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

Watchworthy Wednesday: Remake Learning Network Turns 10, Reaches Forward


The Remake Learning network started as an experiment in collaboration among educators, researchers, mentors and caring adults and has become a movement touching thousands of lives in southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio. As it marks its 10-year anniversary, the network just released “Learning Together,” documenting Remake Learning’s achievements. Among its more notable accomplishments: • Connecting more than 500 organizations into a collaborative network. • Training more than 5,300 educators in new and innovative teaching methods. • Establishing more than 170 makerspaces for hands-on learning. • Engaging more than 53,000 people in the annual Remake Learning Days celebration.

It’s the Relationships, Stupid: Connected Camps Mid-Summer Report


Two years ago, Connected Camps and Institute of Play launched Minecraft Summer of Learning, piloting a new model for in-game virtual summer camps. We’ve served over two thousand families since then, and are mid-way through summer 3.0. This year’s camps reflect a ton of learning and iteration, but what has stayed constant is our focus on relationships. Through our summer camps, kids are developing close relationships around shared interests, and are able to stay connected with our community year-round. Deep and Close Friendships As I wrote back when we were about to launch, the engine for

Networked Narratives: Digital Alchemy of Storytelling


More than enough books, TED Talks, and blog posts have described the potential of storytelling. Stories often enhance our endeavors, whether in business communication or in learning, in political rhetoric or in our overall understanding of the world. The emphasis on the special essence of the story suggests an existence of a certain kind of magic. Could a story work like an elixir? For us, this notion of the magic in stories paved the way for our “digital alchemy” effort co-teaching Networked Narratives — a 2017 open course based on a digital storytelling class at Kean

Watchworthy Wednesday: Reimagining 21st Century Learning


Reimagining Leonardo da Vinci for the 21st century is how people will be able to cultivate “a new way of knowing” and learning in the next 80 years of rapid and constant technological advances, according to John Seely Brown, former director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and the author of “A New Culture of Learning” and “The Social Life of Information.” “I think the unique power of the human imagination comes in part from its ability to integrate opposing qualities, like emotion and reason, curiosity and certainty,” he said during his keynote address at the

Watchworthy Wednesday: Collaboration is Key to Learning Innovation


The importance of mentors, equity in education and how art helps us see the world differently, were the topics of the first three “Learning Innovation Conversation” series, hosted by the ExCITe (Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies) Center at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The point of the conversations, according to ExCITe’s mission statement, is to encourage an exchange of knowledge and ideas that lead to new connections, inspirations, and collaborations. “The ExCITe Center is a core component of Drexel University’s strategic plan for research innovation, pursuing a unique mission of constructive disruption of traditional aspects of the Academy:

Watchworthy Wednesday: How Video Games Amplify Learning


As a leading scholar of video games, game culture and game player behavior, Constance Steinkuehler argues that games amplify learning and academics. In fact, video games and esports “leverage and require an incredible amount of cognitive intellectual labor,” she said at last week’s University of California, Irvine eSports Symposium. “Video game play actually leads to higher problem-solving skills. And, those higher problem-solving skills actually lead to higher academic grades…. You can start to see where games, rather than being in competition for so-called intellectual pursuits or academic performances, actually are enhancers.” The UCI professor of informatics

Watchworthy Wednesday: Free Online Class Features Art of Being Human


On what he thought would be a cool class lecture, Kansas State University Professor Michael Wesch set out on a 41-mile run, while at the same time, controlling a video camera in a drone above him and delivering his talk. He starts off strong, jogging at a quick pace through Manhattan’s streets and woods, saying: “We’re going to talk about what it is that makes us human. … So many people think that what makes us human is our ability to walk, our ability to talk, ability to use tools with our hands, but today, I

Watchworthy Wednesday: Creating Connections Through Music


A simple informal invitation brought musician Laura Ritchie and a few of her University of Chichester students to California two years ago to perform and teach a few impromptu music lessons. She returned last year with different students and is back this month with three undergraduate music majors, delivering more formal performances and workshops for students of a high school and an elementary school in Santa Maria as part of their study. “We co-create the entire program, from writing the handbook, to deciding the hand-in dates, and planning the scope of the trip, and it’s different

Watchworthy Wednesday: Awards Available for Scholars to Study Connected Learning Data


Digital media and learning scholars interested in analyzing connected learning data are being invited to apply for awards from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and UC Irvine. The data comes from the Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project, led by Richard Arum, dean of UCI’s School of Education, and postdoctoral scholar Kiley Larson. They gathered data on nontraditional educational practices employed by innovative schools, museums, libraries and community centers. “The project focused on studying a set of educational innovations that integrated digital media with progressive pedagogy,” Arum said. “Given the extent to which formal