My Current Research
Parenting Connected Learners
As a postdoctoral researcher at the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub I’m currently studying how low-income and non-dominant parents support their kids to become connected learners in the digital age. The Connected Learning Research Network (of which this study is a part) understands connected learning as the “sweet spot” where a student’s personal interests, their peer culture or social lives, and academic/civic/or professional development overlap; at that intersection, interest-driven learning can be immensely impactful. This study focuses on low-income families whose limited resources and the structural inequalities they face make it more challenging to foster connected learning. By finding successful examples of connected learners among these families we may better understand what has made it possible for them to be so, and draw greater attention to the contributions non-dominant families can make to our understanding of digital media and learning.
The Medellin Model of Participatory Public Culture
This research, carried out in 2011 while on a Fulbright grant, analyzes the intersections of participatory culture, communication and politics in Medellin, Colombia, where a variety of initiatives—from grassroots to city government—aim empower youth and increase civic participation. The resulting doctoral dissertation, “Participatory Public Culture and Youth Citizenship in the Digital Age: The Medellín Model” received the 2015 top dissertation award from the Global Communication & Social Change section of the International Communication Association. It brings together ethnographic research and critical scholarship on participatory culture, communication, and civic/political participation to propose a new approach to understanding and supporting youth engagement in the digital era. I am currently working on a book manuscript based on this work.
Research and Community-based Collaborations
Mobile Voices / Voces Móviles (“VozMoB”) was launched as a community media project and research collaboration between low-wage immigrant workers, community organizers and USC researchers (including myself). Using participatory design and popular education methodologies, we developed a cell phone-based, open-source, digital storytelling platform to help amplify the voices of immigrants in the digital public sphere and to appropriate mobile and digital communication technologies for community mobilization. We co-published some of the research results in Communications Research in Action: Scholar-Activist Collaborations for a Democratic Public Sphere (Fordham University Press), and an article on the participatory design process is currently under peer review. VozMob was a 2009-2010 HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition Winner, and a 2010 World Summit Award Winner in the category m-Inclusion & Empowerment.
Civic Paths: From Participatory Culture to Public Participation
The Civic Paths research group at the Annenberg School (USC), led by Henry Jenkins, explores relationships between online participatory culture, popular culture, and youth civic/political engagement. I have collaborated with Civic Paths since its inception, resulting in a co-authored article, “Fandom meets activism: Rethinking civic and political participation”, blogs, and presentations at the Digital Media and Learning conference.
Comunicación, Juventud, y Ciudadanías: Una aproximación a partir de cuatro experiencias organizativas
Communication, Youth, and Citizenship(s): An approach from four organizational experiences, a research project led by Angela Piedad Garces Montoya and Gladis Lucia Acosta at the University of Medellin, explores the construction of youth subjectivities and communicative practices through four case studies of youth collectives in Medellin, Colombia. I participated as a researcher in the first phase of this project, interviewing and co-facilitating memory-based, participatory research workshops.
Barefoot Workshops & a video-based adaptation of the Most Significant Change methodology
Barefoot Workshops offers training to non-profit organizations in using digital video and new media for social change campaigns. My colleague Charlotte Lapsansky and I collaborated with Barefoot and the GOLD Peer Education Development Agency to develop video-based program evaluation tools. We adapted the Most Significant Change methodology, incorporating the use of video for program evaluation.
Hiperbarrio is a citizens’ blogging project in Medellin, Colombia and a member of Global Voices. In 2011 I collaborated with the Hiperbarrio network to adapt and integrate elements of the Most Significant Change evaluation methodology into their work.