Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Systems and the Learning Brain

May 30, 2016

New ideas about artificial intelligence and cognitive computing systems in education have been advanced this year by major computing and educational businesses, including Pearson and IBM. Pearson’s promotion of AI reflects its growing interests in data analytics and other digital methods while IBM is seeking to extend its existing R&D on cognitive computing into the education sector. AI has been the subject of serious debate recently. High profile figures including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk have voiced concern about the threats it poses, while awareness about cognitive computing has been fueled by widespread media

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Dear Future President

May 26, 2016

As the candidates and the media concentrate on issues that matter to voters in this election season, how can young people engage and have a voice? Young people should have a say on the issues that matter to them, their communities, and our country. How can we support our youth to participate as productive and active citizens? This post is an invitation to support youth voice and civic participation through “Letters to the Next President,” an initiative that empowers young people to voice their opinions and ideas on issues that impact them. Join teachers and mentors

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Childhood and the Pursuit of Meaning in Today’s Connected World

May 23, 2016

Most adults reckon they know about children because they were one once. This is a strange kind of qualification. First of all, there is a tendency to universalize childhood as if the child you were once can stand for all children. Secondly, the childhood you experienced is for all its similarities to the ones being lived today, structurally, materially and existentially quite different. My colleague, Sonia Livingstone, and I spent a whole year with 28 13- and 14-year-olds trying to get a grip on what it means to grow up in London in the second decade of the

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The Power of Debate as Form of Civic Communication

May 19, 2016

In the popular imagination, debate is usually perceived in one of two ways — as a stuffy academic exercise (think policy wonks) or a raucous shouting match (think recent Republican presidential debates). Urban educators across the country are working to change these perceptions and re-cast debate as a creative and critical means for middle and high school students to develop and express their opinions about matters of social concern — in the process bolstering their academic, socio-emotional, and civic skills. I have been fortunate enough to be part of the New York City debate community for over a

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Political Investigative Journalism: Playing the Watchdog Role

May 17, 2016

What important roles can investigative journalism play in news, politics, and society, and how can young people become “citizen watchdogs” themselves?

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The Construction of Civic Identities in Pop Culture

May 16, 2016

“I said, ‘Well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles.’ ” — “Excursions,” A Tribe Called Quest A fever dream in 15 steps. This past weekend, Ukrainian singer Jamala won the globally popular 2016 “Eurovision” Contest. A turn from the saccharine love ditties that often take the competition, the winning song, “1944,” is a harrowing narrative of historical deportation of under Stalin’s soviet regime: When strangers are coming They come to your house They kill you all And say We’re not guilty Not guilty A week earlier, the album “Hopelessness” by Anohni was released. Its

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Schooling Silicon Valley

May 12, 2016

Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies, startups and venture capitalists are “the centre of a techno-economic revolution” that is “now spreading outwards across the world, with major societal effects and implications,” argues Alistair Duff in a new article. Surprisingly little research has been conducted on the Silicon Valley workers whose labor and learning contributes to this revolution. Here, I try to piece together some sense of how education is being organized in Silicon Valley as an initial attempt to answer the question: how are the forms of knowledge, skills, practices and ways of thinking that contribute to a

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Full STEAM Ahead: Remodeling Learning

May 9, 2016

Yes, it’s relatively easy to introduce technology and to experiment with project-based learning. It’s not so easy to change the law, norms, and practices that are so strongly associated with high schools in the U.S.A. (for example, sequester students on school grounds five days a week), which is why Justin Bathon added a law degree to his education credentials. Dr. Bathon, associate professor at University of Kentucky, Director of Innovative School models and leader of STEAM Academy, in Lexington, Kentucky, is interested in “the ‘code’ of education which includes things like the legal structure upon which

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Meet ‘The Class’

May 5, 2016

We first met the class at the end of a sunny afternoon in July in the quiet of a London suburb. We found ourselves addressing a blur of teenage faces turned expectantly towards us. We explained that we wanted to find out how they lived their lives at school, at home and online, about their friendships and their learning. We quickly got a conversation going. Who, we asked, used Facebook, and who had a mobile phone? Most hands shot up, although one boy made a point of saying “no” to Facebook. Some faces were animated, some

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Introducing New Book Series: ‘Connected Youth and Digital Futures’

May 2, 2016

Building on research supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative, a new series “Connected Youth and Digital Futures,” is debuting its first two books — By Any Media Necessary: The New Activism of American Youth and The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age. This series offers books that describe the ways that the day-to-day lives and futures of young people are being reconfigured at the intersection of civil and political reform, transformation in employment and education and the penetration of digital technologies across all domains of social and personal life. Why

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3 Types of EdTech Baggage: Toolsets, Mindsets, Skillsets

April 28, 2016

Anyone with a background in technology integration will, of course, be familiar with the diffusion of innovation curve. This is a method to explain the way that different groups of people will react to new technologies. It’s useful, but tends to be used in a very two-dimensional way — as if people will always react in the same way to something new placed in front of them. In particular, I think using the diffusion of innovation curve in a simplistic way can leave out that the adoption and use of technologies has an affect on the

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Reflections on National Campaign Coverage: Challenges and Opportunities in the 2016 Presidential Race

April 27, 2016

How can young people play an active role as consumers and creators of news and information about political issues?

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Equitable Connected Learning Requires Diverse Research Perspectives

April 25, 2016

As a former high school English teacher in two large, urban school districts, I completely understand how educators, parents and policymakers who are wrestling each day with the most pressing issues facing public education — standardized testing, the effects of poverty on learning, opportunity gaps — might be a bit impatient with educational theory and research. Is this new theory about the intersection of culture, politics, and digital media going to give me the answers about how to help my most struggling students today? If not, it can wait. My students need me right now. So,

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The Politics of Reticence: Beyond Number Games

April 21, 2016

Politics by numbers is a funny game. It allows for large structures like universities to reduce the question of diversity, plurality, dissent, and acceptance into quantified rubrics of access, inclusion, and representation. So that universities can often build coherently diverse groups, where the markers of identity tick the boxes of conformity and resemblance to diversity ideologies, but more often than not, these tick marks are ways to gloss the reinforced cultures of containment and the persistent poetics of silence. In the last two blogs, I had looked at #DalitLivesMatter, as arising from the politics of despair,

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Air-B-N-Me: Self Representation in the Digital Age

April 18, 2016

Is your real life anything like your online version of it? How have open networks and social media shaped our perceptions of both ourselves and others? The politics of representation in the digital age continue to shed provocative light on the divide between what is real and what is represented. In my current New Media Studies class, my students and I have found it useful to consider this question by investigating the idea of “filtering” — a concept that Jill Walker Rettberg writes about extensively in Seeing Ourselves Through Technology. Filters may refer to both the

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Take-Aways from Course (Session 8)

April 18, 2016


PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs: Engaging Gen Z With Video Journalism For Students by Students

April 15, 2016

How can student reporting and journalism support strong storytelling, revision and self-efficacy capabilities?

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media release

Connected Learning in Libraries Project Garners $772,864 IMLS Grant

April 14, 2016

The Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN), Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and YOUMedia Learning Labs Network have been awarded a $772,864 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to launch their Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries (CCLL) project. The project  —


New Coke and Transforming American Public Schools

April 14, 2016

In April of 1985, the Coca-Cola Company announced it was changing the recipe that had been used for 99 years and would now produce a new and improved product. When New Coke came on the market, Coke was the No. 1 soft drink in the U.S. Nevertheless, the executives in Atlanta felt it was time to innovate and make a good product even better. If the company was expecting plaudits, it was badly mistaken. New Coke was met with overwhelming opposition from Coke drinkers. Protests sprang up throughout the nation. People hoarded bottles of “old Coke” and

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Developing a Global Perspective on Under-Reported Challenges

April 14, 2016

How can students learn about under-reported issues and varying perspectives?

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Opening Learners’ Minds

April 11, 2016

If you agree that the best teachers help students learn how to think, Dr. Nick Sousanis’ extraordinary hybridization of words and images, “Unflattening,” ought to be one of your texts. Indeed, “unflattening” struck me as an ideal metaphor for the results an ideal teacher should expect: the opening of learners’ minds to new ways of seeing the world as well as the acquisition of knowledge. Written as an Ed.D. dissertation for Columbia University and published by Harvard University Press, “Unflattening” combines words and images that not only tell but show how visual perception actively shapes our understanding of

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