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Pew Internet & American Life Project

Pew Internet & American Life Project

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
September 23, 2010

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the Internet through surveys that examine how Americans use the Internet and how their activities affect their lives.

Purpose of the Project
The Pew Internet & American Life Project was conceived with two strains of research in mind.
1. to study basic online activities by gathering data on who is using the Internet and
what they are doing.
2. to explore the impact of internet use on families, communities, work and home, daily
life, education, health care, and civic and political life.

As stated on the Pew Internet Project website, they take no positions on policy and do not endorse technologies, industry sectors, companies, nonprofit organizations, or individuals.

Research Methods
The Pew Internet Project uses nationwide random phone surveys, online surveys, and qualitative research as the primary means of data collection. Government agencies, technology firms, academia, and other expert venues are used to supplement the survey data.

Each year, the Pew Internet Project releases 15-20 pieces of research. The reports cover a range of technology, gadgets, and online activities. While the reports might appear daunting at first (many of the PDFs are over 50 pages long), they are actually quick reads with most of the data presented in easily understood graphs and charts. 

Often the Pew Internet Project returns to topics studied in prior years and releases a “current state of” report. As such, this collection of research gives us a valuable perpective on our evolving relationship with the Internet.

Topics of Interest to Educators
While topics include everything from online banking to music downloading, much of the data can be used to inform our teaching practices. The following is a short selection of reports that might be of interest to educators.

2010: The Future of Cloud Computing
2008: Writing, Technology, and Teens
2007: Social Networking Websites and Teens
2005: The Internet at School

On the Pew Internet Project website, you can browse by popular topics. Each topic is linked to a page on the Pew Internet Project website, where you can read the full report and explore survey questions used to gather the data.

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