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Rob McMahon, PhD

Associate Professor

Extension

Communications | Community Engagement

About Me

Dr. Rob McMahon is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta. He teaches in the Master of Arts in Communication and Technology (MACT) and Master of Arts in Community Engagement (MACE) programs. Rob's PhD dissertation in Communication Studies from Simon Fraser University, “Digital Self-Determination: Indigenous Peoples and the Network Society in Canada”, was awarded the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. Rob 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.

Rob’s research focuses on the development, adoption, and use of broadband and internet technologies by rural, remote, Northern, and Indigenous communities. His approach involves working with communities to ensure that their voices are heard in all stages of research. He and his partners are exploring ways to house project data and build research capacities in communities, and are involved in efforts to contribute to digital policy and regulation. His research, teaching, and community engagement work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (Insight grant), the University of Alberta's Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, the Internet Society's Beyond the Net program, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority's Community Investment program, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's Digital Literacy Exchange Program.


Research

* Community informatics research and practice
* Indigenous, rural, remote and Northern communities and ICT
* Telecommunications policy and regulation
* Digital media and infrastructures


Current projects include:

* First Mile Connectivity Consortium (Canada) -- Working with First Nations technology organizations to develop policy and regulation to support Indigenous broadband in Canada.
* DigitalNWT (NWT) -- Using a ‘train the trainer’ approach, DigitalNWT equips a team of community-based instructors with the skills to offer digital literacy training in communities across the NWT. 
* SweetgrassAR (AB) -- Exploring Indigenous-Settler Relations through Augmented Reality storytelling with Dr. Diana Steinhauer and Stewart Steinhauer from Saddle Lake Cree Nation.
Piikani Cultural and Digital Literacy Camp Program (AB) -- Collaborating with Elders and educators in Piikani Nation to use digital technology to engage youth and preserve knowledge and history.


Past projects include:

* Digital Literacy Workshops with Gwich'in Tribal Council (NWT) -- Researching innovation in Gwich’in contexts through workshops and the creation of open educational resources that focus on the development, sustainability, and use of digital technologies.
Digital Futures (AB) -- Shaping rural broadband in Alberta and Understanding Community Broadband: The Alberta Broadband Toolkit (with Dr. Michael McNally (PI) and Dr. Dinesh Rathi, School of Library and Information Studies)
Community Leadership Mapping Project (with Dr. Mary Beckie (PI) and Dr. Kevin Jones)

Teaching

* COMM 597 - “We are all Related”: Exploring Indigenous-Settler Relations through Augmented Reality Storytelling

* COMM 509 - Advanced Seminar in Research Design

* COMM 506 - Strategic Communication

* MACE 501 - Principles and Practices of Community Engagement