Nichole Pinkard: Preparing Urban Youth to be Multiliterate
10.22.07 | When the sixth graders of today take off their cap and gowns in 2018, after graduating from college and entering the workforce, what will it mean to be literate? What will be the media they use to communicate with colleagues, families and friends? While none of us knows the exact answer to this question, we all know that the reduced cost and size of technology, the increasing ubiquity of internet connectivity, and the shrinking of the world through globalization will continue to heighten the importance of developing a citizenry able to critically consume and produce media beyond text.
I conjecture that by 2018, a student will routinely be judged not only by her ability to write a 5-paragraph essay but her ability to represent her ideas via a 5 minute podcast, 2 minute movie, and level in an educational game.
In essence literate in 2018 will mean being multi-literate - the ability to critically consume and produce media such as print, video, sound and screen. Of course this conjecture is not new. Many technologists, educators, and policy makers are espousing this future. However, while the synergy regarding what it will mean to be literate in the future is growing, the blueprint for getting there is still on the drafting table. If we are to prepare our sixth graders of today for the world they will face tomorrow we must begin today to rethink our definitions and methods of supporting youth in becoming multiliterate.
How can this be accomplished? On the south side of Chicago at the University of Chicago’s Center for Urban School Improvement we have developed the Digital Youth Network (DYN) which is charged with creating a model for preparing urban youth to become multiliterate by developing their new media literacies. Through the DYN program, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, youth are challenged to rethink the messages in the media they consume, own the messages in the media they create, and discover the power of expressing their knowledge and perspective across media.
We take an ecological approach to developing multiliterate by developing programming that spans the spaces where students spend their day: school, after-school, and home. Our model includes:
- Partnering with schools that have made a commitment to preparing youth for the future
- Providing youth access to new media artists who through both their teaching and public presentation of their own work motivate and support youth in developing their new media literacies
- Provisioning of media arts classes during the school and after-school hours
- Opportunities for youth to showcase their work in real, online and virtual spaces
- 24/7 access to mentors and peers through a closed media-base social Network entitled RemixWorld.
To see examples of work created by students in the DYN program visit http://www.iremix.org.
Over the next two weeks my colleagues will provide their perspective on how we are preparing youth today for the multiliterate world they will face in the future. I look forward to continued conversation.
- Brother Mike Hawkins on his experience working with youth to create their own record label
- Akili Lee on the program’s new media driven social networking website.
- My discussion of our work to encourage sixth grade girls to give video games a try.
- Tené Gray on using professional learning communities to support the development of artists as teachers.
- Kim Gomez concludes the series with discussion of the project’s research component.
Editor’s note: Listen to Nichole Pinkard discuss new media literacy here.
Leave a comment
Comments are moderated to ensure topic relevance and generally will be posted quickly.