Teaching

Freedom, Autonomy, and Digital Media at an Indiana High School

Monday, October 28, 2013 Comment webpage screenshot social media education videos and posts

“Freedom and autonomy are the key words for this class,” says Don Wettrick, describing the “Innovations” course he teaches at Franklin Community High School in Franklin, Indiana. I believe these words also convey the most important reason for using digital media in schools. While the availability of open education resources is indeed a bonanza for those who know how to use them, and iPads can lighten backpacks by holding hundreds of books, these new ways of delivering traditional texts and lectures multiply the power of old media, but don’t otherwise change the role of learners as


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


How Computers Can Impede Spaces of Learning

Thursday, July 25, 2013 Comment students sitting behind computer in classroom with teacher

As a technophile, I’ll be the first to admit it: sometimes computers get in the way of learning. Hopefully that can be something we all agree on, right? I’ve mentioned before that one of the main composition courses I taught last year was held in our school’s computer lab. And while my class took advantage of writing and engaging using the computers, spatially they made learning a challenge. As much as I appreciated the convenience of having all of my students logged into the same Google Docs simultaneously for live editing and commenting, or to be


The Trouble with Testing

Monday, July 15, 2013 Comment female students hands filling out traditional scantron test

It’s obviously summer because my news alerts are no longer steadily reporting concerns about education, our children’s future, the problems with teachers, etc. Perhaps now, then, is the perfect time to address the issue of testing and its troubles, while a little distance might provide perspective. So, why do we test? What do we hope the tests will achieve? Last summer, Thomas Friedman suggested that parents and teachers view classroom performance as CEOs do economic performance to keep us competitive and to overcome our “education challenge.” In this light, testing helps us know where we stand


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


Learning Online in the Second Grade: Teacher Linda Yollis

Monday, May 20, 2013 Comment group of kids sitting around classroom computer working together

Blogging, commenting thoughtfully on others’ blogs, staying safe online, creating a positive digital footprint, using audio and video to connect with students in other parts of the world, creating and publishing video – at what grade level should students be introduced to these essential digital literacies? How about the second grade? Linda Yollis, a teacher in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, remembers the classroom in which she started teaching in the 1980s: “Learning was confined to the four walls of the classroom, was entirely paper-based, worksheet-driven, and I was the audience for most of the written


Design Thinking and Diversity: A Professional Development Case Study

Friday, May 10, 2013 Comment groups of students outside making human fort activity

What do a New York public school, the Howard County Public School system in Maryland, and a small private K-8 school in California all have in common? Each is re-conceptualizing the standard school curriculum by using design thinking, a learning approach that is collaborative, action-based, and experimental, as a way to meet the needs of today’s learners. Design thinking can be a powerful tool for developing higher-order skills such as complex problem solving, creativity and critical thinking. But it can also be an unfamiliar and intangible concept for teachers to grasp, making professional development and pre-service


Teachers, Youth, and Social Media: Experiments

Friday, April 26, 2013 Comment young students hand in the air to answer ask question to teacher in classroom

While young people are often adept at navigating networked spaces for social purposes in their everyday lives, it is less clear what role schools and teachers should play in that process. In what ways can educators support, mentor, and scaffold youth’s navigation of online spaces to foster rich learning experiences and ethical communication practices? Amy Stornaiuolo, an assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, explored this topic from 2008-2011 while serving as the research coordinator for a large-scale design research project that studied how youth around the world communicated on a private social


Children and Computers in Paraguay: Studying What Works and What Doesn’t

Thursday, April 11, 2013 Comment children and adults going into school building in paraguay

Can technology really transform education in developing countries? That was the goal of Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child, but since its founding in 2005, the organization has been the subject of debate as many in the education sector have questioned its utopian vision and its ability to fulfill its promises. In 2010, Morgan Ames, a PhD candidate in Stanford’s Department of Communication, spent six months examining these debates by conducting ethnographic fieldwork with Paraguay Educa, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) responsible for leading the deployment of 9,000 laptops in Paraguay starting in 2009. Ames presented


Interview: T. Mills Kelly on ‘Lying About the Past’ and Media Literacy

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 Comment article story who killed alice walsh in old newspaper clipping

Professor T. Mills Kelly is a historian at George Mason University in Washington, D.C. In 2012, he and students of his course, ‘Lying About the Past‘, became headline news after it was uncovered that they had created “false facts” about fictional events and posted them online in blogs, videos and Wikipedia entries. Professor Kelly believes this method of working-through is true to the learning objectives of the course and, moreover, that it is the best way to instill a deep understanding of practical ethics. Yet he was lambasted for unethical use of the Internet by fellow