Tag: covid-19

Imagined New Worlds


This week I published the following:

  • There Are Always Two Paths – There are always two paths. The darker heavier path, or the lighter easier path. You can always choose to make something already hard worse by your response, or you can choose to make it easier by a different response.
  • Thank You. I’m Sorry. – Thinking about language and my daily interactions with culturally diverse communities and individuals.

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 say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Misinformation around COVID-19, vaccines an ‘urgent threat,’ surgeon general says

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, called on social media companies and politicians to take more responsibility, saying misinformation threatens the nation’s health.

Much of my original line of research focused on the critical evaluation of online information. In this, there was always in the back of my mind thought about how this was primarily an academic exercise. But, I knew that this could turn deadly if we focused on health information.


Can We Imagine a Better Internet?

On 17 June 2021, over 40 participants from all over the world joined the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy for a workshop exploring ‘the cost of convenience’ and the opaque impact that digital technology has on the environment.

This visual representation below shares some of the responses collected in the sessions.

In order to understand and better address the environmental consequences of digital tech, researchers need to be more clear about the concepts we use but also to be more open to the experiences of individuals and communities on the ground who often ‘know better’ since they live (and occasionally also cause) the very consequences of tech we research.

Why Is the Country Panicking About Critical Race Theory?

The battles over Critical Race Theory (CRT) are raging. So…what is CRT?

Critical race theorists tend to share several key assumptions, as Janel George, a law professor at Georgetown, explains at the American Bar Association website:

  • Race is not a biological fact but a social construction.
  • Racism is not aberrational but an inherited, ordinary feature of society.
  • Racial hierarchy is primarily the product of systems, not individual prejudice.
  • Racial progress is accommodated only to the extent that it converges with the interests of white people.
  • Lived experience, not just data, constitutes relevant evidence to scholarship.

Treatment for gun injuries costs more than $1 billion a year, federal watchdog says

In a groundbreaking report released on Wednesday, a federal watchdog estimated that the cost of medical treatment for survivors of gun injuries in the United States amounts to at least $1 billion each year, but is likely much higher.

The report provides shocking new evidence of how gun violence strains our health care system and disproportionately harms historically marginalized communities in the United States.

Students’ abilities to evaluate the credibility of online texts: The role of internet-specific epistemic justifications

Elina K. Hämäläinen, Carita Kiili, Eija Räikkönen, and Miika Marttunen with some interesting research about critical evaluation of online texts.

Evaluation of online texts is challenging for adolescents and their ability to evaluate the credibility of online texts varies considerably. Beliefs in justifications for knowledge may contribute to the evaluation of online information.

The research suggests students’ evaluations of online texts reflected different credibility aspects and depth in reasoning. Students used more frequently venue, evidence, and author than intentions and corroboration as evaluation criteria. Students’ beliefs in justification by authority and justification by multiple sources predicted their evaluation performance.

This means that students should be instructed to evaluate various aspects of credibility and engage in deep reasoning. Students would benefit from learning how to use corroboration with multiple texts as an evaluation strategy.

The Game Makers and Artists Pushing Roblox to its Limits

Last year, when the pandemic made in-person gatherings impossible, digital artist Everest Pipkin downloaded Roblox Studio, the platform’s game creation software, to construct a digital space to host their own party.

It’s still publicly accessible, a giant mountainous landscape packed full of hang-out spots and, befitting the celebratory occasion, a balloon dispenser. Friends rolled through virtually over the course of six hours, an event Pipkin describes as “goofy,” “strange,” and, above all, “lovely.”

In fact, Pipkin was so taken with the platform that they decided to use it to build a new project entirely within it. The so-called Dream Diary is a little different from the birthday zone; it allows players to peek into the most intimate recesses of its creator’s nocturnal mind.

It’s interesting to see the storytelling, art, and narrative in these spaces.


How ‘Soft Fascination’ Helps Restore Your Tired Brain

Attention fatigue is a threat to your cognitive and mental health. Certain activities seem to reinvigorate the brain in ways that support directed attention and self-regulation.

