Conference Chair

Craig Watkins

Craig studies young people's social and digital media behaviors and teaches at the University of Texas, Austin, in the departments of Radio-Television-Film, Sociology, and the Center for African and African American Studies. Craig is also a Faculty Fellow for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. Through that partnership his work reaches out to young students and communities that historically have not had significant access to post-secondary education.  He is the author of three books, most recently The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future (Beacon, 2009).  His previous books include Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement (Beacon Press, 2005) and Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema (The University of Chicago Press, 1998). Addressing issues that range from the social impacts of young people's participation in digital media cultures to the shifting landscape and practices of learning, Craig has engaged a dynamic mix of communities. Among them: the National Institutes of Health, IBM Center for Social Software, SXSWedu, SXSW Interactive, the National School Boards Association, Austin Forum on Science and Technology for Society, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, American Library Association, DELL, Facebook, iCivics, and the MacArthur Foundation.

Currently, Craig is a member of the MacArthur Foundation's Connected Learning Research Network, an interdisciplinary group of scholars studying a new vision of learning in the digital age. Among other things his work in the network includes managing a team of researchers to exam what he calls the “Digital Edge,” a reference to the social and digital experiences of students, teachers, schools, and families facing significant social, financial, and educational challenges in their participation in the digital world.  Among the many goals of the “Digital Edge” is to illuminate the interactions between social change, social inequality and the digital divide.  Part of that work also includes piloting ‘connected learning’ pathways for schools and programs committed to building more equitable futures.

The Digital Edge team is currently working on several publication projects and look forward to sharing their work.