Fall 2011 Courses

I am excited to be starting my Fall 2011 courses this week (hurricane permitting). Below are the syllabi from this semester’s courses, with some highlights:

jdc.jpgProjects in Digital Archives – Thursdays (PDF)
In this section of Projects in Digital Archives, we will be working with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (a.k.a. the Joint) to digitize a collection of spoken word archives available on audiocassette. The Joint is a worldwide relief organization headquartered in New York. It was established in 1914 and is active in more than 70 countries. In 1944, The Joint made it possible for 81,000 Jews to emigrate out of Nazi-occupied Europe to safety. After the war, the Joint worked to transition and resettle the devastated European Jews to Israel and to countries across the globe. Today, the Joint runs humanitarian relief programs, providing food, medicine, home care, and other critical aid to the elderly and children in need.

boots_of_leather.jpgProjects in Digital Archives – Wednesdays (PDF)
Each section of this course, we partner with an archive to transform an analog collection of materials into a digital archive. This semester, we will be continuing our partnership with the Lesbian Herstory Archives to digitize a collection of materials that went into making Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community. This is a seminal text in LGBT studies and I think it should be an interesting project, especially considering recent developments impacting the LGBT community.

dragonflyeffect_opt.jpegSocial Media (PDF)
This course has been updated, and I’ve broken my tendency not to have a required text and instead will assign The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change (2010, Jossey-Bass). I think the students this semester should find it an interesting read.

Course on Social Media

I am excited (and a tiny bit daunted) to be offering the class “Social Media” next semester at Pratt SILS. A description is below:

Social Media (LIS-697-09)
Wednesday, 3:30-5:50 PM

The rise of the networked information environment, currently highlighted by such descriptors as Social Media and Web 2.0, and popularized by such web properties as Facebook and Twitter, will continue to profoundly influence the ways in which humans share information. Such technologies support the use, production, and circulation of knowledge in a peer-to-peer networked arrangement. This arrangement shares some aspects with other forms of communications but is most remarkable in its discontinuity from these earlier forms (for example, the hierarchical communication structure widely used in our lifetimes). This new structural arrangement, which will undoubtedly persist alongside other arrangements, has implications for information organizations and professionals, and goes far beyond, ā€œshould my library be Twittering?ā€ Rather, the question this course will be guided by is: how might information organizations and professionals leverage the networked information environment to advance longstanding professional values, such as a commitment to democracy, community building, and individual efficacy and fulfillment. In effort to advance these values, students will engage in a collaborative design project that attempts to take advantage of this new arrangement.

Tentative course topics include: history and theories of communication, computer networks and infrastructure, social design affordances, identity and presentation of self, social networks, participatory culture, network analysis and measures, immersion, ubiquitous computing, Library 2.0 and survey of current uses of social media in libraries.

Field trips and/or guest speakers who work within the Social Media landscape will be included throughout the course.

My Dissertation

Although it has been done for a few months now, I realized I never posted my dissertation here. So here it is, enjoy!


Advances in information and communications technologies (ICTs) have empowered individuals to share their intellectual, cultural, and creative expressions with wider and more diverse audiences than ever before. This has been made possible by a variety of factors, but most saliently by what has been termed Web 2.0, which is a set of design patterns for structuring websites so that they can be actively shaped and influenced by the interactions and contributions of users (e.g., YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace). These changes have been described as creating the conditions necessary for shifting society from a consumer culture to a participatory culture. This emerging cultural formation has been hypothesized to have a great deal of potential for advancing education and learning by moving the locus of activity from existing power relationships (consumer/producer, expert/novice, and teacher/student) to one that focuses on the individualā€™s empowerment and willingness to construct and contribute to oneā€™s cultural and physical reality. Despite this potential, there is little research that looks to understand how such ICTs deployed into specific communities do (or do not) make possible these goals.

This study aims to understand the relationship between ICTs and their potential for creating and sustaining a participatory culture, particularly by pointing to a set of factors that highlight the existence of and mediate involvement in a participatory culture. To understand this relationship, this study analyzes an Web 2.0 technology that was used electively by a graduate school community for a two-year period of time (September 6, 2006 to September 6, 2008) by N=2,580 students, faculty and staff. The factors that mediate involvement include: communication across organizational structures, spaces for alternative discourses to develop and integrating interpersonal networks. The study concludes that Web 2.0 technologies promote the formation of participatory cultures by making the cultural, intellectual, and creative work of a community visible, and that visibility in turn encourages individuals to participate.

Download PDF

Using Social Networking Tools to Promote Healthy Communities

I am pleased to announce that the Building Healthy Communities Social Network is being rolled out to 15 schools in NYC, Philadelphia, and New Jersey starting next week. The Social Network is a collaboration between the EdLab (moi), the Center for Technology and School Change (Ellen Meier and Caron Mineo), and The After School Corporation (TASC). The program runs on a curriculum that was developed by Children for Children, and support for rolling out the program comes from NJ After 3, Education Works and TASC. Funding comes from the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is the branch of the federal government that supports AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America (which this program is a part of).

One of the challenges associated with this project was designing/developing a social network site that can be used with young children (the program is for kids grades 3-8). This is the first time I have tried to develop something for children; everything I have done in the past was designed for adults. We will be doing some research on how social networking tools contribute (or donā€™t) to creating a learning environment that promotes healthy behaviors by kids. Hopefully we won’t find that the kids get frustrated with the site and start eating more junk!