Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Space: Being a Responsible Citizen of the Digital World

We recently released the digital media and ethics casebook, Our Space: Being a Responsible Citizen of the Digital World that Project New Media Literacies developed in collaboration with Howard Gardner and Carrie James' GoodPlay Project. 

We see this casebook being used in homeroom, advisory periods or health classes.  However, our main concern regarding teaching ethics is one that we have seen occur in the media literacy movement.  Throughout the years, teaching media literacy was always relegated to an elective or at the end of class …if there was time.  People have begun to listen to the need to integrate media literacy across curricula and not consider it an aside or add on subject. Our Space is a set of resources that are just as important in today’s media-rich world we all live in, and should not be put aside to “when there is time” during the school day.  Beyond using these resources in the classes mentioned above, we have tried to include lessons that can work within subject-matter classes as well, such as Being Anonymous for a social studies or history class or Identity Play in Online Spaces for an English language arts classroom.

Regarding the casebook release, Anne Collier recently asked, "If a high school student asked you, "What's so important about learning ethics – why develop a whole curriculum around it like this?", what would you say?"

My response...

Imagine a flipping coin in mid-air, hanging there in limbo before landing on one of its two sides.  There is no right or wrong to the sides of a coin.  They both exist together and as the coin hangs in mid-air, it has the potential of landing on either side …At some point in your life, you will be like that coin hanging in mid-air where you’ve run into some issue that bothers you and you need to know your options and make a decision and land. 

Our Space helps to give you the full picture, the promises and the pitfalls of different situations that could or maybe already have happened to you or your friends.  We did this to not leave you with all the answers but hopefully provide you with the tools to form your own personal compass in knowing what questions to ask and how to find the right answers for you.

So please enjoy and help to spread the word about the free resource for all to use.  Thanks!

Friday, September 23, 2011

 Project NML has been involved in some exciting new endeavors since our move to the University of Southern California last year. As a part of USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, the new media literacy play (the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving) has become central to our current work in the field of digital media and learning. After partnering with the non-profit RFK Legacy in Action (RFK-LA) last fall, we began piloting a series of programs at the new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles under the umbrella of PLAY!, which in addition to being an nml, is also an acronym for 'participatory learning and you'!
NML’s guiding principal for a participant-centric approach to learning maintains providing ample opportunities for gaining expertise in the new media literacy skills and competencies. However, since branching out from working with individual educators and schools into the larger realm of professional development (starting with our early adopters program with the NH Dept. of Education in 2009), we've recognized the value of giving teachers permission to play the role of “participant-learner” (as opposed to "expert") before asking them to try new approaches with their students. By examining the ways educators took-up this challenge, our team was able to identify five characteristics of participatory learning that have come to frame our current research for PLAY!. Please take a moment to click on the link above to read more about them.
To get a sense of the direction we are taking with our current work on the ground, I will outline the programs we are piloting with the Los Angeles Unified School District below, which explore participatory learning practices, new models of professional development and the Playground tool.
PLAY! Projects
Our pilot PLAY! project, Explore Locally, Excel Digitally (ELED), was an after-school program for students that deeply explored themes around identity and community. Utilizing practices around mapping and other visualization tools, lessons culminated in digital representations of students’ perceptions on these themes. Since we know learning extends beyond the walls of classrooms and after-school programs to home, community and world – the program aimed to provide experiences that held a holistic view of the learner, and allowed for students to be full agents in their learning.
This past summer we ran a professional development called The Summer Sandbox. During these two week-long sessions, students from the ELED program modeled what they had learned for teachers and joined them as co-learners throughout the week. During these sessions we introduced a prototype for our new online collaborative learning tool, called the Playground. 
The Playground is an open-content, open-knowledge online system that encourages both adults and youth alike to discover, learn and teach each other. You will be able to use this transmedia platform to develop and take online "challenges", much like the Learning Library, only with improved capability for assessment, reflection, and a higher level participation. We are currently testing it with local educators and students and will announce when it is ready for a larger audience next spring.
As of now, we are in phase two of the PLAY! PD called Playing Outside the Box, where teachers will implement what they started during the Summer Sandbox and design a plan for sustainability. Students from RFK Community Schools will continue working with teachers in after-school settings for a series of workshops developed by our partnering organizations here in LA.
As you can see, we've been a bit busy but we're having fun because I work with an amazing team! Please take a few moments to visit our PLAY! wiki for more detailed information about these projects, and access new curriculum and resources.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

USC Annenberg Innovation Lab Overview 2011

I've been busy this school year helping to launch the Annenberg Innovation Lab as Creative Director. Check out what this lab is all about!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2011 Horizon Report is out!

