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Developing Socially Engaged Youth Through Game Design

October 2, 2017

This summer at the Games For Change Festival, the Game Jam Guide e-book was released, sharing advice from a range of experts on how to lead game jams. One of those experts is Matthew Farber, an assistant professor of technology, innovation and pedagogy at the University of Northern Colorado (and whom will be presenting on the topic at the upcoming Digital Media and Learning Conference). I reached out to Matthew to learn more about how he uses games for learning and how the Guide can help others run their own game jams. Matthew, it interests me

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5 Secrets to Creating an Innovative After-school Program

September 27, 2017

A little over a year ago, Mahad Ibrahim reached out to me about Connected Camps, an organization I’m leading with Katie Salen that offers online learning programs and mentorship in Minecraft. Mahad and I go way back. Nearly a decade ago, Mahad had been part of the Digital Youth Project that I co-led, when he was a Ph.D. student at the UC Berkeley iSchool. More recently, Mahad had teamed up with entrepreneur and escape room designer Alexis Santos in launching Mind Foundry, an organization providing STEM learning experiences to underserved kids in the Twin Cities. Would

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How Young Activists Deploy Digital Tools for Social Change

September 25, 2017

Nabela Noor, a young American Muslim Youtube personality, was born of Bangladeshi parents and had developed a large following based on her make-up tutorials and fashion advice. Frustrated by what she saw as Islamaphobic discourse in American society, intensified by Donald Trump’s candidacy for president, she recorded and shared with her followers a powerful statement, “Dear America.” Speaking directly to the camera, the 22 year old describes herself as “an American through and through” who is also a Muslim, shared the ways her schoolmates responded differently to her after 9/11, and discussed the chilling climate her

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DML Conference Targets Digital Citizenship

September 25, 2017

EVENT: Civic engagement in a networked world will be the featured discussion at the 8th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference this year. “At a time when we are increasingly faced with serious social challenges — of living together in dignified ways, of electoral meddling and fake news, of changes

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Remake Learning Network Turns 10, Reaches Forward

September 20, 2017

The Remake Learning network started as an experiment in collaboration among educators, researchers, mentors and caring adults that has become a movement touching thousands of lives in southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio. As it marks its 10-year anniversary, the network just released “Learning Together,” documenting Remake Learning’s achievements. Among its more notable accomplishments: • Connecting more than 500 organizations into a collaborative network. • Training more than 5,300 educators in new and innovative teaching methods. • Establishing more than 170 makerspaces for hands-on learning. • Engaging more than 53,000 people in the annual Remake Learning Days celebration.

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Remake Learning Network Turns 10, Reaches Forward

September 20, 2017

The Remake Learning network started as an experiment in collaboration among educators, researchers, mentors and caring adults and has become a movement touching thousands of lives in southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio. As it marks its 10-year anniversary, the network just released “Learning Together,” documenting Remake Learning’s achievements. Among its more notable accomplishments: • Connecting more than 500 organizations into a collaborative network. • Training more than 5,300 educators in new and innovative teaching methods. • Establishing more than 170 makerspaces for hands-on learning. • Engaging more than 53,000 people in the annual Remake Learning Days celebration.

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Highlighting Young Producers by Twisting Fate

September 18, 2017

“What if Lord Voldemort had never become Lord Voldemort? What if he found the love of his life before everything started?” So teases the description of Knilesly’s short story, “The Queer Quill.” As one of the winners of the Twist Fate challenge earlier this year, it is a featured story in the recently published collection, Twist Fate: Teens Spin Classic Tales. Available as a physical book for libraries and contributors and freely downloadable, Twist Fate is a powerful collection to read through. With thousands of entries on popular youth media communities DeviantArt and Wattpad, the images,

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‘Twist Fate’ Showcases Teen Creations

September 16, 2017

The creations of 93 teenagers — finalists of “Twist Fate,” an international art and writing challenge for 13 to 17 year olds — are being showcased in a book that is available online at clalliance.org/twist-fate and at select libraries nationwide. The contest, run by the Connected Learning Alliance (CLA) and hosted

