Join Youth and Media

Paid Opportunities: Research Assistant for Youth and Media at the Berkman Center

Join the Youth and Media team! The Berkman Center’s Youth and Media team is looking for smart and dedicated “full-time” Research Assistants to help with its various projects.

This position represents an ideal opportunity for those interested in taking a year off before graduate school or continued academic studies.

About Youth and Media: YaM is a collaborative, fast-paced group that brings together young people, leading researchers and developers from the Berkman Center, and mentors from the Center’s broader network to engage creatively with the core challenges and opportunities that youth face online. More information about YaM can be found on our website (

About you: Research assistants will have the opportunity to become key members of the Youth and Media team and participate in the larger Berkman Center community while gaining valuable professional, writing, and research experience in a dynamic environment. A successful applicant will be detail-oriented, flexible, and hard working, and will have a passion for or interest in the relationship between young people and technology. Above all, candidates must be good writers and editors who are comfortable in a variety of writing style, and either knowledgeable about or eager to learn new skills in writing (grant writing, memo writing, academic writing, report writing, newsletter writing, and so on).


  • Knowledge of and/or interest in issues surrounding youth engagement with digital technology
  • Experience in fields such as education, media studies, library and information science, anthropology (ethnography), sociology, journalism, communications, law, or psychology
  • Strong writing skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Experience with copy editing as well as editing for flow and style
  • Excellent critical reading comprehension, with the ability to absorb material quickly

Desired skills/experiences include:

  • Advanced research skills, such as transcript analysis, qualitative data coding, and study design
  • Media production, curriculum development, previous teaching experience, quantitative research (conducting surveys), qualitative research (conducting interviews or observational studies).

Benefits/Other Information:

  • “Full-time” means that the time commitment for this position will cycle between two different periods: it will start with 90 days of full-time (35 hours/week) work, transition to 60 days of part-time (17.25 hours/week) work, and then continue this transition back and forth for the term of the position.
  • Compensation is the standard Harvard RA rate of $11.50/hour.
  • No other benefits are provided.
  • This position is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and remote participation is not possible for this opportunity.
  • Unfortunately we are not able to sponsor a visa for this position.
  • The start date is June 1st, 2014.

To apply:  Please send your current CV or resume and a cover letter summarizing your interest and experience to the Youth and Media team ( with “Application for Youth and Media RA” in the subject line.

Youth and Online News: Reflections and Perspectives

Here at Youth and Media, we’ve been thinking about the present and future of news for a while (and we’re not alone in that). Today, we’re excited to share a series of short essays written by friends and colleagues that offer insightful, provoking, and out-of-the-box reflections and observations at the intersection of news, digital media, and youth.

We hope you’ll enjoy and be inspired by these essays, which reflect the diversity of ideas and perspectives of the Berkman community, with contributions from: Sarah Genner, Erhardt Graeff, Paulina Haduong, Rey Junco, Luis Felipe R. Murillo, Dalia Othman, Geanne Perlman Rosenberg, Emily Robinson, Mayte Schomburg, Brittany Seymour, Hasit Shah, and Sara M. Watson. While some of the essays are closely connected to previous and ongoing Youth and Media research, others reflect personal experiences and observations, or highlight insights gained from other projects.

The essay collection, “Youth and Online News: Reflections and Perspectives,” is available for download through SSRN here:

We hope that this collection, which is a contribution to the Robert M. McCormick Foundation Why News Matters program, will provoke further stimulate the conversation about the news-related challenges and opportunities youth encounter in the digital environment — and we want you to be a part of it!

We welcome your reactions and reflections, and hope you will stay connected with us via and @YouthAndMedia. Thank you for your support!

Social Media in the Classroom: A Conversation with YaM Mentor Rey Junco

Rey Junco’s favorite color is purple. He also mixes beats on his laptop. Electro beats, to be exact. And he’s got an energetic, friendly voice and enthusiasm for online platforms that make him a particularly good candidate for studying social media. Rey, a Berkman Center faculty associate and Youth and Media Lab Mentor, looks at how Twitter and other social networking platforms can be used by instructors to enhance student academic success. In this podcast, Luisa Beck talks with Rey about how these platforms can increase student engagement, what ‘engagement’ in different contexts may mean, and about some of the research questions he’s currently pursuing.

