Disrupting Class: A New Age for Learning

Thursday, December 30, 2010 Comment
students sitting in class having conversations disrupting class

Book review: one in an occasional series on works that aspire to reimagine learning in the information age. Let’s start with the shocking news that Disrupting Class authors Clayton Christensen, Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson present a hopeful view of the world where K-12 education is utterly transformed. In their view, learner-centered teaching plus information technology will mean the end of the century-old industrialized model of public schooling. From page one, there’s an expression of “high hopes.” They debunk many of the traditional theories about why our schools are failing: funding issues, lack of


Top 5 Blog Posts on Digital Media and Learning for 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010 Comment facebook home screen reflecting in sunglasses

The DML Central blog is just over a year old, and the close of 2010 marks our first full year of publishing thought leadership from our featured bloggers and highlighting best practices in the emerging field of digital media and learning. It has been an inspiring adventure. Thanks in large part to our growing community, we have learned a great deal about collaboration, conversation, and exploration in digital media and learning in the past year — lessons we will apply in the redesign of this site and the creation of new Web resources in 2011. Meanwhile,


Peer Learning Isn’t Easy (But Some Days It’s Amazing)

Monday, December 20, 2010 Comment students sitting on couches working on laptops together

I’m not teaching a class this term.  I’m doing something lots harder.  I am making a collaborative, peer-led experience available to students.  There are six of them: three graduate students, two undergraduate students, and one recent alum.  There is no syllabus.  As part of HASTAC and the Digital Media and Learning Competition, my semester has been full of exciting opportunities so I wrote an open letter to Duke students inviting anyone daring enough to join me for a peer-created collaboration to build projects around these events.  I wanted to share the wealth and turn it into pedagogy.  I’ve never done anything like this before so I wanted to handpick the participants in what I call a “Tutorial in Collaborative Thinking.”  I had about two dozen inquiries; if the word “grade” or “requirements” came up in the email to me, I knew the student was wrong for this experiment in independent, self-guided group learning-by-doing.  The six who were bold enough to join have dubbed themselves FutureClass.  They created a class website and even co-created their own logo.  If you’ve never co-designed a logo with six people you don’t know, from different backgrounds, different ages, different kinds of expertise, well, let me just tell you it isn’t easy.  They pulled it off, too. Nothing about FutureClass has been easy.  To begin with, Duke doesn’t really have an institutional category for a six-person group independent study that crosses graduates and undergraduates and alums (including a doctoral student at UNC too), and in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  After an exchange of something on the order of a gazillion emails, a department chair (name omitted to protect the implicated) went out on a limb and just signed the form making this anomaly a reality.


The Joy of Writing – With Ancient Tools or New

Monday, December 13, 2010 Comment 2 men sitting at art station using painting and writing tools

The Telegraph recently published an article announcing that, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, “ancient communication technologies” like handwriting “are current like never before.” The title of the article — “How Twitter made handwriting cool” — is a little misleading in that there isn’t much in the article to suggest how Twitter has any impact on the “coolness” of handwriting. Rather, it stands in as a representative of social media, against which the handwriting “movement” establishes itself as cool by rebelling against this new fad. Besides establishing this kind of knee-jerk binary between handwriting and new


Digital Self-Harm and Other Acts of Self-Harassment

Tuesday, December 07, 2010 Comment portrait of woman with hair covering face representing self harm

Sometimes, things aren’t what they appear to be.  And, in those cases, jumping to the wrong conclusion can be a disservice to everyone.  After I first wrote about Formspring seven months ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about teens who chose to respond to vicious or harassing questions (since only responses are ever posted publicly).  Listening to teens, I had concluded that many out there were trying to prove that they were tough and could handle anything.  And I’ve continued to hear that story in the field.  But as I started looking into the negative commentary on teens’


Student-led Curriculum: Demanding, Digital, Compelling

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 Comment students and teacher sitting in college classroom smiling at the camera

