Connected Learning

Unhangouts

Friday, August 16, 2013 Comment webpage screenshot of ungangout videos chat conversations

Computers and the Internet are really good at copying information and sending it to lots of people at low cost. That’s why many of the recent innovations in online learning focus on packaging knowledge in the form of short video lectures, and sharing them online. Khan Academy and the recent spate of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are successful examples. They take the traditional model of instruction (sage on the stage) and scale it to vast audiences. But there is another approach to learning, that turns around the top-down model of instruction, and places the learner


Super Awesome Sylvia

Thursday, August 08, 2013 Comment woman in lab coat and virtual reality headset in front of Evil Mad Scientist building

When I was ten years old, one television program was magical to me: Meet Mr. Wizard. Mr. Wizard was a friendly, knowledgeable old guy (he was probably in his 40s) who explained scientific phenomena to his young friends through various experiments and contraptions. At that time, the notion of science – of using knowledge to make things happen (blow up, emit smoke, become visible, change colors) – was as magical to me as Harry Potter’s magic wand was to a later generation. Chemistry sets for kids were still legal. I could buy potassium permanganate and glycerin


Teaching and Learning with Minecraft, Part Two: Sara Kaviar

Monday, August 05, 2013 Comment 3 young girls at school computers playing minecraft

When Sara Kaviar’s students study comparative religions, they don’t just read and view videos. They visit houses of worship, then recreate them in the Minecraft online sandbox and design games in their virtual world that test each others’ knowledge. For these students, the process of building and then navigating through models of physical churches, temples, and mosques gives them both a medium through which they can co-construct knowledge and a social environment that encourages collaborative learning. The pizazz of the technology many students choose to use even when their teachers aren’t encouraging it certainly plays a


Teaching and Learning with Minecraft: Liam O’Donnell

Monday, July 08, 2013 Comment 3 young female students working on computers in classroom minecraft

Playing with blocks certainly predates constructionist theories of learning by playing with “tangible manipulatives,” but the culturally universal practice is probably as old as human social learning. What is new is the ability to use simulated blocks to teach comparative religion by enabling students to construct navigable models of famous houses of worship. Or explore biology by assembling giant DNA molecules, or manifest millions of blocks by performing the proper calculations and applying appropriate logical operations. Manipulatives aren’t containers of knowledge, but can be used as “objects to think with,” as Seymour Papert noted more than thirty


‘Reclaim Open Learning’ Innovation Contest

Friday, July 05, 2013 Comment close up of pink index card with writing how can we help learners build global learning community

Mark your calendars for Aug. 1! We are looking for proposals that rethink open learning in new ways. The participation of elite research universities in initiatives offering Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has generated considerable discussion within higher education, as well as mainstream and educational media, about the next generation of open learning initiatives.  The New York Times declared that 2012 was “the year of the MOOC,” and The Chronicle of Higher Education announced that it was “the year of the mega-class.”  Alternatives for the free delivery of course content have proliferated in the years since


MOOCs, Hype, and the Precarious State of Higher Ed: Futurist Bryan Alexander

Monday, June 10, 2013 Comment infographic showing the different negotiable meanings of the letters in MOOC

Does it continue to make sense to go to college when the sticker price of a college education is soaring, the amount of debt college students are taking on – even for the non-elite universities and what were formerly affordable public universities – is severely constraining their choices post-graduation, and job prospects for new graduates are dismal? A year ago, I talked with Anya Kamenetz, who delved into these issues in her book, DIY U. Since then, the ballyhooed arrival of free MOOCs into this frightening intersection of economic, intellectual, and social forces has ignited debate


‘Making’ and Education Reform: Learning to Ride the Wave

Thursday, June 06, 2013 Comment large art metal installation for open make space

At this moment in time, on both sides of the Atlantic, digital making and the maker movement is enjoying its time in the sun. A combination of policy concerns, technological developments, learning theories, social opportunities and articulate enthusiasts have come together and, although the maker movement is a bit of a minority sport, it seems to have broken through into the mainstream. In the UK, for example, there is a terrific program of support offering a range of activities from maker-faires to hacking events to coding clubs working with apps and mash-ups and the new pliable,


In Pursuit of In(ter)dependent Learning: Kio Stark

Monday, April 22, 2013 Comment internet open sign with quote from web-based education

Humans are by far the most skilled social learners of this planet’s millions of species. We’re biologically equipped to pay attention to and learn from each other, and we’ve devised cultural tools such as speech and writing to augment our biologically endowed cognitive capabilities. We’ve created institutions to equip our young people to benefit from and contribute to civilization. Unfortunately, as is often the case with powerful inventions, schooling has its drawbacks – foremost among them the dulling of many young people’s hunger for independent learning. I’ve thought about these issues ever since I was identified


The Right to Thrive: Connected Learning at the Digital Edge

Thursday, March 21, 2013 Comment female student holding video camera

A few months ago, I interviewed a former high school teacher and asked him what his hope was for the digital media and learning community in 2013. His answer: to push for a stronger focus on schools. “Students are in schools from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm everyday. Think about how much time that is. Do we want students to get more of the same, or should we give them a transformational education for the 21st century?” For an entire school year, Alexander Cho and a group of researchers immersed themselves in the trenches of a


Re-Designing Learning For Democracy

Thursday, March 14, 2013 Comment john dewey quote democracy must be born anew within each new generation

Ann Pendleton-Jullian, the architect and educational redesigner, notes that:  “Design has the capacity to shape contexts as frames for things to happen.”  My excitement at being part of the connected learning movement and the Digital Media and Learning initiative sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is that, together, thousands of us are thinking and working and making in order to design new ecosystems for learning in which the democratic, egalitarian, and innovative can thrive and flourish. If you think you hear a critique of the status quo in that sentence, you are