  • A 20-20-20 rule for your brain?
  • Schedule some “soft fascination” into your day



If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.

George Orwell

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Viral virtuoso Marcin returns with rip-roaring, reverb-drenched rendition of Metallica’s Master of Puppets.

Come say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Connect The Outside With The Inside


Happy weekend all. It’s good to see your faces.

This week I posted the following:

  • Shine – A look back at the last year of my life.
  • The Harm in Do No Harm – There’s a difference between do no harm and immersion, investing, and accompaniment.
  • Intersectionality in Ed Tech – An intersectional framework acknowledges that there are social systems in place that create barriers and challenges for some individuals, while simultaneously providing privilege and power for others.
  • Computational Thinking for the Educator and Researcher – This week I presented a session on computational thinking as a problem-solving practice that allows educators and learners to interact meaningfully with both content and CT practices and skills.

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 say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


The NOISE of School


Many of us were told that a quiet classroom is a good classroom. Then we had a pandemic, and now so many of us miss the noise.

I can’t believe I have not come across Trevor Muir until now. Thanks to Verena Roberts for sharing. 🙂

The story and discussion guides are here.


The world had a chance to avoid the pandemic—but blew it, finds report

This week, in a surprise announcement, the CDC updated their guidance to indicate that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physical distancing.

As we seem to be turning a corner on this pandemic, I’m hoping that we’ve used this as an opportunity to learn some lessons.

A new report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response lambasts global leaders who failed to heed repeated warnings, wasted time, hoarded information and desperately needed supplies, and failed to take the crisis seriously.

While some countries took aggressive steps to curb the spread of the virus, “many countries, including some of the wealthiest, devalued the emerging science, denied the disease’s severity, delayed responding, and ended up sowing distrust among citizens with literally deadly consequences,” said Helen Clark, cochair of the panel.

Social isolation during COVID‐19 lockdown impairs cognitive function

Research from Joanne Ingram, Christopher J. Hand, and Greg Maciejewski examining the effect of social isolation on cognitive function.

Results suggest social isolation is linked to cognitive decline in the absence of ageing covariates. The impact of social isolation on cognitive function should be considered when implementing prolonged pandemic‐related restrictive conditions.

More on this story here.

Remote work made digital nomads possible. The pandemic made them essential

Special visas. Free Vaccines. Tax breaks.

The pandemic was an existential crisis. For the first time, the community built around having no fixed address was forced to shelter in place.

Countries around the world are courting a new class of human capital that wants to mix travel and work forever.

It’s True. Everyone Is Multitasking in Video Meetings

Microsoft study finds just how often remote workers multitask during videoconferences—especially when the group is large and the meeting runs long.

The study shows that multitasking during virtual meetings is a coping mechanism to protect people’s mental well-being from … too many virtual meetings.

How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously

For decades, flying saucers were a punch line. Then the U.S. government got over the taboo.

In a memorandum issued this week to top department leaders, Assistant Inspector General for Evaluations on Space, Intelligence, Engineering and Oversight Randolph Stone confirmed a new probe and its primary objective: “to determine the extent to which the DOD has taken actions regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).”

The Pentagon’s watchdog is formally evaluating moves the Defense Department has made in connection to sightings of the unexplainable in military airspace. Next month, a government report is expected to be made public on sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena.


How the Ancient Concept of “Shakkei” Can Enhance the Beauty of Your Home

The ancient East Asian concept of shakkei, which translates to “borrowed landscape” or “borrowed scenery,” can help facilitate a greater connection between your home and the surrounding views.

While shakkei refers to the traditional technique of incorporating an outside view into a garden design, the concept also offers inspiration for connecting built forms with nature in a profound manner.

Applying shakkei successfully involves more than simply framing a view. It requires a careful analysis of the landscape and surrounding elements to create a composition with depth, scale, and texture that integrates the “borrowed scenery” in a poetic way.


Hard times are gettin’ harder, the liars are acting strong

You better get a grip on yourself or you won’t be around too long.

