Not all American families have access to technology, and this can impact their children’s education and health care, as well as the family’s ability to become fully integrated into their communities. Among the Americans who currently lack broad access to technology (computers, iPads, broadband) are low-income U.S. Latino families.Vikki Katz, assistant professor of communication at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, is spearheading a new research project that aims to help remedy this situation. Her proposal, “Leveraging Technology for Learning in U.S. Latino Families,” received a $623,035 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The funding will enable Katz and her partners to study how low-income U.S. Latino families make decisions about adopting and engaging technology for a range of learning purposes.
“Our goal is to enable national and local leaders to make more informed decisions and develop policies that can fulfill the promise of learning technologies for our nation’s most vulnerable students and their families,” said Katz.
The two-year grant will support three broad stages of project activity. The first involves qualitative study of how low-income Latino families in three communities (in Arizona, California and Texas) respond to the implementation of nationally and locally initiated programs to increase access to technology. Stage two includes a nationally representative survey of U.S. Latino parents concerning issues of technology adoption, digital access and learning. The final stage will be a national dissemination of project findings to inform future programs and policies in the digital equity arena.“We are focusing on U.S. Latino families with children in elementary and middle school because it is critical for all parents – especially for parents with limited formal education – to develop joint media engagement practices with their children early on in their schooling,” said Katz. “Meaningful engagement with technology is increasingly crucial to formal and informal learning for children, but also for parents. To understand how digital equity programs can best enable low-income U.S. Latino families to leverage technologies to achieve their own goals, we first need to understand how families respond to current programs.”
This project extends research Katz previously conducted in partnership with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (JGCC) at Sesame Workshop in New York City. The JGCC will continue to partner with Katz on this project. Joining them will be Craig Watkins and his team at the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. You can read more about Katz's earlier work here.
The grant advances the mission of Our Rutgers,Our Future, the university's historic $1 billion fundraising campaign.