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The Need for Frank Discussions About Digital Identity, Trust

September 13, 2017

I have been writing profiles of core members of the design team working on developing the Center for Solutions to Online Violence over the course of the past year and have been asking this group of educators to reflect on the lessons learned about abusive and threatening online behavior. This month, I spoke to Associate Professor Rebecca Richards, a rhetoric and writing specialist at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, about how she brings her experiences as a former public school teacher in urban and rural settings to her scholarly thinking about the challenges that teens face in

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Why Museums Should Dive Into VR

September 11, 2017

As a young child, I took this photo, of the Franklin Museum’s Giant Heart, my way of expressing my love for this immersive, interactive experience. A few decades later, last month, I returned with my colleagues, on a field trip from NYC to Philadelphia, to visit this venerable institution and learn how they’d been implementing their newest museum-wide strategy for immersive, interactive experiences, but this time using virtual reality. Led by Susan Poulton, their Chief Digital Officer, I learned that the future might be arriving sooner than expected and museums need to develop more agile practices

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Opportunity to Share Research on Connected Learning, Teacher Education

September 4, 2017

If you follow my blog posts, you know that I am deeply committed to exploring the intersections of connected learning and teacher education, both in my own practice as a teacher educator and in the work of fellow innovative educators in the National Writing Project network. I am excited to take this commitment to a new level as I take on the editorship of a peer-reviewed, open access journal — Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (English section), sponsored by the Conference on English Education (CEE) through the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). My

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Combining Art and Technology Engages Students

August 28, 2017

To maker-educators Fabrice Florin and Edward Janne, maker ed is not just about the technology: “the real power comes from enabling students to build their own projects, combining art, technology, and storytelling,” they insist. Although neither Florin nor Janne had previous training as educators, both are more than sufficiently savvy in multimedia storytelling. Florin was one of the founders of Apple’s Multimedia Lab (the Wikipedia page for the lab is a stub — someone should fill it out), which produced, among other pioneering explorations, Life Story and Moss Landing, which turned out to be prototypes for

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Fabrice Florin & Edward Janne

August 28, 2017

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Frugal Innovation in Digital Learning

August 23, 2017

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on what makes a good and accessible digital assignment for faculty and teachers who are not comfortable with digital tools but open to learning and experimenting. An approach I’ve often seen is what I’ve recently started calling the kitchen sink approach to “onboarding.” In this approach, a suite of tools or a single tool that can do “everything you can imagine and more” is shown or given to a faculty member to integrate into their already existing course or assignment. The hesitant but eager faculty member, initially excited to

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Digital Learning in British Art Museums

August 21, 2017

Disclaimer: The Tate Modern is one of my favorite museums. My previous apartment held a place of honor, above the couch, for a poster I picked up there. And, in 2014, I interviewed the developers of their awesome app, the Magic Tate Ball (re: Using “String and Sellotape” To Build the Magic Tate Ball). So, imagine my excitement when I was recently introduced to Kathryn Box at the Tate Gallery in London. Kathryn manages and produces content for the Tate Kids website and the Tate Kids social channels, which focuses on games and films and articles

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Google Expands Free Computer Science Education Program

August 16, 2017

In its quest to make computer science education free and accessible to everyone, Google is expanding its igniteCS program. The initiative pairs volunteer computer science undergrads, who serve as mentors, and younger students, who learn from them. Libraries now are being recruited as sites to host the growing program. “Our goal really is to make computer science free and accessible to everyone,” said Erin Mindell Cannon, a Google program manager. “Computer science, in a lot of ways, is so broad and so intangible that I think a lot of students don’t understand what it can be.”

