We had a great time at the Digital Media and Learning (DML) conference in Boston last week. DML, supported by the MacArthur Foundation, has been convening researchers, educators, educational technology industry professionals, and other stakeholders around issues of engaging youth in and out school to become digital media creators, active in civic matters, and lifelong learners. This year’s conference theme was “Connecting Practices” and focused on how we all can do a better job connecting our work—working smarter with each other and more (and better) data to create authentic opportunities for youth lead their own learning experiences.

NEXMAP and CV2 presented Saturday afternoon with Jie Qi of the MIT Media Lab, Natalie Freed, and Paul Oh of the National Writing Project (NWP) on our 21st Century Notebooking initiative. We led workshop participants through an activity of storytelling through paper circuitry. Then Natalie shared a prototype wifi-connected notebook that she created in collaboration with Jie. (More on this exciting new prototype to come!)


We met with a group of NWP teachers from New Hampshire and California to discuss about opportunities around classroom pilots and summer institutes for teachers.

We met a group of wonderful high school students from NYC’s iSchool and their teacher Christina Jenkins. Also presenting on paper circuitry, they attended our workshop and acted as expert learners, assisting participants with troubleshooting. They were so passionate, creative and inspiring, we hope we can work with them in the future. (It also made me wonder why we as educators don’t include youth in education conferences.)

Participants were excited and inspired by how such simple electronics practices can not only enhance story, but also change how we think about using notebooks. Paper is such a friendly and familiar medium that seeing it combined with light and microcontrollers really captures the imagination. And we have yet to see someone who isn’t excited to see their first LED light up—even those who are familiar with electronics and circuitry are charmed. Circuits are a great metaphor for a successful learning experience: components (facts, skills) are connected together and when energy is added, a light goes on (understanding).

Check out what participants said about our session on Twitter, including pictures of what they made. People are already blogging about their experience, including Kevin Hodgeson, a 6th grade teacher in Massachusetts.

We created a public Google+ Community where people interested in 21st Century Notebooking can share their work and collaborate. Launched last Saturday, we are now already 52 members strong. Join us!