About Veena

Welcome. I am an educational ethnographer and qualitative researcher. My research thinks about ways to reimagine public education to invite young people’s curiosities and passions into the classroom and is situated within ongoing debates about making to learn that are visible in Connected Learning and the Maker Movement as well as larger dialogues about reinvigorating STEM and STEAM in schools. My work also considers the real concerns raised by the encroachment of neoliberal forces on public education and the dearth of appreciation or inclusion of community voices, funds of knowledge and out of school literacies in district policymaking.  In my current research, I examine the relationships between youth’s literacies and making practices (including making with technology and new media), schooling, and identity at an urban public high school. Another stream of my research focuses on how making games for learning using educational technologies like Scratch and MaKey MaKey. In my research I draw on methodological practices drawn from visual and multimodal ethnography.

This site houses a blog that I began in 2011 while volunteering to be a reading tutor at an elementary school in Crown Heights. In parallel I was working at the New York City Department of Education and often confronted with contradictions between policy and practice around issues including teaching, learning, youth development and schooling. The inquiries I documented eventually led to my matriculation to the doctoral program at Penn GSE. In addition to the blog, you will find my CV and publications.

A little more about me…
I have spent almost a decade working in urban public education spanning several different contexts including local and state governments, educational non-profits and, directly in schools through informal teaching in after school and elective programs at the middle and high school level. Prior to matriculating, I worked as an independent educational technology consultant for the New York State Department of Education and for three years at the New York City Department of Education where I was the Director of Knowledge Sharing. My work at the NYCDOE focused on developing research-based resources to support educators across the district as well as developing and maintaining the online platforms to disseminate this content. We were particularly concerned with identifying promising or best practices and working closely with schools to document these practices to nurture collaboration and sharing across schools. We did this through written and audiovisual documentation including several short films. Before joining the NYCDOE I worked in technology and did extensive work focused on economic development in developing countries.