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New Effort Will Study Digital Media Use By Hispanic and Latino Families

Arguing that "what we know about Hispanic-Latino families and digital media only scratches the surface," two organizations announced on Tuesday a new research and advocacy initiative aimed at improving educational opportunities for the nation's largest racial/ethnic minority group.

The effort, to be known as the Aprendiendo Juntos ("Learning Together") Council (AJC), is being led by the National Center for Family Literacy and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

"Hispanic-Latino families are pioneers in adapting new technologies in their communications practices and approaches to parenting and learning," said Michael H. Levine, executive director of the New York City-based Joan Ganz Cooney Center, in a statement. "The new AJC initiative is intended to better understand those research-based practices and policies that will support young families to grow and prosper in a digital age."

A summary report released by the groups lists the following research priorities:

  • How do Hispanic-Latino families currently perceive, use, and engage around digital technology?
  • What is the nature of digital media participation outside the home for many Hispanic-Latino families?
  • What are the benefits and limitations of various technologies for family engagement, learning, and empowerment?

The report also lists several suggested research strategies, including use of study designs that "enable quick investigations of digital media use and impact before the technologies become obsolete" and avoiding "deficit models, assumptions, and problematic comparisons between Hispanic-Latino families and White/non-Hispanic families."

According to background statistics from the Pew Hispanic Center cited in the report, just 45 percent of Hispanic-Latino households have broadband Internet access, compared to 65 percent of non-Hispanic White and 52 percent of non-Hispanic black households.

"While national surveys indicate that Americans of Hispanic-Latino descent are among the highest media consumers, the adoption of digital technologies within Hispanic-Latino families varies widely," the report reads.

Among the initial projects the Aprendiendo Juntos Council will support are an evaluation of the national "Connect2Compete" digital media literacy initiative and an analysis of a national survey of media usage by Latino parents and their young children.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center conducts and provides programs on intergenerational learning, literacy, and educational games. The Louisville, Kentucky-based National Center for Family Literacy trains teachers and volunteers, among other projects.

Follow @BenjaminBHerold and @EdWeekEdTech for the latest on ed tech policy, practice, and trends.

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