Photo by Pflugerville High School senior Bryana Peoples
Story Pflugerville High School sophomore Andrew Sharp
Teenagers are using technology in all kinds of ways. They’re using it to talk to their friends online or by phone. They’re also using it to be creative.
Dr. S. Craig Watkins, an associate professor in the Radio-Television-Film department at the University of Texas at Austin, is studying how young people use new media technologies. Watkins is especially interested in the kinds of skills that students develop to create and tell their own stories through digital media.
Some of Watkins’ research is being done with Connally High School video students.
“I am part of an international team of researchers that are interested in learning more about the ways in which students are learning new ways of expressing themselves, communicating with peers, and creating media content with new kinds of technologies,” said Watkins, a Distinguished Speaker at this year’s SXSWedu Festival.
Watkins’ research project began in the summer of 2011 with the Velocity Prep program.
“In that program, students worked in teams to design video games that explored the ‘green design’ aspects of AMD’s new Lone Star Campus,” Watkins said. “ Our work has extended into the academic year and has involved working with three technology-oriented classes and the (Connally) Digital Media Club and Cinema Du Cannes Project.”
Connally senior and CDCP Production Manager Carlos Medina has been an active participant in the research project since November. He hopes the research will change the way some teachers think about how technology is used in the classroom.
“(Teachers) think we’re playing games and just messing around on Facebook,” Medina said. “They think we’re using (technology) for something else other than, say, a math question.”
Watkins hopes the project “helps society better understand the power of technology and why it is an important part of the lives of young people and the 21st century.”
Watkins’ research will be published in a series of journal articles this summer. Watkins also publishes some of his thoughts related to the project on his website.