When Is an Art Museum a Workshop? A Field Report from Korea

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 Comment outdoor art museum installation

Earlier this month, I participated in the Digital Natives Workshop hosted by KAIST, the MIT of Korea, and attended by researchers from the U.S. and across the Pacific Rim. My talk on adolescence and the science of attention (entitled “The Kids Are All Right”) has been recorded along with the other presentations and posted on Google Wave by Dave Sonntag, one of the organizers. I also live-blogged at www.hastac.org. After the workshop, we took the three-hour bus trip from Daejeon to Seoul where we had a field day at the Samsung D’Light interactive showcase and then,


$2 Million Competition Seeks Ideas to Transform Learning

Monday, November 23, 2009 Comment
reimagining learning logo

Today, in conjunction with an announcement by President Obama calling for new efforts to reimagine and improve education in science and math, we are announcing a $2 million open competition supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for ideas to transform learning using digital media. The competition seeks designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others to build digital media experiences – the learning labs of the 21st Century – that help young people interact, share, build, tinker, and explore in new and innovative ways. Supported by a grant to the University of California Humanities


Getting into College? There’s a Game for That.

Friday, November 20, 2009 Comment comic drawing of college acceptance letter opening

While One Laptop per Child and other programs to address the digital divide are important, I have come to believe it is counterproductive to couple discussions of the transformative potential of digital media in learning too closely with discussions about institutional and cultural problems plaguing public education (failing schools, illiterate graduates, students who start school with inadequate vocabularies and little home support for studying, for example). The main problem is that systemic problems can’t be fixed by technology alone, and popular narratives about computers in schools are fraught with magical thinking and moral panics. Computers won’t


Empowering Youth-directed Learning in a Digital Age

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Comment students gathered in circle meeting working together

Tashawna is a high school senior in Brooklyn, NY. In the morning she leaves home for school listening to MP3s, texting her friends about meeting up after school at Global Kids, where she participates in a theater program, or FIERCE, the community center for LGBT youth. On the weekend she’ll go to church and, on any given day, visit MySpace and Facebook as often as she can. While she misses television and movies, she says she just can’t find the time. This describes what I call Tashawna’s distributed learning network, the most important places in her


Social Media in South America: Orkut & Brazil

Friday, November 13, 2009 Comment Orkut banner Brazil

To start my participation here in DMLcentral, I want to write about social media outside the U.S., specifically in South America. Let’s take the case of Orkut in Brazil, an interesting and relatively-unknown subject that I’ve researched and followed closely for years. Orkut is very much a cultural phenomenon in Brazil. Although Brazilians had experience with other social networking sites (Fotolog, for example, was very popular among young Brazilians in 2003 and 2004, before Orkut appeared), Orkut caused a revolution in Internet access in Brazil.  As Orkut grew quickly in Brazil starting in 2004, it became


Digital Media and Democracy: Early Returns

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Comment colorful picture of man holding megaphone

The relationship between digital media and democracy is complicated, because it is difficult for researchers to draw causal connections between adopting new social computing technologies and promoting what Joseph Kahne, Mills College professor and head of the Civic Engagement Research Group, has characterized as behaviors and values consistent with an “effective, just, and humane democratic society.” Kahne asserts that there is “no doubt” that multimedia literacies can promote civic participation, because “looking up information,” “having access to networked communities,” and “communicating and sharing perspectives” depends on having developed those literacies, but having basic literacies with computational


Esther Wojcicki’s H.S. Journalism Learning Community

Thursday, November 05, 2009 Comment bright blue puzzle pieces being put together

I learned about Esther Wojcicki’s high school journalism program and learning community from my personal learning network – the people I sought out on Twitter because they seemed to know something about the topics that interest me, including digital journalism and digital media and learning. When I want to learn about a topic, I look for people who know what they are talking about, find out who THEY pay attention to, add them to my RSS or Twitter network, subtract them if I’m not learning what I want to learn, follow the links they provide and


Crowdsourcing Authority in the Classroom

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 Comment art work of colorful people assigning student work

“A wacko holding forth on a soapbox.  If Ms. Davidson just wants to yammer and lead discussions, she should resign her position and head for a park or subway platform, and pass a hat for donations.” That is an example of some of the negative comments I received when I wrote a blog on grading in my “Cat in the Stack” column on a website for the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory( HASTAC). I titled the post How To Crowdsource Grading and its premise grew out of a course I taught last year at


The Rhetoric of MySpace vs. Facebook

Monday, October 26, 2009 Comment myspace is for losers graffiti on building

From Eszter Hargittai’s scholarship to more recent work by marketing analytics firms, we know that race and socio-economic status shape MySpace and Facebook usage. Yet, it is the rhetoric used by participants that highlights how these distinctions play out.  In an upcoming paper entitled “White Flight in Networked Publics?” (to be published in Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White’s upcoming anthology on Race and Digital Technology), I map out the language used by teenagers – and, to a lesser degree, adults – to explain the divisions between MySpace and Facebook.   When one of the teens that I


Field Building and Scholarly Publication

Monday, October 26, 2009 Comment EP banner

As a new media researcher, I’ve struggled to find appropriate venues for publishing and disseminating my work. In the late nineties, when studies of online communities, cyberculture, and electronic gaming were still in their infancy, and when I was launching my scholarly career, my work was never accepted into the journals of my discipline of anthropology. Educational journals didn’t recognize my work on new media and play as part of their charter. This reflected my personal failures in translating my research topics into the established idioms of my discipline and field, but I expect my experience


Welcome to the University of California’s New Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and Website

Monday, October 26, 2009 Comment University of California Humanities research institute banner

Today, at the forum on Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age, being hosted by the Sesame Workshop at Google headquarters, we are announcing the launch of a major new research initiative in digital media and learning (DML) and its associated website. Based at the University of California Humanities Research Institute in Irvine, California, the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub is generously supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative. The Research Hub, for which I serve as Executive Director and Mimi Ito the Research Director, intersects work promoting and networking collaborative efforts to