Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media

About Digital Youth

"Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures" is a three-year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, the digital youth project explores how kids use digital media in their everyday lives. Read more

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The work on this site is licensed under a CC-BY-NC. If you share or re-use any work found on the site, please credit the original author and the Digital Youth Project and link back to the Digital Youth Project.

Photo Credits: Ritchie Ly and Geert Allegaert.

Former Research Staff

Judd Antin

Graduate Researcher

Judd AntinJudd Antin recieved a Masters in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland College Park in 2004. He then moved to the iSchool's Masters program where he applied a culture-centered perspective to the design and evaluation of ICTs. After graduating from the Masters program, he transitioned to the iSchool's PhD program. Judd's research with DigitalYouth has centered on kids, creativity, and digital media. In particular he has explored how kids collaborate on creative works in unexpected and powerful ways using digital media tools.

Sonja Baumer

Associate Specialist

Sonja BaumerSonja Baumer has a diverse educational background including psychology, education and communication and media studies. After receiving her PhD from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she joined Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. During her stay at LCHC, she became involved with the Fifth Dimension project and with the analysis and design of informal learning settings that mix play with education utilizing computer and multimedia technology. Informed by multiple theoretical approaches (sociocultural and activity theory, play-pedagogy, media studies, studies of childhood and youth cultures) Sonja joined the Digital Youth project to study the role of new media in producing and mediating children’s culture within the new sociocultural ecologies in which children are growing up. Her research focuses on the video web sharing service YouTube . Unlike the regular TV tube, YouTube lifts the barrier that separates media producers and performers from their audience, allowing people to broadcast from their own bedrooms, create exciting videos and publish them on the web to millions of viewers. Her goal is to understand how viewing and production of videos on YouTube help people make sense of their own lives and identities.

Alison Billings

Graduate Researcher

Alison BilingsAlison J. Billings’ interests focus on mobile computing and information systems and their effects on informal learning environments. Her research while at Berkeley centered on the use of different mobile technologies (Wi-FI enabled PDAs, Camera Phones) in a variety of learning spaces, and the emergence of spontaneous learning communities through the use of these technologies. Alison earned her Master’s of Information Management and Systems in May 2005. She is currently living in Seattle, Washington and works for a Mobile Content company.

Brendan Callum

Research Assistant

Brendan Callum is an undergraduate at University of Southern California participating in the Anime research project.

Rachel Cody

Project Assistant/Researcher

Rachel Cody is a graduate student in the Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego interested in media fandoms, internet communities, and the social networking and creative works that are fostered by these communities. A fan herself, Rachel completed ethnographic fieldwork on an online Gundam Wing fandom and continues to pursue her interests within the online Naruto fanfiction and AMV (anime music video) communities. While a project assistant and researcher at USC, she studied the social networks of the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI. Rachel received a BA in anthropology and a BA in psychology from the University of Southern California.

Megan Finn

Graduate Researcher

Megan Finn is a PhD student at the UC Berkeley School of Information. As a Digital Youth researcher, Megan has been investigating the "technological careers" of UC Berkeley Freshmen, the Freshquest project. Her other research interest include information and organizations, technology adoption models, and information systems for responding to extreme events. Megan received her Masters from the School of Information in 2005 and her BS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2000. At Michigan, Megan worked at the Center for the Study of Complex Systems. She also spent several years in industry at Hewlett-Packard working in a group concerned with knowledge management.

Mahad Ibrahim

Graduate Researcher

Mahad Ibrahim is currently pursuing his PhD in the School of Information at UC Berkeley. His current research focuses on developing better mechanisms to support illiteracy and orality in computing and exploring issues of privacy in ubiquitous computing. He has spent the last year in Egypt researching the adoption and usage of ICT among marginalized populations as a Fulbright Scholar. He also has experience working on health related issues. Mahad worked in providing HIV/AIDS education to at-risk youth and for the District of Columbia HIV/AIDS surveillance division. He has also worked on analyzing ubiquitous computing deployments in hospitals. Prior to attending UC Berkeley, Mahad worked in the IT industry for several years. He has his Bachelor's (1999) in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University, and a Master's (2002) in Information Management and Systems from UC Berkeley.

Arthur Law

Graduate Researcher

Annie Manion

Graduate Researcher

Annie ManionAnnie recently completed a Master’s degree in East Asian Area Studies at the University of Southern California and holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Chicago. She spent a year in Kyoto as an undergraduate at the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies, a year teaching English in Kyushu after graduating from college, and a year studying Japanese language at the Inter-university Center at Yokohama. Though she is interested in many aspects of Japanese culture, such as gender issues and history, her primary interest lies in popular culture. Her research has focused largely on anime and manga and the fan community that surrounds these popular media in America. Through her master’s thesis she considered the role popular culture such as anime plays in encouraging an interest among young Americans to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture. In the future she hopes to be able to go on investigating the international flow of popular culture, with a continuing focus on Japanese popular culture, and explore the ways in which ideas and representations are changed and affected by the heightened awareness and access to foreign culture made possible by technological advances such as the internet.

Katynka Martinez

Postdoctoral Researcher

Katynka MartinezKatynka Z. Martínez is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the USC Annenberg Center for Communication. She is currently conducting research among media arts educators and youth in Hollywood and the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles. She is also conducting home interviews with these students and their parents to better understand how digital media is used outside of school. Katynka is especially interested in how youth use digital media in densely populated urban areas of Los Angeles. Katynka is currently an Assistant Professor in Raza Studies at San Francisco State University.

Sarai Mitnik

Graduate Researcher

Sarai MitnikSarai Mitnick completed her Masters at the School of Information at UC Berkeley. Sarai Mitnick is interested in design, and how a variety of techniques can be incorporated to understand human practices and create better technological tools. She is also interested in education, how technology affects learning, and issues surrounding technology and gender. Sarai has done work in graphic design, user interface design, and human-computer interaction research. Sarai completed her Masters at the School of Information at UC Berkeley.

Paul Poling

Graduate researcher

Paul Poling worked with Megan Finn on a project examining technology use among community college students. Before joining the digital youth project, he worked for the Peace Corps in rural Kenya teaching HIV/AIDS prevention and helping a women's group develop their business. He also witnessed the advent and explosive adoption of mobile phones in Kenya. Paul's experiences there fired his interest in information communications & technology for developing regions, and led him to return to Kenya to research the feasibility of automated medication reminders for TB patients via mobile phones. Paul brings to this current research an interest in exploring patterns of technology adoption and methods for developing appropriate technology. He received his BS in Applied Physics from Emory University and his MA from SIMS.

David Schlossberg

Graduate Researcher

Sarita Yardi

Graduate Researcher

Sarita YardiSarita Yardi is a PhD student in the Human Centered Computing program at Georgia Tech. Her research interests include design, learning, education, HCI, and ethnography. She is currently conducting a media literacy education project through the YWCA TechGYRLS program. She helps to run an after-school computer club for middle school girls, teaching them about empowerment and gender issues through the use of computers and technology. Sarita received her BA in Computer Engineering from Dartmouth College in 2002 and her MA from School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) at UC Berkeley in 2006. She has worked on numerous hardware and software design projects and spent two years as a software engineer developing an integrated web application and database system.