Digital media = engaged, civic minded kids

December 4, 2009

Just one reason we are so proud of our Digital Media and Learning Competition winners and their participatory learning projects?  Engagement with digital media makes kids productive offline citizens! We can’t wait to see what the next round of the Competition brings. In the meantime, check out the great Digital Media and Learning Competition projects that are doing their part to encourage engaged, excited and civic-minded students! From the MacArthur Spotlight Blog: Research by education professor Joe Kahne shows online experiences—such as participation on fan sites—can help make kids more active offline citizens. Joe Kahne, professor of education at Mills College and director of the school’s Civic Engagement Research Group, has studied the connection between students’ participation with digital media and their level of civic engagement. He finds that

21st Century Literacies by Cathy N. Davidson, reblogged from

December 1, 2009

I’ve spent the morning rereading some of Howard Rheingold’s ideas on 21st century literacies, the skills required to navigate the digital age. Attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption of information are the key skills he discusses. Where do we teach those skills? How do we learn them? For starters, we learn them from reading Rheingold. I highly recommend his blogs for the San Francisco Chronicle Check out Twitter Literacies and Attention Literacies Besides being the author of the classic Smart Mobs, Howard was a winner of our 2008 Digital Media and Learning Competition. He’s a master at participatory learning and he built a Social Media Classroom for his project. You can check that out here:

Exploring this new Planet

November 30, 2009

I spent some of the wee hours of the Thanksgiving break actually playing LittleBigPlanet for the first time.  (I have a son who is too young for TV, so gaming was restricted to after his bedtime.)  I definitely get what all the fuss is about!  The beautiful graphics have a depth my partner described as “the opposite of the Wii.” The personalization was reminiscent of Second Life, without being nearly as flexible of course.  And the game play was not unlike the Atari video games of my youth, with a lot of jumping around, picking up glowing prizes, and avoiding dangerous pits. The game does a nice job of walking the newbie through the basic skills and concepts, gradually ramping up the challenges to dexterity and problem-solving.  After

Press releases

November 30, 2009

I thought folks might be interested to see the official press releases from the White House and the MacArthur Foundation about last week’s launch of National Lab Day and the Educate to Innovate program, of which the Digital Media and Learning Competition is a part. They are excerpted below. Click the links in the previous paragraph to read the full document. Speaking to key leaders of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) community and local students, President Obama announced a series of high-powered partnerships involving leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies dedicated to motivating and inspiring young people across America to excel in science and math. […] Today at the White House, President Obama launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign, a nationwide effort to

You have lots of questions and we’ll have lots of answers!

November 24, 2009

We are thrilled that yesterday’s announcement has generated so much excitement and that word is traveling fast through the blogosphere (you can keep track of our coverage by monitoring our Delicious account). We know that many of you have questions. Here at headquarters we are putting the final touches on this year’s shiny new (and President Obama endorsed!) Competition.  Details and more information will be forthcoming December 14th, including information about when the Competition will actually open, the application structure, materials, deadlines, FAQs, etc. Stay tuned to this blog, follow us on Twitter, or join the Competition list-serv for all the latest details!

Elmo and friends enlisted in STEM education

November 24, 2009

One of the first public hints about this year’s competition theme was this story in yesterday’s New York Times. To improve science and mathematics education for American children, the White House is recruiting Elmo and Big Bird, video game programmers and thousands of scientists. President Obama will announce a campaign Monday to enlist companies and nonprofit groups to spend money, time and volunteer effort to encourage students, especially in middle and high school, to pursue science, technology, engineering and math, officials say. The campaign, called Educate to Innovate, will focus mainly on activities outside the classroom. … Science and engineering societies are promising to provide volunteers to work with students in the classroom, culminating in a National Lab Day in May. The MacArthur Foundation and technology industry organizations

Getting to know LittleBigPlanet

November 23, 2009

Working for HASTAC has it’s perks. Today’s Presidential announcement about National Lab Day was the culmination of several frantic months of percolating, planning, wondering, worrying, creating, and kvetching. And it was all worthwhile to see the big public launch of this incredible strategic initiative to improve education and address global challenges. One of the interesting aspects of this year’s Digital Media and Learning Competition is that it includes a partnership with Sony to create “levels” in their PS3 game LittleBigPlanet that incorporate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. So, dutiful New Media “expert” (ha ha) that I am, I have started to research the game. Not surprisingly, Wikipedia is a definitive resource.  I also found a site where users can create their own avatars (known as “Sackboys”)