Reviewed “It’s Complicated” and “The App Generation” for JoCAM

Vicky Rideout invited me to write a book review for the Journal of Children and Media this past year, on two recent, high profile books that deal with issues of digital youth. I’m happy to report that the book review is out, and I believe is fully available for download for the public. Please check it out here:

Ahn, J. (2014). Book Review – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens; The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World. Journal of Children and Media8(3), 313-316.

School Libraries as Learning Labs

I’m happy to share some exciting recent news.  First, an article I co-authored with colleagues (Dr. Subramaniam, Dr. Fleischmann, and Dr. Druin) here at the iSchool was just recently accepted to The Library Quarterly.  In it, we outline a framework to think about how school library settings can be ideal places to promote science, technology, engineering, and math learning.  We think there is particular promise to think about school libraries as hybrid spaces, where students can link their everyday interests to STEM ideas.  We also see great promise in school librarians as technology-integrators and leaders for media-enhanced learning.  [see publications]

Second, this work sets the stage for a recent NSF grant we received to explore how to use science-fiction based storytelling, social network sites, and school libraries to pique student interests in STEM and help them identify as potential scientists.  We’re still getting things started, but I’m excited to share more as we go.  At the moment, I’m quite inspired by Brian David Johnson’s idea of Science Fiction Prototyping. [more on the project page].

How Can We Think About Social Media and Education Policy?

The education world is scrambling to catch up with the implications of today’s ubiquitous, social media environment.  We’re familiar with stories about teacher firings and cyber-bullying.   The latest dustup has been the recent legislation in Missouri that forbids teachers from having any private interaction with students online.  This means no friend-connections on Facebook or private messages between students and teachers.  All interaction must occur publicly.  Of course, there’s been huge push-back and uproar to this shortsighted policy and many such controversies are sure to come in the education world as we deal with new media.  But how can we as education leaders think about these policy issues?

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Who Owns my Online Self? And why should I care?

As people flock to test out Google+, I’ve been following the excited chatter and started testing it out myself.  However, this experience has really been difficult for me and has brought up real personal questions of whether I can invest in yet another network.  How can someone who studies this stuff for a living have such a hard time?!?!  It has to do with a deep human desire for self and ownership that I think current networking tools do not yet consider.

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Students, SNSs, and Social Capital

My first year as an Assistant Professor has been a whirlwind; moving to a new place, adjusting to a new institution, and finding my way. Luckily I’ve had a tremendous amount of data from my dissertation to keep me occupied on the research front. My dissertation consisted of an experimental study of the effects of using a social network site in high school classrooms. I’m in the process of preparing a manuscript for review in a journal, but I thought I’d share some of the results.

Interestingly, the SNS used in the high schools I worked with had a slightly negative effect on how connect the students felt to their peers in school. However, I also surveyed the students on their use of other popular sites like Facebook and Myspace. The result? Students who actively used other SNSs reported much higher connection to their peers in school. What does this mean for educators? I think there are positive and unexplored possibilities of using social media tools to better engage students to their school community. This type of engagement is not about learning specific content… but being connected, or having more social capital, is often related to positive outcomes in school such as students persisting to graduation and achieving higher. Could we use SNSs to better connect young people to school?

Social Network Sites and Youth: Paper Published in JASIST

I recently had a paper accepted and published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST). The article appears in their Advances in Information Sciences series, and is a review of the critical questions that surround youths participation in social network sites. How do they use them? What are the hypothesized effects on youth relationships, psychological well-being, and learning? These are some of the issues I consider in the article. You can find the article here, or feel free to contact me and I would be happy to share the article with you.