At November’s University of California Institute for Research in the Arts conference, the emphasis was on college courses that couldn’t be planned out according to set syllabi and fixed course objectives, because students were expected to be co-creators of the classes in which they often found themselves enrolled. Whether capitalizing on emergent interactions with online or offline communities, such courses defy predictability, because the students on the class roster aren’t the only participants in a new generation of service learning courses that take advantage of social media technologies. For example, at the Otis College of Art


Why Is Everyone Worried About Attention Now?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 Comment a child sitting in front of a radio with bright lights and bubbles representing imagination

If you read the newspapers of the early twentieth century, you realize that everyone was fretting then about the “horseless carriage.”  They were positive that the new technology of an automobile that drove itself would push humans beyond their natural, God-given, biological limits.  They worried it would not be safe because human attention and reflexes were not created to handle so much information flying past the windshield.  That debate reached a crescendo in 1904 when the Hollywood film director, Harry Myers, received the world’s first speeding ticket for rushing down the streets of Dayton, Ohio, at


New Media Literacy: Critique vs Re-design

Thursday, November 18, 2010 Comment mouse staring at a large barcode

A central concern of media education has been to empower young people with the ability to question, analyze, critique and deconstruct messages they encounter in media. But in a global remix culture, the power and relevance of critique itself may be due for critique. Critique is retrospective: it turns its attention on artifacts and texts that have already been produced and exist in the world in a relatively stable form. It also assumes a separation between the producer of media, and its consumer – a separation that is called into question by the increasing ease with


“Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers

Monday, November 15, 2010 Comment group of girls with mean looks on their faces representing bullies

Ever had one of dem days you wish woulda stayed home / Run into a group of niggas who getting they hate on / You walk by they get wrong you reply then shit get blown / Way outta proportion way past discussion / Just you against them, pick one then rush em / Figure you get jumped here thats next / They don’t wanna stop there now they bustin / Now you gushin, ambulance rushin you to the hospital / with a bad concussion / Plus ya hit 4 times bullet hit ya spine paralyzed


How Learning Spaces Reflect Our View of Children

Thursday, November 11, 2010 Comment kids sitting around learning space watching recording spoken word presentation

Many school buildings are in a terrible state. Even in seemingly advanced western nations many old schools resemble architectural catastrophes that, along with post-war urban tower blocks and the shopping malls of the 1950s, have largely been left to the crumble of rust. In the last few years, though, there has been a renaissance in school building design based on a reimagining of learning spaces (pdf) that has mirrored the advance in our understandings of education-oriented information and communication technologies (ICT). Yet as I pass my local school, currently being completely rebuilt to a high-tech spec, and


Community and Writing in an Age of New Collectives

Monday, November 08, 2010 Comment geographic map of online communities and platforms

In Larry Sanger’s history of the development of Wikipedia in Open Sources 2.0, the Wikipedia co-founder writes: For months I denied that Wikipedia was a community, claiming that it was, instead, only an encyclopedia project, and that there should not be any serious governance problems if people would simply stick to the task of making an encyclopedia. This was wishful thinking. In fact, Wikipedia was from the beginning both a community and an encyclopedia project. (p. 329; my emphasis). In other words, Sanger argues that the problems he associated with Wikipedia when he was head of


Literacies, Semantic Web and Recommended Resources

Monday, November 01, 2010 Comment teacher sitting with student giving student interview in classroom

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a stellar job each month pointing us to excellent resources.  The 2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition (report) The 2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition, part of the New Media Consortium‘s Horizon Project, looks at emerging technologies and their potential impact on museums. The report, like all Horizon reports, identifies six key technological trends. For museums, the report features: mobile technology, social media, augmented reality, location-based services, gesture-based computing, and semantic Web. The report delves into each technology in much more detail, provides a list of museums that are exemplary in their use


Learning, Playing, Designing: Video Games in School

Thursday, October 21, 2010 Comment female girls shadows looking into glass aquarium

