Collective Sensemaking

Collective Sensemaking
Digitally Lit #252 – 6/27/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #251 of Digitally Literate. Each week in this newsletter, I synthesize the news of the week in education, technology, & literacy. If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at

I was involved in the following content this week:


Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools

A conversation with Bettina Love, Gholdy Muhammad, Dena Simmons and Brian Jones about abolitionist teaching and antiracist education.

What would freedom look like in our schools?

How can abolitionist educators make the most of this moment to fight for humane, liberatory, anti-racist schooling for black youth and for all youth?

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the US education system overnight. The antiracist rebellion in the streets has shown a light on the deep racial inequality in America.


Misinformation, Crisis, and Public Health—Reviewing the Literature

The Covid-19 pandemic comes at a time when we were already grappling with information overload and pervasive misinformation. This review of the literature by Kate Starbird, Emma S. Spiro, and Kolina Koltai explores the tactics and intentions of those spreading these streams.

In a crisis, humans communicate in a process called collective sensemaking in order to understand uncertain and dynamic circumstances. Collective sensemaking is a vital process, but we can make mistakes—or the process can be manipulated and exploited.

New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic

As the global pandemic begins to accelerate in the U.S., especially in my area, simple steps like wearing masks while in public tends to be a political statement. What initially seemed to be an anecdotal observation, now seems to be backed up by some research.

Numerous studies paint a picture of a media ecosystem that entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking steps to protect themselves and others.

I recommend reading more on this topic:

Simulating COVID Spread in College Setting

A new working paper from professors at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania models the spread of COVID-19 in a large university setting to examine what mitigation efforts are most effective against the spread of the disease.

The working paper builds off work from Kim Weeden and Benjamin Cornwell, sociology professors at Cornell University, who modeled student interconnectedness from course enrollment patterns.

TikTok teens and K-pop stans don’t belong to the “resistance”

Not long after I shared out last week’s newsletter, a lot of news was made about TikTok Teens, and K-Pop Stans interfering with Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I’ve been suggesting for years that adults don’t really understand how to use these digital, social spaces…and we need to spend more time studying and amplifying the practices employed by youth. This usually is met by harsh criticism from colleagues indicating that adults should guide youth and show them the way.

Not soon after the initial news stories, we see the media hop in to push back against glorification of these online forces. Stories about TikTok Teens and Pizzagate suggest that Gen Z will not save us, and that the kids are not all right.

I don’t agree.

The 7 elements of a good online course

The seven elements of a good online course by George Veletsianos

  • A good online course is informed by issues of equity and justice
  • A good online course is interactive
  • A good online course is engaging and challenging
  • A good online course involves practice…doing…and doing again
  • A good online course is effective
  • A good online course includes an instructor who is visible and active, and who exhibits care, empathy and trust for students
  • A good online course promotes student agency


Not everything has to be digital: my analogue daily and weekly planners

Doug Belshaw provides his templates for use in daily and weekly planning.

This is part of Belshaw’s #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at



You are what you read. You are what you write.

Ian O’Byrne 🙂

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me.

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