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
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,
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
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
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.
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.
“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
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
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 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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