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Samantha-Kaye Johnston

Personal photo - Samantha-Kaye Johnston

Dr Samantha-Kaye Johnston

Research Associate


Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QD


I am a researcher in the Department of Computer Science. My research profile and interest span a large area covering skill development, in particular, skills that support digital intelligence. Within this context, I focus on how students think, read and create in digital spaces by looking at two strands: (1) assessing and strengthening the development of 21st century digital skills, including critical thinking and critical reading, and (2) elevating the voices of young people from diverse backgrounds in their ethical and responsible engagement with technology. I am particularly interested in ensuring that the rights of students are protected while they interact within the digital space, including elevating the voices of young people in decision-making processes and ensuring that students have autonomy in digital environments and part of this involves strengthening skills such as critical thinking and digital literacy. These skills can also be strengthened through the responsible design of technology that employs a socio-technical lens. As such, I am pleased to be situated within the Human-Centred Computing Theme working to make the World Wide Web a better and safer place for users where they feel more empowered in digital spaces. 

I currently lead the Digital Autonomy Machine Experiment: through 8, short scenarios that take 10 to 15 minutes to complete, we invite the general public to reflect critically on their values and preferences regarding their autonomy (agency) over their digital footprint, including the sharing of their personal information and even what information is shared with them. Importantly, we also recognise that autonomy means different things to different people (across countries and age groups), and this is a key area that we are exploring in this experiment.What truly excites me is the chance to inspire enthusiasm among people, encouraging them to reflect on the concept of autonomy in a way that is meaningful for them. The outcome of this global experiment will inform the development of more human-centered technology, one that honours and respects people's preferences for how they would like to exercise their autonomy in digital environments.

I also lead Project Amplify, a weekend initiative that is in collaboration with Youth Can Do I.T. in Jamaica. Amplify aims to empower young students in their ethical design and use of emerging digital environments. In 2023, we are focusing on responsible use and design of the metaverse.

I am a Fellow at Jesus College and a Research Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society and Department of Education, Oxford.

Twitter: @IAMSAMKJ