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Janette Hughes, PhD - University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Oshawa, ON, CA

Janette Hughes, PhD Janette Hughes, PhD

Canada Research Chair in Technology and Pedagogy, and Associate Professor, Digital Literacies, Faculty of Education | University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Oshawa, ON, CANADA

World-leading education expert integrates digital technology to transform student learning experience



Janette Hughes, PhD Publication



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Students have unprecedented access to a growing stream of multimodal digital communication and social networking tools through engaging personal and mobile devices. Ahead of the curve, Janette Hughes, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Technology and Pedagogy, and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, is leading research to explore how digital media can best enhance learning in today’s technology driven society.

Through her state-of-the-art STEAM 3D Maker Lab at UOIT, Dr. Hughes examines how emerging digital media and interactive tools can challenge traditional curricular and teaching/learning methods. Her research will provide greater understanding of the intersection of new digital technologies and pedagogies, and how they can be used to support technology enriched and practice-integrated active learning, in the classroom and the real world. She is focused on the development and evaluation of teaching practices that support active student learning, address the digital literacy needs of at-risk students, and promote greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through the Arts (STEAM).

She joined UOIT in 2006, after serving as an Adjunct Professor of Continuing Studies and Preservice Education at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). Recipient of the 2013 National Technology Leadership Initiative Fellowship by the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, Dr. Hughes has garnered international recognition for her work.

She received her Doctorate in Curriculum (Language and Literacy) with a focus on Digital Poetry from UWO in London, Ontario. She obtained her Master of Arts degree in Teaching (Curriculum/English) from the University of Toronto, Institute for Studies in Education (OISE); her Bachelor of Education degree in Concurrent IS English/History and her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in English Literature both from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

For 18 years, Dr. Hughes taught secondary and elementary school students and explored how technology was motivating and engaging student success. As a direct result, her doctoral studies were focused on digital poetry and, since then, she has been a driving force in literacy education, advocating for a broader definition of literacies that include digital competencies. Dr. Hughes continues to push the boundaries of digital literacies and instills her passion for teaching the individual student.

Industry Expertise (5)


Program Development

Social Media

Writing and Editing


Areas of Expertise (8)

Critical Literacies

Digital Literacies

Language and Literacy

Multiple Literacies

New Literacies

Secondary School English Pedagogy

Critical Making and Production Pedagogies

Young Adult Literature

Accomplishments (5)

National Technology Leadership Initiative Fellowship (professional)


Dr. Hughes received this honour from the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, an international association of individual teacher educators, and affiliated organizations of teacher educators in all disciplines, who are interested in the creation and dissemination of knowledge about the use of information technology in teacher education and faculty/staff development.

UOIT Research Excellence Award (professional)


Dr. Hughes received the Early Stage Researcher Award for her national and international research success and recognition of her research in raising UOIT's profile as a research-focused institution.

Ontario Ministry of Innovation Early Researcher Award (professional)


Recognized as a leader in research excellence, Dr. Hughes is UOIT’s first Faculty of Education recipient of the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award in 2011 for her work on Fostering Globally and Culturally Sensitive Adolescents: Social Action Through Digital Literacy.

Author, The Digital Principal (professional)


From Pembroke Publishers in 2014, The Digital Principal shows education leaders how to apply their leadership skills to the challenge of creating and supporting a learning environment rich in technology and opportunities for both students and teachers to work, teach, and learn in the digital age.

Author, Social Action Through Digital Literacy (professional)


Published by iBooks in 2013 with one of her graduate students and available on iTunes, this book explores the impact on adolescents’ learning when given opportunities to create digital texts for a wider audience and engage with social justice issues on a global scale. The research presented in this book positioned adolescents as agents of change as they produced digital texts based on issues identified through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Education (4)

University of Western Ontario: PhD, Curriculum (Language and Literacy) Digital Poetry 2006

University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education: Master of Arts, Teaching (Curriculum/English) 1995

Queen's University: Bachelor of Education, Concurrent IS English/History 1988

Queen's University: Bachelor of Arts, English Literature 1987


Affiliations (8)

  • International Literacy Association
  • Canadian Society for the Study of Education
  • Language and Literacy Researchers of Canada
  • United Kingdom Literacy Association
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • Literacy Research Association
  • American Educational Research Association
  • Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education

Media Appearances (2)

Code words: The importance of teaching digital literacies

UOIT News  


The so-called ‘post-millennial’ generation (sometimes tabbed iGeneration or even Generation Z) is growing up quickly, perhaps faster than any group before them. Most of today’s youngsters are almost immediately immersed in technology and many are quickly fluent with how to use the plethora of devices at their disposal.

