Tag: learning

Ecological Harmonization of Humans With Everything Non-human

Hi all! Welcome back to Digitally Literate. This is issue #303.

This was a wild and bumpy week. More to come soon.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL is an inclusive pedagogical framework. In this video, John Spencer shares the basics of UDL and a few practical ideas for implementing it

This is one of the best overviews of UDL that I have ever seen (and I have looked at a lot!) The video is a great resource for providing clarity about such an important framework and doing it in a way that is approachable and accessible.

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor

Long-time reader and friend Bryan Alexander shared this resource from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). It is interesting to unpack the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations.

The unvaccinated tend to be younger adults Are younger, less educated, Republicans, with significant differences about whether they’ll get the vaccine at any point.

When we think about parents in the pandemic, the results are even more interesting. Four In Ten Parents Of Children Ages 12 To 17 Say Their Child Has Received At Least One Dose Of The COVID-19 Vaccine. Four In Ten Parents Of Children Under 12 Say They Want To “Wait And See” Before Getting Their Child Vaccinated.

Brazil’s Restrictive New Social Media Rules Could Be an Omen For the Future of the Internet

Brazil’s new rules appear to be the first in the world to make certain types of content takedowns illegal under national law, even as other national governments around the world implement rules that force social media companies to take down more types of content proactively.

“Such an approach would essentially be a political decision to move in the direction of an Internet with even more vitriol and toxicity which, of course, is often directed primarily against women, minorities, and people with political views that sway from the mainstream.” – Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.

How to Deal With the Dark Side of Social Media

Michael Bérubé on comprehensive guides to defending faculty and staff members and students from trolls and outrage addicts online. I was sent this post by Verena Roberts.

Bérubé references the Faculty Support Safety Guidance from the University of Iowa and the Social Media Support and Resources from Penn State.

This is something that absolutely every single person in academia (especially administrators) should read. Every single campus should develop one if they do not have one.

Automated hiring software is mistakenly rejecting millions of viable job candidates

Companies Need More Workers. Why Do They Reject Millions of Résumés?

A new report says automated systems are hurting the US labor market.

Over-reliance on software in the hiring world seems to have created a vicious cycle. Digital technology was supposed to make it easier for companies to find suitable job candidates, but instead, it’s created a new series of problems.

A new Harvard Business School study found inflexible automated recruiting tools and training gaps keep prospects “hidden,” as well as a mindset that “hiring hidden workers is an act of charity or corporate citizenship, rather than a source of competitive advantage.” The researchers say companies that develop customized hiring strategies will benefit from new pipelines of talent.

How to Build a Bigger Following on Twitch

Twitch, is a video live streaming service that focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions. In addition, it offers music broadcasts, creative content, and more recently, “in real life” streams.

Building an audience is more of a content game than a numbers one. Focus on the former, and the latter will come.

  • Don’t fixate on numbers, but do focus on content
  • Participate on the platform with others
  • Collaborate with other streamers outside your lane
  • Be as consistent as you can
  • Know how to promote yourself elsewhere, especially in advance of streaming

A neuroscientist shares the 6 exercises she does every day to build resilience and mental strength

Wendy Suzuki offers the following guidance:

  • Visualize positive outcomes
  • Turn anxiety into progress
  • Try something new
  • Reach out
  • Practice positive self-tweeting
  • Immerse yourself in nature

If that doesn’t work for you, check out this sage advice on pandemic living from a long-forgotten, and very long, 18th-century poem.

If you’re too bright for others, they’ll try to find some shade.

Lisa Nichols

The smartest person in any room anywhere’: in defence of Elon Musk, by Douglas Coupland.

This post made the rounds in my circles online. I really like the closing statement:

I think the biggest difference between the 20th century and the 21st is that in the 20th century you were able to see “the future” in your head. There were new ways of envisioning, say, an information utopia – or an ecological harmonisation of humans with everything non-human. But here in the 21st century we’re only able to possibly glimpse a small workable future, and even then only if we work at it incredibly hard. That’s a huge difference in looking at what lies down the road.

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

Growth & Engagement


Welcome back, friends and family!