Rey outlines his 2012 study “Putting twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement and success”, in which he finds that the use of Twitter in educationally relevant ways can increase student engagement and even lead to better grades. He explains that students get a lot more excited about using social media for class discussions than learning management systems like Moodle, Blackboard, or Desire2Learn. In his research, Rey also found that the quality of discussions about class material is better on social networking sites than on learning management systems.

This year, Rey wants to study how online anonymity may allow introverted students to feel more comfortable being creative, voicing their opinions and experimenting in online spaces. Scholars refers to this as the “online disinhibition effect” which, as Rey explains, would be when normally shy students who wouldn’t risk saying something “dumb” in the physical classroom, may feel less anxious about sharing anonymously or pseudonymously online. Rather than focusing on the incivility (such as cyberbullying and name calling) that media often associate with online anonymity, Rey’s goal is to focus on such positive opportunities. He hypothesizes that when otherwise inhibited students receive responses to the thoughts they share or questions they ask online, it will give them validation. In turn, this may encourage them to share their thoughts and ask questions in the classroom and other physical spaces.


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Games for Civic Engagement: A Conversation with Berkman Fellow Eric Gordon

Thomas Jefferson once hailed town hall meetings the “wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government.” But in many 21st century towns and cities, town hall meetings are barely even attended. And if they are, it’s often the same people showing up, from the same demographic groups. But Eric Gordon, Berkman fellow and founder of the Engagement Game Lab wants to change that. With games like Hub2, Participatory Chinatown and Community PlanIt, he wants to increase civic  participation by gamifying planning processes. In this podcast, Youth and Media Research Assistant Luisa Beck had the chance to talk with Eric about his interest in games, civic engagement and how his lab has managed to combine the two.

Luisa learned that Eric became interested in games for civic engagement through his interest in the connection between media and urbanism. In his scholarly work, he was studying how people navigate urban spaces and how media frames those spaces, both historically and in the present. He started thinking about that theoretical and historical work in an interventionist way.

The first project Eric worked on, Hub 2, used the online platform Second Life as a tool to help people navigate and make decisions about the development of a park in Allston. During the game’s design and implementation process, Eric explored the affordances of how mixed reality could augment deliberation. Entering a virtual space gave people a baseline understanding of how designed spaces might look in the future and how they might navigate them.

Eric’s second project was called Participatory Chinatown. It was an extension of the Hub2 idea, but instead of using Second Life, his team decided to partner with the Asian Community Development Cooperation and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to build a game around the Chinatown master planning process. To develop the game’s content, youth from an organization called “A-VOYCE” photographed Chinatown neighborhoods. These photographs became the skins for 3D models of Chinatown. The youth also created composite characters for the game based on real-life interviews they did with people in their communities.

The Engagement Game Lab’s most recent game is called Community Plan It. Its challenges are designed so that players generate comments about the planning process, while also learning something about their city. Those comments are then collected, shared with city planners and officials, and made publicly available online. When the game is over, players can pledge the coins they earn during the game to a local cause they care about. It has had many successes in cities such as Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia. But Eric explains that there are still quite a few challenges: CPI is great at generating data, but what Eric wants to find now are ways of empowering people to deliver their own data to city officials in ways that are so compelling that they can’t be ignored.

For more information about the Engagement Game Lab, you can go to or read Eric’s blog at

Hanging Out At YaM

Youth and Media welcomes local youth to visit the lab to learn more about us and our work. We invite youth who are interested in video and graphic design or in teaching and outreach to join us and support our work with your talents. We have many opportunities for youth to get involved in content creation and workshops.

YaM – The Vision

YaM’s vision is described in an inspiring video created by young members of YaM in collaboration with close collaborators and friends:


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