Thursday, July 11, 2013

Researchers will study children's DIY online experience

photo of gamestar mechanic website
Increasingly, children's creative experiences take
place online.

Dr. Deborah Fields and co-researcher Sarah Grimes of the University of Toronto have already established that elementary school children are interacting—and creating--online, but the implications haven’t been studied much.

Thats about to change. Fields and Grimes are now the primary collaborators in a project to study children's online, do-it-yourself media production.

At first glance, sites like gamestar mechanic and storybird are about creativity, and they are. But they also allow their young users to post, share and comment--features associated with social media sites. Whats more, they give children some fascinating ways to feed their creativity.

“Outside of a handful of ethnographic studies, however, we currently know very little about the children's DIY media phenomenon,” the researchers wrote.

The frequency with which children engage in these activities, the features and functionality of the tools they use, how their content is shaped and moderated by companies who provide the tools, or the contents of the media they create. Accordingly, important questions remain when it comes to how to best manage, curate and regulate child-made media. The project will tackle the gaps and issues outlined above through a multi-method research design and cross-sector collaboration. Through surveys, content analysis and a series of workshops, the Children's DIY Media partnership aims to advance our understanding of an important emerging phenomenon and map the various opportunities and challenges involved.

Their three-year, $177,067 grant is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It brings together academic, industry and cultural collaborators. It will also fund a graduate student at Utah State University, who will help with the research.

The team will begin making their findings public in the spring. For more information, visit the Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences website.

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