Wednesday, November 04, 2020

It's here! Trailer for my upcoming new podcast, Critical Technology.

We'll I did it! Er, almost. We're still recording and editing the actual episodes, but things are coming together quite nicely, and we remain on track to launch a new podcast this semester (Fall 2020) as a substitute for the KMDI's annual speaker series. The podcast is called Critical Technology, and it features an amazing roster of interviewees (which I'll announce soon in a more formal way). For now, here is the trailer. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Exploring podcasting for academic and course delivery, in response to COVID-19

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be exploring the feasibility and desirability of creating a podcast to replace the regularly scheduled speaker series my research institute (KMDI) hosts every year. There are a few reasons why finding a way to continue the series virtually is important to me and the Institute, one of which is that students taking our collaborative specialization have a required course that is directly tied to attending a number of the Series talks. Another is that I was already planning on launching a set of initiatives over the coming months aimed at helping researchers and community partners test out and (potentially) start up their own podcasts, so this can serve as the best guinea pig test case for sorting out logistics, pros/cons, actual costs/time required, etc. And yet another is that podcasting is a really flexible and popular form of knowledge media, one that I and many of my students and colleagues are big fans of, and thus something I'd like to get involved with.

I'm very aware that there are already a LOT of people and places getting into podcasting right now, and so this is a total bandwagon, AND I'm going to find it particularly challenging to even track down the basic equipment required. But, that's fine, and actually supports the need for considered and critical analysis of the processes, procurement, and so on involved.

My first step, as always, is to do research, which has so far consisted of tracking down and listening to a number of podcasts created by academics with a similar "academic" purpose, including The Radical AI Podcast and The New Normal with Maydianne Andrade. I've also been taking workshops and reading a ton about the basics of producing a podcast, drawing resources from established experts like The Podcast Garage (their workshops are really excellent, by the way). I have an elevator pitch of what the podcast will be about, a theme for season 1, and an emerging idea about the type of genre and style I want to aim for. I'm not ready to share any of that with the world yet, but it feels like it's coming together quite nicely.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will (hopefully) be hiring a work-study research assistant to help me plan and put together Season 1. The position is currently only open to f/t UofT students, but I will extend the pool if needed. If all goes well developing the prototype, I will likely make this a recurring (non work-study) position come fall.

Wish me luck, friends!

Monday, May 04, 2020

Come work with me at the KMDI: P/T (or student) Job Opportunity for a Data Visualization/Graphic Designer


The Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, is seeking to fill a Data Visualization & Graphic Designer position reporting to the Institute’s Director.

The Data Visualization & Graphic Designer will focus on promoting research produced by members of the KMDI – Semaphore to diverse communities, which include cross-sector partners, children and youth, people from marginalized groups, as well as the public at large. The successful hire will also develop a new logo design for the KMDI and advise on its implementation across the Institute’s various communications and marketing.


- Experience in Graphic Design, Intermediate to Advanced Skills in Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop), and/or other comparable graphic design software (e.g. Inkscape, Corel)
- Specialized skills in data visualization practices and software
- Familiarity with research methods used in the social sciences and science and technology studies  (STS), including qualitative and quantitative approaches 
- Ability to convey complex information, including findings and theoretical advances, through polished and engaging visuals
- Demonstrated ability and experience in clearly communicating research findings through data visualizations, interactive charts, graphs and other tools to diverse audiences. 
- Experience teleworking or working remotely, including collaborating with co-workers and team members through teleconferencing/virtual collaboration programs (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack)
- Excellent reading comprehension and communication skills
- Solid understanding of marketing and branding
- Excellent organizational skills 
- Exceptional analytical and problem-solving skills
- Self-motivated; takes initiative; pro-active
- Committed, reliable, ability to work both independently and as part of a team

Desired Skills
- Familiarity with popular social media platforms, e.g. Hootesuite, Facebook, Discord, and Twitter
- Familiarity with current web standards-based HTML, CSS 

- Creating data visualizations of select KMDI research findings and activities, that support effective knowledge translation and knowledge mobilization to audiences from diverse sectors and communities; 
- Creating original graphics and infographics for use in research communications (e.g. reports, conference presentations), public outreach, marketing and branding purposes; 
- Assisting in the development of new data visualization and visual communication design “iSkills” workshops and complementary course modules, aimed at KMD and Faculty of Information students.

