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Primary Communication Interest(s):

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Dr. Renee Kaufmann joins the School of Information Science faculty with a Masters and Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Kentucky. Before pursuing graduate studies, Kaufmann worked for five years as a seventh grade teacher. This is where she started to question how communication really influenced learning outcomes. “I was baffled how some teachers would say things to students and the students would love the class and them, and then on the other hand, there would be other teachers who would say the same things and the students would hate the class and the teacher.” Kaufmann’s need for understanding the impact of communication on the classroom has extended into the online classroom. “It makes sense to move what we know about the traditional classroom into the online context. In the end, we want to build and deliver quality learning experiences.” Kaufmann’s research interest includes exploring online learning in higher education and the use communication technologies for educational and relational outcomes. More specifically, she focuses on how instructors can enhance the learning experience for their online students, as well as how communication on social media platforms can enhance or hinder learning and relationships. Her recent work has appeared in Communication Education, Communication Teacher, Communication Research Reports, Health Communication, and Computers in Human Behavior.

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As an informatics scholar my aim is to provide an in-depth view of the role of ICTs in social change and the ways that social practices shape the adoption of ICTs and the organization of their use. I am specifically interested in studying technology in less industrialized parts of the world to understand the effects of ICTs on the development and empowerment of marginalized communities. My research and teaching interests cover the intersection of social informatics, community informatics, ICT for development (ICT4D), science and technology studies (STS), and human-computer interaction (HCI). Methodologically, I use qualitative methods drawn from ethnography in online and offline contexts, and quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the web. I pursue theoretical insights by analyzing the relationship between people in impoverished communities in Brazil and offline and online environments such as Telecenters, cybercafés, social networking sites, chat programs, texting, and games.

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