sleeping alone and starting out early

an occasional blog on culture, education, new media, and the social revolution. soon to be moved from

about me

jenna mcwilliams

[learning sciences program]

::indiana university::



sleeping alone and starting out early: an occasional blog on culture, education, new media, and the social revolution.
re-mediating assessment: wherein we consider the possibilities for participatory assessment models in education.
The Guardian / Comment is Free.




Doctoral student, Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University (expected 2013)

Areas of interest: new media and participatory cultures, open education / open access

Master of Fine Arts, English (Creative Writing / Poetry Emphasis), Colorado State University (May 2005)

Areas of focus: film studies, discontinuous narrative, foreign languages and literatures

B.A., English, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI (1999)

Areas of focus: colonial literatures, gay and lesbian literatures, memoir, French language and literatures

Massachusetts Educator’s License, English 8-12 (2007)


My interests lie at the intersection of media studies and education. I’m fascinated by the promises inherent in the emergence of new valued participatory practices and cultures, and specifically on the potential of these to transform how we think about and approach teaching and learning. I’m also obsessed with the Free/Open Source Software Movement, the movement toward open education, and what I’ve started to refer to as the social revolution: A deep, cultural shift in values and practices that enables us to rethink issues of social justice and the ethics of participation.


Project New Media Literacies, MIT (2007-2009)

Research collaborator, Teachers’ Strategy Guide Pilot project

In collaboration with Indiana University’s Daniel T. Hickey and Michelle Honeyford, collected field notes from seven schools piloting material from our teachers’ strategy guide.

Design and development of NML’s Teachers’ Strategy Guide: Reading in a Participatory Culture
Designed this multimedia curriculum for use in the high school ELA classroom in collaboration with media scholar Henry Jenkins, literature scholar Wyn Kelley, and artistic director and playwright Ricardo Pitts-Wiley.
Design and development of Ethics Casebook in collaboration with Howard Gardner’s GoodPlay project
Designed curricular materials to present an “NML approach” to digital ethics, along with lesson introductions describing our theoretical approach.

Curriculum Specialist, Project New Media Literacies (March 2008-June 2009)

∼Led development of the project’s first Teachers’ Strategy Guide: Reading in a Participatory Culture and worked with pilot teachers during first implementation phase.
∼Helped to plan and coordinate a conference and workshop for teachers piloting the guide. Led field work and data collection during pilot program.

Education Outreach Coordinator, Project New Media Literacies (September 2007-March 2008)
∼Led outreach to local, regional, and national education and research programs.
∼Headed up testing of curriculum and media resources through focus groups and site visits.

Administrative Assistant, Mary Crow—Colorado Poet Laureate (Fall 2002-Spring 2004)

∼Coordinated all aspects of various public poetry and creative writing programs.
∼Scheduled meetings, wrote grant proposals, and contacted local, national, and international writers.
∼ Prepared and monitored semester and yearly budgets.

Reporter, Holly Herald/Fenton Independent, Spinal Column Newsweekly (2000-2002)
Responsible for seeking out and reporting on local-interest and feature news
stories, along with assisting the papers’ editor with photography, layout, and copy editing.

Assistant Director, Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (1999-2000)
∼ Ran all aspects of a grassroots consumer advocacy campaign.
∼ Hired and trained a staff of approximately 30 high school and college students.
∼Met with local, state, and national politicians, ran press conferences, wrote press releases, and managed fundraising activities.


Interview with CBCradio: Spark (November 19, 2009). On New Media Literacy: Practical strategies for equipping young learners in a new media age. Available at

Interview with the BBC: BBC News Hour (May 8, 2009). On Rupert Murdoch, the news pay wall, and the future of print journalism: a conversation with Joshua Benton. Available at

Honeyford, M., Rupert, R., & McWilliams, J. (November 18, 2009). What is Assessment for? Creating Participatory Classrooms for Readers and Writers. National Writing Project Convening: Digital Is…., Philadelphia, PA.
Honeyford, M., Rupert, R., McWilliams, J., & Sykes, L. (November 20, 2009). Reading in a Participatory Culture: New Media Literacy Practices and Discursive Assessment Strategies for Critical and Creative Engagement with Classic Texts. National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention, Philadelphia, PA.
McWilliams, J. (Oct. 24, 2009). Participatory Assessment for New & Traditional Literacies: Positioning Assessment to Support Participation. Home, Inc., Biennial Media Literacy Conference, Boston, MA.
Honeyford, M., Rupert, R., & McWilliams, J., The “Rise of Writing”: Meeting the Challenges of Researching, Teaching, and Assessing Writing in a Participatory Culture (October 9, 2009).