This week I also posted 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 say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


The Fastest Way to Learn a New Language: The Video Game Map Theory

Johnny Harris on how video games helped him rethink language learning.


The mess at Medium

When Medium first came out, I was in love. I had students write on the space. I developed several publications and shared my work there. In the nine years since the start of the writing space, things have perpetually gotten worse.

Things came to a head this week when Medium CEO and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams sent an email to the entire Medium staff announcing that the company would like employees charged with doing journalism to feel free to quit and that the company would in fact be shifting away from professional journalism altogether.

In truth, it seems the situation was much worse. The platform has grown to include writing of every kind: viral posts about COVID-19; generic business wisdom; tech blogging; productivity porn; actual porn.

There is a lot to learn from this story. For me, the key lesson is about having a space of your own to write. Lately, I’ve been having thoughts about moving this newsletter to Substack. Lessons learned from Medium are a reminder to keep building our own spaces.

If Mark Zuckerberg won’t fix Facebook’s algorithms problem, who will?

It was quite the week for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

The CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google testified before Congress about the spread of extremism, hoaxes, and misinformation online.
Zuckerberg suggested in his written statement that Facebook has a great system in place, and that their future competitors should be eliminated.

Research published by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), a nonprofit watchdog organization, indicated that not only do militia groups still remain, but they’re using the space to build movements.

And…Facebook’s bullying and harassment policy explicitly allows for users to call for the death of public figures.

what demoralization does to teachers

Anne Helen Petersen on chronic burnout and exploitation.

“Demoralization occurs when teachers cannot reap the moral rewards that they previously were able to access in their work. It happens when teachers are consistently thwarted in their ability to enact the values that brought them to the profession.”

*This is chronic burnout and deep demoralization as labor is increasingly under-funded, under-valued, and under-resourced.

Telling teachers they’re great isn’t enough. If you value them, act, vote, and speak in a way that evidences that value. They have held a crumbling system together for so long. It’s time to give them relief — and reconsider its construction.*

The following image from Al Abbazia seems to capture the moment.

Stanford researchers identify four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes

Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense. Solution – Take Zoom out of the full-screen option and reducing the size of the Zoom window relative to the monitor to minimize face size, and use an external keyboard to allow an increase in the personal space bubble between oneself and the grid.

Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing. Solution – use the “hide self-view” button, which one can access by right-clicking their own photo, once they see their face is framed properly in the video.

Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility. Solution – An external keyboard or monitor will allow you to sit back and doodle.

The cognitive load is much higher in video chats. Solution – Give yourself an audio-only break. Turn off your camera, and turn away from the screen.

You might want to also check out the Zoom Exhaustion Fatigue (ZEF) scale. The paper is here, and the survey is available here.

How politics tested Ravelry and the crafting community

Thanks to one of my friends, I’ve been fascinated with Ravelry. Yes, you’re right. The community site, organizational tool, and yarn & pattern database for knitters and crocheters. Here’s the thing…I don’t knit. 🙂

I am interested in the way they developed this community and networking space all focused on making.

This post discusses the challenges the developers had as they hoped that everyone would just behave while in the community.


Zoom Escaper lets you sabotage your own meetings with audio problems, crying babies, and more

Had enough Zoom meetings? Can’t bear another soul-numbing day of sitting on video calls, the only distraction your rapidly aging face, pinned in one corner of the screen like a dying bug? Well, if so, then boy do we have the app for you. Meet Zoom Escaper: a free web widget that lets you add an array of fake audio effects to your next Zoom Call, gifting you with numerous reasons to end the meeting and escape, while you still can.



I guess that’s what growing up is. Saying good-by to a lot of things. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it isn’t. But it is all right.

Beverly Cleary

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Fagradalsfjall is a volcano about 25 kilometres from Reykjavík, Iceland, which has been dormant for 6,000 years. On Friday, a new vent opened up just to the south at Geldingadalir, which is forming a new volcano right now. This is the first eruption on Iceland’s Southern Peninsula in 800 years. And we can watch it happening live via webcam.

If you’re really adventurous, you can fly through it via drone.

