Digital Media

Does Digital Media Have a Place in Hands-On Science Learning Space?

Monday, April 24, 2017 Comment Smithsonian

I reached out to Rebecca Bray, the chief of experience development at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., to learn about how the museum developed and now runs its innovative Q?rius (pronounced “curious”) space, opened in 2013 as an interactive and educational lab with microscopes, touch screens, interactive activities and a “collection zone,” housing over 6,000 different specimens and artifacts visitors can handle. In our conversation below, we explore their design process, the role of youth learners, the pros and cons of integrating digital media into a hands-on learning space, and more.


Rescuing Student Participation Through Digital Platforms

Thursday, April 20, 2017 Comment two students in fox masks

Like many of my colleagues who think carefully about digital literacy and pedagogies, I began seriously considering the use of social media platforms in educational settings — sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr — around 2008. Despite nearly a decade of innovative uses of digital platforms in educational settings, the use of these platforms and spaces continues to be trivialized by the public and teachers alike, with cries echoing about attention spans and nostalgia for the loss of face-to-face interaction, which seem more “real.” But, to continue to dismiss digital platforms, particularly those focused on social


Epic Learning: Large Class as Intentional Design

Thursday, February 23, 2017 Comment Jumbo class

Last October, I gave an Ignite talk at the Digital Media and Learning Conference called “Epic Composition.” Below, I offer a more extended look at the design and structures of my “jumbo” first-year writing course at California State University, Chico. Walking into our “jumbo” first-year writing course as an outsider can be a bit intimidating. The room is packed with people: 90 students, nine writing mentors, and the instructor. Students sit in new desks: rolling chairs with a bottom “saucer” for storing backpacks, a moving tray designed for a laptop. Students have nicknamed the chairs “George


The Importance of Imagination: An Invitation

Thursday, January 19, 2017 Comment network narratives

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times recently quoted President Obama as he reflected on his Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books. “At a time,” Obama says, “when so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.” In today’s polarized environment, where the internet has let people increasingly retreat to their own silos (talking only to like-minded folks, who


Netprov: Storytelling as Performing Art

Monday, January 16, 2017 Comment netprov

I’m no longer surprised when new media trends turn out to be rooted in decades-old practices. Netprov — networked, improvised storytelling in available media — is a “new” media form that actually goes back to the early days of computer-mediated communication (decades before the term “social media” emerged). Improvised storytelling online was one of my early joys when I discovered text-only conversations on BBSs, Usenet, MUDs, Compuserve, The Source and the WELL in the early 1980s. At that time, I called the practice “writing as a performing art.” A comment thread sometimes started out as or turned into


Watchworthy Wednesday: Incarcerated Parents Connect With Kids Through Reading

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 Comment Mother and children read stories with incarcerated dad via video

“If you stare at a painting and do not see yourself there, paint your own portrait.” — Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, “Giant Steps to Change the World” At her neighborhood library in Philadelphia recently, an 8-year-old girl enthusiastically sang a couple songs, danced, shared jokes, discussed her birthday wishes and read several books with her incarcerated mom via video conference. The hour-long encounter, made possible by the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Stories Alive program, was the second for the mother and daughter. “She was so excited to see her mother again,” said Titus Moolathara,


Lesson Ideas for Mobile Learning

Monday, November 21, 2016 Comment Shelley Sanchez Terrell with child, using mobile phone

I knew that I had to talk with Shelly Sanchez Terrell again when I learned through the tweetvine that she had a new book out about mobile learning (Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones, and BYOT). Six years ago, my interview with and blog post about Terrell’s netweaving turned out to be a useful resource when I sought to explain to educators the value and how-to of personal learning networks. She’s a teacher who teaches teachers. She’s taught in more than 20 countries! She’s currently adjunct professor At Alamo Community


‘Compojing’: Writing with Emoji for Fun and Profit

Monday, September 19, 2016 Comment emojis on pillows

Over the past year and a half, I have been working closely with a group of researchers and teachers in Northern Colorado on a co-designed curriculum project called Compose Our World. While there is plenty to share about that project at a future date, today I want to talk a little bit about composition practices within our online communication tool, Slack. Specifically, I want to talk about “reactions” within the platform. While many readers may be presently using or are familiar with Slack, what I most appreciate is how seamlessly it moves communication from text to


Deconstructing Disneyland: An App-Based Media Literacy Experience

Monday, August 08, 2016 Comment Deconstructing Disneyland

If Pokémon Go marked the beginning of the era of mass-market Augmented Reality Games (ARGs), Deconstructing Disneyland may mark the beginning of ARGs as mobile media literacy education tools. Media scholars, game designers, technologists, educators, and students at Brigham Young University are finishing an “immersive mobile app that encourages users to critically engage with the popular theme park, expanding their media literacy skills while enhancing their Disney experience.” associate professor of design Brent Barson, student Chris Bowles, associate professor of media arts Jeff Parkin, and assistant professor of media arts Benjamin Thevenin plan to present their


Digital Media as Interactive Textbook

Monday, July 25, 2016 Comment museum patrons using tablet in museum.

Recently, I was a guest on the Meanwhile in the Future podcast on an episode titled “Flash Forward,” speaking about digital media and education. While speaking with Rose Eveleth, the host, I said something that’s sort of stuck with me in terms of thinking about what the roles of media and communications are in digital media. I do not believe that it can ever replace the classroom space and I worry about all the edtech efforts that are so heavily invested in the attempt to do just that. Loss of other senses and effect on critical