Whitney Burke

Whitney Burke headshot

Whitney Burke is a writer and digital communications specialist exploring the ways in which digital media are changing learning environments, civic traditions, and youth culture. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in print and digital journalism in 2009.


Blogs (29)


Wanted: A New Generation of Problem Solvers

Sunday, June 16, 2013

close up of problem solving mind challenging games It has been more than a decade since Marc Prensky popularized the term “digital natives” to describe young people’s inherent connection with digital technologies, and while students may be able to successfully navigate these technologies to accomplish everyday tasks, researchers such as Ugochi Acholonu are exploring the extent to which this theory holds true when it comes to a student’s ability to innovate using technology.   Acholonu tested this theory by asking a group of community college students, ages 18-20 who had grown up in technology inclusive environments, to complete a set of problems on paper.


Enacting Social Change in a Digital Age: An International Case Study

Saturday, June 15, 2013

group of international students in latin america gathering around 1 computer In recent years, international development organizations have started incorporating digital media programming in an effort to merge storytelling and popular media into civic engagement and to bring young people together across national and cultural differences. In 2009, AMIGOS de las Americas partnered with a major development agency to carry out youth media and youth arts programs in Nicaragua. As the program’s director, Chelsey Hauge, a doctoral candidate in Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, spent three years studying young people’s relationships with media production, community development, and civic engagement. She was especially interested


Toward A Networked Approach to Improving Education

Friday, May 24, 2013

blurry photo of student hands writing on test paperwork Which comes first, coordination or collaboration? It’s a classic chicken or egg debate that surfaces among network organizers and one that Peter Wardrip, a Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences and Policy program at the University of Pittsburgh, has been exploring for the past three years. In today’s interconnected world, there seems to be a network to support just about any interest or profession. If you’re a writing teacher or an edtech leader, your options include the National Writing Project or the Consortium for School Networking. Young people from metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York,


A Student-driven, Afterschool Technology Club: When Reality and Policy Collide

Friday, May 17, 2013

male student sitting at classroom desk texting on phone under desk Taking advantage of the online world’s ability to help youth develop knowledge, expertise, skills and important new literacies involves risks, but how much? Some researchers and authors such as Lenore Skenazy, Sonia Livingstone, and Lynn Schofield Clark have reasoned that a number of policies and strategies, which are intended to protect youth, are actually misguided and may be making youth’s learning experiences even more limiting. Jacqueline Vickery, an assistant professor in the department of Radio-Television-Film University of North Texas, studies the discourse around risk and digital media and how it fuels moral panics and influences policy.


Design Thinking and Diversity: A Professional Development Case Study

Friday, May 10, 2013

groups of students outside making human fort activity What do a New York public school, the Howard County Public School system in Maryland, and a small private K-8 school in California all have in common? Each is re-conceptualizing the standard school curriculum by using design thinking, a learning approach that is collaborative, action-based, and experimental, as a way to meet the needs of today’s learners. Design thinking can be a powerful tool for developing higher-order skills such as complex problem solving, creativity and critical thinking. But it can also be an unfamiliar and intangible concept for teachers to grasp, making professional development and pre-service


Philadelphia: A Case Study on the Importance of Internet Access in Public Spaces

Friday, May 03, 2013

vernell and kanisha working at classroom computer together We live in a world today where broadband access is becoming increasingly necessary for attaining jobs, expanding innovation and remaining globally competitive. Even in an iconic city like Philadelphia many residents are struggling to gain basic access to technology. Based on findings from a 2011 poll from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Knight Foundation, 41 percent of Philadelphia households lack access to the Internet. Some experts have argued that this number could be as high as 55 percent. According to a report released last year by IBM and the city of Philadelphia, it


Teachers, Youth, and Social Media: Experiments

Friday, April 26, 2013

young students hand in the air to answer ask question to teacher in classroom While young people are often adept at navigating networked spaces for social purposes in their everyday lives, it is less clear what role schools and teachers should play in that process. In what ways can educators support, mentor, and scaffold youth’s navigation of online spaces to foster rich learning experiences and ethical communication practices? Amy Stornaiuolo, an assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, explored this topic from 2008-2011 while serving as the research coordinator for a large-scale design research project that studied how youth around the world communicated on a private social