Each year, the Horizon Report describes six areas of emerging technology that will have significant impact on higher education and creative expression over the next one to five years. The areas of emerging technology cited for 2011 are:

Time to adoption: One Year or Less

  • Electronic Books
  • Mobiles

Time to adoption: Two to Three Years

  • Augmented Reality
  • Game-based Learning

Time to adoption: Four to Five Years

  • Gesture-based Computing
  • Learning Analytics

My current projects I'm involved in focus on future of eBooks, mobile learning afterschool program, and transparent learning analytics within a new platform being developed with Microsoft! How awesome is that! Stay tuned...

Friday, January 28, 2011

CRUNCH on THIS: Future of Journalism

I recently attended CRUNCH on THIS: Future of Journalism event held on January 14th. The purpose of this event was to identify new media tools and strategies that are available to journalists, and to determine how these tools can be applied in practical but innovative ways. Gabriel Kahn, Roberto Suro and Dana Chinn posed three challenges to the participants. I thought I'd share them with you here as they warrant additional exploration and discussion.

Three Challenges

1. Curation (Gabriel Kahn)

In the past, the newspaper was the sole determiner and responsible to curate and edit the news we consume. With the advent of self-organizing aggregation type tools, such as Google and Yahoo news, the need for additional ways to curate information has increased. Wikipedia and Twitter have become easily recognizable groups as sources for news. Additional sites, such as Digg, Instapaper, Flipboard, Pearltrees, Storify, theatlanticwire, and BBCmobile show that the public seeks immediate, inclusive warehouses of information that they can access, tag, and store for their own uses. Many of these platforms encourage the community to not only rate what news is credible but to be make connections across different news topics. The major question facing the Innovation Lab is how to manage the amount of information available so that it is easily consumable.

2. Data Mining (Roberto Suro)

The question posed is: How can we organize, compress and analyze information quickly? IBM has created an extensive data mining platform and partnered with the Innovation Lab to develop projects to explore how to 1) capture data, 2) filter, analyze and categorize it, and 3) create a dictionary of data that can be used in exploring visualizations, a visual narrative that helps us make sense of large quantities of data and new ways to identify patterns and emerging trends. The information is filtered from spreadsheets called Big Tables that link all references and cache the information to build a visual narrative. Many of the data sets are aggregated from sites that foster audience participation like Twitter and Wikipedia.

The challenge here is to identify, as an audience, what we need to know, what new ways we can tell our stories, and how our audience will feel about the stories we are to tell (see,, and for examples of data that has been captured through visualizations).

3. How to Connect with Your Audience (Dana Chinn)

The rules of social media require 1) listening, 2) engaging, and 3) measuring your audience’s engagement, loyalty, influence, and action. For example, let us assume that you run a member-based organization that has set a goal of increasing membership among 20-30 year olds by 10 % within 12 months. Through Facebook and Twitter, the organization can map the metrics of increased youth membership and receive immediate feedback on any issue associated with membership among this group. Other resources to analyze authentic participation include and

The challenge here is to identify what actions indicate audience engagement. Do the daily stats from Facebook or Twitter really measure what we want to know? Numbers can be deceiving if you do not know what to look for or how to assess the right metrics. Suppose we want to know how engaged our members are in our print and digital publications. It is not enough to identify the number of hits on the NewsBlog, Facebook and Twitter; we need to examine the daily stats in terms of a) number of users, 2) the number of likes noted by the users, and 3) the number of comments presented by the users and the division of those comments into separate categories. To check on if numbers are telling the correct story, questions to consider include:

    • Are the comments mostly from the same person?
    • Do they focus on one or two topics only?
    • How can we really know the influencers of our publications without harvesting and filtering the most usable information so that we can use it as a tool for strategic planning?
How does this information relate to you?

These are a few examples of ways to reach the widest possible audience using tools that will gather, categorize, and validate information. Social media tools, beyond Facebook and Twitter, are readily available for us to mine data about our audience and apply it in ways that further your goals and viable applications for researching the needs of your members to help build community. Check them out and learn how to apply them for mining data and presenting yourself or your organization in ways that will stimulate audience engagement.