Grants & Contracts

SSHRC Fund (2014-Present): How We Learn (Technology Across the Lifespan): Design & Engineering Cognition ($371,406)
Over the past decade, our research program has empirically explored problems of how we learn media and technology across the lifespan (HWL) (Petrina, Feng & Kim, 2008; SSHRC SRG #410-2006-1679; SSHRC SRG #410-2009-2856). Our field and lab investigations focus on the problem of how (not whether) new media and technologies affect learning across the lifespan. With its core of graduate students, our research team has been immensely productive and original in studying and reconceptualizing cognition, learning, media, technology, and their interdependencies. The proposed research extends our established program with a primary objective of investigating design and engineering cognition (Petrina, 2010). Specifically, this extension of our research program aims to document design and engineering cognition of “novices” as a phenomenon with its own integrity. The objective of the research is to understand design and engineering cognition of “novices” as a phenomenon with its own integrity. How do novices go about designing and making material and virtual objects, whether in failing or succeeding? This has direct implications for educating novice designers for STEM.

SSHRC Fund (2009-2012): How We Learn (Technology Across the Lifespan) ($139,900)
Phase I involved an exhaustive review of research on how we learn technology across the lifespan. We reviewed 237 reports, following researchers into arcades, homes, museums, schools and workplaces and across disciplines such as early childhood, design, engineering, educational technology, media studies, online learning, workplace education, and gerontechnology. For Phase II (SSHRC SRG #410-2006-1679), we set out to investigate this problem of learning technology across the lifespan by establishing various age cohorts to explore how individuals articulate, describe, interpret or narrate how they learn technology. Working from fairly concrete, tangible encounters with technology we proceeded through interviews, partly ethnographic, partly phenomenological, to draw participants into conversations and stories about learning technology (Petrina, Hall, Kojima, Rusnak & Trey, 2008). A secondary objective of Phase II became exploring meta-learning through conversations people have with themselves as they learn. Phase III continues this very productive fieldwork and extends our research program into the laboratory to explore how attributes of new technologies and new modes of engagement interact to affect learning.

Canada Foundation for Innovation (2008): Learning Sciences and Technologies Research Lab ($199,957)
This project aims to establish a facility for studying how qualities of new technologies and new modes of engagement affect learning. The interaction of these two variables is fundamentally changing the process of learning in formal and informal environments. Whereas in the not too distant past Canadians could draw lines between how, when and where they were learning and not learning, nowadays flexible or mobile devices offer the potential for learning virtually anything, anywhere at any time. One implication is that the “basic” skill set of competencies and literacies required by a capable student or citizen is evolving. Another implication is that emphases are shifting in business and education to the process of learning, or meta-learning. Commentators increasingly identify various activities outside classrooms (e.g., gaming, mobile device texting and recording) as indicative that the qualities of new technologies and new modes of engagement are changing the process of learning (Jenkins et al., 2007), but there is little empirical evidence. The interaction of these two primary variables is fundamental to the learning sciences but is poorly understood, and experimental research is urgently needed to help educators and managers take advantage of the technologies.

SSHRC Fund (2006-2009): How We Learn (Technology Across the Lifespan) ($181,052)
The purpose of this research is to follow, describe and explain how children, adolescents, teens, adults and older adults learn to use new technologies for everyday activities. Researchers continue to document what, which or why technologies are assimilated into everyday routines of children, adolescents, teens, adults and families. Our research problem is to investigate how this is happening; the emphasis is on how we learn. How are cognitive processes distributed across new technology environments? How do pre-school (3-6 yrs) and adolescent (7-12 yrs) children learn to use or play with robotic and other electronic pets and toys? How do teens (13-18 yrs) learn to accommodate new digital devices or play new videogames? How do young adults (19-40 yrs) and middle years adults (41-65) learn to accommodate new technologies in work routines? How do older adults (66-85) learn to adopt new technologies into their health and entertainment regimens? We draw from Hutchins’ (1995, 2000) theory of distributed cognition and method of cognitive ethnography to study how people differentially assimilate new technologies into everyday routines (a steady pool of 6-10 participants per each of 6 age cohorts over a 3 year period).

