It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three full years since I completed my dissertation.  Serendipitous events this week have made me revisit what I wrote and to think more deeply about the topic of convergence.  The Wordle below was created by copying and pasting the entire 200+ pages of text into the Wordle creator.  I am especially happy that STUDENTS is the largest single word that dominates the document.  I LOVE seeing the most important ideas “rise to the top” in this visual representation of text.  Sweet!  More soon… dissertation_wordle

Pubs and a few other pictures from the U.K.

Somehow, it seems most of our pictures show the pubs we are visiting!  I did want to get pictures of the two in West Horsley that we frequent while at Whistlers.  We actually walk to both – they are similar distances from Little Cranmore Lane but in different directions.







 Click on the small pictures to see them more clearly.  The Barley Mow and the King William IV are the two closest pubs to Whistlers (that’s Ian’s address – no number, just “Whistlers”) and Little Cranmore Lane.  I had never remembered to take a picture of the signs, so here they are….


 This French Cafe was a lovely spot for our dinner in Cambridge while Ian attended his annual “Gathering” at Peterhouse.   He was not the oldest alumni this year, one fellow who graduated in 1937 beat him by a year!


On our return from Cambridge, we went to see the mens’ singles finals at the Horsley Sports Club courts.  This is Ian’s tennis club, and it is in a very lovely area of the village.  Then we spent the evening in East Horsley at The Nomads Theater, watching an adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by the Nomes, the youngest Nomad players.

More soon…

Another time and place…

We are relaxing in Surrey with Ian.  Today we visited the RHS (Royal Horticulture Society) Wisley Gardens and the spectacular new glasshouse only two days after it was officially opened by the Queen.  Ian is a member of the RHS, so we took a guided tour meant for members attending the AGM (annual general meeting) but slipped away after the tour to a wonderful pub on the River Wey.  Click on the thumbnail pictures to get a better view of these peaceful bucolic settings!


We sat outside along the riverbank and watched the ducks and hoped for a boat to come through the locks about 100 feet away…


After a wonderful lunch and several large glasses of nice white wine, we walked along the River Wey and saw charming houseboats, a rope swing and a swimming Black Lab…


Above, Ian and Fred walking the River Wey.

 With this backdrop, I will be cleaning up and merging the five chapters of the dissertation (yes, it’s FINALLY finished) and emailing them to my three committee members who have not yet seen chapters 4 and 5.  I am so relaxed that it’s hard to think about getting this done, but we will have wifi for Fred’s laptop in the hotel in Cambridge this weekend, and I will tackle it then.

 All for now, more on the weekend…

Henry Jenkins and Participatory Cultures

I can’t say enough about the wonderful work from MIT’s Henry Jenkins.  I ran out to buy his book, Convergence Culture, as soon as it arrived in bookstores last summer and quoted it like crazy in the lit review of my paper.   More recently, I found his October 2006 white paper, Confronting the Challenge of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, available as a PDF file at the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media & Learning website.  I will be using quotes from this in my final chapter.  It validates so much of what I believe.

The chapter in Convergence Culture titled Why Heather Can Write: Media Literacy and the Harry Potter Wars echoes everything we were saying in our engaged learning heyday about authentic audiences and self-directed learning.  The white paper defines eleven new skills – or cultural competencies – that young people need in the “new media landscape.”  These skills intersect in various points with Daniel Pink’s (2005) R-Directed (for right-brained) Aptitudes for the 21st Century, Marc Prensky’s (2004) Digital Natives’ learning styles, or even Don Tapscott’s  nearly decade-old (1998) Eight Shifts to Interactive Learning. 

I particularly like three of the skills Jenkins mentions:

  • Appropriation – the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
  • Transmedia Navigation – the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
  • Distributed Cognition – the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities

Talk about higher-order thinking!  I hope to be updating the blog more often since I am almost finished with the dissertation!!  There may be light at the end of the tunnel??  Hard to believe…

Web 2.0, defined…

Every time I am working on my dissertation, I find more and more articles, ideas, and examples relating to Web 2.0 that either make me think or that support different aspects of my study (this might also explain why I am making such slooow progress on Chapter 4!)  Here are a few finds I wanted to capture before they slipped into the web wilderness:

  • From his top10freesites wiki, Steve Dembo’s “very loose” criteria for a website to “qualify” as Web 2.0:
    • Entirely web based
    • User focuses on content over form
    • Supports pull technology
    • Makes connections between people (social)
  • Helene Blowers, the Public Services Technology Director of the Public Library for Charlotte  & Mecklenberg County has created a wonderful, self-directed exploration (akin to my study’s Web 2.0 exploration menu but much more comprehensive) called 23 Things.   It is a “Learning 2.0” experience based on the website 43 Things, and Helene’s post of the Web 2.0 things she wanted to do.  She turned it into a self-directed professional development experience for the library staff and is generously sharing it with others who want to replicate this program for other groups. 
  • I also did not want to lose two VERY interesting blog entries I came across this week:
    • Christian Long is President of, a “virtual collaboration” of school designers/planners “designing for the future of learning.”  He calls his think:lab blog “a form of virtual fly paper to keep track of school design, education, and technology research…”   As I meandered through his entries, I was attracted to the items on the Philadelphia Science Leadership Academy (my daughter, Kirsten, is in her first year of Teach for America, teaching 4th grade at Samuel Huey School in West Philly), the link to Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, and the cartoon on Music & Life from the creators of South Park that my friend Marianne would call “simple but deep.”  I had also never heard of Alan Watts, whose work was the inspiration for the cartoon, but love the Watts’ quote Christian included in his entry:

    You were supposed to sing or dance while the music was being played. – Alan Watts


    • Inspired by the Music & Life cartoon, I followed a link from Vicki Davis’s Cool Cat Teacher blog to ToonDoo and created a cartoon of my own. My ‘toon is just piffle, but I imagine some of our students could create something much closer to Music & Life using this cartoon creation website.  