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

Life Must Be Lived Forwards


Hello! Hello! I hope you and those around you are well.

This week I also posted the following:

  • Where I’m Going – Share a walk in your world. WalkMyWorld Learning Event 7. Where I’m Going. Life must be lived forwards. We have the opportunity to survive, succeed, and achieve.
  • Guides In The Monster Factory – A post about learning, seeking awareness, and having the right guides in the process.
  • Are You Guilty of ‘Orbiting’? – Orbiting is a phenomenon that describes someone who leaves your life but continues to be involved in your social media. Orbiting is a strategic way to prevent the door from shutting completely on a former relationship.
  • When Planning Becomes Procrastinating – Following through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.

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 Awesome Anthem

A hilarious, inspirational spoken word video by Sekou Andrews, the world’s leading Poetic Voice. It features awesomnacious people – from celebrities and scientists, to social activists and 7 yr olds – hitting the awesome pose to declare their place in the GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF AWESOMENESS!

Please SHARE this with someone you care about who needs to hear and believe the words: “I Am Awesome!”


Yuval Noah Harari: Lessons from a year of Covid

Anything that Yuval Noah Harari writes…we need to read.

How can we summarize the Covid year from a broad historical perspective? Many people believe that the terrible toll coronavirus has taken demonstrates humanity’s helplessness in the face of nature’s might. In fact, 2020 has shown that humanity is far from helpless. Epidemics are no longer uncontrollable forces of nature. Science has turned them into a manageable challenge.

How right-wing disinformation and conspiracy theories tore one family apart

QAnon is the mass delusion that a Satan-worshipping cabal of child sex traffickers controlled the world and the only person standing in their way was Trump. Although it started as a American invention, we’re seeing variants throughout the globe.

The media is increasingly sharing these stories of families that are being torn apart as they describe relatives that are living in a fantasy world, or caught between two realities.

With no overlap between our filters of reality, I was at a loss for any facts that would actually stick.

Are Your Diversity Strategies Missing the Mark? Nine Ways to Get it Right

A great post by Hedreich Nichols on the Cult of Pedagogy blog. Nichols writes from the perspective of the OBF (one black friend) about the small, intentional changes you can make to better relate to the world around you.

  • Read, read, read
  • Be open to feedback
  • Expand your circle
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Don’t forget gender
  • Beware “imperceptible” distance
  • Validate code switching
  • Embrace the elephant in the room
  • Identify and fight bias

Everyone has an eschatology

A great post by Doug Belshaw about eschatology, or the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about risk and climate change over the last couple of months. Belshaw is on this journey as well and our stumbles have led us to the Deep Adaptation paper by Dr. Jem Bendell.

Doug challenges us to realign your work around the 4Rs outlined by Bendell.

  • Resilience asks us “how do we keep what we really want to keep?”
  • Relinquishment asks us “what do we need to let go of in order to not make matters worse?”
  • Restoration asks us “what can we bring back to help us with the coming difficulties and tragedies?”
  • Reconciliation asks “with what and whom can we make peace with as we face our mutual mortality?”

Lou Ottens, Inventor Of The Cassette Tape, Has Died

Lou Ottens, who put music lovers around the world on a path toward playlists and mixtapes by leading the invention of the first cassette tape, has died at age 94, according to media reports in the Netherlands. Ottens was a talented and influential engineer at Philips, where he also helped develop consumer compact discs.

“Lou wanted music to be portable and accessible,” says documentary filmmaker Zack Taylor, who spent days with Ottens for his film Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape.

Born in 1926, Ottens went from building a radio for his family during World War II — it reportedly had a directional antenna so it could focus on radio signals despite Nazi jamming attempts — to developing technology that would democratize music.


Show your process, not just your product


John Spencer with seven reasons to show your work.

  • Showing your work encourages metacognition
  • Innovation skyrockets when people show their work
  • They become mentors
  • It can lead to collaborative partnerships
  • You can change the narrative
  • Sharing your journey can help build courage
  • Students embrace the revision process



Life’s work is to wake up, to let the things that enter into your life wake you up rather than put you to sleep. The only way to do this is to open, be curious, and develop some sense of sympathy for everything that comes along, to get to know its nature and let it teach you what it will.