Children and Computers in Paraguay: Studying What Works and What Doesn’t

Thursday, April 11, 2013

children and adults going into school building in paraguay Can technology really transform education in developing countries? That was the goal of Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child, but since its founding in 2005, the organization has been the subject of debate as many in the education sector have questioned its utopian vision and its ability to fulfill its promises. In 2010, Morgan Ames, a PhD candidate in Stanford’s Department of Communication, spent six months examining these debates by conducting ethnographic fieldwork with Paraguay Educa, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) responsible for leading the deployment of 9,000 laptops in Paraguay starting in 2009. Ames presented


How Does Globalization Shape Education Reform?

Friday, April 05, 2013

light at the end of beautiful blue tunnel “We’re living in a 21st century knowledge economy, but our schools, our homes, and our culture are still based around 20th century expectations,” said then-Senator Barack Obama in a 2005 speech to the American Library Association. In the past decade, there’s been increased discussion amongst education stakeholders in regards to new openings for education reform around the global economy’s transition to this singular postindustrial era of which Obama spoke. But according to Daniel Araya, a Research Fellow in Learning and Innovation with the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (I-CHASS) at the


The Right to Thrive: Connected Learning at the Digital Edge

Thursday, March 21, 2013

female student holding video camera A few months ago, I interviewed a former high school teacher and asked him what his hope was for the digital media and learning community in 2013. His answer: to push for a stronger focus on schools. “Students are in schools from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm everyday. Think about how much time that is. Do we want students to get more of the same, or should we give them a transformational education for the 21st century?” For an entire school year, Alexander Cho and a group of researchers immersed themselves in the trenches of a


Navigating Privacy and User Rights Issues in an “I Agree” Era

Friday, March 08, 2013

man sitting at laptop looking on facebook page Last fall, a New York man rented out his apartment bedroom through Airbnb, a popular website for short-term stays. Unbeknownst to him, he was breaking the law. When he returned to his apartment days later, he was facing more than $40,000 in fines. Airbnb is not legally obligated to post explicit warnings on its site notifying users of the possible legal ramifications of renting rooms for short lengths of time. Instead, this information is listed deep within the terms and conditions agreement. Stories like this are becoming all too common. Tamara Shepherd, a postdoctoral fellow at


Public School Classrooms: Incubators for Social Learning

Thursday, February 28, 2013

public school classrooms in urban area graffiti covering walls What does it mean to be a teacher in the 21st century? It’s a question educators like Antero Garcia have been looking to answer since the digital media and learning initiative launched in 2006. Prior to joining the English department at Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an assistant professor, Antero spent eight years teaching high school English and ESL in South Central Los Angeles. While teaching at the majority-minority school, Antero took note of his students’ social connection to digital media. By incorporating mobile media devices and social m edia platforms into his formal


Howard Gardner: Digital Technology and A Well-Rounded Education

Thursday, December 27, 2012

students painting a mural of a neighborhood on wooden fence As digital technologies become daily staples in both our personal and professional lives, there’s been much discussion among educators and community leaders as to whether these devices and innovations could in some way be accountable for shifts in the ethical and moral make-up of contemporary society. For the last two decades, Howard Gardner has been researching these issues as co-director of the Good Work Project, a MacArthur Foundation funded project that explores the ethical character of young people’s activities in the digital world. In a recent interview with Nesta, an independent charity dedicated to promoting innovation


Beyond the Console: Gaming, Learning & Literacy

Thursday, May 24, 2012

teenagers sitting on a couch smiling playing video games Tanner Higgin is a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Riverside studying race, gender, and power in digital media cultures. He’s also researching and developing play and project-based curriculum at the nonprofit organization GameDesk. Higgin’s dissertation, Race and Videogames, draws from his own gaming experiences and develops a new type of literacy attached to the u nique ways race functions in videogame culture. He discussed his research with 11 other participants and a handful of mentors this past August at the DML Research Associates Summer Institute. In the video below, Higgin talks about