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Examining Elite Data Power

August 14, 2017

The concept of “big data” has been the subject of considerable hype and speculation in recent years. So much so that the dominant technologies and technical practices that generate big data — data analytics, algorithms and machine learning — are now commonly described as “artificial intelligence” instead. As a result, Ian Bogost argues, there has been “an explosion of supposed-AI in media, industry and technology.” Despite emerging punctures in the big data and AI hype bubbles, it remains hard to dispute that digitally produced, collected and analysed forms of data have been vested with certain powers

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Get Your Game On with Research, Design Workshops

August 9, 2017

If you’re interested in gaming research, how to design educational games and how gaming can be used to promote learning and social impact, you should check out this year’s two gaming workshops at the 8th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference. Designing Learning Games Eric Klopfer and Scot Osterweil, of MIT’s Education Arcade, are leading the workshop on “Designing Learning Games — an XCD approach.”  “Our work in designing learning games has evolved into a framework of design principles for what we call ‘Resonant Games’ — games that are designed for the whole learner as well

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No Shortcuts in Course Design

August 7, 2017

Like many of my friends and colleagues, August is the month for deep engagement in course design. If you were to shine a flashlight into this world, you would find me on a couch in the living room, hair disheveled, clothes unchanged for days, various plates and cups tossed to the floor, surrounded by books ranging from Vygotsky’s Mind in Society to Scieszka and Barnett’s Battle Bunny. I love this time of year. And, once I get started on design, it is almost impossible to stop. For me, imagining a learning environment, curating the texts, and

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Watchworthy Wednesday: PBS Mentors Future Journalists

August 2, 2017

Students at three Los Angeles area high schools this coming school year will be tackling questions about media literacy, work retraining and youth movements as part of a PBS NewsHour video reporting program aimed at teaching them the tools for employment as multi-media journalists in the future. “We have mentors work with the students and their teachers as they produce three video projects at each of the schools, and the best ones can get featured on PBS NewsHour,” said Christine Zirneklis, PBS SoCal community engagement coordinator. The mentors are broadcast media experts familiar with video editing

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From Connected Learning to Connected Teaching: A Necessary Step Forward

July 31, 2017

I am lucky to know some amazing teachers. I know teachers who are throwing open the doors of their classrooms and partnering with community organizations, libraries, and museums to expand students’ learning opportunities. I know teachers who are flipping the hierarchical teacher-student relationship on its head to allow students to take the lead in their learning. I know teachers who are linking their students to networks that discuss and take action on the most pressing issues of the day. When I ask these teachers why they are making these innovative moves in their practice, they tell

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It’s the Relationships, Stupid: Connected Camps Mid-Summer Report

July 27, 2017

Two years ago, Connected Camps and Institute of Play launched Minecraft Summer of Learning, piloting a new model for in-game virtual summer camps. We’ve served over two thousand families since then, and are mid-way through summer 3.0. This year’s camps reflect a ton of learning and iteration, but what has stayed constant is our focus on relationships. Through our summer camps, kids are developing close relationships around shared interests, and are able to stay connected with our community year-round. Deep and Close Friendships As I wrote back when we were about to launch, the engine for

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Watchworthy Wednesday: Underrepresented Represented in Code.org Courses

July 26, 2017

At it’s core, connected learning is about educational equity, and Code.org, which runs Hour of Code, is a shining example. The nonprofit organization recently announced the results of a new survey of the young people it serves. And, the news is good: underrepresented minorities make up 48 percent of Code.org’s students in their courses and girls make up 45 percent. Code.org, designs its courses with equity in mind. This month, it released a new free computer science course for 7th- through 9th-graders. Called “CS Discoveries,” the year-long course compliments Code.org’s existing courses, “CS Fundamental” (for primary

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Connected Learning in Teacher Education: Come Make With Us

July 24, 2017

A couple of years ago, I worked in the summer to build Connected Courses with some amazing colleagues. I dabbled in the work of connected learning prior to this invitation, but this was my first real attempt to put the principles into practice. Our goal with Connected Courses was, and remains, to support faculty who are “developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web.” At some point in the middle of our week of building, Mimi Ito made a comment, an aside, that stuck with me.

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