Pema Chödrön

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Nature may be getting quieter. But people are getting louder. How is our noise affecting wildlife?

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.

Digitally Literate #227

Youth Never Forget
Digitally Lit #227 – 1/4/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #227 of Digitally Literate. Welcome to 2020. I hope the new year…and the new decade treat you well. You’re more than welcome to review these materials on the website. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

Over the last two weeks I launched a new podcast that you might be interested in checking out. As part of the Infusing Computing research project, we’re recording and distributing a series of short episodes each month focused on embedding computational thinking into content area instruction in middle and high school classrooms. I used Jekyll and GitHub Pages to host the podcast feed. You can view the website here, or dig under the hood here on GitHub. This provided me with a free opportunity to host a podcast, as well as a chance to play with GitHub.

Lastly, I had a very nice interview with a reporter from ChinaDaily to talk about the challenges of being digitally literate for Americans. You can read about some of my remarks here.


Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5 Hour Rule (6:20)

Throughout Ben Franklin’s adult life, he consistently invested roughly an hour a day in deliberate learning.

Will you devote one hour each day to learn?

Alternatively, perhaps you’ll schedule in some “slack time” in your schedule to allow for the serendipity of learning.


The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade

Audrey Watters closed out the decade with a retrospective on the “failures and f*ck-ups and flawed ideas” in ed-tech.

Take some time to skim through the post to reflect on the few hits, regular misses, and excessive hubris found in the ed tech industry.

We’ve spent the decade letting our tech define us. It’s out of control.

Douglas Rushkoff with a piece in The Guardian examining how technology has grown from devices and platforms to an entire environment in which we function. As the decade came to a close, we’ve started to see a form of “tech backlash” as we begin to understand that these spaces and tools may not have our best interests at heart.

We can no longer come to agreement on what we’re seeing, because we’re looking at different pictures of the world. It’s not just that we have different perspectives on the same events and stories; we’re being shown fundamentally different realities, by algorithms looking to trigger our engagement by any means necessary. The more conflicting the ideas and imagery to which are exposed, the more likely we are to fight over whose is real and whose is fake. We are living in increasingly different and irreconcilable worlds. We have no chance of making sense together. The only thing we have in common is our mutual disorientation and alienation.

We’ve spent the last 10 years as participants in a feedback loop between surveillance technology, predictive algorithms, behavioral manipulation and human activity. And it has spun out of anyone’s

There’s A Fatal Flaw In The New Study Claiming YouTube’s Recommendation Algorithm Doesn’t Radicalize Viewers

Mark Ledwich and Anna Zeitsev published a piece of research titled Algorithmic Extremism: Examining YouTube’s Rabbit Hole of Radicalization. The research suggests that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm fails to promote inflammatory or radicalized content, as previously claimed by several outlets.

To these findings, a cacophony of voices critiqued the methodology, and ultimate results of the research and publication. Most notable of these critiques was found in a tweet thread from Arvind Narayanan, an Associate Professor of Computer Science from Princeton University.

One of the key critiques of the study is that the researchers didn’t log in. That is to say that they could not experience the full impact of the algorithm as it impacts their findings. Anna Zaitsev published this response to the critique of the paper here.

Two things are interesting to me about this work. The first is whether or not we can ever really study, or at the very least understand, the impact of these algorithms on our lives. I’ve started to engage in more social network analysis, and it is a bit like playing whack-a-mole in data collection and analysis. The second piece that interests me is the way that social media tools and spaces were used to carry on discussion about the research after the fact. I’m still thinking about these elements…what do you think?

Why an internet that never forgets is especially bad for young people

As part of the Screentime Research Group, I’ve been thinking a lot about our digital literacy practices, and how youth will be impacted by these tools in their futures.

Kate Eichhorn, an Associate Professor of Culture and Media at The New School suggests that people are now forming their identities online from an early age, and in the process are creating a permanent record that’s impossible to delete.

This incessant documentation did not begin with digital natives themselves. Their parents and grandparents, the first users of photo-sharing services like Flickr, put these young people’s earliest moments online. Without Flickr users’ permission or knowledge, hundreds of thousands of images uploaded to the site were eventually sucked into other databases, including MegaFace—a massive data set used for training face recognition systems. As a result, many of these photographs are now available to audiences for which they were never intended.

Chatham House Sharing for OER

I’ll soon start launching a new open educational resource (OER) for my ed-tech class. This is connected to my regular interest in making my materials more accessible and approachable for all.

In thinking about OER, and related to the question I asked above about the YouTube algorithm research, I’ve been interested in these proposed rules for sharing of OER from Mike Caulfield.

Caulfield suggests that the following rules may be applied when working collaboratively with others, and choosing to share materials openly online:

  • Within the smaller group of collaborators, contributions may or may not be tracked by name, and
  • Anyone may share any document publicly, or remix/revise for their own use, but
  • They may not attribute the document to any author or expose any editing history


Seven stages in moving from consuming to creating

John Spencer with some great guidance about moving from being primarily a critical consumer to a creator.
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Spencer posits that you can move from one stage to the next iteratively.

  1. Awareness – passive exposure of content
  2. Active Consuming – seeking out and consuming
  3. Critical Consuming – becoming an expert in an area
  4. Curating – finding the best and commenting
  5. Copying – replication and mimicry
  6. Mash-Ups – copy and make it your own
  7. Creating From Scratch – finding your voice


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If youth knew; if age could.

Sigmund Freud

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Digitally Literate is a synthesis of the important things I find as I critically consume and then curate as I work online. I leave my notes behind of everything that piques my interest, and then pull together the important stuff here in a weekly digest.

Feel free to say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Digitally Literate #217


Learning How to Learn
Digitally Lit #217 – 10/5/2019

Hi all, my name is Ian O’Byrne and welcome to issue #217 of Digitally Literate.

Thank you for stopping by. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

This week I posted the following:


The Modern Struggle – Naval Ravikant (3:22)

Naval Ravikant is a technology ​entrepreneur well known for his role as a founder and the Chairman ​of AngelList​. This audio is from his podcast with Joe Rogan.


Facebook’s code of silence has been breached. It’s amazing it stayed intact this long.

Leaked audio was published from one of Mark Zuckerberg’s private all-staff meetings held over the summer.

In the audio, you’ll hear Zuckerberg speaking on a variety of topics from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call to break up his company to his plans to compete with TikTok, the Chinese social network that exploded in popularity over the last year.

The full transcript is available here.

This is important as it is the closest that we’ve gotten to some unvarnished insight into Zuckerberg and his ethos for the company.

Free Speech is Killing Us

In previous issues of this newsletter, I’ve asked whether there should be limits to freedoms of speech as we engage and connect in digital spaces.

In this New York Times op-ed, Andrew Marantz writes that “noxious speech is causing tangible harm.” He cites the ideologically motivated killings in Charlottesville and El Paso and warns that something must be done to prevent extremist speech from continuing to inspire violence.

Robby Soave indicates in Reason that some of the violence highlighted in the piece doesn’t entirely hold up if you look at the data.

Today the U.S. has greater protections for free speech and less violence. The Supreme Court has recognized increasingly fewer exceptions to the First Amendment over the last several decades. The result has not been an increase in violence: The violent crime rate has plummeted since the early 1990s.

If the argument is that free speech protections must be curbed in order to stave off an epidemic of violence, then the argument should be heartily rejected. Domestically, our capacity for free speech has increased, but violence has not.

College Students Just Want Normal Libraries

The more ubiquitous technology becomes in our lives, the more we think that it has to be everywhere. In this same line of thinking, we also believe this tired trope that “libraries will no longer matter.”

If we listen to youth…we’ll understand that they see things differently.

