MST Times

Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Newsletter

Media Ideation Fellowship Awarded to Current CCTE Student Tara Conley, Communication, Computing and Technology in Education

By • May 27th, 2013 • Category: Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design

Tara Conley

Tara Conley is a third year doctoral student in the Communication, Computing, and Technology in Education program. She was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio.

Her academic interests include mobile advocacy projects and participatory design, really focusing on how mobile technology can support communities, particularly urban communities. Hoping that in the near future she would be able to expand on this work to address the needs of rural communities, she seeks to understand the relationship between technology and epistemology and how technology can be used to enhance the lives of others in our communities.

Working closely with her advisor, Dr. Vasudevan with court-involved youth by way of the course Youth Media and Educational Justice, she was able to connect with community members, case workers, attorneys, and young people. Being involved in Professor Vasudevan’s work enabled Tara to transition smoothly to her text line project.

Tara is building a text line for court-involved youth, an anonymous, SMS-based hotline that will serve young people involved in the welfare, juvenile court, and foster care systems in New York City. Text-line is now called TXT CONNECT . “The purpose of this communication platform is essentially allowing young people involved in foster care and the juvenile justice system to use their cell phones to text-in information that they need, if they need educationally resources, vocational resources, intervention support. The idea is that they would have intimate and anonymous means to do that using their cell phones.” TXT CONNECT will provide access to educational, employment, family planning, and mental health resources. Additionally, TXT CONNECT will provide instant support for youth in crisis and emergency situations. Since young people use their cell phones often, the SMS platform will serve as an accessible means to help them obtain the information and serve their immediate needs and requests.

The Media Ideation Fellowship, a Voqal initiative, was awarded to Tara and four others. She is under a three-month contract and the fellowship provides her with $12,000 to work on this project. In addition to the financial support that she receives she also receives, professional mentorship. She has from March 2013 to June 2013 to develop this project and submit a business plan at the end. Tara intends to build enough resources and network with enough people to move on to the next phase apply for addition funding, secure 501(c)3 status, and actually produce the technology.

In addition to the fellowship work, this project serves as her pilot study, where she is investigating participatory design, an inter-disciplinary approach incorporating concepts, theories, and methods from digital humanities, social cognition, feminist ethnography, and communication studies. She is working with a youth advisory board to develop TXT CONNECT, the members of which are court-involved themselves and serve as co-designers for the project. These young people are building and developing this text line for themselves and their communities. It is important for Tara to consult with the community, truly listen to what their needs are, and develop a tool that is functional as well as useful for the community. She values the position, perspective, and experiences of the young people that are working on the project and the young people in the community.

Tara is also Hastac Fellow, which is part of a digital humanities scholarship where they invite scholars to write/blog about different issues at the intersection of technology and humanities. She often blogs on to discuss various research interests, in addition to communicating with other scholars about the work they are pursuing. The purpose of this platform is to build a robust conversation with digital humanities at the center.

As founder of Media Make Change, in 2010 Tara intended to establish a non-profit, however in the summer of 2012 she changed to a LLC. Media Make Change is a multimedia production company that consults with schools and social entrepreneurs. In the past she helped build crowd-funding campaigns and assist in the design of media literacy curriculum for educational film companies. The mission of the company is to curate and produce digital media through action-based projects to enhance our community.



By Deiana Jackson, Graduate Student, Mathematics Education Ed.D.

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