Technology, Cities & Collaboration

Friday, May 11, 2012

guy holding phone with headphones on on busy city street As Assistant Professor of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, Laura Forlano’s interests converge at the intersection of technology, cities, and culture. Prior to her professorship in design, Forlano was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Interaction Design Lab in the departments of Communication and Information Science at Cornell University. Her research focuses on urban informatics — the integration of digital technologies into urban spaces — and the emergent forms of organizing and collaboration that are possible through the use of ubiquitous technologies. Her current project, “Design Collaborations as Sociotechnical Systems,” is a worldwide


Exploration: Digital Media and Social Inequality

Friday, May 04, 2012

hands putting digital devices into box Christo Sims is a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley’s School of Information and a graduate researcher for the Connected Learning Research Network’s Leveling Up project. The project team is investigating the learning dynamics of interest-driven online groups that support academically relevant knowledge-seeking and expertise development. Sims, whose research interests include youth culture, digital media practices, and social inequalities, developed an on-the-ground research methodology while working on the Digital Youth Project. A t hree-year ethnographic research project, Digital Youth brought together a cohort of researchers who jointly worked to understand how digital media and technology are meaningful


The Future of Learning and Teaching: It’s Time for ‘Audacious Goals’

Friday, March 16, 2012

women sitting in the aisle of packed DML conference room In an impassioned call to action, Diana Rhoten kicked off the 2012 Digital Media and Learning conference by suggesting that education will never see its long-overdue renaissance without “audacious goals.” Senior vice president for strategy in the new Education Division of News Corp. and the conference chair, Rhoten spoke of the urgent need for researchers, practitioners, teachers, educators, technologists, as well as entrepreneurs and investors, to join together in the cause of a learning revolution. Without “audacious goals” and a diverse community willing to come together at this historic moment of convergence, most would-be education reformers


Teaching Art in a Connected World: the Possibilities

Friday, January 20, 2012

3 girls covered in paint working on art projects in art class Aaron Knochel is an assistant professor at SUNY New Paltz, teaching upper division courses in curriculum theory and practice and “technology in the art classroom” in the university’s Art Education program. This past August, Knochel received his PhD in Art Education at Ohio State University, where his research focused on the possibilities and opportunities that new media and technology provide to art education. He was also one of twelve scholars to take part in the DML Research Hub’s Research Associates Summer Institute 2011. As an artist and an educator, Knochel believes that visual skills and digital


School 3.0: Design. Create. Learn. Repeat.

Friday, January 06, 2012

young boy building electronic circuit board from computer instructions Karen Brennan is a PhD student in the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, where she is a member of the Scratch Team, a group responsible for creating and developing a user-friendly educational programming language, and leader of the ScratchEd project. Her work focuses on Scratch and the Scratch educator community, studying how participation in the Scratch online community and how professional development for educators can support young people as creators of computational media. Brennan was also a Summer Fellow thi s past August at the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub’s Research Associates


Are they Students or are they Innovators?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

row of students sitting at classroom desks focusing on teacher Lisa Schwartz is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Colorado, Boulder, working with Dr. Kris Gutierrez and a research team on the Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN). She recently completed her dissertation, “Forming a Collaborative Model for Appropriating Youth and Digital Practices for New Literacies Development with Teachers and Latino Students,” at the University of Arizona in the Department of Language, Reading & Culture. Her dissertation documents ethnographic research involving high school English teachers and predomi nantly Latino students who they were asked to work together to develop new ways to approach schooling and


Digital Gaming as a Vehicle for Deep Learning

Friday, December 23, 2011

student sitting at computer playing learning game Mark Chen is a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Washington in the LIFE Center and Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (UWISME). He is working with the Center for Game Science (CGS), helping to evaluate player learning of science and math in games such as Foldit and Refraction. His research focuses on teamwork, communication, and group expertise in situated gaming cultures and builds on his PhD from the University of Washington that looked at the practice of a group of gamers in the online game World of Warcraft. Chen wa s one of a dozen


Forgotten Places: How Digital Media Can Help Support Small, Rural Communities

Friday, December 16, 2011

3 black male students taking photo of shop window Sean McCarthy is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Texas, Austin, in the Digital Literacies and Literatures concentration. His dissertation explores the intersection between community literacy and digital literacy and community engagement theory and practice. As assistant director of the Digital Writing and Research Lab at the University of Texas, Austin, McCarthy investigates online digital writing as well as traditional writing practices. His interest in community literacy and digital literacy led him to examine the role digital literacy plays in restoring relationships, building connections, and rejuvenating dying conversations in small,


