eBooks and Learning


Now that the ebook industry has set its sights on the textbook and educational markets, it’s especially important for educators to shape discussion of the benefits and potential impact of ereaders. Rather than bemoan the loss of wood pulp and glue that make up current texts, we are better served by asking how these physical objects serve learning, and what is lost (or gained) by replacing them with electronic texts. One doesn’t have to abandon a love for print books to appreciate the unique affordances of new technologies. For example: how many would prefer poring through

The Social Media Classroom


The Social Media Classroom, a browser-based, free and open source environment for teaching and learning, grew directly out of the first minutes I stepped into a physical classroom and began to realize that I needed to readjust my assumptions about students, classrooms, and educational media. Five years ago, when I began to teach at Stanford and UC Berkeley, two places where I had expected web-based media to have permeated the classrooms, I was surprised to see blank looks on so many faces when I announced that students should start their personal blogging and wiki collaborations. In

Classroom Authority and Twitter


An interesting aspect of Twitter’s recent surge in popularity has been how educators have embraced the technology, not just for networking and personal communication, but also in the classroom. Many teachers have found Twitter to be a helpful tool for accessing the backchannel—the discussion students are having about what is going on in the classroom—in real time. In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Jeffrey R. Young interviewed two teachers who use Twitter in large lecture courses, projecting students’ Twitter posts in the classroom live. Experiments like these frighten many instructors. As Young puts it:

Social Games and Facebook in Brazil and Latin America


A recent post from Inside Facebook has shown that Facebook is growing fast in Latin America, and a large part of this growth is happening in Brazil (33 percent each month, according to the same set of data). Interestingly, other news pieces about research from institutes such as Ibope (link is in Portuguese) have also shown that social games are increasingly popular in the country, especially among young adults. One hypothesis researchers here have is that Facebook growth has spiked partially because of the burgeoning popularity of the social network’s apps, especially the games. Social games

Meet Meredith Stewart: Teacher…Innovator…Collaborator


This is how personal learning networks work. When I first started using Second Life for education, I was helped by a teacher there, Kevin Jarrett, who I started following on the del.icio.us social bookmarking service. I use del.icio.us for social discovery — that is, when I find someone knowledgeable about a topic that interests me, I add them to my social bookmarking network and I also look for the people whose bookmarks they often use — their del.icio.us or diigo network, another great social bookmarking service. Through Kevin, I found Bud The Teacher. I follow both

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


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,

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


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

Esther Wojcicki’s H.S. Journalism Learning Community


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

Field Building and Scholarly Publication


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