I am an Associate Professor at New York University (NYU), Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

I work in the Educational Communication and Technology (ECT) program within the Department of Administration, Leadership, and Technology. I teach in the Digital Media Design for Learning, Games for Learning, and ECT PhD programs.

Prior to NYU, I was an Assistant/Associate professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, in the College of Information Studies with a joint appointment in the College of Education. I directed the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) during my time at UMD (one of the oldest HCI labs in the country).

Research Interests

My core research interest is understanding how technology and information can enhance the way we learn and deliver education. I do this work on a few ways:

(1) I’m interested in enduring questions about broadening participation and creating more equitable learning pathways for learners in STEM fields. For example, how can new technologies and learning activities (games, social media etc.) be designed to capture the interest and engagement of more learners? And how can education systems and communities stitch together experiences to help young people identify more deeply with a domain (e.g., science)?

(2) I develop research-practice partnerships (RPPs) with schools, teachers, and community-based organizations to ground the above research questions in projects that solve real problems of practice for partners, and also design rich contexts to develop scholarly knowledge.

My long-term hope is to inform ideas to improve educational opportunities and environments for learners, by leveraging the opportunities of new technologies.

My work sometimes touches on design (creating the technology and learning environments), understanding users (with a focus on digital youths), and the broader societal contexts (e.g. social inequalities, education institutions) within which learning happens with technology.

Current Projects

Data Viz for Education (2016-present): How can we design data visualizations to help teachers improve on their daily practice? The current literature highlights how data use is often non-existent and difficult to foster for teachers. In this project, I am partnering with research-practice partnerships in Washington, California, Kentucky, and Tennessee where researchers are developing practical measures of students’ math discourse, and working with coaches and teachers to attend to pedagogies that promote deeper math talk. My role in the project is to conduct design-based research to design, evaluate, and understand the role of visualizations of data culled from our RPP work, to enhance and enable this systemic change process.

Here to Here: Partnerships to Develop Pathways to Career for Youth (2017-present): With Dr. Noel Anderson, we are helping a network of partners in the South Bronx – high schools, community colleges, after-school organizations, employers etc. – design more integrated pathways of learning and career for youth. We will be helping this network engage in a process of design, continuous improvement, and practical measurement, while studying how to design alternative pathways to opportunity.

famLAB: Families Learning Across Boundaries (2017-2018): I am partnering with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop in a new research initiative. We will be conducting a national study to better understand how parents and youth educators help connect learning across the settings of children’s lives; particularly in the early childhood years. We’ll be exploring the opportunities to bridge learning across settings, the obstacles that different families face, and the role that technology could play in facilitating richer ecosystems of learning for children.

Digital Learning Challenge – Partnerships and Community Development for Informal Learning Opportunities (2017-2018): In this project, we are partnering with 8 informal learning organizations around the country that are recognized for infusing digital media to enrich learning opportunities for youth. We will surface best practices for expanding digital learning opportunities for youth, and also the obstacles that youth development organizations face to help young people develop pathways from learning to future education and work opportunities.

CS-EDU Visions: Building Multi-Level Alignment in Local CS4All Implementation for Sustainability (2017-2019): We are developing a partnership with the CS4All Consortium, and a network of rural school districts in New York State. As computer science education curriculum and tools are being developed, a next challenge will be to better support districts, schools, and educators in planning and implementing effective CS education. We will pilot a series of design and planning workshops, practical measures so educators can track their CS-EDU implementation alignment, and and create a toolkit for other districts to leverage for their own implementations.

Blended Learning (2015-present): I’m engaged in a Researcher-Practitioner Partnership with the Washington DC Public School system to examine their blended-learning reform initiative. We are conducting case studies of how blended learning is changing the configuration of classrooms and teacher practice, and how the district’s reform efforts influence these changes. In addition, we are examining data from the district’s video game and other software platforms to examine relationships to student achievement using various learning analytics and regression methodologies.

ScienceKit for Science Everywhere (2014-present): I’m co-leading the design of a social media tool (formerly called SINQ, and now evolved into an app called ScienceKit), that is designed to allow children to capture their everyday life (in pictures and other media) like they would in tools like Instagram, but in the process view the world through a lens of scientific inquiry. We are also designing public interactive displays, to encourage neighborhoods to engage in joint science inquiry with children. In this design-based research, we are studying how to help kids develop dispositions towards science through such social media participation.

Past Projects

Alternate Reality Games for Science Learning (2013-2017): I’m working with colleagues to develop two large-scale, Alternate Reality Games, that will be designed to engage under-represented teenagers in STEM learning. We are exploring how the design of these large-scale, collaborative experiences push our thinking about informal science education.

Sci-Dentity (2011-2014): In the Sci-Dentity project, we designed and studied an after-school program in Washington DC public middle schools, where learners used new media projects and science fiction to explore the relevance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in everyday life. This design-based research project examined how new models of learning like interest-driven, connected learning work (and sometimes don’t work) for under-represented, urban youth as they work to develop identities that integrate STEM. We are currently analyzing our corpus of qualitative data and preparing papers of our work for publication.

Open Education (2012-2014): In this project, I collaborated with the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) to explore how we can design and leverage open education platforms to help learners build their own experiences. We are preparing P2PU data for open sharing in the research community, and using data science and quantitative methods to conduct studies of how this open ecoystem is working. (more here)