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Erin Reilly
Managing Director + Research Fellow – USC Annenberg Innovation Lab; Executive Director – Blackstone LaunchPad @USC


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Center Affiliation

Annenberg Innovation Lab

Erin Reilly is Managing Director & Research Fellow for Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC's Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism and Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad USC. In her role, she oversees all aspects of lab programming, product design and mentoring students in developing applications and business ideas using digital media and how it impacts society. Her research focuses on new media literacies, transmedia play and learning, social entrepreneurialism, audience engagement and the future of media and entertainment.

Erin’s most recent research is on Leveraging Engagement with an initial case study on Fans. Passions. & Brands. Global Study on Football (Soccer). Currently, she leads multiple teams who conduct engagement research in the areas of unscripted entertainment, transmedia entertainment, music and sports. Having received multiple awards, such as Cable in a Classroom’s Leaders in Learning, Erin is a recognized expert in the development of processes and resources for educators and students and conducts field research to collect data and help shape the field of digital media and learning. Erin has successfully designed and implemented the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s CRUNCH Student Design Challenge. This incubator supports student teams to learn new skills, meet industry leaders, and learn about what it takes to design new products, and in the past four years, two of the winning teams have gone on to accelerators and launch their startups. Erin has also developed the lab’s Think & Do ideation session to engage the wider community in re-envisioning the media and entertainment industry. This ideation process was a finalist in the MIX prize awarded through Harvard Business Review and McKinsey.

Before coming to USC, Erin was Research Director for Project New Media Literacies at MIT and also has conducted classes as a Visiting Lecturer at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Department and Harvard University’s Project Zero Summer Institute. She is most notably known for her social entrepreneurship activities in founding Zoey’s Room, one of the first social media citizen science programs and networks for young girls to connect with women role models. She has also led many R&D teams to explore the future of media.

Erin published her first digital book, Flows of Reading, to inspire teachers and student to reflect on what can be considered as reading and what kinds of reading they perform in their everyday lives. An exploration to define the concept of Transmedia Play was applied in developing a dynamic book prototype using the wordless picture book Flotsam as a transmedia play experiment. This experimental platform explores new forms of reading and writing as well as joint media engagement between children and their caregivers. Her recent publications also include T is for Transmedia: Learning through Transmedia Play, Visualization as a New Media Literacy, Shall We PLAY?, PLAY! (Participatory learning and you), and Designing with Teachers: Participatory models of Professional Development.

Reilly is a graduate of Emerson College and has her Master of Fine Arts degree from Maine Media Workshops + College. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Vice President board member of NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Educators) and serves on advisory boards, such as Disney Junior and PBS Emmy-award winning Sci Girls. Erin consults with private and public companies in the areas of audience engagement, creative strategy and transmedia projects.

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Course Titles

Spring 2015 

PDF iconASCJ 420

In this intense, 7-week course, your team will learn the secrets of a successful startup, including how to accomplish the following:

• Determine your minimum viable brand

• Discover ways to motivate customers

• Define and share your story

• Design your competitive advantage

Throughout, we’ll be focused on new media literacies and learning by doing. Each student startup must pass multiple checkpoints over the 7-week intensive; then, at the end of the semester, the teams will present to a jury of successful industry leaders and entrepreneurs at the AIL’s Spring 2015 Evening of Innovation, with the chance to win additional funding!