Most education has been fashioned around the reasonable-sounding objective of equipping students with tools to solve problems. This is one facet of what some educators call the “eat your broccoli” approach to education — “Sit still and learn this; it will come in handy later,” parents and teachers repeat to their children and students. Unfortunately, it turns out that too many students resist sitting still and learning things that have no immediate use to them, but which adults insist are necessary. What would happen if you inverted that strategy? What would happen if you presented students


Social Justice and Diverse Cultures of Participation

Monday, October 18, 2010 Comment baby holding onto table looking at laptop computer

Many educators are excited by the new opportunities and challenges for learning that digital media brings us. Stories about 11-year-old Kai, a learner at Quest to Learn school in New York, paint a picture of a young person for whom digital media are an integral constituent of his learning at school and at home, his social life and his hobbies and interests. This picture of the digital native (pdf) – a young person who has grown up surrounded by digital media and is expert in its use – is a familiar concept in the field of


Shelly Terrell: Global Netweaver, Curator, PLN Builder

Friday, October 15, 2010 Comment glass ceiling in building

When I started using social media in the classroom, I looked for and began to learn from more experienced educators. First, I read and then tried to comment usefully on their blog posts and tweets. When I began to understand who knew what in the world of social media in education, I narrowed my focus to the most knowledgeable and adventurous among them. I paid attention to the people the savviest social media educators paid attention to. I added and subtracted voices from my attention network, listened and followed, then commented and opened conversations. When I


Recommended Reading, Viewing, Clicking

Monday, October 11, 2010 Comment group of international students posing for photo with castle in background

Editor’s note: Global Kids does a stellar job each month pointing us to key resources. We are not Waiting for Superman, We are Empowering Superheroes (Presentation)Social entrepreneur and learning researcher Diana Rhoten, at a recent conference, presented, “Design for Learning: We Are Not Waiting for Superman, We are Empowering Superheroes,” a response to the recent film about the failures of American education, “Waiting For Superman.” Interested in re-designing the face and the future of learning, Diana laid out three assumptions and three aspirations that offer a great summary (with much better articulation) of how we at


Becoming a Master in Knowledge and Networks

Thursday, October 07, 2010 Comment students connected together by colorful strings of yarn

Last December, deans from the Graduate School and the College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University came to me and asked if I and the team at the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) team based at Duke would assess the need and opportunity and then propose a multi-disciplinary Master’s Degree that would help its graduates be prepared for communication, interaction, commerce, and other features of a digital age.  We began work, putting calls out to the HASTAC and Digital Media and Learning community, soliciting feedback on our way to drafting a proposal


Brazilian Elections and Emerging Webcitizenship

Monday, October 04, 2010 Comment Global voices students sitting at computer in brazil

Diego Casaes and Paula Goes from Global Voices Online have been instrumental in crowdsourcing efforts for the 2010 Brazilian elections. Oct. 3 was Election Day in Brazil. About 135 million Brazilians voted (in Brazil, voting is compulsory) for their candidates for president, state governors, senators, federal and district deputies. However, these elections took place in a new context. It was the first time Brazilians experienced the Internet playing a significant role in the media coverage and in the election itself. All the candidates for president and most of the other candidates have had websites and Twitter


Post-Platonic Writing on the Web

Thursday, September 30, 2010 Comment plato statue

In the Phaedrus, Plato famously objected to writing, noting that it would cause a number of ills: it would lead to the decay of memory, it would deceive people into thinking that they possessed knowledge merely because they had read about it, and it was dumb – that is, it couldn’t answer questions in a dialectical format. If I read something I don’t understand or disagree with, I can’t ask the text to explain itself. It will always say what it says, forever. In general, the response of technologists has been that Plato was both right


Bio-Politics, Video Games, and Kids’ Bodies

Monday, September 27, 2010 Comment kids playing video games at school fair

Some recent research findings have got me thinking a lot about Franz Kafka’s story about a young clerical worker who wakes up half-transformed into a giant insect. No, it’s not research from the new journal Horror Studies but something even more horrifying from pediatric research. Research published in the August issue of Pediatrics by psychologists from Iowa State University has suggested a causal link between playing video games and children developing Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The study reported that children who exceeded the two hours per day of screen time recommended by the American