March 22, 2017

Watchworthy Wednesday: Meet 10 Women Championing Connected Learning

Categories: Connected Learning, Equity
10 women connected learning scholars

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s turn our attention to 10 women scholars making their mark as champions of connected learning. (Connected learning calls for broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven and oriented toward educational, economic or political opportunity. It is based on evidence that the most resilient, adaptive and effective learning involves individual interest as well as social support.) As connected learning advocates, these 10 scholars, among a number of others worldwide, argue that new media broadens access to opportunity and meaningful learning experiences that can happen anytime, anywhere. They are studying and finding ways to mobilize learning technologies in equitable, innovative and learner-centered ways. Meet the scholars and watch them speak about the importance of connected learning and about their research projects:

Kris D. Gutiérrez

Kris D. Gutiérrez holds the Carol Liu Chair in Educational Policy and is a professor of language, literacy and culture at UC Berkeley. She was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a member of the National Board for the Institute of Education Sciences, where she served as vice chair. Her research examines learning in designed learning environments, with attention to students from underrepresented communities and English Learners.

Mimi Ito

Mizuko (Mimi) Ito is a cultural anthropologist, studying youth new media practices in the U.S. and in Japan. She oversees research activities of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at UC Irvine and is chair of the MacArthur Research Network on Connected Learning. She is a Professor in Residence at the UC Humanities Research Institute, and has appointments at UC Irvine’s Department of Informatics and Department of Anthropology.

Sonia Livingstone

Sonia Livingstone is a professor of social psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She teaches master’s courses in media and communications theory, methods, and audiences and supervises doctoral students researching questions of audiences, publics and youth in the changing digital media landscape. She is a fellow of the British Psychological Society and the Royal Society for the Arts. She was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2014 for her services to children and child internet safety.

Vera Michalchik

Vera Michalchik directs evaluation and research efforts in the office of the vice provost for teaching and learning at Stanford University, where she works to promote application of the principles of connected, cross-setting, and actively engaged learning for the campus community and beyond. Before Stanford, she directed the informal learning practice at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning for many years, where she studied new genres of educational programming, consulting with philanthropic, governmental, nonprofit, and corporate organizations working to envision learning as a lifelong and “life-wide” process.

Kylie Peppler

An artist by training, Kylie Peppler is an associate professor of learning sciences and director of The Creativity Labs at Indiana University Bloomington. She engages in research that focuses on the intersection of arts, computational technologies and interest-driven learning. She is the leader of the MacArthur Foundation’s Make-to-Learn initiative, an advisor to the Connected Learning Research Network, and a member of the 2015 National Educational Technology Plan Committee, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Nichole Pinkard

Nichole Pinkard is an associate professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in Chicago. She founded the Digital Youth Network and co-founded Inquirium LLC and Remix Learning, home of iRemix, a social learning platform that connects youth’s learning opportunities in school, home and beyond. In collaboration with the Chicago Public Library, she also helped found YOUmedia, a public learning space that immerses high school students in a context of traditional media – books – to make and produce new media artifacts like music, games, videos and virtual worlds.

Jean E. Rhodes

Jean E. Rhodes is the Frank L. Boyden Professor of Psychology and the director of the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She has devoted her career to understanding and advancing the role of intergenerational relationships in the intellectual, social, educational, and career development of youth. She is a fellow in the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research and Community Action, and was a Distinguished Fellow of the William T. Grant Foundation.

Katie Salen

Katie Salen, co-founder of Connected Camps, is a game designer and educator. She will join the informatics faculty at UC Irvine in July. Previously, she was a professor in the School of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University. The founding executive director of Institute of Play, she led the team that founded Quest to Learn in New York City.

Juliet Schor

Juliet Schor is a professor of sociology at Boston College and member of the MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network. Her research focuses on consumption, time use, and environmental sustainability. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. In 2014, Schor received the American Sociological Association’s award for Public Understanding of Sociology.

Constance Steinkuehler

Constance Steinkuehler is a professor of informatics at UC Irvine. Her research is on cognition and learning in commercial entertainment games and games designed for impact. She studies neuroscience and games (particularly in the areas of attention and emotional and social well-being), learning analytics (informal scientific reasoning, problem-solving, and the role of failure), and mixed methods (game community discourse and literacy). From 2011 to 2012, she served as a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Many more women and men are connected learning scholars and practitioners. The following are a few more notable women:

For more information about connected learning, visit the websites of the Connected Learning Alliance and the Connected Learning Research Network.

Banner image: top row, from left — Kris D. Gutiérrez, Mimi Ito, Sonia Livingstone, Vera Michalchik and Kylie Peppler; bottom row, from left — Nichole Pinkard, Jean E. Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor and Constance Steinkeuhler.

Editor’s note: Watchworthy Wednesday posts highlight interesting resources and appear in DML Central every Wednesday. Any tips for future posts are welcome. Please comment below or send email to