Update: Recommended: Research Summary on Hot Dish Climate Change News Community (pdf), and University of Washington's use of NewsCloud to teach social media publishing to journalism students.
According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, the proportion of young people getting no news on a typical day has increased from 25 to 34 percent since 1998.
In order to better understand such trends researchers from the University of Minnesota, led by University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development researcher Dr. Christine Greenhow, in partnership with NewsCloud, will investigate how online social network sites such as Facebook can engage youth in world events, build community, and generate real world impact. The research has been funded with a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (New Facebook Applications to Engage Youth in News).
The study, which will be published in 2009, will seek to discover which strategies work best to engage 16 to 25 year-olds in current events and ways in which the Internet can be used to deliver educational materials in innovative and effective ways.
Specifically, the study will address:
- How better to engage 16-25 year olds in online information/current events
- How to increase digital literacy practices
- How to build community through social media
- How to use the Internet to deliver educational materials in innovative and promising ways.
To answer such questions University of Minnesota researchers will collect quantitative data on user characteristics and interactions with the publication as well as qualitative data on the users’ experience and perspectives. The goal is to publish these findings, thereby contributing to the knowledge base about what works with independent media, as well as use these data to improve design and user experience.
Facebook was chosen because it has 120 million active members and is the most-trafficked social media site in the world. More than 85 percent of four-year U.S. university students use Facebook, making it an ideal space in which to gather data. (current Facebook Statistics available here)
The first Facebook publication, which will be produced in partnership with online environmental magazine Grist, is focused on climate change. The second publication will provide news sharing and community features for Minnesota students. Both publications are scheduled to launch in early 2009. At the end of the project, NewsCloud will release the source code to these Facebook applications via open source license.
- Hot Dish Summary of Findings (pdf)
- The Daily (U of M) Summary of Findings (pdf)
- Comparison Findings of Hot Dish and The Daily (pdf)
- Engaging Youth in Social Media: Is Facebook the New Media Frontier? (Nieman Reports, Fall 2009)
- University of Minnesota Youth & Social Media Research Advisory Board
- November 16, 2009 Press Release: Could Facebook Make America Smarter?
- March 4, 2009 Press Release: Groundbreaking Facebook Application to Engage Communities Working Together to Stop Climate Change
- NewsCloud's Facebook Application Services
- Get the source code to Hot Dish and MnDaily
- NewsCloud's Open Source Projects
- Hot Dish (Wikipedia)
- Key News Audiences Now Blend Online and Traditional Sources (The Pew Research Center for People and the Press)
- Resources: Readings on Youth and Social Media (our research bibliography)