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 approach this work from two primary lenses:

(1) through design-based research to understand how technology and new media can be used to enhance how young people learn and develop pathways in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and;

(2) through studies that try to understand the socio-technical configurations that arise from the combination of technology, education settings (formal and informal), and people – and how these socio-technical systems could lead to improved social/educational outcomes.

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

famLAB: Families Learning Across Boundaries (2017-present): 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.

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.

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.

Alternate Reality Games for Science Learning (2013-present): 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.

Past Projects

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)