Technology, Religion, Spirituality, and the Sacred (2006-present) 
How does the technological enter into the spiritual? How does the spiritual enter into the technological? Or is it already there, as Latour contends, preserved in premodern consciousness and cosmology, always already manifest? Conventional, specialized treatments of technology, religion, spirituality and the sacred allow for in-depth exploration but do not account for recent transformations. Hence, we acknowledge a new imperative for re-mapping of technology, religion, spirituality and the sacred rooted in what Heidegger and Arendt might call our techno-onto-theo-eco-logical condition— to include everyday encounters with technopaganism, transcendental materialism, technosecularism, technoexistentialism and technosectarianism. There are various dimensions to these encounters, indicating coexistence, continuities and continua rather than oppositions. This research project is generative, providing in-depth analyses of specific trends accented by and through technology, religion, spirituality, and the sacred.

UBC Hampton Research Fund (2004-present): Technology and Emotion(s) ($45,000)
The objective of this Technology and Emotion(s) project is to explore technology and emotion(s) with a view to developing new perspectives and to redirecting research in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). The research team is especially interested in how children and adolescents interact with robots, especially robotic toys, and how groups of adults (digital animators, theatre students, netizens, cybergame players) emote with technology. The Technology and Emotion(s) project was designed to articulate into a larger study of cognition and technology.

Ministry of Education (2001- present): Technology and Teacher Education ($67,000)
This project examines the relationships between the ways in which pre-service teachers were being prepared to use digital learning technologies (DLTs) and the practices occurring in the school system.  The BC Ministry of Education is interested in obtaining feedback on the potential impact of a professional development program (using a mentorship model) that they had initiated in the late 1990s focusing on supporting teachers in grades 5 through 10 in their use of DLTs in their classrooms. In response to this call for proposals an open invitation was sent by Gaalen Erickson to faculty members, sessional and staff members, and graduate students to meet with Ministry representatives who explained the nature of this funding initiative. A research committee was subsequently established and we developed and submitted a proposal entitled “A self-study of technology practices in the Faculty of Education at U.B.C.”

Ministry of Education (2000- present): Gender and Technology ($10,000)
The objective of this project was to investigate Gender and Technology in BC Secondary Schools.  The research team analyzed provincial trends in the gender-differentiated participation and performance of female and male students in the technology-intensive courses of BC public secondary education. The “applied technology” fields represent the fastest growing sectors in the Canadian economy, cultural production, and educational curriculum development.  Why, then, is it still the case, at the dawn of the new millennium, that a large number of girls and women (a) remain limited to domestic, clerical, medical, and service uses of technology and (b) occupy subordinate roles in many scientific and technical fields? In response to the persistent under-representation of girls and women in technology-intensive courses, national (e.g., Status of Women Canada, 1999) and international (Women in Global Science and Technology, WIGSAT, 1999) organizations have emphasized the importance, for responsive policy development, of developing and maintaining comprehensive national and regional analyses of trends in gender differentiated participation and performance.  Focused upon trends in the gender-differentiated participation of students in technology-intensive courses in Canadian secondary schools, this project has an interprovincial scope, and broad intellectual and professional implications.  This digital divide research was initiated with concerns for the disenfranchisement of females from technology and examines regional trends in the participation of female and male students in the technology spheres of British Columbia and Ontario public secondary education at a time in our history when competence and confidence with a range of technologies is essential for full participation in our culture.

Free/Libre & Open Source Sofware (2004-present) 
If the forces of production involve your physical labour, the sources of production involve your intellectual labour— your “intellectual property” or “intellectual work product” in capitalists’ terms, and all the rights and access you may or may not have to this property or work product (Petrina, Volk & Kim, 2004).  How much longer can the sources of production be controlled?  2010?  2020?  Open source and its counterpart, open access, provide a politics of technology that educators, legal scholars, librarians, new media critics and users and policy makers can and ought to embrace today.  That is as true for this generation as the next, tomorrow, through 2020.  This project examines the politics and practices of free/libre & open source software in education.

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