Rollins Band

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I knew that I shared a birthday with George Lucas. This week I learned that I also share one with Mark Zuckerberg. Ugghhh…

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Be Better

Be Better
Digitally Lit #256 – 7/25/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #256 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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Next week I’m helping facilitate our professional development for the Infusing Computing project. This was to be held F2F at The Citadel with about 300 teachers from North & South Carolina. We are moving this to a virtual PD with a mix of Hopin, Canvas, and digital badges to support participants. I put together this post on four levels of real world home classrooms to help prepare for the event.

I’ll have one more issue next week, and then I’m going on a social media detox for a month. I’m calling it Aug-Ghosted. I think next month is going to be really hard for a number of reasons. I’ll offer the challenge to you all as well…if you’d like to join me. More info to come.


BANE OUTTAKES (wear a mask edition)

Bane is a little behind the times and tries to figure out why masks stopped being cool and tough.

While on the topic of masks, this post explains the different types of masks, and where/when they should be worn. I didn’t even think about wearing an accessible, deaf-friendly face mask.

Thanks to Jeremy Yanofsky for making sure I didn’t miss this video. Make sure you check out his EngageShow on YouTube for some great guidance in game based learning.


CDC statement on opening schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement this week which is watered down and likely politically driven. Thanks to this thread from Julia Marcus, there is a lot of guidance to keep you (and others) safe over the coming months.

In Defense of Our Teachers

Two narratives are starting to form as we prepare for the opening of the academic years in K-12 and higher ed.

It seems like K-12 school leaders are looking to pin the blame on teachers if schools don’t open, or if/when the coronavirus flares up with openings. In higher ed, it seems like the blame will be placed on the shoulders of students. We we discussed in last week’s issue, it seems like the prevailing guidance is that students should promise good habits and behaviors while on campus.

When it comes to the daunting question of reopening schools, America’s educators deserve a plan, not a trap.

Teaching Isn’t About Managing Behavior

Chris Emdin on reaching students where they really are.

The best teachers don’t just keep teaching. Instead, they use their pedagogy as protest: They disrupt teaching norms that harm vulnerable students. In my years in the classroom since 2001, I’ve learned something about how to do this. I call it reality pedagogy, because it’s about reaching students where they really are, making sure that their lives and backgrounds are reflected in the curriculum and in classroom conversations.

Disinformation campaigns are murky blends of truth, lies and sincere beliefs – lessons from the pandemic

Kate Starbird on how the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned an infodemic, a vast and complicated mix of information, misinformation and disinformation.

…disinformation does serve an agenda, it is often camouflaged in facts and advanced by innocent and often well-meaning individuals

A Flipped Learning Flow for Blended or Online Classes

Caitlin Tucker on using video to create a complete learning experience for students.

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While you’re thinking about supporting learners, this virtual bookroom by Clare Landrigan is genius.


Make your own chili oil

In one of the YouTube travel shows that I watch, the hosts waxed eloquently about the hot chili oil served at a restaurant. This led me to finally deal with the hot peppers I’m growing in my backyard.

My current garlic chili oil is more garlic than chili…but in a couple of weeks it should be great.



When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

Paulo Coelho

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

This post was the appropriate amount of whimsy that I needed this week.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Welcome To The Bubble

Welcome To The Bubble
Digitally Lit #255 – 7/18/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #255 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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.

I had several friends reach out behind the scenes this week with the same question. “There is so much information and anxiety about opening classrooms in a month. Could you cut through the mess and identify wicked problems that we should address?

Dear colleagues…this issue is for you. <3


Welcome To The Bubble


One of my recent interests focused on “The Bubble.” For those of you that may not know, the NBA is creating a social bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort to finish up the 2019-2020 season.

It’s interesting to see the steps being taken to protect lives, but also the social media content coming out from all. One of my favorites is the VLOG from Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle.

I’m wondering what our institutions will learn from this experiment, and what can we use to protect lives in our classrooms.


America is not prepared for schools opening this fall. This will be bad.

