This is a section to highlight my key publications and other venues I use to explore ideas and engage with others. (To see the type of projects I led between 2000-20012, go here).

Since 2010, I have written a regular column for the site DML Central, which is “dedicated to analyzing and interpreting the impact of the Internet and digital media on education, civic engagement, and youth,” featuring resources to inspire digital media and learning projects. Posts in recent years have, not surprisingly, had a strong focus on museums:

My recent writing and talks have focused on three other areas: digital badging systems, games-based learning, and what I call “edge work.”

In the Spring of 2012, I led a public collaboration on Google Docs, originally subtitled “a participatory work-in-progress,” to identify the most popular frames being used when discussing the emerging interest in digital badging systems. The final piece, Six Ways to Look at Badging Systems Designed for Learning, identified six frames:

    • Frame 1: Badges as Alternative Assessment
    • Frame 2: Gamifying Education with Badges
    • Frame 3: Badges as Learning Scaffolding
    • Frame 4: Badges to Develop Lifelong Learning Skills
    • Frame 5: Badges as DML Driver
    • Frame 6: Badges to Democratize Learning

In the summer of 2012, I wrote a report detailing the beta testing at Global Kids (where I worked at the time) of a new badging system being designed for the organization. The test was designed to provide feedback on the system to support a Fall launch throughout the entire organization. This report, produced at the end of the summer, highlighted some of the initial findings. What I describe in the report was how the badges played a positive role in the development of GK’s summer programs, engaged the youth, and offered them different learning pathways. It provided youth with valuable opportunities to name, reflect upon, value, and share what they learned in the program; offered Global Kids unusually rich examples of youth’s perceived learning; created a new and useful assessment relationship amongst the organization and the youth served; and collected measurable data about youth’s learning outcomes.

In March, 2013 I gave an Ignite talk on badges at the Digital Media and Learning Conference:

In Summer, 2013, I coordinated a digital badging effort at the Museum. The results of lessons learned led to a provocative series of posts challenging our emerging community of practice to start publicly critiquing the obstacles in our way to full and effective implementation of digital badging systems:

  1. My Beef With Badges
  2. Badges For Learning Series, Part 2: Getting The Full Picture
  3. Badges For Learning Series, Part 3: A Case Against Standardized Badges
  4. Badges Series, Part 4: The Emergence of the BadgeAlliance

I write and talk a lot about games-based learning, which is itself a pretty broad term. Here is one example. In 2008 the MacArthur Foundation published a series of books addressing a range of topics regarding digital media and learning. One was focused exclusively on game: The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. My chapter, which is available free online, was called, “Why Johnny Can’t Fly: Treating Games as a Form of Youth Media Within a Youth Development Framework.” As the the title describes, it was an early attempt to situate games as a form of youth media – as a vehicle for youth to express themselves about personal and social issues – and detailed experiences in two of my youth programs.

I also like to think hard and write about Minecraft, as in Minecraft and The Future of Transmedia Learning (which was later reposted on Henry Jenkin’s blog).

I produced a two year-long series of collaborations which aimed to expand the capacity of civic and cultural institutions to use digital media as innovative educational platforms that engage youth in learning and promote youth civic participation. Also funded by the MacArthur Foundation, The Edge Project was interested in these institutions bringing cutting-edge digital media into their youth educational programs. It was equally interested in where this type of programming can be a disruptive force challenging the educators and/or the institutional cultural to work on the edge of their comfort level. At the end of the day, we wanted to better understand the following question: How do institutions find their balance working on this edge? Some of the projects hit their marks (“It was incredibly successful”) while others, frankly, failed to live up to initial hopes (“I’d say we barely met our original expectations”). All, however, offered valuable learning to the participating institutions regarding working on their edge points of digital media and learning. I wrote a report that offered a high level overview of the concept, the partners involved (four libraries, four museums, two youth jails, and one after school provider), and three case studies, or worked examples, of particular edge projects.

An edited version of these worked examples also came out in 2012 as a chapter in the book The Participatory Cultures Handbook (edited by Aaron Delwiche, Jennifer Jacobs Henderson) in a chapter I co-wrote with Kelly Czarnecki. All three worked examples are available both in the report and, individually, online:

  • Leveraging Digital Media to Create a Participatory Learning Culture Among Incarcerated Youth (link)
  • How Using Social Media Forced a Library to Work on the Edge in Their Efforts to Move Youth From “Hanging Out” to “Messing Around” (link)
  • Digital Media and Learning at The Noguchi Museum: Introducing 21st Century Technology into a 20th Century Space (link)

Finally, when I left Global Kids in 2012 after 12 years of work, I summarizing my key take-aways in a post “12 Lessons After 12 Years,” one for each year. They are, in summary:

  1. Youth Care.
  2. Youth Voices Matter.
  3. New Literacy Frameworks Are the Key To The Future.
  4. The Fast Track To New Literacies Is Youth Digital Media Production.
  5. Avoid The Myth Of The Self-Directed Learner.
  6. Educators Are Still Trying To Figure This All Out.
  7. Find Your Edge Point Then Work It.
  8. Make Connections: Person to Person.
  9. Make Connections: Institution to Institution.
  10. Make Connections: A Network of Collaborators.
  11. The Workplace Can Be A Praxis For The Change We Want To See.
  12. Youth Come First.

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