Mimi Ito

Mimi Ito headshot

Mizuko (Mimi) Ito is a cultural anthropologist, studying youth new media practices in the US and Japan. She oversees research activities of the Digital Media and Learning Hub and is developing a research area focused on interest-driven learning. She is a Professor in Residence at the UC Humanities Research Institute, and has appointments at the Department of Informatics and the Department of Anthropology, and is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning at UC Irvine. http://www.itofisher.com/mito


Blogs (9)


5 Secrets to Creating an Innovative After-school Program

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

minecraft play A little over a year ago, Mahad Ibrahim reached out to me about Connected Camps, an organization I’m leading with Katie Salen that offers online learning programs and mentorship in Minecraft. Mahad and I go way back. Nearly a decade ago, Mahad had been part of the Digital Youth Project that I co-led, when he was a Ph.D. student at the UC Berkeley iSchool. More recently, Mahad had teamed up with entrepreneur and escape room designer Alexis Santos in launching Mind Foundry, an organization providing STEM learning experiences to underserved kids in the Twin Cities. Would


It’s the Relationships, Stupid: Connected Camps Mid-Summer Report

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Kid sitting at desk looking at computer screen with coding on the screen Two years ago, Connected Camps and Institute of Play launched Minecraft Summer of Learning, piloting a new model for in-game virtual summer camps. We’ve served over two thousand families since then, and are mid-way through summer 3.0. This year’s camps reflect a ton of learning and iteration, but what has stayed constant is our focus on relationships. Through our summer camps, kids are developing close relationships around shared interests, and are able to stay connected with our community year-round. Deep and Close Friendships As I wrote back when we were about to launch, the engine for


Introducing UCI’s Connected Learning Lab

Thursday, March 30, 2017

students at UCI Spring is a fitting season to announce the launch of our new Connected Learning Lab (CLL) at UC Irvine, an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to studying and mobilizing learning technologies in equitable, innovative, and learner-centered ways. I am humbled to serve as the founding director, and to be working with our founding faculty, Richard Arum, David Theo Goldberg, Bill Maurer, Kurt Squire, and Constance Steinkuehler. I am looking forward to expanding our ranks with more faculty, postdocs, students, and community members as we get our efforts off the ground. The founding of CLL is motivated by


Summer of Minecraft and the Magic of Peer Mentorship

Monday, June 01, 2015

kid sitting at computer playing minecraft game One summer day when he was 12 years old, my son declared with delight that his application to join a prominent Minecraft server had been accepted. He had discovered this server through the Machinima.com “Top 5 Minecraft Creations” series, which featured the winners of challenges like building castles or gardens. He started at the bottom of the ladder in the server hierarchy, gradually earning his right to a larger plot of land, and learning from some of the best builders in the scene along the way. Eventually, he became an accomplished builder and redstone specialist. Now


Connected Civics and Learning

Monday, April 20, 2015

student dreamers standing outside city hall building rally for the dream act the student adjustment act What does connected learning look like when it is centered on civic and political interests? A new paper that I co-authored with Lissa Soep, Neta Kliger-Vilenchik, Sangita Shresthova, Liana Gamber-Thompson, and Arely Zimmerman, investigates this question. Drawing from case studies of a wide range of youth affinity groups, we suggest that “connected civics” can be understood as a form of participatory politics grounded in young people’s deeply felt interests and identities. In many of our ethnographic cases of youth pursuing their interests through affinity networks, we’ve observed civic dimensions to their activities alongside academic and career


Connected Learning: Interdisciplinary Researchers Recommend Core Changes

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2 young students building a project structure It has been almost a year since the release of the connected learning principles in March 2012 on connectedlearning.tv. For the Connected Learning Research Network, this has been a year of digging into our research agenda for connected learning, and testing our hypotheses with ethnographic case studies, design experiments, and the deployment of a national survey. In tandem with these new research activities, we have also been involved in the collaborative writing of a report which synthesizes what we see as the current state of theory and empirical research underlying the connected learning model. We are


Reflections on DML2012 and Visions of Educational Change

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

DML 2012 conference room full of people A few days back home after DML2012, I’ve been browsing through the blogosphere and tweet streams and reflecting on the various conversations I had at the event. One unfortunate side-effect of being part of the organizing is that I can’t get to many sessions, so I’m grateful for the after-party happening online. I wanted to pull one thread of my own learning related to this year’s theme, which centered on innovation, technology, and educational reform. BEYOND EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY The theme and the Bay Area location was a provocation, designed by conference chair Diana Rhoten to confront


Wikimedia and the Future of Public Media

Monday, May 17, 2010

animated castle with boy walking towards it As of this week, I am officially part of Wikimedia’s advisory board. I’m super excited to be part of the Wikimedia team and community, and am feeling rosy about the promise of all I will learn and hopefully even contribute. Like hordes of other net users, I rely on Wikipedia almost daily as my outboard brain, a taken-for-granted benefit of living in a networked age. I’ve made some edits and contributions to Wikipedia along the way, but mostly I’ve treated it as a public resource there for the taking. When I visited Wikimedia a few months


Field Building and Scholarly Publication

Monday, October 26, 2009

EP banner As a new media researcher, I’ve struggled to find appropriate venues for publishing and disseminating my work. In the late nineties, when studies of online communities, cyberculture, and electronic gaming were still in their infancy, and when I was launching my scholarly career, my work was never accepted into the journals of my discipline of anthropology. Educational journals didn’t recognize my work on new media and play as part of their charter. This reflected my personal failures in translating my research topics into the established idioms of my discipline and field, but I expect my experience