Rob McMahon, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept


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



Dr. Rob McMahon is an Associate Professor in the Media & Technology Studies Unit and the Department of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. He teaches in the Master of Arts in Communication and Technology (MACT) program. 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. 

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. He is currently the co-director of the DigitalNWT project, which employs a co-creational approach to strengthen the foundation of community-based digital literacy in the Northwest Territories (NWT). 

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 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)

Technology Stewardship to Promote ICT Adoption in Sri Lanka (with Dr. Gordon Gow (PI)


* 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: "Co-developing digital inclusion policy and programming with Indigenous partners: interventions from Canada", in Internet Policy Review

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


COMM 509 - Advanced Seminar in Research Design

Advanced seminar on qualitative and quantitative approaches for conducting research in communications and technology. This course provides students with in depth study of research design and guides them in preparation for commencing their culminating project. Offered by asynchronous Internet communication. Restricted to MACT course-based students. Prerequisite: COMM 501 or consent of the department.

Fall Term 2020

Browse more courses taught by Rob McMahon


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: