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Netprov: Storytelling as Performing Art

January 16, 2017

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

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Mark Marino and Rob Wittig on Netprov

January 16, 2017

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Did Media Literacy Backfire?

January 12, 2017

Anxious about the widespread consumption and spread of propaganda and fake news during this year’s election cycle, many progressives are calling for an increased commitment to media literacy programs. Others are clamoring for solutions that focus on expert fact-checking and labeling. Both of these approaches are likely to fail —  not because they are bad ideas, but because they fail to take into consideration the cultural context of information consumption that we’ve created over the last 30 years. The problem on our hands is a lot bigger than most folks appreciate. What Are Your Sources? I remember a

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Incarcerated Parents Connect With Kids Through Reading

January 11, 2017

“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,

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Semi-automated Luxury Parenting

January 9, 2017

The toy company Mattel recently announced a wi-fi speaker-based voice assistant for children. Known as Aristotle, the toddler-proof alternative to Google Home or Amazon Echo is planned for launch this summer. Designed to live in the child’s bedroom, Aristotle can answer children’s questions and act as a “smart baby monitor,” but it also has sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence capacities to augment and automate the complex task of parenting. Is this just a helpful gadget for family life, or a sign of a new kind of AI nanny state where smart systems will be performing

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How Brazilians Practice Crap Detection

January 5, 2017

Howard Rheingold says in “Net Smart” (2012) that we all should practice media literacies while online, especially when using social media. With all the issues involving fake news, it seems that critical thinking as a digital literacy is most important. The so-called “crap detection” gets each day harder to use properly when there so much misinformation available. As the rest of the world, Brazil has faced it during the last year, mostly after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in August. Soon after, as Michel Temer became president, social media posts for and against his policies exploded. Brazilians started

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Watchworthy Wednesday: What Does Miami Sound Like?

January 4, 2017

For 100 days, Jan. 31-May 12, residents of Miami can contribute their own sound and video clips to the New World Symphony (NWS), America’s Orchestral Academy, as part of Project 305. The project will use selected submissions to compose an orchestral work and accompanying video that will be performed by the NWS on Oct. 21 at the New World Center. Through a partnership between NWS, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and MIT Media Lab, the project is modeled after the collaborative City Symphonies created throughout the world by innovative and influential composer, inventor and educator Tod Machover. His Detroit

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Fake News: Not Your Main Problem

January 2, 2017

This headline may sound shocking, but I truly understand the urgent need to develop digital literacies in response to the fake news phenomenon. But, let me tell you, I live in Egypt, where “fake” news has been the norm for years. Orwell’s got nothing on us. A couple weeks ago, I tweeted this (and this post expands on that): Everyone's all about the fake news (which is important to tackle critically) but who's talking about preparing youth for the REAL news? — ℳąhą Bąℓi مها بالي (@Bali_Maha) December 14, 2016 I agree with Kris Shaffer, Mike Caulfield,

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How the Occupy School Movement is Pushing Connected Learning in Brazil

December 29, 2016

It’s 7 a.m. and a high school student wakes up on a week day. Instead of getting ready to take the bus to school, he is already there with his classmates. This is a common scene at Brazilian public schools. Students have taken over their schools as part of the protest movement called Ocupa Escola (Occupy School in English). The movement launched at the end of 2015 when the government of the State of São Paulo decided to close 93 schools and reallocate more than 311,000 students. At that moment, high school students started taking over their own schools and

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Opportunity to Provide Computer Ed in K-12 Schools

December 28, 2016

Want to provide a computer science and computational thinking education project in K-12 schools? Teams of educators, researchers, community members and others interested in doing so are being offered the chance to be awarded 19 “CS for All” grants, totaling $20 million, from the National Science Foundation (NSF). “With this solicitation, the NSF focuses on researcher-practitioner partnerships (RPPs) that foster the research and development needed to bring CS/CT to all schools,” says Nichole D. Pinkard, founder of the Digital Youth Network and associate professor in the School of Design College of Computing and Digital Media at

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Creating a Safe Space for Women in STEM

December 26, 2016

As part of our continuing series that profiles members involved with the Center for Solutions to Online Violence, which was the recipient of funding from the Digital Media and Learning Trust Challenge, we interviewed Elaine Zundl of Rutgers University. “When we started on the project,” Zundl explained, “I was working at Douglass Residential College as assistant dean and director of a program for women in science called the Douglass Project.” At Douglass, she described how she often “heard first-hand from students about maker spaces or labs where they were harassed or treated badly.” She discovered that female

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What World of Warcraft Teaches About Misinformation

December 22, 2016

A recent study from Stanford University cited that 82 percent of middle schoolers can’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored news” and a real news story. The authors of the study cited that students need to be better trained in information literacy and use better information seeking strategies to solve this problem. This is a reasonable strategy but runs into issues with implementation. Teaching information literacy, the process of determining the quality and source of information, has been an emphasis of the American Association of School Librarians for decades. However, teaching of information literacy in school has declined as

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Watchworthy Wednesday: CLA Debuts Newsletter

December 21, 2016

The Connected Learning Alliance has debuted a weekly e-mail newsletter, featuring updates from the blog of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and the greater CLA and DML community. Its mission is simple: to keep you informed about the latest news, opportunities and opinion from researchers, educators and innovators who are part of the movement for connected learning. Connected learning is learning that is social, powered by interests, and connected to opportunity, explains Mimi Ito, CLA co-founder. “The connected in connected learning is about putting people and equity first as technology becomes more prevalent in the lives of young

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How Well are we Preparing Students for the Future of Work?

