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Researching Digital and Media Literacy in Canada Beyond the Academy

Professional Development Webinar 2022

This panel, facilitated by MediaSmarts and sponsored by the Canadian Sociological Association’s Internet, Technology and Digital Sociology Research Cluster, on researching digital and media literacy in Canada will feature researchers and practitioners from various organizations outside academia.

While community-based groups, non-profit organizations, and other non-academic institutes have conducted robust and rigorous research studies on digital and media literacy for decades, academics working and researching inside universities are often not aware of the full scope of this work. Additionally, while non-profit and civil society organizations are often approached as partners for SSHRC grants and other funding opportunities, they struggle with a lack of compensation for their time, resources, and contributions. These relationships are necessary, especially as we work to develop a national Digital Media Literacy Strategy in Canada, but more work must be done to ensure that these partnerships are mutually beneficial. Furthermore, academics need to better understand the realities (both working and material) of the non-profit sector before approaching organizations with research proposals.

Throughout this panel discussion, we hope to highlight the research experience and expertise that exists outside of academic spaces to (a) better understand how research is organized and conducted outside of the university; (b) highlight recent projects that expand knowledge related to digital and media literacy; (c) discuss research methods that are best suited to working with diverse communities, including the shifts in research practice that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic; and (d) build meaningful connections between academic and non-academic researchers for future projects and initiatives in the area of digital and media literacy.

Watch the recording

About MediaSmarts:

MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy. Our vision is that people across Canada have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens. MediaSmarts has been developing digital and media literacy programs and resources for Canadian homes, schools and communities since 1996. MediaSmarts also conducts and disseminates original research that contributes to the development of our programs and resources and informs public policy on issues related to digital media literacy.

Moderators: Dr. Kara Brisson-Boivin, Director of Research, MediaSmarts and Samantha McAleese (ABD), Research and Evaluation Associate, MediaSmarts


Raine Liliefeldt, Interim Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Canada

Raine Liliefeldt is a communications professional and relationship builder with over 19 years in the non-profit sector. She is an activist, creative organizer, educator and project manager with extensive experience in governance and resource development. Raine has been the Director of Member Services and Development at YWCA Canada for over nine years. During that time, she has been responsible for strategic programs and initiatives that strengthen the YWCA movement. She has secured funding and managed projects that endeavor to move the needle forward on women’s labour market access, digital literacy, ending gender-based violence, this includes In Good Company, Project Shift, DigitalSmarts, and the Violence Against Women Staff Sector Network. An engaged member of her community, Raine gives her time to support arts, social justice, and youth organizations. She is a board member of the Canadian Black History Projects and Kensington Market Jazz Festival, she also sits on the Philanthropists’ editorial advisory committee, and on the advisory committee for New Harlem Productions. She is energized by work that leads to transforming workplaces and being a good ancestor.

Rob McMahon, DigitalNWT, Associate Professor in Media & Technology Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta

Dr. Rob McMahon is an Associate Professor in the Media & Technology Studies Unit and the Department of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. Prior to joining the University of Alberta in 2015, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher with the First Nations Innovation Project at the University of New Brunswick and co-founded the First Mile Connectivity Consortium, a national nonprofit association of Indigenous technology organizations. He is currently an Associate Professor in Media & Technology Studies/Political Science, and teaches in the Master of Arts in Communication and Technology (MACT) program. In 2020, Dr. McMahon received the Killam Accelerator research award from the University of Alberta. He is currently the co-director of the DigitalNWT project, which employs a co-creational approach to strengthen the foundation of community-based digital literacy in the Northwest Territories (NWT).

Kyle Napier, DigitalNWT, Co-chair of Native Land Digital and instructor at the University of Victoria and Mount Royal University.

Kyle Napier is Dene/nêhiyaw Métis from Northwest Territory Métis Nation. He is the co-chair of Native Land Digital, and teaches at both the University of Victoria and Mount Royal University. He is also a researcher, a language resource developer, a consultant, and a media-maker. He is a doctoral student at the University of Alberta, studying Educational Policy Studies with a specialization in Indigenous Peoples Education. He has dedicated himself to supporting Indigenous language reclamation of the Indigenous languages of his lineage, and remains a passionate learner of the Indigenous languages of his ancestry, including both Dene Dedlıne Yatı and sakâw-nêhiyawêwin.

Katie Davey, Editor of Public Policy Forum Media and Policy Lead

Katie Davey joined PPF in March 2020. Recently recognized as a 2021 Young Impact Leader by Future of Good for her role in creating Public Policy Forum’s podcast, Policy Speaking, Katie brings an entrepreneurial spirit to public policy challenges of the day. Building on the success of Policy Speaking, Katie now heads PPF Media as the inaugural editor while maintaining her role as policy lead. Katie is the creator of Femme Wonk — a policy and current affairs podcast with an Atlantic Canadian and intersectional flare. Katie served as Director of Policy and Stakeholder Relations at the Office of the Official Opposition in New Brunswick, Senior Adviser for Policy and Stakeholder Engagement in the New Brunswick Premier’s Office, and President of the University of New Brunswick Student Union. She was a member of the Youth Working Group on Gender Equality for the Government of Canada, and a 2019-20 Action Canada Fellow. Katie holds a degree in political science from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Applied Politics from Wilfrid Laurier University. Katie advocates for the integration of economic and social policy.