Qualified applicants must have the resources and availability to complete most (potentially all) of the work remotely) (in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing requirements), and must be legally entitled to work in Canada for the duration of the contract. The KMDI is strongly committed to diversity within its community and welcomes applications from racialized persons/persons of colour, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal people of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

The successful applicant will be offered an initial contract of 150 hours, to be completed between May 25, 2020 – December 31, 2020 (with possibility of renewal). Hours are flexible but should average a minimum of 5 hours a week for the duration of the contract. Salary will be commensurate with experience, projected between $33-$37/hour.

Please note that only successful candidates will be contacted for an interview.

To apply, email a CV, cover letter, and portfolio to KMDI Director Dr. Sara M. Grimes (sara[dot]Grimes[at]utoronto[dot]ca) by end of day on May 14, 2020.  

Friday, January 10, 2020

New Job Opportunity Alert: Local Indie Game Dev Seeking a Unity 2D/C+ Programmer to Help Finalize Very Cool New Project

I don't normally post third-party job ads/opportunities (because I feel like that could quickly get out of control, for one), but this is the exception. My partner, @jaydubfilm, has recently decided to take the plunge and launch his own game dev studio, A-Games, here in the GTA. He has created a really quite awesome game to mark the launch, and is now seeking some programming help to get it finalized, polished and ready for publication. Please check out his job ad, cut+paste below, and posted on his site here:

Please distribute widely. The timeline is short for both applications and for the work itself, because of the particular grant he's applying for to fund this final stage of development. So if you or someone you know is interested, please get in touch asap.

for short-term $3,000.00 contract

Accomplished writer and filmmaker seeks an up-and-coming freelance game dev / software engineer for help with startup: A-GAME Design Co. The applicant will help flesh out a prototype for presentation to funders + publishers. Potential for continued employment with the company if pitch is successful.


  • Under 30 years of age (IRAP funding requirement)
  • ONTARIO-based (Ontario Creates funding requirement)
  • Degree in computer science / game design / what have you
  • Ability to collaborate and communicate with other humans
  • Dykstra’s algorithm and axial coordinate systems DON’T strike fear into heart
THE GAME:  A 2D action puzzle / survival game with sci-fi theme for mobile and PC release.  It’s DON’T STARVE meets TETRIS. In space.


THE COMMITMENT: About 60-120 hrs of work to be completed between Feb 1st andMarch 15th, 2020.

THE FEE: flat $3,000 for the completed project (works out to between $25 -  $50 / HR epending on your experience level + efficiency)

PLEASE send resume / CV to

“This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…”

Preference will be given to diverse applicants under the Ontario government’s definition of diversity which includes but is not limited to: ancestry, culture, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, language, physical and intellectual ability, race, religion (creed), sex, sexual orientation and socio-economic status).

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Announcing the Kids DIY Media: Best Practices for Designers Report

Best Practices for Designing Connected, Digital DIY Media Platforms for Kids

I am so very happy to finally share with the world key results from our Kids DIY Media Partnership -- an amazing, 5+ year, cross-sector, transnational collaboration that I had the honour to co-lead with Dr. Deborah Fields, involving a series of workshops, stakeholder consultations, and primary research into the then-emerging phenomenon of kid-made media, and into the sites/apps/games that provide young children with tools and platforms for making and sharing their own media creations. The Partnership included wonderful, dedicated people from the children's media industries, child advocacy groups, NGOs, and academia, who worked closely with us in designing our research questions, analyzing our findings, contextualizing some of our main arguments and developing our conclusions. The research conducted as part of this initiative included a media scan, a comparative content analysis of 120 websites, six case studies of exemplary platforms, and three "game jams" with twenty-one game-makers aged 6 to 12 years. We have already published many of the results of the Kids DIY Media Partnership in academic books and journals, and we have presented the project and its findings to a wide range of audiences (public, industry and academic) over the past seven years. But making the findings accessible to a wider audience has always been a top priority for Kids DIY Media. This report is a major step in that direction.