There is nothing Americans can do to save public education right now. We had a window about three months ago. We saw this coming. Teachers all saw this coming. There was no federal help, no national leadership.

We got to visit bars and amusement parks this summer, though. So there’s that.

This COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool provides interactive context to assess the risk that one or more individuals infected with COVID-19 are present in an event of various sizes.

Teachers: You Are Being Gaslit

We are being presented with the false choice between our own safety and quality education. We are being made to feel crazy for being scared to do our jobs, when in reality, it is logical to be scared.

You have the power to shut it down.

Stay Apart or Stay Home

Student conduct codes and pledges promise good COVID-19 habits.

Whether we call this a “community compact,” “social contract” or “behavioral compact,” it’s time for educators to start thinking about the words you’ll use to address this with your students. Educators are the prime (most important) connection with our students. Your life (and the lives of others) may depend on it.

What will you say?

How to Judge Whether Your School District Is Doing Enough

I’m sure no one could use this guidance at this point. 🙃

This 62 page report the Harvard School of Public Health’s “Healthy Buildings” Program outlines recommendations for five aspects of in-person schooling:

  • Healthy Classrooms
  • Healthy Buildings
  • Healthy Policies
  • Healthy Schedules
  • Healthy Activities

As we think about opening up the new academic year, we should be focusing on the students that need to attend F2F, as opposed to blanket policies. To that end, this piece on CERPs (COVID-19 exposure risk profile) is a mandatory read.

CERPs hinge on preexisting forms of social differentiation such as socioeconomic status, as individuals with more economic resources at their disposal can better insulate themselves from exposure risk.

How to talk to conspiracy theorists—and still be kind.

  1. Always, always speak respectfully.
  2. Go private
  3. Test the waters first
  4. Agree
  5. Try the “truth sandwich”
  6. Use Socratic method
  7. Be very careful with loved ones
  8. Realize some people won’t change
  9. If it gets bad, stop
  10. Every little bit helps


Real-time collaboration with Canva

Learned two great things from Richard Byrne about Canva. I use Canva 2 to 3 times per day…so this rocks.

Canva started rolling-out real-time collaboration options similar to what you might experience with Google Docs or Drawings. Canva has an education version that is completely free for teachers and students. Head to Canva for Education page to sign up.



Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice.

John Lewis

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

I really needed this post this week. I think you’ll enjoy this storry about two teachers trying to find a safe way to find students missing in their classrooms.

As a regular reader of Digitally Literate….you should complete this survey on the future of digital life in light of COVID-19 and AI.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Digitally Literate #253

Confuse, Divide, and Distract
Digitally Lit #253 – 7/4/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #253 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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.

This week I worked on a couple things behind the scenes. More to come.


‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass’ Speech

The U.S. celebrates this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms.

In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which asks all of us to consider America’s long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.


College Is Worth It, but Campus Isn’t

Bringing millions of students back to campus would create enormous risks for society but comparatively little educational benefit, an economist says.

With no indication that the federal government is prepared to step in quickly with a financial rescue plan for higher education, colleges and universities are being forced to choose between bad alternatives.

But a toll will be paid, and it will largely not fall on students. Dining-hall workers, custodians, secretaries, librarians, medical personnel — as well as older faculty members — are far more vulnerable.

Is Academia in denial?

In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both

We are not burned out because life is hard this year. We are burned out because we are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.

The benefits to society of schools being open are greater than the benefits of opening most other institutions. Although we can mitigate transmission within schools to some degree, the best way to ensure that schools can open — and stay open — is to keep community spread of the virus low. We can reopen schools in the fall if we close the bars and gyms now.

As we argue about masks, staying in, or going out to the pub…we’re losing an entire generation of our youth.

Our Ability to Process Information Is Reaching a Critical Limit

We are engaged in a world wide information war, as such disinformation is coming at us from all sides – from friend and foe alike.

This is designed to confuse, divide, and distract.

