Learner Agency: Sharing Control of the Classroom Agenda


When I reflect on the 10 years I spent teaching at UC Berkeley and Stanford, and look back over the 127 interviews I did with innovators in digital media and learning, “learner agency” was the first thought that came to mind when I asked myself about what still seems important. What I mean by this phrase: students are explicitly addressed as learners (better yet: co-learners); students are allowed to use their own interests and networks to explore issues that matter to them (scaffolded by teachers with the curricular knowledge that will make more sense to students

Connecting Making, Designing and Composing


In her closing keynote at FabLearn a couple years ago, Leah Buechley turned a critical eye on the maker movement. If you don’t know Buechley’s work, she is arguably one of the maker movement’s central players, founding the former High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab and inventing the LilyPad Arduino, among many other contributions. She is a champion of making, which makes her all the more thoughtful in her critiques. Buechley asks us to consider who gets to make and who is represented in the maker movement. I thought about her keynote a lot

Digitally Improving Historical Knowledge


This is the second part in a multi-part series about participants in the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities conference. This series features public intellectuals discussing digital literacy issues. “Colored Conventions: Bringing Nineteenth-Century Black Organizing to Digital Life” was recently named by the National Endowment for the Humanities one of its “essentials” a collection of 50 works funded by the organization to reshape “what we know about ourselves and our world.” Like Ken Burns’ sprawling documentary on the Civil War or the preservation and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the NEH lauded “Colored Conventions” for its ground-breaking

Ferguson Syllabus and the Power of Social Media


This is the first part in a multi-part series about participants in the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities conference. This series features public intellectuals in the academy discussing digital literacy issues. I first met Marcia Chatelain at the Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities Conference, where she gave an inspiring talk about how her work on The Ferguson Syllabus was connected to her own past at a variety of academic institutions, including the University of Missouri, Georgetown University, and William and Mary. In introducing a syllabus that provided background materials for understanding police violence against unarmed civilians

Watchworthy Wednesday: Be Part of the Connected Learning Summit


The new Connected Learning Summit (CLS), to be held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab Aug. 1-3, will be all about revolutionizing how kids learn, and those interested in progressive and inclusive education are invited to be part of it. Applications to present at the summit are being accepted through Jan. 22. The mission of the CLS: fuel a growing movement of innovators harnessing the power of emerging technology to expand access to participatory, playful, and creative learning. It aims to include a mix of engaging presentation and workshop formats ranging from speculative design, to

Reflections on Youth Efficacy in the Twist Fate Challenge


I think the Twist Fate Challenge is AMAZING….It gives young writers a chance to expand their imaginations. (Simone)*  Sometimes the only thing separating a hero from a villain is a curious twist of fate. An unexpected turn of events — a chance encounter, a hasty decision, an unexpected detour, a best intention — can spark a chain reaction that upends our expectations of familiar fantasy tropes and storylines. In Spring of 2016, young writers and artists were invited to conceptualize their own hypothetical hero/villain twist of fate in the “Twist Fate Challenge.” Together with DeviantArt (DA)

Watchworthy Wednesday: Goodbye DML, Hello CLS


As the eighth and final Digital Media and Learning Conference came to a close last week, its organizers announced the creation of a new annual event — the Connected Learning Summit — that will debut next summer at the MIT Media Lab. New Event Debuts at MIT Aug. 1-3 The summit, to be held Aug. 1-3, will be hosted by the Connected Learning Lab from the University of California, Irvine, the UC Humanities Research Institute, the MIT Media Lab and MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program. It will take place at the MIT campus every other year

5 Secrets to Creating an Innovative After-school Program


A little over a year ago, Mahad Ibrahim reached out to me about Connected Camps, an organization I’m leading with Katie Salen that offers online learning programs and mentorship in Minecraft. Mahad and I go way back. Nearly a decade ago, Mahad had been part of the Digital Youth Project that I co-led, when he was a Ph.D. student at the UC Berkeley iSchool. More recently, Mahad had teamed up with entrepreneur and escape room designer Alexis Santos in launching Mind Foundry, an organization providing STEM learning experiences to underserved kids in the Twin Cities. Would

Highlighting Young Producers by Twisting Fate


“What if Lord Voldemort had never become Lord Voldemort? What if he found the love of his life before everything started?” So teases the description of Knilesly’s short story, “The Queer Quill.” As one of the winners of the Twist Fate challenge earlier this year, it is a featured story in the recently published collection, Twist Fate: Teens Spin Classic Tales. Available as a physical book for libraries and contributors and freely downloadable, Twist Fate is a powerful collection to read through. With thousands of entries on popular youth media communities DeviantArt and Wattpad, the images,

Opportunity to Share Research on Connected Learning, Teacher Education


If you follow my blog posts, you know that I am deeply committed to exploring the intersections of connected learning and teacher education, both in my own practice as a teacher educator and in the work of fellow innovative educators in the National Writing Project network. I am excited to take this commitment to a new level as I take on the editorship of a peer-reviewed, open access journal — Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (English section), sponsored by the Conference on English Education (CEE) through the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). My