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Travel Ban, Muslim Scholars and How to Help

February 6, 2017

Everyone is talking about the impact of the Executive Order from Trump to ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The big tragedy is, of course, families who are unable to be reunited. But, universities are also affected, and people are trying to do what they can to express their disagreement with the executive order: Arab students are unable to go back to their campuses. In solidarity, some academics are considering boycotting U.S. conferences. Several institutions are considering moving conferences to other places. For example, Digital Pedagogy Lab is considering creating an event

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Augmented Reality and Learning in Museums

February 2, 2017

When I read Camillia Matuk’s The Learning Affordances of Augmented Reality For Museum Exhibits on Human Health, I knew I wanted to speak with her about AR and learning. Camillia is assistant professor of educational communication and technology at New York University (with a Ph.D. in the learning sciences from Northwestern University, an MSc in biomedical communications from the University of Toronto, and a BSc in biological sciences from the University of Windsor.) She does design-based research investigations to better understand how innovative technologies and learning environments can better support teaching and learning. Q: Camillia, thank

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Awards Available for Scholars to Study Connected Learning Data

February 1, 2017

Digital media and learning scholars interested in analyzing connected learning data are being invited to apply for awards from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and UC Irvine. The data comes from the Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project, led by Richard Arum, dean of UCI’s School of Education, and postdoctoral scholar Kiley Larson. They gathered data on nontraditional educational practices employed by innovative schools, museums, libraries and community centers. “The project focused on studying a set of educational innovations that integrated digital media with progressive pedagogy,” Arum said. “Given the extent to which formal

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Emotional Computing in Education

January 30, 2017

Psychology has long played a role in education by providing the surveys and questionnaires required to monitor students’ attitudes, dispositions and habits of mind. Today, psychology is coming to play an increasingly prevalent role in schools through intertwined developments in digital technology and education policy. New technologies of emotional computing and big data-driven “psycho-informatics” are being developed to conduct new forms of mood-monitoring and psychological experimentation within the classroom, supported by policy agendas that emphasize the social and emotional aspects of schooling. Psycho-policy A significant emerging area of education policy development focuses on the measurement and

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Digital Media and Learning Data Training Award Call for Applications

January 26, 2017

Submission Deadline: February 27, 2017 The Digital Media and Learning (DML) Research Hub, in partnership with UCI’s School of Education, invites advanced graduate students and early career scholars conducting research in the field of digital media and learning to submit applications for the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Data Training

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Call for Diversity in Ed Tech Design

January 26, 2017

In late December, I attended an educational technology conference hosted at New York University. Rather than highlighting current research, the goal of the conference was to explore the future of the ed tech landscape through company pitches and think tank panels that focused on different areas of ed tech innovation. While the ed tech landscape isn’t known for its diversity, I was stunned at the lack of diversity in each session I went to. I was also dismayed as I heard the different people pitching and the think tanks discuss their imagined college student.  The student

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Watchworthy Wednesday: New Book Questions Tech Assumptions

January 25, 2017

“Giving voice to the voiceless” is a familiar phrase, says Meryl Alper, author of “Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality” (MIT Press, 2017). “It has Biblical origins, is foundational to journalism, and often describes technologies like civic media and open data,” she notes. “But, I’m looking at voice not just metaphorically (as self-expression and agency), but also alongside the more literal sense (oral vocalization). The popular press, as well as tech companies like Apple and Microsoft, have historically used the phrase to characterize non-speaking and minimally speaking individuals with disabilities (and youth in particular) as

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Using Escape Rooms to Gamify Learning

January 23, 2017

Escape Rooms first came to America in 2012-2013 from Asia and Europe, quickly spreading across the country. As defined by Professor Scott Nicholson, “escape rooms are live action team based games where players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to accomplish a specific goal (usually escaping from the room) in a limited amount of time.” It should come as little surprise, but before long, innovative educators were adapting the escape room format for a wide-range of content. Last year, at Minefaire, I met Adam Bellow. Adam was honored

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The Importance of Imagination: An Invitation

January 19, 2017

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times recently quoted President Obama as he reflected on his Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books. “At a time,” Obama says, “when so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.” In today’s polarized environment, where the internet has let people increasingly retreat to their own silos (talking only to like-minded folks, who

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Podcast Examines Human Rights Data Analysis

January 18, 2017

“Data is always lying to you… but, we can fix it, sometimes, maybe.” That’s how Patrick Ball, director of research for the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, opens his podcast, “Understanding Patterns of Mass Violence with Data and Statistics.” Published earlier this month, the podcast is part of Databites, a speaker series by Data & Society, a research institute in New York City that focuses on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development. The idea that observable data are the same as patterns of behavior is a “naïve model,” Ball says, adding that

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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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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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