A growing body of research highlights the strain on our ability to read, understand, process, and take action on the flood of news with which we’re confronted. Some of the biggest events in 2020 have demanded more of our time, more direct action, and have been more emotionally taxing than we’re used to. The result feels like a mental DDoS attack that drags down our mental health, allows misinformation to thrive, and even makes the job of delivering news more difficult.

Zuckerberg once wanted to sanction Trump. Then Facebook wrote rules that accommodated him.

Starting as early as 2015, Facebook executives started crafting exceptions for the then-candidate that transformed the world’s information battlefield for years to come.

This is the biggest test of whether Facebook will ever truly put society and democracy ahead of profit and ideology. As much as they stonewall, we already know the answer.

We’re now seeing Facebook be more responsive when it comes to content on the platform as a result of the advertising boycott. We also see the impact of this ad boycott impacting Reddit as they overhaul their hate speech policies.

Stop criticising parents and start supporting their digital practices

How can society better support families in a digital age?

  • We should encourage parents to evaluate what’s on the screen, how their child is interacting with it, and what they gain from the experience.
  • Schools could embed digital literacy in the curriculum and foster positive connections with children’s digital lives outside the classroom.
  • Librarians, health visitors and youth workers could guide parents in imaginative or educational digital choices.
  • Government could address the risks, and facilitate the production of imaginative and educational content and ensure its availability for everyone.
  • Since the digital is not everything, society could also provide more playgrounds and clubs for kids to get together, and more affordable activities for families outside the home.


How to Make Your Tech Last Longer

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In a pandemic-induced recession, it’s more important than ever to take care of our smartphones and other gadgets.

  • Check your battery
  • Do a deep clean
  • Declutter your data
  • Protect your gear
  • Find a fixer



A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.

Malcolm X

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

TikTok excels at connecting users based on their identities, and as a result, there’s a corner of the app for almost everyone, from Cop TikTok and Doctor TikTok, to Lesbian TikTok and the teens who gripe about their strict parents. With more than 2 million people locked up in prisons or jails in the United States, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a Prison TikTok, too.

Also…listen to this playlist if you have complicated feelings about America.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.

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 100daystooffload.com



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.

Black metal jazz made by people in weird masks is what the world needs right now.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Remember Your Anchors

Remember Your Anchors
Digitally Lit #247 – 5/23/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #247 of Digitally Literate.

I also helped post the following:

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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Virtual Learning Communities

Jesse Stommel offered this virtual keynote at the University Innovation Alliance Spring 2020 Convening. The slides, and full breakdown of this talk are available here.

What I value most about this post is the way Stommel shares the materials. I’ve been trying to find a way to balance sharing materials from a talk in a blog post. I really like how Jesse shares some text and insight, and intersperses some slides and then finally shares the video.

A great exemplar as you consider how to share materials online with context.


We Cannot Return to Campus This Fall

As the academic year closes for most institutions from K-12 through higher ed, our collective focus turns to the next opening in the Fall.

Bryan Alexander continues to carefully examine the possibilities as we plan the fall of 2020 in higher ed. This future may include teaching behind plexiglass as we strive to protect all individuals. There are also questions about the erosion of trust and leadership in our universities that has been laid bare in our current milieu.

Parents and learners in Pre-K through 12 are asking the purpose of online learning, and whether we should be focused on the mental health of children and teachers.

Mark Lilla suggests that we should stop asking pundits and prophets to predict the future. It doesn’t exist. It will exist only after we have made it.

One common voice in this discussion is the refrain of the classroom teacher that once again steps up to do the most with the fewest resources.

This post by Harley Litzelman details the spatial, logistical, pedagogical, disciplinary, & epidemiological nightmare into which non-teaching decision-makers are welcoming your children. Perhaps physical distancing at schools is impossible and now is the time to prepare robust distance learning and close the technology gap.

COVID-19 metrics for phased reopening

Metrics for phased reopening. A frontline guide for local decision-makers.

This great resource provides a playbook for phased reopening…as well as a “metrics scorecard” to see exactly how you’re doing in the transition.

Valuable guidance as you see to understand and plan.

