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Introducing UCI’s Connected Learning Lab

March 30, 2017

Spring is a fitting season to announce the launch of our new Connected Learning Lab (CLL) at UC Irvine, an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to studying and mobilizing learning technologies in equitable, innovative, and learner-centered ways. I am humbled to serve as the founding director, and to be working with our founding faculty, Richard Arum, David Theo Goldberg, Bill Maurer, Kurt Squire, and Constance Steinkuehler. I am looking forward to expanding our ranks with more faculty, postdocs, students, and community members as we get our efforts off the ground. The founding of CLL is motivated by

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Google Scientist Tells How Tech Affects Learning

March 29, 2017

When his daughter was studying linguistics, Daniel M. Russell observed her reading a book on Turkish grammar while connected to her earbuds, listening to Turkish news on an online app. “She was multiple coding,” he explained Tuesday to a group of UC Irvine computer scientists. Russell, a senior research scientist at Google, said that as technology rapidly changes, “it’s tied to our ways of thinking. It affects us in the way we think, the way we frame and the way we reason. And, how we learn is highly dependent upon the technology we bring into the

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What Teachers Can Learn from Students

March 27, 2017

I remember being a college student. The problem with being a professor who remembers being a college student, is that we’re probably misremembering, or our experience is different from those of our current students. Last week, I got to experience being in students’ shoes a little more than usual, and I found the experience particularly enlightening. I felt that being in closer or more intense contact with students for a couple of days and experiencing their lives helped me empathize with them more. This is very different from teaching them, because when I teach them, I

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Avoiding ‘Dark Pits of Yuck’: Connected Learning for Military Spouses

March 23, 2017

“We moved nine times in 14 years…It wore me down. Anything I started and developed on my own got taken away.” — Joanna McGuffey, founder and CEO of Unconventional Works I met Joanna in 2015 at Nucleus CoShare, a coworking office in Dayton, Ohio that serendipitously opened not long after we both moved there to accompany our service member spouses at their new duty locations. She was a seasoned Air Force spouse, having moved nine times in 14 years and I was brand new. Joanna told me that she joined the coworking office because she was “in

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Meet 10 Women Championing Connected Learning

March 22, 2017

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s turn our attention to 10 women scholars making their mark as champions of connected learning. (Connected learning calls for broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven and oriented toward educational, economic or political opportunity. It is based on evidence that the most resilient, adaptive and effective learning involves individual interest as well as social support.) As connected learning advocates, these 10 scholars, among a number of others worldwide, argue that new media broadens access to opportunity and meaningful learning experiences that can happen anytime, anywhere.

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Making Science: When Does Spaghetti Become a Light Ray?

March 20, 2017

For the past few years, we have been fortunate to work together in a scientific inquiry class. Bringing together science faculty and composition faculty makes for some lively conversations about the teaching of writing. The course is offered to future elementary school teachers who are typically non-science majors. We recently co-wrote with Irene Salter Composing Science: A Facilitator’s Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom (TCPress 2016), which describes our work with these future teachers and our practices for teaching writing in science. The book lays out how we engage students in practices that mirror the

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The Power of Digital Writing and Connected Learning

March 16, 2017

“Sharing power in a system rooted in not sharing power is a pretty tough go,” was the first thing Terry Elliott said when I asked him about his longstanding work in student empowerment — from unschooling his own, now grown, children, to encouraging high school students to blog about a real local issue (bus safety) way back in 2002. These days, in addition to the systemic obstacles to real student empowerment, Elliott faces the challenge of teaching writing to students who, for one reason or another, have difficulty writing. He starts by asking students to “think

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Watchworthy Wednesday: The Importance of Media Literacy in Partisan Times

March 15, 2017

“It’s crucial that we cultivate students’ ability to judge the credibility of online political content and build their commitment to carefully assessing such content.” — Joseph Kahne and Benjamin Bowyer Taken from research by Joseph Kahne, the Ted and Jo Dutton Presidential Chair in educational policy and politics at UC Riverside, chair of the MacArthur Foundation Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) Research Network and director of the Civic Engagement Research Group, and Benjamin Bowyer, political science lecturer at Santa Clara University, the infographic above points to the importance of media literacy today as partisanship is dramatically

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Badges, Proof and Pathways

March 13, 2017

How do you prove what you know and can do these days? Sure, you can show someone your CV, résumé or LinkedIn profile, but what does that prove? Isn’t that just a bunch of claims you’ve got about the stuff you can do? Where’s the evidence? What can you point to in order to say: “This is me. This is who I am. This is my value to the world?” Sometimes, it’s quick and easy to show that you’ve got the skills that are required. A quick on-the-spot check proves that you can build the wall,

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Summer Online Minecraft Camps Begin June 26

March 12, 2017

Igniting a passion for technology is the goal of Connected Camps’ online summer camps in coding, game design, architecture, engineering, and survival mode in Minecraft. The weeklong virtual camps, priced from $69 to $99, commence June 26. There are 30 online camps to choose from, including girls-only options. “We offer

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Online Tools That Foster Civic Engagement

