MacArthur initiative on Digital Media and Learning

by Eszter Hargittai on October 20, 2006

Earlier this year, Brad DeLong suggested that he should get rich and then give a large grant to me to do a study. I’m all for Brad getting rich and I happily await the day including the check he’ll send my way as a result. However, in the meantime, it’s good to know that there are some other sources of potential funding for work on information technologies.

Yesterday, the MacArthur Foundation announced a new initiative in Digital Media and Learning. They have committed $50 million dollars over five years to this. I was fortunate to be one of the recipients of a research grant. My project will be a look at young people’s uses of the Internet with particular focus on their skills and participation. I will also be conducting a training intervention (on participants randomly assigned to the control versus the experimental group) to see if we can create a program that helps people improve their online abilities (in such domains as efficiency in content navigation and evaluating the credibility of information).

Generally speaking, the goal of this initiative is to gain a better understanding of how young people are using digital media in their everyday lives and how various types of learning are taking place outside of the classroom through the use of such media. MacArthur has also launched a blog to discuss related projects.

The press conference was simulcast in Second Life and some participants captured a few screenshots, including ones from Teen Second Life.

As you can imagine, I’m super excited about all this and so will likely be blogging about related issues in the future (hah, not that I haven’t already).

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Crooked Timber » » Got a few hours?
10.27.06 at 7:28 pm



Kelly 10.20.06 at 6:05 pm

Congratulations! That sounds very interesting… altho the snarky, tired of certain segments of the ‘net side of me would like to suggest part of teaching ’em to improve their online abilities should include the conept of manners online. But that’s just because I’m cranky.

I look forward to hearing more about the project as it develops!


Eszter 10.20.06 at 7:48 pm

Thanks, Kelly. Actually, I do consider netiquette a part of all this so your comment is not off topic or off base here at all.


vivian 10.20.06 at 9:07 pm

Yes, congratulations. But does this mean the end of the Friday night time-sink amusements? They were great…


Eszter 10.21.06 at 12:22 am

Thanks, Vivian, glad to know some people appreciate those.:-) I have absolutely no intention of stopping to explore the various opportunities the Web offers and sharing them with interested readers. $300K may buy a lot, but it doesn’t buy control of all my online time. In fact, to do the job well on that project (and most of my other projects), I have to be up-to-date on what’s out there so all the more reason to keep on surfing and bringing you the finds.


LowLife 10.21.06 at 7:25 am

You may communicate with my 14 and 16 year olds on their myspace account if you want. I don’t know how you intend to get test subjects but e-mail me if you need volunteers from that age group.


Randolph Fritz 10.21.06 at 11:24 am

Great! Congratulations!


eszter 10.22.06 at 12:33 am

Thanks! Regarding participants, I will be working with a program at the University of Illinois – Chicago, but thanks for offering.:)

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