    • ToonDoo reminds me of the Go2Web2.0 website, a directory of Web 2.0 applications and services that now contains 1088 individual website logos that you can search alphabetically, by tags or by typing in key words.  It’s interesting just to scroll over the logos and read the pop-up descriptors of the individual Web 2.0 opportunities and services available. ToonDoo is, indeed, among the many websites represented here.


Faves from IL-TCE

I am definitely not a dedicated blogger.  Here’s an entry I began about a month ago, saved as a draft, and just discovered as I went to add another entry today.  Oh, well, better late than…

Enjoyed many sessions at ICE Conference the last few days.  Keynote and spotlight speakers Tim Wilson, Adam Frey, David Pogue and Jason Ohler were fantastic!   

  • Tim Wilson’s blog, Savvy Technologist, has all the links from his ICE presentation , including a link to Steve Dembo’s top10freesites wiki.
  • David Pogue’s website contains links to Pogue Unplugged, where you can read the lyrics to his techie song spoofs such as the ones David sang in his keynote at ICE!
  • Adam Frey is a co-founder of wikispaces.  Read about their pledge to provide 100,000 free wikis to teachers, and not the bare-bones free wikis, but the private, ad-free wikis that normally cost $50 per year. 
  • Jason Ohler is devoted to digital story telling and has oodles of materials to help teachers use this format to integrate technology meaningfully into any subject area.  See our Friday FYI entry on Jason’s resources for more links.

I always get a boost after ICE with great resources to share with our teachers and now to post at Digital Heart.  Enjoy!  😉

Their Space – WOW!!

You MUST check out the thoughtful and well-written paper from Hannah Green and Celia Hannon titled Their Space: Education for a digital generation, inspired by the work of Steven Johnson  (Everything Bad is Good for You) and testing the hypothesis that schools need to respond to the way young people are learning ourside the classroom.  What a concept!

My favorite quote so far follows the heading, Attitudes to technology: moral panic versus digital faith:

“There are two broad responses to this digital shift.  The first is characterized by media narratives around toxic childhood, violence, video games and an apathetic generation of young people.  It is a reactionary response which focuses on the potential dangers of new technologies.  The second is characterized by a technological determinism that hails all technology as positive and potentially transformational.  These are of course caricatures of a much more complex and sophisticated debate.  However, there is little doubt that these polarised views dominate public discourse, and they cloud our understanding of the impact of new technologies on people’s lives.” (emphasis mine)

I can’t wait to read the whole document.  More on this soon…

To REALLY begin…Dissertation Update

My June posts were written as part of my Chapter 3, or Project Design, submitted at the end of September at my proposal defense for my dissertation committee.  All went well,  and my study has been approved.  I was all set to begin, but my mother took a fall and passed away in the space of ten days in October.  It has taken me longer than I would have anticipated to return to “research mode.” It has been a sentimental and reflective time for me and my siblings.   However,  facing a new year and with a few days off to create my call for participants, I am ready to get back into my project and look forward to an interesting collaboration with my colleague-participants who I hope will generously agree to accompany me on this digital adventure.

To begin…

Web 2.0 or the Read/Write Web?  Whatever you call the new participatory web, let’s explore what we know about it, how others are using it and how we might use it to enhance student engagement and learning. 

This purpose of this blog is to provide a space for participants in my dissertation study, Naturalizing Digital Immigrants: How Educators Are Responding to Rapidly Changing Digital Literacies, to locate resources for study activities and to post comments along the way. 

The purpose of the study is to describe how practicing educators and administrators are responding to the Read/Write Web.  Participants’ knowledge, perceptions, hopes and fears about digital information tools and participative media as well as their schools’ policies and programs for digital literacy will be major areas of inquiry for this study.  As a result of this study, I will describe the ways in which these educators have been responding to rapidly changing digital literacies and how these responses might be modified as the result of information gained during participation in this study.

The following related questions will also be addressed during this inquiry:

  • How do educators perceive skills, habits, and dispositions related to digital media as important to their roles as educated professionals?
  • How do educators perceive the importance of digital media to students’ learning and how have these perceptions shaped their instructional practice?
  • How are educators addressing negative and positive community attitudes related to digital media?  How are they handling issues of control vs. freedom?
  • How might actual participation in Read/Write Web experiences influence the attitudes or responses of study participants to digital media?

As we begin, feel free to post an opening comment.  Study participants, use your self-selected blog-o-nyms.  All others are invited to add encouraging comments and links to relevant ideas and resources.

Digital HEART?

Why is this blog named Digital Heart? 

“What is done is done for the love of it – or not really done at all.” – Robert Frost

This I believe.  Also, consider these additional quotations: 

“… in standardized reform teachers are treated and developed not as high-skill, high-capacity knowledge workers, but as compliant and closely monitored producers of standardized performances.”  – Andy Hargreaves, Teaching in the Knowledge Society

“To put it simply: in addition to a brain, we have a heart – and we want to put it to use in promoting young people’s learning.  Exclude this vital organ from our work, and you get compliance at best.  What is needed is an invitation to practitioners to bring a spirit of creativity and invention into the school house.  What is needed is a sense of heart.” – Roland Barth, Learning by Heart

“Your work is to discover your work – and to give your heart to it.”   -Buddha

I believe that educators who write must remind themselves and others WHY we became educators in the first place.  In our rush to reform and rethink our education institutions, we need to remember children and caring and the joy of learning.  Let’s discover our work AND give our hearts to it!