The SMART Lab research clusters at Ohio University are an inter-disciplinary effort to mobilize interdepartmental strengths to provide innovative spaces for research collaborations across various application domains. This endeavor is vital for students and faculty to engage in impactful interdisciplinary research.  SMART Lab research clusters are providing a mechanism to connect scholars from different disciplines in order to foster and promote cutting-edge research. 

The challenges being faced in the world require a concerted effort by scholars in different research domains. The answers to various problems require a broader and wholesome understanding that capitalizes on the unique strengths of diverse disciplines.  Through building collaborations, the SMART Lab helps brainstorm research ideas in today’s convergent media environments, supports members’ ongoing work, and organizes discussion sessions related to members’ projects. All these initiatives promote a culture of meaningful and inclusive research. 

SMART Lab active research clusters are currently organized and focused on four broad themes. These are (i) learning analytics (ii) digital inequality and media literacies (iii) media bias and the representation of minorities, and (iv) Audience engagement for health, crisis, and sports. All these research clusters are headed by our lab director, Dr. Laeeq Khan.

Learning Analytics Research Cluster 

The learning analytics (LA) research cluster has been organized to encourage collection, measurement, and analysis of the data for visual reporting to gain more insights into in the behavior of learners and their environment.  Learning analytics employs computational analysis and reporting of data on learners for the purposes of understanding learners, optimizing learning and the environment in which learning occurs. Leaning analytics compiles large amount of data about students from a complex network of information for better understanding of learner goals and supports in the improvement of learning contents for better pedagogy. This type of analytics assists in finding out what courses and materials engages and matters the most to learners, identify and fill the gaps in courses based on the needs of learners and determine how specific course objectives are being met by these learners as they study the course contents.  LA involves a series of academic sub-domains, including but is not limited to, social media analytics, opinion mining, teaching evaluations, and academic analytics. 

Digital inequality and Media Literacies Research Cluster

This research cluster brings together faculty and students from various educational backgrounds with interest in new media and the online spread of misinformation. The objective is to employ theoretical and methodological approaches and explore and discuss the recent phenomena in disparities in media access and use, efficient use of social media, media literacies and understanding of misinformation, and disinformation. Members in the NMSM research cluster engage in sharing knowledge, acquiring new skills, and encouraging direct involvement in collaborative-cutting-edge research.

Media Bias and Representations of Minorities Research Cluster

Media bias and representations of Minorities Research Cluster aims to bring together scholars who are interested in understanding issues related to media bias, representation of minorities, and the impacts of such biases in real life. A group of students and faculty are working collaboratively using analytics tools to advance understanding of the ‘other’ images in media utilizing mass communication theories, such as framing and agenda-setting. They also analyze online debates and people’s interactions about ingroup and outgroup media portrayals.

Focusing on the new shift to new streaming services, members involved in newly created research projects studying Netflix and Disney plus representations of the others by collecting and analyzing data generated from social media platforms and other online websites. One of the exciting components in this cluster is combining and triangulating social data analytics methods alongside different formal research methodologies.

Audience Engagement for Health, Crisis, and Sports Research Cluster

This research cluster aims to explore the quality and accuracy of online health information, public health informatics domains, and global health crises. Faculty and graduate students in the field employ different theoretical and methodological research approaches to bring considerable insights and experience in studying health informatics, persuasive health campaigns, and public health information. They are also involved in innovative research projects that explore the effectiveness of health campaigns, online health messaging, and online engagements and opinions about specific health issues.