Adolescent Identity Formation in a Digital Age

Friday, December 09, 2011

2 students sitting together against a brick wall Katie Davis is a Project Manager at Harvard Project Zero, where she works with Dr. Howard Gardner in examining the role that digital media technologies play in the lives of adolescents. Her work expands on her doctoral research, which focused on the psychosocial development of adolescents. In particular, Davis explores adolescents’ developing sense of self and factors affecting this process such as digital media and clo se interpersonal relationships. A participant in the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub’s Research Associates Summer Institute 2011, she also serves as an Advisory Board Member for MTV’s digital abuse


Young Black Males, Learning, and Video Games

Friday, December 02, 2011

3 young boys taking apart and rebuilding a PC computer in classroom Betsy DiSalvo is a Human Centered Computing PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Interactive Computing looking at the ways in which culture impacts technology, and how we can leverage cultural practices into designing constructive learning interventions. Her focus is on urban African-American males’ use of video games and why they are not turning their passion for video game play into a larger interest in computer science. In response to this, DiSalvo has created a research project, Glitch Game Testers, a jobs program where African-American teens work for an hourly wage as game


Using Tangible Technologies for Next-Generation Learning

Friday, November 25, 2011

kids colorful learning building blocks in numerical order Andrew Manches is a 2011-2012 Fellow at the London Knowledge Lab looking at how new forms of technology can support and help young children explore different number concepts. His work builds from his PhD at the University of Nottingham, which evaluated whether technology called tangibles, technology that is embedded inside physical learning materials, represented a great new potential for children in the early years (ages four to eight). Manches was one of 12 participants at the DML Research Associate Summer Institute 2011 hosted by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. According to his thesis, understanding the potential


Connecting the K-12 Classroom to the 21st Century

Friday, November 18, 2011

group of kids in kindergarden classroom sitting on the floor doing a video conference call with another classroom Justin Reich is a fifth year doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education studying the ways in which social media support the development of 21st century skills when used in K-12 settings. This past August, he was among a cohort of junior scholars who participated in the DML Research Associate Summer Institute, a week-long program funded by the DML Research Hub designed to support advanced graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who are conducting research in the emerging field of digital media and learning. Reich is co-director of EdTechTeacher, a professional development firm dedicated to helping


Media, Youth Activism & Participatory Politics: Case Studies in a Digital Age

Friday, November 04, 2011

Education not deportation immigration reform rally protest women marching with signs The growing use of digital media for social change is nourishing a dialogue about its impact on young people’s involvement in civic and political affairs. The Media Activism Participatory Politics (MAPP) project, an undertaking of the MacArthur Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP), was created to further that conversation by examining youth-led organizations that encourage productive forms of participation in the public sphere. MAPP’s case study on the DREAM activist movement is the first of four case studies from Henry Jenkins’ Civic Paths project at the University of Southern California. The four projects examine exemplary


Digital Opportunities for Civic Education

Friday, October 21, 2011

digital democracy group meeting and working together Earlier this year, Professor Joseph Kahne and a group of civic learning scholars announced a key finding from a study of student Internet usage: youth who pursue their interests online are more likely to be engaged in civic and political issues. On Thursday, at a day-long symposium in Washington, D.C., called “Civic 2.0: Citizenship Education for a New Generation,” Kahne, an education professor at Mills College and Chair of the MacArthur Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP), drew from this study and three additional studies to discuss the digital opportunities for civic education and engagement. Some


‘How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn’

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

women siting on outdoor steps working on her computer Duke University’s Cathy Davidson has staked out a reputation as a creative intellectual force committed to transforming the industrial model of education for the digital age. In 2010, President Obama nominated her to a six-year term on the National Council on the Humanities, a position confirmed by the Senate in July. She is co-director of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) and co-director of the nationwide Digital Media and Learning Competition. She has been one of our featured bloggers at DMLcentral from the start, and her posts consistently provoke and inspire. Now, she has