The Information Apocalypse Is Already Here, And Reality Is Losing

We’ve spent more than three years preparing for an information apocalypse. It seems like with the coronavirus we’re only seeing these trends accelerate.

As it turns out, the tools needed to unmoor people from our shared reality already exist and are less technological than societal.

This post identifies some guidance on how to fact-check misinfo on your timeline.

  • Don’t brush it off
  • Consider your approach
  • Watch your language – or don’t
  • Avoid repeating misinformation. Say what’s true
  • Choose your sources wisely
  • Focus on facts, not values

While on this topic, there is debate about the real statistics around COVID-19. The COVID Tracking Project released a white paper that compiles the latest numbers on tests, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from every US state & territory.

Teaching Strategies of Award-Winning Online Instructors

A recent study gleaned five insights on virtual instruction by examining the techniques shared in common by top-rated online instructors.

  • Authentic & relevant course material
  • A variety of multimedia resources
  • Student creation of content – individually & collaboratively
  • Student reflection on learning
  • Explanation of purpose

As Machines Get Smarter, How Will We Relate to Them?

Much of the Internet has become unintelligible lately. What this means is that it is almost impossible to understand the algorithms and pipelines that connect us to the digital. This will become even more of a challenge as we consider artificial intelligence (AI), drones, and autonomous vehicles.

As we’re all sequestered in our homes, it seems like drones were ready for this moment and are watching us.

We need to regularly think about these moral crumple zones in our lives.


How to create the life you want using anchors

When you know what you really want in life, working toward it will feel exciting and energizing, rather than draining. As you make your way through this new normal, keep it simple as you create that life.

  1. Eliminate excuses and stay flexible
  2. Examine and define your values
  3. Refine
  4. Create a plan
  5. Focus and apply



Remember your anchors. Anchors are those people in your life who remind you of who you are — your values, aspirations, and worth — even when you forget. Keep them close and always let them know how much they mean to you.

Vivek Murthy

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

VUCA or BANI? You decide. I’ll stick with FUBAR BUNDY.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Preparing For The Storm

Preparing for the storm
Digitally Lit #246 – 5/16/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #246 of Digitally Literate.

This week I hosted the NCTE Twitter chat with Robyn Seglem on Literacy in Digital Times. You can read the archive of this chat here.

I also helped post the following:

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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Getting Started With Trauma-Informed Practices


When teachers use strategies tailored to children who have experienced trauma, all students reap the emotional and academic benefits.


The Single Most Essential Requirement in Designing a Fall Online Course

Cathy Davidson detailing the key mindset as we begin to think about learning environments in the fall.

We need to be human first, professor second. We need to design as humans for humans in a global crisis. We need to design our courses with the awareness of pain, dislocation, uncertainty, and trauma now central to all our lives. It’s a lot to ask. It is the one and only essential as we design our courses for this disrupted fall.

Values-Centered Instructional Planning

Robin DeRosa on the need to be guided by a consistent, mission-aligned framework as we move from coping to planning for the fall and beyond.

What is missing from most of the remote teaching contingency planning is a framework for helping the people inside institutions understand and make decisions about pedagogy from inside the pandemic’s evolving reality. Pedagogy is not an ancillary or optional part of conversations about remote teaching. Pedagogy is the category that describes how we teach. For that reason, whether we foreground it or not, pedagogy is a key part of how our learners understand and assess their experience at our institutions during this crisis.

The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them

As you begin to make plans to go back out in public…or ease social distancing…please read this.

This is especially helpful for those that sit on taskforces developing plans to move to F2F in the fall.

The storm we can’t see

A look at the coming/current economic fallout.

Universities are forfeiting room and board fees, lucrative spring sports seasons and the elective surgeries at teaching hospitals that balance their budgets. Many — if not all — colleges and universities will probably have to nix the fall semester. Across the country, it’s easy to imagine that the nation’s 4,000 colleges and universities might require a $200 billion bailout just to finish out the calendar year.

Approaches to Open Education and Social Justice Research

Sarah Lambert and Laura Czerniewicz guest edited a special themed issue on open education and social justice.

