Watchworthy Wednesday: Google Expands Free Computer Science Education Program


In its quest to make computer science education free and accessible to everyone, Google is expanding its igniteCS program. The initiative pairs volunteer computer science undergrads, who serve as mentors, and younger students, who learn from them. Libraries now are being recruited as sites to host the growing program. “Our goal really is to make computer science free and accessible to everyone,” said Erin Mindell Cannon, a Google program manager. “Computer science, in a lot of ways, is so broad and so intangible that I think a lot of students don’t understand what it can be.”

No Shortcuts in Course Design


Like many of my friends and colleagues, August is the month for deep engagement in course design. If you were to shine a flashlight into this world, you would find me on a couch in the living room, hair disheveled, clothes unchanged for days, various plates and cups tossed to the floor, surrounded by books ranging from Vygotsky’s Mind in Society to Scieszka and Barnett’s Battle Bunny. I love this time of year. And, once I get started on design, it is almost impossible to stop. For me, imagining a learning environment, curating the texts, and

Are Digital Literacies Generic or Context-specific?


I was recently asked by Sally Pewhairangi whether I thought digital literacies could be taught as generic skills, out of any particular context, and whether they would then transfer. When I was asked this question, examples of cooking and learning languages were offered (citing chef Tim Ferris). For example, could we learn the rules of cooking, then apply them to different ingredients and cuisines? Does “content” matter that much? There are three broad dimensions in my answer to this with respect to digital literacies being generic vs. context-specific: Cognitive skills aren’t like physical skills, but share

Turning Bullies Into Leaders Through Writing


When their writing is read and praised by others, “bullies become class leaders — they want attention, acknowledgement, appreciation. In this case, appreciation of creative risk.” Journalist-turned educator Geoffrey Gevalt is speaking of the Young Writers Project, an online writing magazine and community by and for more than 3,000 young people: “This site is a community that provides peer, mentor and professional support through reactions to individual posts, projects (youth-led, artist-supported initiatives) and, formal learning Playlists — offered for a small fee (or free if you can’t afford it.) This community has only one rule — RESPECT

Screen Time for Kids: Getting the Balance Right


From digital homework platforms to extended video chats with friends, from remote working to family WhatsApp groups, there are infinite ways that digital media are becoming integrated into both children’s and parents’ lives. Despite parents reporting how they benefit in their personal, professional and parenting lives from digital media, it is remarkable that so many in this generation of parents are still anxiously watching the “screen time” clock. “Screen time” is not “good” or “bad” in and of itself, but is rather a shorthand (though fairly out-dated) way of talking about millions of different ways of

What Teachers Can Learn from Students


I remember being a college student. The problem with being a professor who remembers being a college student, is that we’re probably misremembering, or our experience is different from those of our current students. Last week, I got to experience being in students’ shoes a little more than usual, and I found the experience particularly enlightening. I felt that being in closer or more intense contact with students for a couple of days and experiencing their lives helped me empathize with them more. This is very different from teaching them, because when I teach them, I