Hypothes.is: Twine Might Be Too Much. Or Not.

flickr photo shared by dutruong.t733 under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

I started this blog some time ago to invest in the reflective work on teaching and learning that I was asking of my students, and I was not a good role model.  Thanks to Todd Conaway for jump starting this project where a number of us will write together.

I didn’t keep up the blog because there was always something else that needed to be done, and I’m certainly feeling now that I should be working on my syllabi for the quarter.

But here’s the thing: I’m grappling with whether or not to incorporate two new digital tools into my Education and the American Dream course this quarter.   It’s time to decide.

I have seen multiple faculty blogs and tweets about using Hypothes.is to support social reading, as students jointly annotate websites or PDFs. I’ve read very encouraging accounts of deepened learning, richer class discussions, and students’ capacity to see things in course readings that they might otherwise have missed. Some of the readings in Am Dream are  dry  but important sociological studies, and I imagine that enabling students to  read “together” would provoke more questions and  legitimize critique of writing styles that merit critique. I’m also often surprised with the range of “numerical literacy” among students when they read some of the quantitative analyses, and I imagine the learning that could happen by witnessing others’ interpretations/ questions/ ideas as they work through these readings.

Back in June –when the summer seemed so enticingly long —  I also spent some time playing with Twine and I started to get excited about making interactive stories for this class.  They read books  (in small group “book circles” that usually operate mainly within fairly conventional online discussions) that trace pathways of opportunity — along with multiple multiple obstacles to opportunity.  I imagine them constructing games that explore different outcomes for the people in their books as they consider the complex routes that people take from childhood to adulthood.

So, instead of just revising my assignments and taking a run at either of these, I write.  I imagine having one or two students primed ahead time (and bribed with at least coffee cards) who could help classmates troubleshoot and who could model playfulness.  I imagine how great it would be to know that a few colleagues were also experimenting with either of these this quarter and we could compare notes or panic together out of the sight of students when we have no idea how to solve something.  But neither of those is likely.

So it’s time to decide.  Do I have the time?  I no longer believe that I have to have “mastered” a tool to introduce it to students, but neither will I go in without having a very good idea of how something works.  Will colleagues understand when two students (inevitably) push back on their end of quarter feedback that “this is not a tech class”?  Would my time be better spent prepping for my conference presentations (they COUNT) than refining assignments that already work ok?

I’m also developing a brand new course, in a new field that has mostly been an ever-more-finely tagged folder in Evernote for a year now, and is only now being organized into weeks and assignments and grading scales.    That’s been a lot of (fun) w0rk.

But it’s time to decide.

One? Both?

Stay tuned.  Right now, I have no idea.









Filed under assignments, Dilemmas of teaching, Uncategorized


I’ve been working on the digital literacy of “curation” in class.   As with so many things in this work, it can be easy to focus on “learning tools” and not on the skills that are needed/are learned  in using these tools.

The ideas around curation come largely from Henry Jenkins’ work on new literacies (and the digital divides that are emerging around accessing these literacies).  Here, he interviews media scholar Howard Rheingold about curation.  Rheingold explains:

Curators don’t just add good-looking resources to lists, or add their vote through a link or like, they summarize and contextualize in their own words, explicitly explain why the resource is worthy of attention, choose relevant excerpts, tag thoughtfully, group resources and clearly describe the grouping criteria. Think of these little information details as the metadata for a collective intelligence. – See more at: http://henryjenkins.org/2012/08/how-did-howard-rheingold-get-so-net-smart-an-interview-part-three.html#sthash.UQE3C2DV.dpuf

And this research article (that I just found and bookmarked on Diigo) speaks of the need to teach students curation skills:

One of the largest impacts of the Internet today is in the integration of various information types (news, entertainment, personal communication) and mediums (television, radio, print)into aggregated spaces. Search engines and social networks have replaced specific channels, shows, and even web sites as the predominant places youth go for information. Many-to-many communication platforms that allow for the large-scale reach of media messages have cultivated a vast information landscape that lacks basic organizational structure.

