Spotlight covers the intersections of technology and education, going behind the research to show how digital media is used in and out of classrooms to expand learning.

Launched in 2009 as an independent publication covering MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, Spotlight has expanded to include coverage of people and projects in a wide variety of learning environments.

We bring you stories from design camps where kids use smartphones to conduct scientific research, museums where they lead virtual archaeological digs, and library spaces where they remix and produce their own media. We interview leading thinkers in education, law and government and investigate the ethical promises and perils that online worlds create.

Kids do not stop learning when they leave school, and digital media can be that bridge between school, home and beyond. Spotlight shows how that happens, with behind-the-scenes feature stories, a daily blog covering news from the field, video podcasts and StudentSpeak webisodes that show how teens are using digital media in their everyday lives.

Spotlight is produced and edited by a team of journalists, videographers and editors under a grant from the Tides Center. We welcome your comments and feedback.


Spotlight invites guest blog posts by educators and policy makers. Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your ideas or coverage suggestions, or use this form to submit your query.

Spotlight Staff

Barbara Ray, Managing Editor
Barbara Ray is a writer and editor who helps researchers and nonprofit organizations reach wider audiences. She has worked extensively with academics and researchers focused broadly on social welfare policy and economics. She is the author of “Not Quite Adults Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone” (Random House, 2010).

Christine Cupaiuolo, Editor
A former newspaper reporter, Christine Cupaiuolo launched an online magazine in 2000 on the intersections of pop culture and politics and has been editing and troubleshooting websites for national publications and nonprofit organizations ever since. She often writes about culture and gender and is the managing editor of the 2011 edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” She lives in Chicago and at Christine2.com and @cmc2.

Sarah Jackson, Editor / Webmaster
Sarah Jackson has worked with MacArthur’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative since its launch in 2006. She has worked as a journalist, community outreach worker, and a researcher for the Chicago Public Schools and AFSCME Council 31. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and two young children.

Jeane Quentin, StudentSpeak Co-Producer
Jeane Quentin studied communication and digital media at Stanford University, where she also ran track and cross country. After graduation, she worked as a sports information director for the Stanford Athletic Department and then moved to Phoenix, where she coached and taught middle school integrated studies. She is now a part-time Chicago resident with her husband.

David Ayling, Video Producer
David Ayling is a passionate video professional and creative hired geek. Hailing from the wilds of Northern N.Y. he studied film and visual communications in Ohio and eventually hung his hat in Chicago. David worked in the advertising industry and digital media for over five years creating everything from music videos for death metal bands to promotional materials for Cannes.  He enjoys attending his wife’s gallery openings and a good Chicago hot dog.

Mike Hawkins, StudentSpeak Co-Producer
Mike Hawkins (aka Brother Mike), associate director and lead mentor for Digital Youth Network, works with Spotlight to brainstorm and organize StudentSpeak webisodes. He joined DYN after eight years at the University of Chicago Carter G. Woodson Charter School on Chicago’s South Side. As a DYN mentor, Brother Mike works across media, from spoken word to radio to graphic design. Most notably, he helped develop a multimedia arts class called iRemix Records, in which 6th-grade students analyze and critique the music industry while learning how to create their own music.


Heather Chaplin, Reporter
Heather Chaplin is the author of “Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution,” a narratively told exploration of the modern videogame industry. She is a regular contributor to All Things Considered and writes for such publications as The New York Times, L.A. Times, GQ, and Details. She has been quoted on the topic of games in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Magazine, Talk of the Nation, CBS Sunday Morning, Newsweek and Business Week.

Matt Haber, Reporter
Matt Haber has written for The New York Observer, The New York Times, Esquire, Wired, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Josh Karp, Reporter
Josh Karp teaches journalism at Northwestern and is the author of two books: “A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever” and “Straight Down the Middle: Shivas Irons, Bagger Vance and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Golf Swing.” His work has appeared in Salon, TV Guide, Premiere, The Atlantic Monthly Online, L.A. Times Sunday Magazine, Chicago Magazine and other publications. He lives near Chicago with his wife and four sons. You can find him online at JoshKarpBooks.com

Mac Montandon, Reporter
Mac Montandon is a writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his wife and two daughters. He has worked on staff at a handful of national magazines and has written for The New York Times, New York magazine, Spin, Details and Salon, among others. He is the author of the narrative non-fiction book “Jetpack Dreams: One Man’s Up and Down (But Mostly Down) Search for the Greatest Invention that Never Was.” He also edited the book “Innocent When you Dream: The Tom Waits Reader” and founded the websites The Silence of the City and Best Recession Ever!.