Rob McMahon, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension - Extension Academics


Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension - Extension Academics
(780) 248-1110
2-365 Enterprise Square
10230 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton AB
T5J 4P6



Dr. Rob McMahon is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta. He teaches in the Master of Arts in Communication and Technology (MACT) and Master of Arts in Community Engagement (MACE) programs. Rob's PhD dissertation in Communication Studies from Simon Fraser University, “Digital Self-Determination: Indigenous Peoples and the Network Society in Canada”, was awarded the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. Rob worked as a postdoctoral researcher with the First Nations Innovation Project at the University of New Brunswick and co-founded the First Mile Connectivity Consortium, a national nonprofit association of Indigenous technology organizations.

Rob’s research focuses on the development, adoption, and use of broadband and internet technologies by rural, remote, Northern, and Indigenous communities. His approach involves working with communities to ensure that their voices are heard in all stages of research. He and his partners are exploring ways to house project data and build research capacities in communities, and are involved in efforts to contribute to digital policy and regulation. 

His research, teaching, and community engagement work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (Insight grant), the University of Alberta's Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, the Internet Society's Beyond the Net program, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority's Community Investment program, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's Digital Literacy Exchange Program.

* Community informatics research and practice
* Indigenous, rural, remote and Northern communities and ICT
* Telecommunications policy and regulation
* Digital media and infrastructures

Current projects include:

* First Mile Connectivity Consortium (Canada) -- Working with First Nations technology organizations to develop policy and regulation to support Indigenous broadband in Canada.
* DigitalNWT (NWT) -- Using a ‘train the trainer’ approach, DigitalNWT equips a team of community-based instructors with the skills to offer digital literacy training in communities across the NWT. 
* SweetgrassAR (AB) -- Exploring Indigenous-Settler Relations through Augmented Reality storytelling with Dr. Diana Steinhauer and Stewart Steinhauer from Saddle Lake Cree Nation.
Piikani Cultural and Digital Literacy Camp Program (AB) -- Collaborating with Elders and educators in Piikani Nation to use digital technology to engage youth and preserve knowledge and history.

Past projects include:

* Digital Literacy Workshops with Gwich'in Tribal Council (NWT) -- Researching innovation in Gwich’in contexts through workshops and the creation of open educational resources that focus on the development, sustainability, and use of digital technologies.
Digital Futures (AB) -- Shaping rural broadband in Alberta and Understanding Community Broadband: The Alberta Broadband Toolkit (with Dr. Michael McNally (PI) and Dr. Dinesh Rathi, School of Library and Information Studies)
Community Leadership Mapping Project (with Dr. Mary Beckie (PI) and Dr. Kevin Jones)


* COMM 597 - “We are all Related”: Exploring Indigenous-Settler Relations through Augmented Reality Storytelling

* COMM 509 - Advanced Seminar in Research Design

* COMM 506 - Strategic Communication

* MACE 501 - Principles and Practices of Community Engagement


New article: "Shaping 'Digital Futures' in Alberta: Community Engagement for Rural Broadband Development", co-authored with Michael McNally and Kris Joseph, in Canadian Journal of Communication

New article: "Sweetgrass AR: Exploring Augmented Reality as a Resource for Indigenous–Settler Relations", co-authored with Amanda Almond, Greg Whistance-Smith, Diana Steinhauer, Stewart Steinhauer, Diane P. Janes, in International Journal of Communication


COMM 506 - Strategic Communications in a Digital World

The conceptual and practical foundations for effective strategic communications management will be examined, providing professionals with the insights and skills needed to integrate digital media into strategic communications planning for a range of organizations including non-profit, education, government, health, and private sector. Restricted to MACT students. Students may not receive credit for both EXT 506 and COMM 506. Prerequisites: COMM 502 and COMM 503 or consent of the Department.

Spring Term 2020


Canada’s Northern Communications Policies: The Role of Aboriginal Organizations
Author(s): McMahon, R., Hudson, H.E. & Fabian, L.
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: The Shifting Terrain: Nonprofit Policy Advocacy in Canada
External Link:
Indigenizing Digital Literacies: Community Informatics Research with the Algonquin First Nations of Timiskaming and Long Point
Author(s): McMahon, R., Whiteduck, T., Chasle, A., Chief, S., Polson, L. & Rodgers, H.
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Engaged Scholar Journal
Volume: 2
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 267-284
External Link:
Digital Data Management as Indigenous Resurgence in Kahnawà:ke
Author(s): McMahon, R., LaHache, T., & Whiteduck, T.
Publication Date: 2015
Publication: International Indigenous Policy Journal
Volume: 6
Issue: 3
External Link:
From Digital Divides to the First Mile: Indigenous Peoples and the Network Society in Canada
Author(s): McMahon, R.
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: International Journal of Communication
Volume: 8
Issue: 1
External Link:
Shaping “Digital Futures” in Alberta: Community Engagement for Rural Broadband Development
Author(s): Rob McMahon, Michael McNally, Kris Joseph
Publication: Canadian Journal of Communication
Volume: 45
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 25-51
External Link:
Sweetgrass AR: Exploring Augmented Reality as a Resource for Indigenous–Settler Relations
Author(s): McMahon, R., Almond, A., Steinhauer, D., Steinhauer, S., Whistance-Smith, G., Janes, D.P.
Publication: International Journal of Communication
Volume: 13
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 4530-4552
External Link: