Tag: online learning

Transformative Experiences

Transformative Experiences
Digitally Lit #254 – 7/11/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #254 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.

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This week I was honored (humbled) to be one of the recipients of the Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies from the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research.

This is for recent research on how digital activists and average citizens take advantage of new technologies to provide an alternative way of organizing in order to push back against harmful societal narratives.


Star Wars Coronavirus PSA

As the perfect representative of science, reason and lyrical flow, Creepio is here to settle some confusion about the Coronavirus using rhythmically applied phrasing (RAP).

You are welcome. 🙂


Nation’s Pediatricians Walk Back Support For In-Person School

Dozens of teachers, parents and district leaders around the country are embroiled in how to open up schools in a little over a month.

States, districts and the federal government are pushing and pulling in different directions. Scientists are updating their advice to reflect emerging research and the changing course of the pandemic. Parents and educators are finding it hard to make decisions in the confusion.

Ultimately, students will go back to school, but not back to normal.

This primer from Good Housekeeping shares the four risks to consider as you prepare for back-to-school. School and classroom size, population density, local rates of COVID-19 transmission, and greatly influences the likelihood of your child getting sick.

Defund Facial Recognition

On a Thursday afternoon in January, Robert Julian-Borchak Williams was in his office at an automotive supply company when he got a call from the Detroit Police Department telling him to come to the station to be arrested. His case combines flawed technology with poor police work, illustrating how facial recognition can go awry.

Last year, a 25-year-old Detroit man was wrongly accused of a felony for supposedly reaching into a teacher’s vehicle, grabbing a cellphone and throwing it, cracking the screen and breaking the case.

What’s happening in Detroit should be a wakeup call for the nation. We can’t stop police violence without ending police surveillance.

Rooted in discredited pseudoscience and racist eugenics theories that claim to use facial structure and head shape to assess mental capacity and character, automated facial-recognition software uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other forms of modern computing to capture the details of people’s faces and compare that information to existing photo databases with the goal of identifying, verifying, categorizing, and locating people.

Facebook’s Decisions Were ‘Setbacks for Civil Rights,’ Audit Finds

An independent audit faulted the social network for allowing hate speech and disinformation to thrive — potentially posing a threat to the November elections.

Civil rights groups say company did not commit to concrete plan to address hate speech and misinformation. Facebook thinks that just showing up is part of the solution.

Can You Teach a ‘Transformative’ Humanities Course Online?

Lee Skallerup Bessettediscussing a need to approach online teaching from a willingness to recognize its potential.

Keep in mind, too, that most online courses are not transformative experiences. But neither are most courses taught in face-to-face classrooms. On any campus, you can find in-person classes that are good, bad, or transformative. To expect every online course to be either transformative or not worth your attention is an unrealistic standard that academe doesn’t impose on traditional classes.

Research methods handbook

Open practices in research can challenge assumptions about how to create and share new knowledge. This handbook draws on insights from experienced open researchers to build understanding of research in the open.

Come for the research guidance. Stay for the image collection from Bryan Mathers.


How To Make Hummus from Scratch

The kids and I loved this video on Why Americans eat dessert for breakfast. We then followed it up with this video on How I stopped hating breakfast.

One of the breakfast meals that Johnny Harris suggests is hummus. This weekend we’re going to make up a fresh batch and enjoy it.

What do you eat for breakfast?



For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

Audre Lorde

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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 is haunting.

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.

Self-preservation, not self-indulgence

Self-preservation, not self-indulgence
Digitally Lit #239 – 3/28/2020**

Hi all, welcome back. I hope all is well with you…and those around you.

Last week I talked about the Online Learning Collective Facebook Group that I helped start up. As of this morning, there are almost 23,000 members in the group. We’re also painfully aware that not all love Facebook. To that end, we’re reaching out to Twitter, and Instagram. I also moved our website to a new location. We’ve been getting a lot of traction in the news.

I continue to build out learning events in our mentored, open online learning community. Specifically, I built these:

I also posted two episodes of the Technopanic Podcast:

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.


Let’s Play: Angle Vocabulary Review (in Half Life: Alyx)


Half-Life: Alyx is a virtual reality game.

Charles Coomber, a San Diego-based teacher at Otay Ranch Academy for the Arts, used Half Life: Alyx, as a makeshift whiteboard to teach math. Pretty cool.


5 ways to keep human connections when moving learning online due to coronavirus

Let’s not lose high touch when we move to high tech.

Here’s 5 ways to keep it human:

  • Simplify & be flexible
  • Don’t assume people have reliable tech, or understand how to use it
  • Look for ways to build community
  • Don’t be afraid to crowdsource ideas
  • Keep the big picture in mind

I recommend this resource on 14 tips for connecting with others that have limited Internet resources.

It is important that we think first about student agency in these times. This series of interviews with experts in the field (most of you are readers of this newsletter 🙂 ) is a great reflection point.

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

It’s important to acknowledge the grief you may be feeling, how to manage it, and how we can find meaning in it.

We all have different levels of grief and express it in different ways.

A couple ways to acknowledge & deal with this anxiety & grief:

  • find balance in the things you’re thinking;
  • calm yourself by coming into the present;
  • let go of what you can’t control;
  • stock up on compassion.

What It’s Like to Quarantine With Kids

I had a recent interview with Joshua Brustein from Bloomberg. Here’s some of results from that fun discussion.

On the topic of screentime, this piece from Dorian Traube and Ashwini Lakshmanan at The Conversation is great. The focus is on tele-health and children.

Make “work from home” work for you

This is primarily an ad for Google Apps, but it provides a ton of great principles to consider as you think about how to make “work from home” work for you. You can find the same info here in a different context.

#1 tip for mental health: Work at home doesn’t mean working all of the time.

  • Designate your “spot” for working
  • Use video chat like a pro
  • Practice “one tab working”
  • Act the part
  • Play with your schedule & energy
  • Don’t work all of the time
  • Create “to-do list” the day before
  • Finish one thing per day
  • Cut yourself some slack

How to Clean and Disinfect All Your Gadgets

Make time in your schedule to clean & disinfect all of your gadgets this weekend. Seriously. We need you to stay healthy at home.

Whether you want to protect against COVID-19 or just give all your gadgets a deep-clean while you’re stuck at home, now’s the ideal time! Here’s how you can safely clean your tech gadgets, without damaging anything.


Speak your story

As a member of the Online Learning Collective, we’d love to hear your story during these trying times.

We started up a Speakpipe on our website to record 90 second messages about how you’ve been impacted personally and/or professionally. I’ll upload all of these messages to the Internet Archive.

Please take time to document this time. Please share with others.



Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

audre lorde

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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. 🙂

Find your corner in the forest.

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

The Number of Students Taking Online Courses Is Quickly Rising

The Number of Students Taking Online Courses Is Quickly Rising, But Perceptions Are Changing Slowly (EdSurge)

Online course offerings in the United States have expanded. In both K12 and higher education options for students to take whole courses, blended courses and—in some places—entire degree programs online are more prevalent than ever.

Research presented in EdSurge, but here is the real takeaway. Bad teaching is bad teaching…online or off.

Patrick R. Lowenthal, an associate professor of educational technology at Boise State University, notes that he was one of those professors who began to view online learning more favorably after engaging with the medium back on 2001. Since then he has been teaching courses for graduates online, a medium he admits he was hesitant to engage in before.
Lowenthal has also researched student perceptions of online learning in the past, finding that learners tend to give such courses more negative evaluations than in-person courses. He says that the findings may represent the lack of experience some educators have teaching in online classrooms. He expects that to change over time, noting that good teachers in person will eventually become good teachers online.
“I will be at a dinner party, and someone will ask what I do. Then they will mention taking one online course and hating it. Then they want to talk to me for 45 minutes about how bad online learning is,” says Lowenthal. “The problem with that is we don’t do the same thing with face to face. We have all had some really bad teachers and courses, but we don’t sit there and act like all face to face learning is horrible because of it.”
Lowenthal also notes that these days the term online learning is more ubiquitous than ever. Some even call it “digital learning” because it can mean learning on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. And, thanks to live video, it can also be face-to-face (at least sort-of), giving opportunities for students to connect in ways they couldn’t when he first started teaching.
“Some people say, you’re not actually learning online. Your learning is taking place in your brain,” Lowenthal explains. “So why do we focus so much on the platform?”

From Personality Cults to Collective Intelligence: The Democratization of Education Online

From Personality Cults to Collective Intelligence: The Democratization of Education Online by Tara Gentile (Medium)

Our market is just catching up. Here’s where it’s going.

There’s a major shift occurring in the world of small business education, coaching, and training.


This third group has employed the “gatekeeper model” — which thrives by sequestering “the good stuff” behind a paywall. The reason they’re experiencing diminishing returns is simple…The rest of the market has already moved away from gatekeepers and towards the Access Economy.


In other words, the key to business success is access, not learning. Learning happens, yes. But it’s not the truly valuable deliverable, it’s a side effect. We need access to encouragement, honest conversations, real feedback, and — we need access to people who are on a similar journey to ours.


Imagine a world where access to good information, constructive encouragement, and honest conversations about your business were as accessible as an Uber ride.


A rural school turns to digital education. Is it a devil's bargain?

A rural school turns to digital education. Is it a devil’s bargain? (NBC News)

“When you eliminate the school, we’ve seen what happens to these small towns,” a school board member said. “We didn’t want our community to die.”

A case study of a distance ed program in Modoc, Indiana. The report focuses on the Indiana Digital Learning School, which serves students in K through 9th grade.
The report shares:

Public school advocates are concerned that the district is acting out of a sense of desperation for dollars because consolidation is on the horizon for so many rural schools. Underlying these criticisms is a belief that the small, rural school district is being taken advantage of by a large private corporation.

“It’s a moral hazard issue — a devil’s bargain,” Preston Green, a professor of education leadership and law at the University of Connecticut, said after reviewing the contract between the school and K12. “These districts need the money, are responsible for these students but the students are not a part of them. The question becomes: How concerned is the district going to be? It just doesn’t have the incentive to focus on these students. They’re just dollars to them.”