The result is that students not only have access to seemingly endless amounts of information, but also personalize content and reorganize it in a fashion that best allows them to make sense of a topic, and to share it with peers (Lessig 2008). Teachers at all levels of education must be prepared to negotiate the digital realities of their students as they design learning experiences around critical inquiry, analysis, and evaluation. Indeed, educators today have a certain responsibility to focus student skills and experiences in an exercise of participation with the surrounding media (Jenkins et al. 2009).

Students today have almost instant access to vast amounts of information.  Old ways of organizing it, privately and in drawers and on shelves, no longer work.

It can be easy to experience this new work as making our lives more complicated, but what Jenkins and others argue is that in the information age, sorting through so much media is indeed complicated, and learning to “curate” makes it much less so.

Leave a comment

Filed under curation, New Literacies

Connected Learning, Connecting All Kids

Are low-income kids learning to connect in these ways?

Connected Learning: Relevance, the 4th R from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

On the one hand, some of this language feels a bit “overselling”.   On the other hand, how can we even imagine that we can teach marginalized kids all they’ll need to understand about the world in the relatively small spaces of classrooms that are walled off from that world?

Why wouldn’t we teach them to connect far beyond their own communities, as a routine element of their learning?


Leave a comment

Filed under connected learning, digital divides

Blogs as Play, Blogs as New Literacy

At their best, blogs give an individual the chance to interact with and become part of a collective that both shapes and is shaped by his or her thoughts.  Blogs, by their very nature are tentative works in progress.  They have the character of playfulness, which is core to the new culture of learning.  They can be experimental in nature, used to test and refine ideas.  But at their base, they serve as a means to kick-start a collective around conversations about ideas that spring from the personal.

Thomas and Seeley-Brown, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for A World of Constant Change.

Leave a comment

Filed under New Literacies, Teaching Goals

Learning To Learn in a Network

As we’re starting on a “curation” project, and as I also nudge people to “think out loud” in their blogs,  it’s clear that this idea of learning  within an ongoing [digital] conversation, rather than learn-as-reading- published-texts, alone in a quiet room,  is something that we can/should try to keep talking about.

I’m editing a special issue of the journal Excellence and Equity in Education.   The theme is “New Literacies, Access, and Digital Divides”.   One of the manuscripts I am reading today quotes Adrian Mills (2007).   He writes of network literacy as the ability to “participate as a peer within the emerging learning networks that are now the product of the internet”.

Network literacy means linking to what other people have written and inviting comments from others, it means understanding a kind of writing that is  a social, collaborative, process rather than an act of an individual in solitary.  It means learning how to write with an awareness that anyone could read it: your mother, a future employer, or the person whose work you’re writing about.   Yes.  It’s difficult.

Yes.   Most really good learning is difficult.

And so many teachers are taking on those challenges and sharing so generously via their networked writing.

And I’m glad for that.

Mills, A. (2007).  Network literacy: The new path to knowledge.  Screen Education, Autumn 45, pp 24-30.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Am I /Are We Doing This Work in Digital Media?

After some push back in class this week, I’ve been doing so much thinking about the “why” of learning about digital media and learning, because for me, knowing the “why” is absolutely necessary before even beginning to think about the “how”. I’ve always written to organize thoughts and to learn, so decided to do that here.

In an email exchange with a wise and thoughtful student this week, I wrote,

 I am enthusiastic about this work, and that’s based pretty much entirely on the many studies we have on   the ways that kids now learn outside of school using digital opportunities and the big disconnects that they therefore feel in school.  It’s grounded in a sense of social justice when we know that kids in homes in which parents use technology are learning to create and connect in pretty important ways, while lower income kids are mainly being tested on computers but otherwise are learning little about how they might use this new digital world  to enrich their lives and that of their community.  There is also a really rich literature on teachers’ learning from each other via networks they form and the difference that makes in the kinds of learning that kids can access. 

I’m grateful for the times when pushback in my courses pushes me to step back to think more about the “why”.   I’m not sure I’d otherwise have tried to sum all of these things up in one paragraph.

Leave a comment

Filed under digital divides, Dilemmas of teaching, Teaching Goals

One Story, Two Styles

Here’s the same digital story told in two different visual styles.

How do you respond to them differently, as a viewer


Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Storytelling