December 19, 2016

As a former history teacher, it makes me laugh and cry that so many prominent figures in education (especially education technology) have such a poor understanding of the history of their subject. Many, for example, assume that the school summer vacation was due to children helping get the crops in. Not so. Similarly, the factory origin myth of compulsory education is almost entirely made-up. We’re fond of post hoc explanations that allow us to quickly get onto the point we really want to make. If we sidestep Ivan Illich’s (fairly compelling) arguments that we should be

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The DigitalLearningification of Museums

December 15, 2016

This past October, I had the pleasure of presenting in Irvine, California at the new home for the Digital Media and Learning Conference on digital learning at museums. With my colleagues Eve Gaus of The Field Museum and Rik Panganiban of the California Academy of Sciences, we tried to identify the leading trends we’ve seen emerging in recent years, given our different vantage points as advocates for digital learning in our respective museums. Playfully titled “The DigitalLearningification of Informal Learning Centers: Lessons from Three Museums,” we tried to make the case that museums are unique and

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Survey Analyzes Plugged-in Parents

December 14, 2016

While 8- to 18-year-olds are clocking in lots of screen time, their parents are doing the same if not more, according to a new survey, measuring parental media use. The study by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that provides parents, educators and youth with information to help with navigating media and technology, found that parents of teens and tweens spend more than nine hours a day looking at their screens. Of those parents surveyed, 78 percent believe they are good media and technology role models for their children. “The great news is that the report shows

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Care and the Teacher’s Role

December 12, 2016

In my last post, I drew from my classrooms to suggest that the biggest challenges that the emergence of new political structures of hatred and vengeance posit is to our pedagogies. Finding a vocabulary and framework to express the formation of a political conscience and a voice in the classroom is tough enough because it often requires the researcher to investigate some of the most personal, private and naturalized assumptions about themselves and the world that they live in. When this is accompanied by a persistent system that rewards that which they see and experience as wrong,

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Critical Civic Innovation in Action via PhotoVoice

December 8, 2016

In the wake of last month’s election, many Americans of all backgrounds are fearful about the direction in which the U.S. will be heading under President-elect Trump in areas ranging from education and healthcare to immigration and LGBTQ rights. This fear is accompanied by shock among some about the ability of so many of this country’s voters to explicitly or implicitly support xenophobia, racism, and misogyny. But, to many members of underprivileged communities whose histories are marked by oppression and marginalization, shock is the province of the (racially) privileged who are having their vision of America and

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Watchworthy Wednesday: New Report Features Connected Learning in Libraries

December 7, 2016

In their just released research report, “Connected Libraries: Surveying the Current Landscape and Charting a Path to the Future,” scholars from the University of Maryland and University of Washington examine the different types of “connected learning” happening in public libraries across the nation and the challenges that librarians face as facilitators. The report opens with an infographic explanation of connected learning, an educational framework that emphasizes learning experiences that are socially embedded, interest driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Examples of connected learning experiences in libraries are discussed and resources for librarians to use

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Lesson Ideas for Mobile Learning

December 6, 2016

New media educator Howard Rheingold interviews professor Shelly Terrell about her new book, which highlights the power of students’ mobile devices to drive learning in and out of the classroom.

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Practicing the Principles of Connected Learning

December 5, 2016

I’ve met and profiled active contributors for years, but Kevin Hodgson has to be one of the most active co-learners I’ve encountered. He was part of my Twitter personal learning network, but I began to understand how much energy he puts into sharing his knowledge and imagination when we participated in Connected Courses, “a collaborative community of faculty in higher education developing networked, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web.” We had a plan, but part of that plan was what I call “co-learning” — we knew that

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Kevin Hodgson on Connected Learning

December 2, 2016

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Exploring 3 Models of Digital Literacy

December 1, 2016

The New Media Consortium, the group behind the annual Horizon reports on the impact of technology on learning, has produced a short report on digital literacy. The report is based on a survey of 450 educators on their perceptions of digital literacy and how it is being implemented in their fields. The recommendations in the report don’t cover a whole lot of new ground — students should be thought of as makers, etc. — but, the project is interesting for its attempt to define digital literacy. As the authors of the report — Bryan Alexander, Samantha

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Hour of Code Demystifies Coding for Students Worldwide

November 30, 2016

The Hour of Code, a global movement to introduce students to the fundamentals of computer science organized by Educator Innovator partner Code.org, takes place next week, December 5-11.