University of Gothenburg
Photo: Mickes fotosida/MostPhotos

Studio 3 - Young citizens: Literacy and participation in new media ecologies

In recent decades, the development of digital technology and expansion of the Internet have resulted in significant changes in the media ecologies people use in their daily lives. Important consequences of these developments concern the socialization of new generations, where the values, skills and identities of young people are shaped through their participation in activities where technologies such as virtual environments and social media play an significant role.

Examples of concluded research projects

The aim of this project is to investigate what it means to learn about science and engage with issues in technoscientific innovation in a world that relies heavily on digitized information. Scientific findings, arguments and claims from different fields are available through digital media raising issues of concern and controversy that are not only part of science-in-the-making but also generative of new dilemmas in the lives of citizens. The aim of this project is to investigate a digital method that invites such complexity and investigate what it implies for established educational practices, where students are to learn about science and how to exert their agency as young citizens in a digital landscape. The method is derived from a network of scholars that engage in developing digital tools to map scientific controversies. The digital method is spreading in the educational system in Europe and has recently been described as a major step for educational innovation. Our objective is to more thoroughly investigate what this digital method enable, restrict and challenge as it enters into established school practices in Sweden.

Contact: Åsa Mäkitalo,

Our project is designed to promote climate and ocean literacy in young people. We will do so by producing and disseminating free-to-use, quality hands-on and IT educational tools that: inform about climate change and ocean acidification; provide platforms for students to discuss the issue and possible solutions with their classmates, with experts, and with peers around the world; and finally support their personal, school-wide and broader community actions so that they can put their envisioned solutions into practice.

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Investigating environmental problems and finding solutions: A testbed for virtual learning

This case concerns young peoples' learning about environmental problems in the context of acidification of oceans. On a general level, the studies focus on how digital media and new contexts of learning can offer productive paths to scientific literacy for young people.

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The project Linguascapes - Language learning in social media worlds, is an international collaboration between Taiwan and Sweden. The project aims to explore the potential of social media for learning and teaching and the use of English as a lingua mundi. We will explore e.g. weblogs, media productions, chats and videoconferences, and young people's agency on these social media arenas and the language practices, which become relevant for participation on these arenas.

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The everyday use of smartphones with high quality built-in cameras has lead to an increase in the use of these devices to document and share cultural experiences. In this project, we examine how social photo and video sharing apps are used to communicate experiences by visitors to cultural institutions such as science centres, museums and zoos. Our work involves analysis of mobile social media postings created in cultural institutions as a developing form of literacy. This includes both in-situ observation and interviews with visitors, together with analysis of online interaction and materials produced by visitors and shared through various online forums, e.g. Instagram and YouTube. Through partnerships with other research groups such as Mobile Life Center at Stockholm University [], and with cultural institutions such as the Universeum science centre [] and the Gothenburg Natural History Museum [], the findings of this work address what emerging multimedia practices imply for visitors’ engagement with and documentation of cultural experiences and highlight ways that online social media are connected with institutional sites.

Contact: Alexandra Weilenman,

Teachers are increasingly particpating in social media to discuss their teaching and instructional issues in relation to IT. The question is what support for professional learning such discussions in forums such as thematic groups on Facebook offer over time. Based on advanced data analysis, in this project we scrutinize the role of social media for teachers’ professional learning.

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Sea Change is an outreach project on ocean literacy. It includes 17 partners and is designed to contribute to the goals of developing and protecting marine resources through the Horizon 2020 priority of "A Better Society". The aim is to contribute to an 'ecosystem-based approach' relationship between EU citizens and the sea. This will be achieved by combining marine environmental knowledge and insights from educational science into activities for social participation and innovation. The 'ecosystem-based approach' is a way of democratically making decisions in order to manage our activities sustainably. It recognises that humans are part of the ecosystem and that our activities both affect the ecosystem and depend on it.

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The project aims at inducting students (16‐19 years) into the concrete manners in which scientists work and research is carried out. In this activity students learn how to design and run experiments in environmental science with the help of a virtual environment. Virtual Marine Scientist is meant to offer a stimulating context for learning about experimental work with elements of cooperation and joint problem solving.

In this project the students take on the role of PhD students in a lab focusing on marine environmental issues. The students learn about the research field (climate change and ocean acidification), formulate a hypothesis and apply for funding. Then they design their own experiments, taking into account the constraints of time and budget.

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