised a number of questions regarding the state of civic education. Concerned about the declining state of civic education in American schools, Justice O’Connor assembled a team to create a digital platform, iCivics, for use in formal and informal learning environments. iCivics is a games-based platform and civic curriculum designed to meet students where they are—in the gaming