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UOIT Education researcher awarded with 2013 NTLI Fellowship

UOIT News  online


Dr. Janette Hughes, Assistant Dean, Research, Faculty of Education (FEd), was recently awarded the National Technology Leadership Initiative (NTLI) Fellowship for her National Council of Teachers of Education session, Transformative Teaching: Using Apps with Literature Circles to Engage Social Justice in Middle School.

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Event Appearances (19)

Co-constructing Knowledge Through MOOC Design and Development

26th International Conference of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education  Las Vegas, Nevada


Digital Tools for 21st Century Literacy Learning

United Kingdom Literacy Association 51st International Conference, National College for Teaching and Leadership  Nottngham, England


Using Digital Tools to Read, Write and Perform Poetry for Social Justice

International Federation for the Teaching of English (IFTE)/Council of English Educators (CEE) Summer Conference  New York City, New York


Using a Critical Digital Literacies Pedagogy to Promote Creativity and Equity

Literacy Research Association Conference  Carlsbad, California


Mobile Tools for Social Justice: Young Adolescent Learners Creating Digital Texts for Voice and Agency Through Literature Circles

Literacy Research Association 64th Annual Conference  Marco Island, Florida


iPoetry and iDentity

International Reading Association, Technology in Literacy Education, Special Interest Group  New Orleans, Louisiana


Everybody’s Got a Story: Building Empathy and Understanding Using Digital Tools

Intentional Teaching with Technology to Increase Understanding, Empathy and Engagement, International Reading Association Pre-Conference Institute  New Orleans, Louisiana


The Shift from English Methods to Critical Digital Literacies

Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE)  Florida


Transcending Cultural Borders Through Ning

KAME International Conference  Seoul, South Korea


Transformative Teaching – Using Apps with Literature Circles to Engage Community Social Justice in Middle School

NCTE Annual Convention: (Re)Inventing the Future of English  Boston, Massachusetts


The Adolescent Bricoleur: Constructing, Deconstructing and Reconstructing Social and Personal Identities Through Social Networking Sites

World Social Sciences Forum  Montréal, Québec


The Poetic Mirror: Exploring the Self Through Poetic Inquiry, Resonant Voices

Fourth International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry  Montréal, Québec


Identity, Social Networking and Digital Tools

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy  Rhode Island


Mirror, Mirror on My Wall: Using Social Networking Media to Promote Adolescent Reflection on the Impact of Media in their Lives

International Reading Association  San Antonio, Texas


Who Do You Think You Are? An Examination of the Off/Online Identities of Adolescents Using a Social Networking Site, YOUTH 2.0: CONNECTING, SHARING AND EMPOWERING?

Affordances, Uses and Risks of Social Media  University of Antwerp, Belgium


Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Adolescents Reflecting on the Impact of Digital Media in their Lives

Hawaii International Conference on Education  Honolulu, Hawaii


Using Digital Literacies to Foster Globally and Culturally Sensitive Adolescence: Speaking Up About Injustice

International Academic Forum: Asian Conference on Education  Osaka, Japan


Multiliteracies: Preparing Teachers to Teach in a Digital Age

8th International Conference on Education  Samos Island, Greece


The Writing is on My Wall: Engagement and LearNING Through Social Networking

Nineteenth International Conference on Learning, Institute of Education  London, United Kingdom


Research Grants (6)

Canada Research Chair in Technology and Pedagogy Tier II

Canada Research Chairs Program $500000


Dr. Hughes CRC research program involves the design of new ways to approach the intersection of digital technologies and pedagogies. She is investigating uses of emerging digital media and interactive tools that disrupt traditional curricular and teaching/learning assumptions and practices.

STEAM 3D Lab: Discover, Design, Develop

Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) $50000


Dr. Hughes and her research team will design, evaluate and observe digital “making” programs run in the CFI-funded STEAM-3D Lab to propose best-practices, policies and models of digital literacy education that will inform the use of digital technologies in classrooms across Canada and around the world. The STEAM-3D Lab will facilitate the discovery, design and development (3Ds) of digital “products” for students of all ages, their teachers, and the community, in the areas of digital literacies and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through the arts), while leading to the development of a critical digital making pedagogy.

STEAM 3D Lab: Discover, Design, Develop

Ministry of Research and Innovation $50000


Matching the CFI-funded infrastructure research grant for the establishment of her STEAM 3D Lab; Dr. Hughes' research will constructively contribute to the meaningful integration of digital technologies and education, allowing Canadian students to fully participate in the global digital marketplace, spurring home-grown innovation, and stimulating the national digital economy.

Improving our Schools

SSHRC Partnership Development Grant $199000


This research project aims to build, implement and evaluate an effective model for a school improvement program that increases teachers’ capacity, experience and specific fluency and expertise with technologies supporting STEM learning and digital literacies. It will also utilize UOIT's extensive experience with online educational engagement to extend access to system-wide teacher up-skilling, particularly to schools distant from a physically accessible university. As a co-investigator on this project, Dr. Hughes is working with a group of grade 6 students and their teachers to help them develop the skills and competencies to establish a makerspace at their school. This sub-project called Full STEAM Ahead, includes sixteen “makerspace” sessions, in which students learn bullying prevention and intervention techniques, and create digital texts and artifacts related to this anti-bullying initiative (a “making as learning” approach).