The Best Practices for Designing Connected, Digital DIY Media Platforms for Kids Report is aimed specifically at designers, developers and other professionals taking on the crucial--but at times daunting--tasks of making and managing tools, sites, apps, games or other platforms where kids under the age of 13 years are not just allowed but invited to create and share their own media content. It provides a series of recommendations for how to maximize and engage some of the opportunities their platforms present to kids, in terms of learning, identity formation, cultural participation and exercising their rights.  It also provides recommendations for how to deal with some of the challenges associated with these platforms, in terms of privacy and legal issues, questions of censorship and safety, and questions about access. The report will also interest teachers, parents, and child advocates who are interested in finding out more about the opportunities and challenges that children face when they engage in media-making in the digital, connected realm.

Stay tuned for a second public report later this Fall (2020), outlining recommendations for policymakers relating to opportunities and challenges in existing policy (government and industry-driven) and legislation relating to kids' making and sharing online.

Lastly, a big thank you to Debbie for launching the report at this year's Connected Learning Summit!

Full link here:

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

New Job Opportunity Alert: Focus On Balance Project RA

Focus On Balance Project RA, working with Prof. Sara Grimes

Job Description
72 hours, until February 28, 2020
To start immediately 

Dr. Sara M. Grimes, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Information (and Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI)), is seeking a research assistant to help with planning and conducting a small-scale pilot project, leading to the development of a new, cross-sector research collaboration examining the opportunities, challenges, and potential role(s) of reality-enhancing technologies in the lives of children and youth. Participation in this project will involve some limited travel to Hamilton (expenses paid). The successful applicant must be comfortable with the possibility of being asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by one or more of the project’s industry partners. 

1)     Assist with compiling and reviewing the previous relevant literature on reality-enhancing technologies and children/youth (literature review);
2)     Assist with the preparation of any applicable research ethics applications; 
3)     Assist with scheduling and coordinating participants and partners for focus groups; 
4)     Document the results of the focus groups by taking notes, scanning/photographing materials produced by participants; and 
5)     Contribute to the preliminary analysis of findings (schedule permitting).

      Strong to excellent writing skills. 
      Strong to excellent skills in secondary research (i.e. reviewing, comprehending, and synthesizing academic literature and industry reports).
      Previous experience working with children and/or teens.
      Knowledge and firsthand experience with one or more “reality-enhancing technologies”: virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality content and/or devices.
Preference will be given to current University of Toronto Faculty of Information and/or KMD Master’s students. The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. If you have any questions, concerns, or require assistance completing this application please contact sara[dot]grimes[at]utoronto[dot]ca.

How to apply
Email sara[dot]grimes[at]utoronto[dot]ca with brief cover letter and CV. 

Applications are open until the position is filled.

New Job Opportunity Alert: Programs and Research Development RAship with the KMDI-Semaphore

Programs and Research Development RA: KMDI-Semaphore 

Job Description
100 hours (approximately 3-5 hours/week) until April 2020
$25-$35/hour (commensurate with experience)
To start immediately 

The KMDI-Semaphore is seeking a research assistant to help coordinate and develop programming for our Makerspace and VR labs, as well as provide support for a new research partnership that will explore the intersection(s) of making and reality-enhancing technologies.  Knowledge of makerspace equipment and activities is required, including experience with 3D printers, Arduinos, Raspberri Pi’s. Familiarity with other forms of making or crafting digital crafting machines, and firsthand experience with reality-enhancing technologies (VR, AR, and/or MR) are also preferred. 

