What do Digital Media, Learning, and Green Beer have in common?!

Attendees at the Digital Media and Learning conference

—Bev Vaillancourt, M.Ed., COI

Inspiration. Imagination Collaboration. That’s what filled the air at the Digital Media Learning (DML) conference last week in Chicago. Nikki Navta, Norton Gusky, and myself attended, proudly representing Zulama.

What do you find at a DML conference? Amazing stories of success with online media! We all know the power of social networking and gaming for youth. Add to that a sense of civic engagement and social justice, and the opportunity for positive change seems as close as a click of the keyboard. A standing ovation. That’s what highschoolers from Oakland, California, received from a room filled with educators for their community advocacy work. It was a special moment in the conference to have these kids share their media savvy. Talk about participatory learning. These kids have it nailed!

We all know kids love to play games. So do grownups! Imagine a room full of adults getting excited watching kids learn through games. What happens? Critical thinking. Common Core State Standards are addressed. And innovation driven by the 21st Century Skills. Learning and fun are rolled into one. What could be better?

Norton Gusky and I had the pleasure of sharing the enthusiasm of students enrolled in Zulama’s popular Entertainment Technology Academy with anyone who would listen during the round table cafe on Saturday. Interaction with so many amazing educators on Saturday was one of my favorite times of the conference.

As the conference ended, the Chicago River turned bright green and revelers filled the streets for Chicago’s famous St Patrick’s Day celebration. More than the green river, this conference ended with a green light, a big GO: run, gallop forward, carrying education into the age of technology, and changing the definition of school for the better. What an exciting time to be a teacher!



Innovation in the Library (and elsewhere)

If you haven’t been paying attention to the changes at a “regular” but innovative district in southwestern PA, it’s time to check out Elizabeth Forward. It’s a small-ish rural district whose administration couldn’t believe the impact that dropouts and charter and cyber schools were having on their bottom line.

They decided to REALLY make some changes to ENGAGE their students. To give them even more reasons to come to school every day. And it’s working.

An old, dingy computer lab was renovated into a colorful, welcoming place to hang out and geek out.

Their library was also transformed into a modern media space.

The teaching staff was offered a chance to create their very own Entertainment Technology Academy. They are using Zulama’s Game Academy courses, as well as providing other engaging game-based learning opportunities.

Some recent press:

Library Transformation