Research

My research program is diversified in three directions: the first direction is toward Media & Technology Studies, where I focus on the development of curriculum, policy, and inclusive learning environments that serve to educate and empower high-risk or marginalized groups in the technology sphere. My doctoral research is part of this trajectory (e.g., studying how girls learn to become leaders and change makers in technology culture). The second direction is toward Educational Technology and Instructional Design where I am interested in digital civics, digital literacy, creative coding, and the role of learners in the design of new media and technology. Many of the courses that I teach at UBC (e.g., EDUC 311, EDCP 371, EDCP 473, EDCP 508, EDCP 570, ETEC 531) challenge me to explore cutting-edge learning technologies and to put my research into practice. The third direction of my research agenda is toward the development of digital tools, online methods, and virtual environments for researching children’s experiences (past and present), including Design-Based Research (DBR) and the Tween Empowerment & Advocacy Methodology (TEAM).

My scholarly work is characterized by a deep commitment to research with (not on) under-valued and under-represented groups, ranging from empowering young females in technology culture, to addressing the issues relevant to the well-being of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children, to advocating for global concerns such as access to clean drinking water, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, digital inclusion, and meaningful educational for all. I am a strong advocate for the integration of teaching, research, and community engagement. I have travelled extensively throughout Eastern Africa, visiting schools in challenging contexts throughout Kenya and Uganda. I am currently exploring possibilities to form cross-cultural research partnerships with village communities, for the purposes of education and healing, empowerment, reciprocity, and pro-social change (e.g., teaching youth new media journalism and technical skills to bring forth their valuable perspectives to education and community decision makers).

The focus of my doctoral study was Empowering Girls as Change Makers in Maker Culture: Stories From a Summer Camp For Girls in Design, Media & Technology. I recruited thirty co-researchers, girls aged 10 to 13, and we co-created 101 Technology Fun, a makerspace on the UBC campus with learning labs in animation, game design, movie making, robotics programming, and web development. I placed my team members in roles as instructional designers and challenged them to pursue their technology-related interests in sustainable and innovative ways. A central goal of this work was to learn how we might empower girls with the confidence, literacies, and skills that are necessary to fully benefit from and to participate in advancing our increasingly mediated and technologically dependent society. I have presented significant findings from my dissertation at international conferences to share girls’ perspectives on gender equality and cultural diversity in the technology sphere.

In my doctoral study, I developed a new system of methods and techniques for data collection, analysis, and representation called the Tween Empowerment & Advocacy Methodology (TEAM), which emphasizes relational ethics through artifact production, design thinking, mind scripting, invention, and imagination. Highlighting the need for children’s voices to be recognized and given influence in the educational research concerning their lives and learning circumstances, TEAM encourages and supports youth to question the taken-for-granted assumptions within dominant media and technology discourses. For example, to get girls to expand the stereotypes about who they are, what they ‘should’ be, and how they ‘should’ act. Characterized by tween fieldwork, designworks, makerspaces, and storymaking, TEAM generates new possibilities for the study of youth cultures and youth learning, especially in relation to media and technology.

My research program also represents a scholarly engagement into the role and impact of media and technology on children, youth, families, and communities, asking questions like: How do we educate a new generation of digitally empowered kids? How is technology changing the way children learn, think, and play? What if we design school learning environments (on-site and online) around the issues that students care about and the current challenges of their communities? How might we use social media to foster social justice and further awareness of child and youth rights? How might we increase the availability of affordable learning tools and technologies for children in developing countries? As a technology educator, I have worked with learners of all ages to design, invent, code, and build things with the goal of making, renewing, and improving our world— and the “world of ideas that rules over the material world, the dreams we dream and inhabit together” (Solnit, 2013). I am passionate about maker culture, maker education, and research into the development of mobile, physical, and virtual makerspaces for makers of all ages.

My research program will continue to focus on extending the boundaries of knowledge in Technological Teacher Education, Educational Technology & Design, and Research Methodologies. My future research agenda will intensify along three lines: 1) toward best practices for teachers to integrate technological learning and thinking across the curriculum to enhance learner engagement, empowerment, and ingenuity (e.g., creative coding, design thinking, and engineering challenges); 2) toward developing socially relevant technologies that enable children and other minority voices to find their voice and make it heard around the world, as counter-narratives to hegemonic media messages (e.g., my current project in development Alongside Youth: Makerspaces for Civic Technologies); and 3) toward ethnographies and longitudinal measures of the design, development, and feasibility of technology-enabled learning environments for youth in challenging contexts (e.g., urban slum areas, remote villages, aboriginal reserves, and socially or economically disadvantaged locations). Each of these lines offers powerful challenges and opportunities for opening new avenues of research involving child and youth rights, education, and well-being.