Research

Making Media and Making Citizens (June, 2009)

Summary

A thesis in the field of Educational Technologies for the Degree of Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies. Harvard University Extension School. Winner of Dean’s Prize for Outstanding ALM Thesis in Educational Technologies, and presented at the Extension School Masters Thesis Forum. A qualitative study of what good citizenship means to adolescents and in what ways their participation in the making of new media in the classroom might help develop their understanding of good citizenship.

Abstract

Download the Abstract (pdf) here.

This Masters in Educational Technologies thesis is a qualitative study of what good citizenship means to adolescents and explores the ways in which making media, in particular the making of web sites for the community, in the classroom might help develop their understanding of good citizenship. The thesis of this study was that making media for the community is a positive influence and facilitator of the development of an understanding of good citizenship among adolescents.

Research was conducted in the settings of an after school and school-based implementation of a service-learning media curriculum. Data collection included an observation of the program, interviews of students, and an interview of the Director of the program.

Analysis of the data revealed relationships between the dimensions of citizenship described by the students and particular activities in the curriculum. Analysis of the data, therefore, provided support for the current curriculum design as having played a positive role in the development of youth citizenship, with implications for future research in the areas of K-12 curriculum design, civic education, and the impact of technology on adolescent ethical minds.

Background

My research interests lie in the study of the relationship between adolescent development and digital media.

In June 2009, I completed the Masters in Liberal Arts in Educational Technologies program at the Harvard University Extension School. I presented my thesis, entitled Making Media and Making Citizens, at the Extension School Thesis Forum in June 2009, and won the Dean’s Prize for Outstanding ALM Thesis in Educational Technologies.

My thesis was a qualitative study of what good citizenship means to adolescents and in what ways the making of new media in the classroom might help develop their understanding of good citizenship. I was inspired to pursue this research question by my observations of the apparent disconnect between my students’ offline behavior and their online behavior. Why would an adolescent post a cell phone clip of a bullying incident on YouTube? Why was a teen girl composing her MySpace identity in a way that might be a detriment to her reputation? How do adolescents think about and manage their use of digital media? I realized the importance of my role as a technology educator to develop the adolescent’s understanding of the ethical and moral uses of digital media. In my research, I focused on the adolescents’ production of new media. I was excited about finding the connections my students were making between their work as media makers, or web designers, and their understanding of good citizenship. Moreover, my belief that adolescents want to and can contribute to their communities in positive ways through the use of digital media was justified.

My findings demonstrated a potential contribution to current research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s GoodWork Project. The development of K-12 curricula, such as the Advanced Web Design course I developed in my study, that teaches adolescents how to make new media and, as a result, positively impact their communities, in turn helps develop their understanding of good citizenship and increases the incidences of good work in our society.

I continue to follow current trends and findings in the field of emerging technologies at its intersection with adolescent moral development.

Web Site Functionality and the Learning Community (May, 2004)

Summary

Web sites for K12 schools serve multiple functions within a learning community. School web sites function as both a showcase of the teaching and learning accomplished in the school’s community, as well as a tool to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. Using the systems approach, I explore my role as a web developer in the expansion of a school’s learning community online. Read my research and view the design.

Web Development and Accessibility (May, 2005)

Summary

Universal design on the web is relative to the web developer, the end-user, and the devices used to access the web site. In my research I explore these key questions : What is an accessible web site? Why is it important? What does it afford a web developer? What does it afford the end-user? How is a web site made accessible? and What can be done to increase accessibility on the web? View my presentation.