Blog Post

Pre-K approaches to K-12 learning: A HASTAC Scholar introduction

Hi HASTAC-ers,

Excited to write my inaugural post as a 2011-2012 HASTAC scholar!  My name is Meryl Alper and I’m a second year Ph.D. student in Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC. 

I currently serve as a Research Assistant at the Annenberg Innovation Lab with our Children, Youth, and Media Research-Design Track.  Working closely with Erin Reilly and my advisor Prof. Henry Jenkins, I’m collaborating with researchers, educators, and industry experts to explore the boundaries, corners, and textures of children’s transmedia storytelling.  I’ve also been involved as a researcher with Sesame Street, Nick Jr., and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.  As well, I’ve been keeping a blog from a directed reading I did this past summer with Prof. Anne Balsamo, and am trying to be better about using it as a reflective tool during the semester. 

Seems like there’s a mighty group of us USC-ers as part of this collective, and would love to see us put our brains together in this digital space and in our sunny, palm tree-laden place too.  (Though I’m also a very proud alum - and football fan! - of my undergraduate institution, Northwestern University, from which I graduated in 2005, double majoring in Communication Studies and History.)

A couple keywords that describe my ever-fluid set of passions: early childhood education, new media literacies, Reggio Emilia-inspired practices, human-computer interaction, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), accessibility and disabilities rhetoric, dynamic books, early childhood literacy, dialogic reading, assistive technology use and “hacking” by families with young children with special needs, educational media, the history of educational technology and oddities of technological design, digital divides, science fiction as children’s media theory.

Some of the current readings that have sparked my curiosity and are clawing the way to the top of my non-mandatory school literature list include: Don Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things,” Douglas Coupland’s McLuhan homage “You Know Nothing of My Work!” and Simon Baron-Cohen’s “Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind.”

Looking forward to the rich dialogue, debates, and “thought grenades” that this group can launch!

Best, Meryl

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