      Preference will be given to current University of Toronto Faculty of Information and/or KMD PhD students. Master’s students in these programs who have the appropriate experience and skills are also encouraged to apply.  
      Knowledge of 3D printers, arduinos, makerspaces and VR equipment
      Re-organizing the equipment and spaces of our VR lab and Makerspace
      Working with the KMDI Director and Inforum Interim Director to develop a multipurpose, research and learning space that combines maker and reality-enhancing technologies
      Ensuring equipment is operated safely
      Ensuring equipment is organized, up to date, and in good working condition
      Working with the Inforum and existing KMDI staff to ensure that Makerspace and VR lab events and activities run smoothly. This includes ensuring that all necessary equipment and materials are on hand and operational, ensuring the necessary paperwork has been completed, and ensuring timely internal communication of workshop contents and schedules.

We are committed to diversifying the conversation around Makerspaces and technology. While all applicants are welcome, preference will be given to voices not often represented in these fields. We encourage people of colour, Aboriginal and First Nations folks, gender variant people, people with disability, and those with cultural, economic, and social backgrounds different from the traditionally presented Canadian settler perspective. If you have any questions, concerns, or require assistance completing this application please contact sara[dot]grimes[at]utoronto[dot]ca.

How to apply
Email sara[dot]grimes[at]utoronto[dot]ca with brief cover letter and CV. 
Applications are open until the position is filled.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Call for Participants aged 10 to 18 yrs in the GTA for a study on children's rights in the digital environment

We are currently seeking participants aged 10 to 18 years in the GTA who are available and interested in participating in a workshop this month where we will explore ideas and opinions about children's rights in the digital age.

This study represents Canada's contribution to a global consultation with children, led by RErights, a project based out of Western Sydney University and that includes researchers in 25 countries around the world. This summer, we are each conducting workshops to gain a comprehensive understanding of children's own thoughts, opinions, and experiences of their rights in relation to digital culture and connected information technologies. The results of this project will inform the UN's upcoming General Comment on Children and the Digital Environment, which you can find out more about here.  The General Comment will provide strategies and guidelines for governments and organizations on how to acknowledge and support children's rights online.

Each participant will be asked to attend one workshop, which will last approximately 4 hours. The workshops will include some group discussions and several individual activities, all centred around the completion of a series of worksheets. The worksheets will be sent back to the main research team in Australia for analysis, and used in a report they will then deliver to the UN. We are aiming to include 10-15 kids in each workshop. The workshops will be held at the University of Toronto St. George campus. We will provide light refreshments, and participants will be given a $25 gift card and TTC fare (return). We have a rigorous research ethics protocol, and both the kids and their parents will be given information about their rights as research participants and asked to sign a consent form.

Here are the dates for the first round of workshops:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10am-2pm (light lunch will be provided).
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 1pm-5pm (light refreshments will be provided).

Additional options in July will be made available as/if needed. All of our workshops must be completed before or on July 31, 2019.

If you, your child, or someone you know might be interested, please pass the below Call for Participants along to them. Here is a downloadable version of the call, for circulation. And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with me directly.

Would you like to tell the United Nations what children  think about growing up in a digital age?
Researchers at the University of Toronto have partnered with the RErights project, with 5rights, Western Sydney University and the London School of Economics and Political Science, working with children around the world to find out your experiences of and ideas about digital technology. We invite kids between the ages of 10 and 18 years to participate in a workshop where you and a group of children will complete activities to tell us how you use digital technology in your daily life, and discuss the opportunities and challenges digital technology brings. Our workshops will be held this month (July 2019) at the University of Toronto St. George campus. Each participant will receive a $25 visa gift card, TTC/public transportation fare, and light refreshments will be served.

The work you do with us during these workshops will be sent to the RErights research team in Australia and analyzed with other countries around the world. The results will be included in a report, and will help write the General Comment on Children and the Digital Environment, which is a document that will help governments and other organisations interpret the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For further information, and to express your interest, please get in touch with Professor Sara Grimes at or call/leave a message at 416-978-5269.