March 9, 2017

As my colleague, Antero Garcia, explained in a DML Central post last month, we are working together to produce a web series that provides educators with tools and tips to support civically-engaged pedagogy in their classrooms and beyond. Sponsored by the Studies of Literacy and Multimedia (SLAM) Assembly within the National Council of Teachers of English, SLAM School aims to offer demonstrations of useful strategies in 30 minutes or less. A few weeks ago, I led a class on how (and why) to interact with your elected representatives. I want to share some of what I

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Watchworthy Wednesday: New Book Focuses on Teacher Leadership and Connected Learning

March 8, 2017

Kira J. Baker-Doyle’s new book, “Transformative Teachers: Teacher Leadership and Learning in a Connected World” (Harvard Education Press) offers insight on the pulse of teaching and teacher leadership today. In the first chapter, she introduces readers to Samuel Reed III, a public middle school teacher in Philadelphia who she says “helped to initiate a change in my understanding of transformative teacher learning and leadership in the digital age.” He writes for the Public School Notebook blog “about his work in the field and the classroom, often advocating the idea of ‘flipping the script,’ challenging others to

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When Social Media Assignments Increase Risks for Vulnerable Students

March 6, 2017

Editor’s note: The following is a discussion between Data & Society Research Institute researchers Monica Bulger and Mikaela Pitcan and Jade Davis, associate director of Digital Learning Projects at LaGuardia Community College. In light of the travel ban and recent border demands to view social media accounts, the scholars discuss students who might be vulnerable in the new environment and also how this might be a moment for teachers and students to reconsider teaching practice and approaches to digital literacy. Monica: What prompted this interview is we were talking the other day about unintended consequences of using personalized

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The Trouble with ‘Screen Time Rules’

March 2, 2017

“Screen time,” as-ever, is a hot topic for academics, policy folk and for parents. There’s a seemingly endless debate about how much is too much, or indeed (as we’ve argued) whether ‘time’ is really the right frame at all. We were inspired to take up the screen time debate on this blog for two reasons: First, because in our research, we listened over and over again to British parents referencing some version of the famous American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2×2 rules (no screen time under 2, only 2 hours a day for kids 2 and

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Fighting for the Arts

March 1, 2017

With the arts potentially on the federal funding chopping block, Americans for the Arts Action Fund has mobilized to heighten awareness of the benefits provided by the arts. It has released the below infographic, spelling out the value of the arts to jobs and the economy, and announced various civic engagement actions. Among the infographic highlights: The arts and culture sector is a $730 billion industry, representing 4.2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — a larger share of the economy than construction ($672 billion) or transportation and ($510 billion), according to the U.S. Bureau of

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The Importance of Connected Learning Leadership

February 27, 2017

At the beginning of our conversation, Emily Vickery cautioned: “I can’t talk about being a connected educator without talking about teacher leadership.” In addition to teaching English at Pensacola (Florida) Catholic High School, Vickery also serves as a “21st Century Learning Specialist” who designs and delivers professional learning for teachers on curriculum design, pedagogy, assessment, learning management and the use of digital tools. “I kind of backed into it — I was a reluctant teacher leader,” she was quick to add. Coming from “a family of teachers, preachers, and farmers,” Vickery swore she would never become

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February 24, 2017

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Epic Learning: Large Class as Intentional Design

February 23, 2017

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

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Celebrate Digital Learning Day Feb. 23

February 22, 2017

Students and educators nationwide will be taking part in Digital Learning Day (DLDay) tomorrow, focusing on innovative ways technology enhances teaching and learning. “In some classrooms and out-of-school programs across the country, educators are doing some pretty amazing things with technology,” according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. “Yet, these pockets of innovation are confined to a small number of schools and communities. Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.” As part of

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Safely Guiding Students on Learning Journey

February 20, 2017

I remember the first year I started teaching. It was exhilarating and confusing and led me to a mini-existential crisis of sorts that I imagine often when you walk into a class with a bunch of faces staring at you who assume you have all the answers and the key to their future. Why else would they be there? I had a conversation with a dear friend and I asked her the point of teaching. She said: “To remember that students don’t know what they don’t know, but that they are in that space to learn

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Engaging Parents in After-School Programs

February 16, 2017

As part of the Leveling Up: Parenting study, a project of the Connected Learning Research Network at the DML Research Hub, I and my fellow researchers wondered: How can we help interest-driven after-school programs better engage with parents? hough we had spent a lot of time in these spaces interviewing and observing students and their families, we realized we hadn’t systematically talked to the educators and administrators in these spaces to get their perspective on what works and what doesn’t. We’ve just finished interviewing educators and administrators at a dozen interest-based after-school enrichment programs in Orange

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Creating Connections Through Music

February 15, 2017

A simple informal invitation brought musician Laura Ritchie and a few of her University of Chichester students to California two years ago to perform and teach a few impromptu music lessons. She returned last year with different students and is back this month with three undergraduate music majors, delivering more formal performances and workshops for students of a high school and an elementary school in Santa Maria as part of their study. “We co-create the entire program, from writing the handbook, to deciding the hand-in dates, and planning the scope of the trip, and it’s different

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