McWilliams, J. (May 2009). Opening Keynote: Project NML’s Teachers’ Strategy Guide: What We’ve Learned. Project NML Spring Conference: Learning in a Participatory Culture, Cambridge, MA.

McWilliams, J. (November 2008). Media Gallery: What is Reading in a Participatory Culture? NCTE Annual Convention: San Antonio, TX.

Reilly, E., & McWilliams, J. (August 2008). Roundtable Discussion. Salzburg Academy: Salzburg, Austria.

McWilliams, J. (August 2008). Multimedia Presentation: An Overview of Project New Media Literacies’ Teachers’ Strategy Guide. Project NML Teacher Workshop: Cambridge, MA.

McWilliams, J. (Oct. 2007). Poster Session: Introducing Project New Media Literacies. Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference, Nashua, NH.

McWilliams, J (May 2005). Same as it Ever Was: Class, race, and gender in Romero’s Living Dead trilogy. Colorado State University Graduate Student Conference, Fort Collins, CO.


Senior Lecturer, Suffolk University (Fall 2005-Spring 2007)
Taught advanced composition and literature courses focusing on study of the
essay as a literary form and on the basics of writing compelling, engaging, and creative expository and argumentative essays.

Lecturer, Bridgewater State College (Fall 2006-Spring 2007)
Taught basic and advanced composition courses emphasizing the idea of argument as dependent on awareness of context.

Lecturer, Newbury College (Fall 2005-Summer 2006)
Taught remedial and advanced composition, literature, and business communication courses.

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Colorado State University (Fall 2003-Spring 2005)
Taught four sections of COCC150, College Composition, and one section of E210, Introduction to Creative Writing.

Apprentice Poet, Literacy Through Poetry Program (Fall 2002-Spring 2004)
Taught creative writing to at-risk elementary school students throughout the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, CO. Forty-five-minute lessons focused on reading and writing original poems, which were anthologized for the class at the end of each semester.

Writing Consultant, Colorado State University (Fall 2002-Spring 2003)
Served as a writing tutor helping undergraduate, graduate-level, and foreign
and ESL students and non-students develop, organize, and focus academic, creative, and professional writing.


print publications

McWilliams, Jenna. “Book Review: ‘Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology,’ by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson.” eLearn Magazine. November 17, 2009.
Published online at

McWilliams, Jenna. “Book review: Teaching the New Writing: Technology,
change, and assessment in the 21st-century classroom.” THEN: Technologies, Humanities, Education, Narrative. June 15, 2009. Published online at

blogs and online writing
  • February 2009-present: sleeping alone and starting out early
    (, an occasional blog on culture,
    education, new media, and the social revolution. key topics: education, new media, participatory cultures, social justice, journalism, open education, film and book reviews, popular culture, the social revolution.
Selected Posts:
open education, open source, open access, open participation
social revolution
popular culture
  • May 2009-present: blogger for The Guardian. key topics: workplace ethics, journalism, new media, film reviews
Selected Posts:

  • February
    2009-present: re-mediating assessment (, wherein we consider the possibilities for participatory assessment models in education. Key topics: assessment, social justice, participation structures, open education, NCLB.
Selected Posts:
  • December 2007-June 2009: blogger for Project New Media Literacies ( Key topics: reading, writing, and teaching in a participatory culture; educational research; blogging; media studies.
Selected Posts:


2005 First Place: CSU Outstanding Literary Essay Award
2005 Honorable Mention: Academy of American Poets College and University Prize
2004 Associated Writing Programs Intro Journals Award
2003 Academy of American Poets College and University Prize
2003 Honorable Mention: Ruth Lilly Prize
1999 Outstanding English Student Award
1999 Honorable Mention: Oldenburg Award (Poetry)
1998 First Place: Oldenburg Award (Poetry)

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