About Us

Online learning environments are rapidly becoming part of the education landscape for K12. As such, educators are inundated with opportunities, decisions, suggestions, and requirements about technology use in their unique learning environments. How can we navigate this complex situation in a way that supports educators to be at the helm?

This site translates findings from our NSF-sponsored research project (2013-2017, #1325004), Developing frameworks, tools and social practices to support effective instructor use of online social learning networks in blended learning models.  

This project was conducted within the Digital Youth Network (now at Northwestern University) and was a collaboration with faculty and students at DePaul University.

Here we provide resources for teachers, informal educators, and administrators to promote conversation and empower informed decision-making about both technical tools and practices of use.

Learn more about the ideas behind this project.

Digital Youth Network


We are an interdisciplinary group of learning scientists, educational researchers, designers, mentors, teachers, software developers, UX specialists, and data scientists based in DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. We use the robust ecology of the Digital Youth Network to conduct design research in learning environments that are making use of networked technologies and online spaces.

Denise C. Nacu
Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor,
DePaul University
Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab

Nicole Pinkard
Co-Principal Investigator
Digital Youth Network Founder
Associate Professor, Northwestern University

Caitlin K. Martin
Lead Researcher
Digital Youth Network

Research and Design

Jim Sandherr

Elaina Boytor

Asia Roberson

Katie Pingery


Akili Lee

Tre Everette

Mighel Jackson

Mark Ellul

Matthieu DeMercurio

Affiliated Faculty

Jonathan Gemmell

Daniela Raicu

Graduate Students 

Taha Hamid

Taihua Li

Jennifer Baltes

Michael Schutzenhofer

Rachel Samaniego

Undergraduate Students

Aneta Baran

Kyle Burger

Jenny Hanna

Emily Moser

Emmanuel Estipona

Ryan Schmitt


Natalie Ybarra

Jen Kelly


We acknowledge the entire staff of the Digital Youth Network, especially the iRemix development team of Akili Lee, Tre Everette, and Mark Ellul, and research assistants Jim Sandherr and Elaina Boytor. We are especially grateful to the middle school teachers, students, and administrators who contributed their time and invaluable perspectives to this work.

This work is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1325004. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.