Yet much of the glitz may be just that—glitz. Survey data and experts suggest that students generally appreciate libraries most for their simple, traditional offerings: a quiet place to study or collaborate on a group project, the ability to print research papers, and access to books. Notably, many students say they like relying on librarians to help them track down hard-to-find texts or navigate scholarly journal databases. “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers,” as the writer Neil Gaiman once said. “A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

So-called digital natives still crave opportunities to use libraries as libraries, and many actively seek out physical texts —92percent of the college students surveyed in a 2015 study, for example, said they preferred paper books to electronic versions

Why Boredom Often Beats Screen Time

An interview with journalist Manoush Zomorodi and the informal experiment in which she had thousands of volunteers agree to give boredom a try by reducing their screen time & becoming more intentional about their use of technology.

This work indicates the need to teach the nuances of when and how to use technology…and leave space for some boredom.

Watch Zomorodi’s TED Talk here.

5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students

Barbara Oakley sharing insight from her works, and the popular Coursera course (Learning How to Learn) that she created with Terrence Sejnowski.

Oakley identifies some key principles educators can use to help demystify the learning process.

  • The Hiker Brain vs. The Race Car Brain – Toggling between focused and diffused thinking.
  • Chains and Chunks – Thinking through identification of chains in learning…as opposed to chunks.
  • The Power of Metaphor – Neural reuse, and assimilation/accommodation in learning.
  • The Problem of Procrastination – Toggling between focus and relax in cognitive activity.
  • Expanding Possibilities – Teach how to learn to open up possibilities.

How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct

Google has now given us an option to set search and location data to automatically disappear after a certain time. We should all use it.

Most of Google’s new privacy controls are in a web tool called My Activity.

Once you get into the tool and click on Activity Controls, you will see an option called Web & App Activity. Click Manage Activity and then the button under the calendar icon. Here, you can set your activity history on several Google products to automatically erase itself after three months or after 18 months. This data includes searches made on Google.com, voice requests made with Google Assistant, destinations that you looked up on Maps and searches in Google’s Play app store.

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Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Gandhi

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Digitally Literate is a synthesis of the cool stuff I find as I surf, skim, & scan the Internet each week. I take notes of everything that piques my interest, and then pull together the important stuff here in a weekly digest.

Feel free to say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Design for how people learn

Design for how people learn
If you’re interested in reading more about the importance of “chunking” and clear course design, check out Chapter 4 (starts on page 14 of the PDF at the link above) in this excerpt from Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen (which is a wonderful book and useful resource).

Two studies point to the power of teacher-student relationships to boost learning

Two studies point to the power of teacher-student relationships to boost learning – The Hechinger Report (The Hechinger Report)

One economist found that platooning might be harming kids and two other economists found that looping is quite beneficial. “These studies are important because they tell us that teacher-student relationships matter”

The Hechinger Report notes:

Two studies on how best to teach elementary schools students — one on the popular trend of “platooning” and one on the far less common practice of “looping” — at first would seem totally unrelated other than the fact that they both use silly words with double-o’s. “Platooning” refers to having teachers specialize in a particular subject, such as math or English, and young students switch teachers for each class. “Looping” is a term used when kids keep the same teacher for two years in a row. They don’t switch teachers for each subject and don’t switch each year.
One economist found that platooning might be harming kids and two other economists found that looping is quite beneficial. The reason one doesn’t work and the other does may be related.

Knowledge units

Knowledge units (Sam Gerstenzang)

There are two models of online education: • Preparatory knowledge, in the form of course-based video-delivered teachings: Coursera, Udacity, Thinkful, etc. • On demand knowledge: Wikipedia,…

There are two models of online education:

  1. Preparatory knowledge, in the form of course-based video-delivered teachings: Coursera, Udacity, Thinkful, etc.
  2. On demand knowledge: Wikipedia, StackOverflow, Genius, etc.

Of the two, the latter has been much more widely spread and far more influential.


There is, of course, something fundamentally missing when we only have on demand knowledge. It is related to an anti-technology argument I call the “calculator argument.” There are two components:

  1. You shouldn’t rely on calculators to do math because one day you might not have a calculator.
  2. A strong grasp of mental arithmetic allows intuitions that wouldn’t otherwise occur. Or in other words, the use of calculators limits our solution space.

The first argument is rather silly, but the second is quite relevant.