Combining Art and Technology Engages Students


To maker-educators Fabrice Florin and Edward Janne, maker ed is not just about the technology: “the real power comes from enabling students to build their own projects, combining art, technology, and storytelling,” they insist. Although neither Florin nor Janne had previous training as educators, both are more than sufficiently savvy in multimedia storytelling. Florin was one of the founders of Apple’s Multimedia Lab (the Wikipedia page for the lab is a stub — someone should fill it out), which produced, among other pioneering explorations, Life Story and Moss Landing, which turned out to be prototypes for

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.”

Examining Elite Data Power


The concept of “big data” has been the subject of considerable hype and speculation in recent years. So much so that the dominant technologies and technical practices that generate big data — data analytics, algorithms and machine learning — are now commonly described as “artificial intelligence” instead. As a result, Ian Bogost argues, there has been “an explosion of supposed-AI in media, industry and technology.” Despite emerging punctures in the big data and AI hype bubbles, it remains hard to dispute that digitally produced, collected and analysed forms of data have been vested with certain powers

Watchworthy Wednesday: Get Your Game On with Research, Design Workshops


If you’re interested in gaming research, how to design educational games and how gaming can be used to promote learning and social impact, you should check out this year’s two gaming workshops at the 8th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference. Designing Learning Games Eric Klopfer and Scot Osterweil, of MIT’s Education Arcade, are leading the workshop on “Designing Learning Games — an XCD approach.”  “Our work in designing learning games has evolved into a framework of design principles for what we call ‘Resonant Games’ — games that are designed for the whole learner as well

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

From Connected Learning to Connected Teaching: A Necessary Step Forward


I am lucky to know some amazing teachers. I know teachers who are throwing open the doors of their classrooms and partnering with community organizations, libraries, and museums to expand students’ learning opportunities. I know teachers who are flipping the hierarchical teacher-student relationship on its head to allow students to take the lead in their learning. I know teachers who are linking their students to networks that discuss and take action on the most pressing issues of the day. When I ask these teachers why they are making these innovative moves in their practice, they tell

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

Connected Learning in Teacher Education: Come Make With Us


A couple of years ago, I worked in the summer to build Connected Courses with some amazing colleagues. I dabbled in the work of connected learning prior to this invitation, but this was my first real attempt to put the principles into practice. Our goal with Connected Courses was, and remains, to support faculty who are “developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web.” At some point in the middle of our week of building, Mimi Ito made a comment, an aside, that stuck with me.

Networked Narratives: Designing for Emergence


In our last script published here, we approached our Networked Narratives course (@NetNarr) in an emergent fashion. This next installment considers how students explore digital identity via a number of role-play activities, influenced by a few outside mystery characters. Designing for Emergence, The Screenplay, Part 2 Act 2: Scene 1 (A slow dissolve into a view over Alan’s shoulder in a video call with Mia. It’s the summer of 2017, and he sees the bright light coming through the window behind her in New Jersey. Likewise, the warm Arizona light coming in his window lights up

Disrupting The Silicon Valley Department of Education


Over the last couple of years, increasing numbers of journalists and researchers have begun to focus on Silicon Valley as the epicenter of education reform. Silicon Valley companies, entrepreneurs, engineers and venture capitalists have embarked on ambitious efforts to innovate in education, from creating apps and platforms to establishing completely new schools. Recently, for example, the Financial Times magazine ran a piece on “Silicon Valley’s classrooms of the future.” “Having disrupted the world,” it claimed, “the tech community now wants to prepare children for their new place in it. Leading venture capitalist Marc Andreessen predicts a