STEM Design Strategies to Engage Underrepresented Students

June 27, 2016

Although “making is a stance toward learning,” Minecraft is proving to be an object to learn with as well as think with in many after-school programs. “Talking about tinkering while doing it, in person and online, can enhance social contexts for peer learning and for learning thinking skills,” however, inequities continue to exist in underserved communities — what Henry Jenkins has called “the participation gap.” Digital Youth Network, among others, has been busy trying, assessing, and spreading the word about practices that effectively bridge the gap. At DML 2016, on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 12:30 p.m.,

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Ugochi Acholonu

June 27, 2016


Addressing School Leaders’ Connected Learning Concerns

June 23, 2016

I recently had the opportunity to talk about technology, equity, and learning with a group of administrators, coaches, and support staff in an urban school district during their end-of-year leadership summit. My morning presentation offered Connected Learning as a framework for instructional design that takes advantage of the possibilities for amplification, dissemination, and (of course) connection afforded us by digital media tools. I used a quote attributed to 20th century American philosopher William James to establish my thematic focus – the need for learning experiences that recognize and capitalize upon the interconnectedness of citizens within a

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Protego — An Orlando Call to Action

June 22, 2016

In the days after a gunman killed 49 people in a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the Harry Potter Alliance launched its “Protego” campaign, which aims to make the world a safer place for the transgender community. The Pulse nightclub shooting, the 11-year-old nonprofit HPA notes, was a hate crime that “sits at the intersection of many forms of oppression.” In author J.K. Rowling’s books, the heroes fight against injustice and the HPA wants people to do that in real life.  “Protego is the HPA’s first ever transgender rights and safe spaces campaign, named after the shield charm used

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Research Shows Connected Learning Works

June 20, 2016

Does connected learning — particularly in disadvantaged communities and for underrepresented youth — work? The answer is important to students, educators, and parents. It’s also of great interest to institutions such as the MacArthur Foundation, which has a multi-decade commitment to improving educational outcomes. After years of granting millions of dollars to schools, the foundation started a broad initiative that was based not strictly on educational institutions, but also on the extra-curricular learning environments that were emerging as more and more young people became immersed in digital media: “In 2004, we decided to consider alternative paths.

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Educating for Participatory Politics in the Digital Age

June 16, 2016

When I earned my teaching credential in the late 1990s, I had to take a class called “Technology for Teachers.” We mostly talked about using programs like Microsoft Office to prepare students for the workplace. Absent were conversations about the ways learning, communication, and engagement have changed in the digital age. Unfortunately, such supports are still rare in teacher education and schools. For example, a district-wide survey conducted in Oakland, California in 2013, found that 93% of teachers believe that technology is essential, but 63% reported not having had ANY technology-related professional development. The innovative teachers

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June 14, 2016


3 Ways Open Badges Work Like the Web

June 13, 2016

“The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world.” — Tim Berners-Lee A phrase that I and other Open Badges strategists use often is:  “Open Badges work like the web.” Recently, I’ve been asked by those less familiar with the technical architecture of the web what exactly we mean by this. My starting point is “Working openly on

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Advocating for Online Privacy

June 9, 2016

As a researcher who actively engages in tech policy, Seda Gürses considers how a variety of actors may disrupt online wellbeing. She also brings an international perspective to her collaborative work. As part of the Trust Challenge team launching the Center for Solutions to Online Violence, Gürses contributes her expertise as a computer scientist and privacy advocate. Now based at Princeton, she previously held positions at New York University and the University of Leuven. In an interview with DML Central, Gürses mused about the fact that her earliest digital literacy experiences had been shaped by childhood experiences.

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Against the Ampersand: Hyperlink Politics for the Future

June 6, 2016

“States are certain loci of power, but the state is not all there is of power. The state is not always the nation-state…So, already the term state can be dissociated from the term ‘nation’ and the two can be cobbled together through a hyphen, but what work does the hyphen do? Does the hyphen finesse the relation that needs to be done? Does it mark a certain soldiering that has taken place historically? Does it suggest a fallibility at the heart of the relation?” — Judith Butler and Gayatri Chakravarti Spivak, authors of Who Sings the Nation-State? The

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media release

Online Minecraft Summer Camps Launch June 27

June 5, 2016

Kids interested in playing Minecraft while gaining game design, engineering, architectural and coding skills are being offered online camps this summer through Connected Camps. “We’re delighted to be offering an expanded range of camps this summer,” said Mimi Ito, Connected Camps co-founder and research director of the Digital Media &


Closing Digital Gap: Libraries Offer Youth STEM Programs

June 2, 2016

It seems today that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and coding are constantly in the news, especially in relation to youth and learning. But, despite near incessant news coverage, there is a continuing uneven access for youth to STEM and coding classes in school, as well as after school. Gaining prominent attention at the national level is President Obama’s recently released Computer Science for All initiative, focusing on offering more computer science classes. But, it does not emphasize the opportunities for interest-driven learning outside of the school structure.   One group — libraries — working

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Spoken Word Letters

May 31, 2016

How can spoken word poetry help students critically examine dominant narratives to make sense of their own experiences and express themselves using their own vernacular?

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Arguing the CRWP Way: Establishing a Classroom Climate for Inquiry and Generosity

May 31, 2016

How can the National Writing Project’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) materials and principles encourage students to treat opposing views with respect and generosity?

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From Voice to Influence: Media, Learning and Participatory Politics

May 31, 2016

How can in and out of school experiences help young people learn to use their voices to influence social change?

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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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