This recently funded SSHRC research project advances a comprehensive scholarly understanding of children’s participatory learning in informal learning environments. We investigate the potential of 3D printers to facilitate participatory learning environments that foster children’s digital and cultural literacy. The development and adoption of these technologies opens up avenues for innovation and literacy, but there is little empirical evidence about children’s access, use, and shaping of these tools and technologies. We will hold workshops featuring 3D printing, digital fabrication, and related design tools in order to gain insight into the contribution such technologies make in informal learning spaces. Rather than focusing on technical skills, these workshops will encourage children to acquire and create knowledge about the individual, cultural and institutional values underpinning both the technological systems used for making and the resultant artifacts. We will compare how different 3D design interfaces affect children’s understanding thereof, which will enable us to determine whether 3D printing is a viable learning tool for children in informal learning environments.
In this new project we are studying the implications of smartphone use for peer-bonding and the development of social capital during adolescence. Along with co-investigator Jeffery Boase of Ryerson University (urban communication), the primary objective of this research is to provide a rich understanding of mobile phone-based peer bonding during adolescence and its consequences for social capital using an innovative data collection technique that triangulates smartphone log data, onscreen survey questions, and in-depth interviews. The secondary objective of this research is to develop a web-based interface that will be made widely available to other researchers and allow them to create customized versions of an existing smartphone application that collects anonymized voice call, texting, and email data.
In this project I am collaborating with Barry Wellman (sociology) and Anabel Quan-Hasse (media studies) to investigate three profound sociotechnical changes have come together in what Rainie & Wellman (2012) call the Triple Revolution:
Semaphore Lab is a research cluster at the iSchool, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, dedicated to inclusive design in the area of mobile and pervasive computing. Semaphore is part of the Inclusive Design Institute, and funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) New Initiatives Fund and associated ORF-RE. The IDI effort is interdisciplinary and cross-institutional, involving researchers from eight collaborating partner institutions across several departments and fields.
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