While open education has traditionally been about increasing access, it has become clear that removing barriers is complex and that “participatory parity” as the aim of socially just education needs a nuanced examination.


25 Strategies to Engage Students on Your Next Zoom Meeting

These strategies are not meant to take the place of deeper learning. That kind of learning is generally better when done with a mix of asynchronous and synchronous conversations and discussions.

These are not Zoom-specific…it’s just what most of you are using. 🙂



Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.

Fred Rogers

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

When Will This Be Over? Sesame Workshop’s Tips For Parenting During A Pandemic can help.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Recognizing Our Liberation

Recognizing Our Liberation
Digitally Lit #245 – 5/9/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #245 of Digitally Literate.

This week I was honored and humbled to be a recipient of the 2021 Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. This is an amazing collection of scholars to be associated with.

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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Spot robot patrolling Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

Not entirely excited about a future where the robots come to round up the humans and get us to keep social distancing. Read more here.


We Are a New Board Overseeing Facebook. Here’s What We’ll Decide.

As Facebook has been sharing plans for addressing hate speech, harassment, and protecting people’s safety and privacy on their network, the company has been suggesting that they would bring together an oversight board. This week the first set of members of that board was announced.

The oversight board is currently constituted of 20 people (4 co-chairs & 16 members). They indicate the following in this NY Times editorial:

The board members come from different professional, cultural and religious backgrounds and have various political viewpoints. Some of us have been publicly critical of Facebook; some of us haven’t. But all of us have training and experience that can help the board in considering the most significant content decisions facing online communities. We are all independent of Facebook. And we are all committed to freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights. We will make decisions based on those principles and on the effects on Facebook users and society, without regard to the economic, political or reputational interests of the company.

It remains to be seen whether this is a step in the right direction, or just a shield for their reputation.

I’m an Investigative Journalist. These Are the Questions I Asked About the Viral “Plandemic” Video.

A 25-minute clip of an upcoming documentary featuring a well-known anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist was viewed millions of times this week on social media, before Facebook and YouTube pledged to remove copies of it from their platforms.

“Plandemic,” a 26-minute video that promises to reveal the “hidden agenda” behind the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the link above, the reporter shares the checklist they use to interrogate content.

  • Is the presentation one-sided?
  • Is there an independent pursuit of the truth?
  • Is there a careful adherence to the facts?
  • Are those accused allowed to respond?
  • Are all sources named and cited, and if not, is the reason explained?
  • Does the work claim some secret knowledge?

The profound civics lesson kids are getting from the U.S. government’s response to the covid-19 pandemic

A great piece from Nicole Mirra and Antero Garcia about youth learning and participating in democracy.

Instead of accusing our young people of lacking what it takes to maintain and carry democratic institutions into the future, it’s time we take a hard look at the contradictions between what we tell them about this country and what they see with their own eyes. This reckoning is the first step to crafting more meaningful civic education.

Seven Distance Learning Priorities to Consider Before Reopening Schools

School leaders are now weighing how and if to reopen schools in the fall or sooner.
If you are tasked with helping your institution develop a strategy for opening these documents from the CDC should be at the top of your list as you develop a plan. You can read more here.

Programs that decide to remain online should have a plan for following:

  • Ensure students have devices and internet connectivity
  • Know when to pause
  • Examine what kind of skills would be helpful for students who struggled
  • Understand how people self-motivate
  • Understand that emergency remote distance learning has a shelf life
  • Starting the school year with testing won’t help
  • Get past “falling behind”

The OER Starter Kit Workbook

The OER Starter Kit Workbook is a remix of the OER Starter Kit to include worksheets to help instructors practice the skills they need to confidently find, use, or even create open educational resources (OER).

They also include an entire set of Google Docs to expedite this journey.


Google Lens can now copy and paste handwritten notes to your computer

Google has added a very useful feature to Google Lens, its multipurpose object recognition tool. You can now copy and paste handwritten notes from your phone to your computer with Lens, though it only works if your handwriting is neat enough.

