I use sociological methods and theories to understand how and why people use digital technology for different purposes, and with mind to (design) interventions for related social problems. My current projects use empirical cases in the areas of education and youth, but I’m also actively working with other colleagues on other intersections of sociological inquiry. I’ll also share a bit here about my industry-specific research. Published papers are linked on my cv page. Feel free to reach out for drafts; constructive feedback is always welcome.
Institutional Influences on Technology Use
- We know very little about how institutions shape the way digital technologies are used in our everyday lives. In this project, I explore how educational institutions inform the way teachers and students come to see the value of digital technologies and subsequently enact them in practice. I’m currently writing from comparative ethnographic data I collected in three technology-rich middle schools over the course of one academic year (2013-14). My capstone dissertation work focuses on how students’ skills with digital technologies are differently cultivated by school and with effects on how youth come to see the value of programming, digital tinkering, and other forms of creative play online. But I’m mining this data for papers on other topics, as well: school influences on bullying, the function of teacher beliefs and school culture in social reproduction, and student orientations to big data and privacy.
Learning in Networked Environments Online
- New movements in education look to digital platforms as a means to teach valuable 21st century skills in programming, logic, design, and online collaboration. As part of the Connected Learning Research Network and the Digital Media and Learning Hub, both MacArthur Foundation-funded initiatives, I am exploring and evaluating the affordances of online communities for learning. Our research team has finished a book (NYU Press, forthcoming) on how youth learn among peers in interest-driven communities online. I focused on two cases for this project, including a production-centered community for LittleBigPlanet 2 players and a digitally-inflected camp for aspiring fashionistas. My writing on this data tends to focus on how maker communities “work,” both online and offline, an teach us about youth culture, learning processes, and structures that foster innovation.
Going Live: Digital Platforms and the Public Sphere
- Has the public sphere changed since the advent of digital technologies? Drawing on nationally representative surveys as well as hundreds of interviews with both creators and consumers of live streams, I focus on the specific ways that this nascent but growing use of digital platforms constructs a contemporary soap box. This project is early in development, but I plan to compare and contrast how the case of live streaming compares with classic sociological treatments of civic participation.