MITACS Globalink Internship

Mitacs Globalink $7500


This award provides opportunities to enhance student research opportunities globally.

Adolescents, Identity and Digital Literacy

SSHRC Insight Grant $137287


This research examines the intersection of adolescents’ out-of-school new media experiences with digital literacy education, in classroom settings in Ontario and Newfoundland where students in Grades 6 to 8 have ubiquitous access to personal mobile devices, as well as tablets and more traditional laptops and desktop computers. Using a mixed methods research approach of qualitative case study analysis and quantitative surveying, the proposed research investigates the relationship between a multiliteracies pedagogy and the development of adolescent digital literacy and identity.

Courses (6)

I/S English Methods

CURS 4110U and CURS 4111U, I/S English Curriculum Studies (BEd)

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Information Literacy

AEDT 3110U, 3rd Year Undergraduate Course

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Digital Literacy: Theory, Practice and Research

EDUC 5304G, Graduate Course

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Technology and the Curriculum

EDUC 5303G, Graduate Course

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Leadership and Technology

EDUC 5205G, Graduate Course

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Critical Making (Special Topics)

EDUC 5199G, Graduate Course

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Articles (9)

Crossing Cultural Borders Through Ning Multicultural Education Review


The aim of this mixed methods research study was to examine the construction of adolescents’ bi-cultural identities through an exploration of their social practices on the social networking site, Ning. More specifically, we ask: (1) how are new Canadian and first-generation adolescents’ bi-cultural identities shaped and performed as they use multimedia and social networking tools in their classroom; and (2) how can social networking tools help students cross cultural barriers and build strong communities of practice.

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Mobilizing Knowledge Via Documentary Filmmaking: Is the Academy Ready? McGill Journal of Education


The predominant form of research dissemination resides in the scholar’s domain, namely academic conferences and peer-reviewed journals. This paper describes how two colleagues and researchers integrated documentary filmmaking with research methods in their respective scholarly work, supporting the case for documentary film as an alternative form of scholarly work and knowledge mobilization outside the walls of the university. The authors add to the ongoing conversation for a more dynamic use of digital video-recording that moves beyond simple data collection and encourage researchers to tap into multimodal forms of expression, specifically digital filmmaking.

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You Don’t Know Me: Adolescent Identity Development Through Poetry Performance In Education, Special Issue on Poetic Inquiry


Our study concerns adolescents using poetry writing as an interrogative and creative means of shaping and creating “voices” or “identities.” Toronto-based high school students were challenged to be creators (rather than solely consumers) of available social practices within a digital landscape using mobile devices and social networking platforms.

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The Evolution of Teaching with Graphic Novels Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures


Much has changed since I began teaching in a Pre-service Teacher Education program in 2006. Back then, when I introduced our future elementary and secondary English Language Arts teachers to graphic novels, only a few students in each class had any experience with them. Most of the teacher candidates knew about and had read comics at some point in their lives, but only a few had actually read a graphic novel. Now, eight years later, almost all of them know what a graphic novel is, and some enter my classes having taken university courses in the area.

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At the Intersection of Critical Digital Literacies, YAL and Literature Circles Alan Review


In this qualitative case study, we share findings on the link between a critical digital literacies pedagogy, and the use of young adult novels, literature circles and various digital tools to develop students' traditional and digital literacy skills.

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Adolescents as Agents of Change: Digital Text-Making for Social Justice Education Matters


This article chronicles a research study in two middle schools in Canada where teachers and learners were engaged to create and integrate digital texts representative of social justice issues into the school curriculum. The article illustrates through samples of digital texts the tacit skills of students that are not readily seen in schools.

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Using Facebook to Explore Adolescent Identities Special Issue: Facebook in Education, International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments


This study examines the construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of adolescent identities through an exploration of their social practices within a digital landscape using mobile devices and Facebook for learning in the classroom and in their lives.

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The Writing is on My Wall: Engagement and LearNING Through Social Networking The International Journal of Technologies in Learning


This research chronicles experiences using a social networking site (Ning) to engage and promote collaboration between a class of grade 7 and 8 students, preservice teachers at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and graduate students at memorial University in Newfoundland.

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ImMEDIAte Gratification: Examining the Use of Mobile Devices in Adolescents’ In-School and Out-of-School Lives Learning Landscapes Special Issue: Teaching and Learning in the Digital World


Using a mixed method media approach of qualitative case study analysis and quantitative surveying, this research investigates the development of adolescent digital literacies and their use of mobile devices to further their understandings.

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