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In order to use the new feature, you need to have the latest version of Google Chrome as well as the standalone Google Lens app on Android or the Google app on iOS (where Lens can be accessed through a button next to the search bar). You’ll also need to be logged in to the same Google account on both devices.



If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.

Lila Watson

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me. I leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs. Feel free to pay attention if you’d like to check my notes. 🙂

Every Monday, Metallica has been uploading a new show to its YouTube page, recording of previous performances from around the world. So far the band has shared recordings of performances from Germany, San Francisco, Ireland, and Paris, among others.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

It’s Not About You

It’s Not About You
Digitally Lit #243 – 4/25/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #243 of Digitally Literate.

I helped post the following this week:

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 hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Flogging Molly – “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”


I love Flogging Molly, and this song is one of my absolute favorites. It was the last song played at my wedding, and I try to have it played at most weddings I attend. Sadly…the DJ usually has never heard of the group…or song. 🙁

This acoustic version from a fireside in their tenement square is wonderful. Enjoy.


Want to Find a Misinformed Public? Facebook’s Already Done It

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There’s a good number of people that believe that Covid-19 is a hoax. It can be hard to talk to them, especially when you need to be responsible for their health…or yours. Perhaps this ultimately is a disorder.

Last week I shared a couple stories about the need for social media to flatten these curves of misinformation. After Facebook indicated that they would begin to tamp down instances of pseudoscience, researchers tested this theory by using the social network to target ads to people interested in “pseudoscience.” The results, shall we say, are not surprising.

To close this discussion, perhaps there is a need for receptiveness cues in our conversations as we talk to others.

9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen

Three-quarters of U.S. states have now officially closed their schools for the rest of the academic year. While remote learning continues, there are big questions about what happens next fall.

Here are nine possible options:

  • Stepped-up health and hygiene measures
  • Class sizes of 12 or fewer
  • Staggered schedules
  • Younger kids first?
  • New calendars
  • Different attendance policies
  • No assemblies, sports games or parent-teacher conferences
  • Remote learning continues
  • Social, emotional and practical help for kids

Digital Policy for a Lockdown: How Tech Can Help Us Adapt to a Radically Altered World

Kara Swisher had a piece this week that discussed how the tech industry can play a pivotal role in shaping our post-pandemic world and solving some of our societal challenges.

This policy report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change outlines
The Covid-19 pandemic has sent the world into crisis mode. However, amongst the hardship & difficulty there is an opportunity to modernize, to address the power of technologies for social good.

The Erosion of Deep Literacy

Adam Garfinkle with an interesting long read about deep literacy, and the impacts on our lives. This piece examines the possible erosion, or transformation of literacy as we live and learn in an age of screentime.

Deep literacy has wondrous effects, nurturing our capacity for abstract thought, enabling us to pose and answer difficult questions, empowering our creativity and imagination, and refining our capacity for empathy. It is also generative of successive new insight, as the brain’s circuitry for reading recursively builds itself forward. It is and does all these things in part because it touches off a “revolution in the brain,” meaning that it has distinctive and describable neurophysiological consequences.

The Starfish Model

The Starfish Model by Visual Thinkery is licenced under CC-BY-ND
This wonderful graphic by Bryan Mathers illustrates a discussion tool for considering the health of a project. Read more about the retrospective starfish model here.


8 ways to stay positive during a lockdown

A couple tips to keep a strong mindset in trying times:

  • Research & plan a “staycation”
  • Read positive news online
  • Make connecting with friends & family a priority
  • Make essential purchases online
  • Devote some time to learning each day
  • Use tech resources for working out
  • Play online games with friends old & new
  • Start a gratitude journal



Life is a team sport; it’s not about you.

Sue Enquist

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me. I leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs. Feel free to pay attention if you’d like to check my notes. 🙂

There’s a lot of confusion about the use of masks while out in public. There’s also a certain amount of stubborn bravado in not wearing masks while out in public.

The masks are not about you. It is a sign that you’re thoughtful about others. “My mask protects you; your masks protect me.”

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.