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.
Sci-Dentity: In the Sci-Dentity project, we are running an after-school program in Washington DC public middle schools, where learners use 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 is examining 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.
ARGs: I’m working with colleagues to develop a massive, Alternate Reality Game, that will be designed to engage under-represented teenagers in STEM learning. We’ll examine how the design of these large-scale, collaborative experiences to push our thinking about informal science education.
Open Education: I’m collaborating 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)
ScienceKit: 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. In this design-based research, we are studying how to help kids develop dispositions towards science through such social media participation.
Blended Learning: Finally, I’m working with the Washington DC Public School system to examine their blended-learning reform initiative. I’m 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 platforms to examine relationships to student achievement.