PLAYBACK: The Kids Are All Right: Making Media, Teaching Legislators and Being Nice to Others
5.6.11 | Young people develop community apps; Illinois students head to Springfield to teach tech; high school girls in New York change online culture through Delete Day; college students identify digital literacies ...
The Kids Behind the Design, Development and Marketing of Mobile Action Lab Apps: Ellen Ferrante of the National Science Foundation has a great piece on Mobile Action Lab, an initiative by California-based Youth Radio to provide training and hands-on STEM experience to 14- to 24-year-olds.
Elisabeth “Lissa” Soep, senior producer and research director of Mobile Action Lab, explains how the project is using mobile platforms to create high-impact digital projects:
“Based on challenges in public education, transformations in media worlds and opportunities to spark STEM learning, Youth Radio decided to capitalize on the talent of its young people and its network of professional colleagues by teaching young people to create new technology platforms. Apps increasingly determine who knows what, how news travels and what makes change possible.”
According to Soep, the Mobile Action Lab strives to “lower barriers that have traditionally blocked teens and young adults from learning to develop innovative tech platforms, which is especially significant for those who haven’t had access to excellent, engaging STEM teaching in schools.”
Soep also explained how Mobile Action Lab provides a network between young people, especially low income youth and youth of color, with tech developers, engineers, and entrepreneurs; and prepares all graduates of Mobile Action Lab with the skill-sets to “configure design-development teams and play key roles in future tech-based projects—from conception through research, design and development, testing, launch and analysis.”
Read on for more about the creative process and the apps that these young people are developing for their communities.
Starting a Delete Day Movement: Via Anne Collier, I loved finding out about Delete Day—an online safety initiative organized by the students at Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica Estates, N.Y. And that, writes Collier is what makes it so meaningful—it’s their own.
It started last October, when – as part of this Catholic girls school’s public-service education program – sophomores, juniors, and seniors at this Catholic girls’ school participated in a “Take Action, Advocacy, Leadership One-Day Conference.” After giving a keynote about “safety, responsibility, respect, and reputation management within online and offline communities,” Alison Trachtman Hill of Critical Issues for Girls offered the student “service-learning teams” some “ideas and strategies to create youth-led change in their community” and a “Take Action” template for the teams to use, Hill writes in her blog.
But I think the most important thing she did was this: “I spoke to them about their power and responsibility to change the culture at their school, because so often youth don’t feel like they have the power to make change, when the reality is that they are the only ones who can!!” she later told me (I totally agree – see this). The students decided they needed to “create a culture of inclusivity, dignity and love within their school community, using Gandhi’s quotation “My life is my message” as the theme, adding their own tagline: “Make yours a message that matters.” Picking up on that second message, for Delete Day, today, the organizers are staffing a room in the school where fellow students can go during lunch or a free period to delete messages that don’t matter (or are destructive), including mean gossip, wall comments, inappropriate photos, unknown “friends” and contacts, etc.
Here’s a handy powerpoint for Delete Day. I’m going to forward this idea on to New Moon, which publishes an excellent magazine written by and for girls and provides them with a moderated online community through which many young girls (my 8-year-old niece among them) are learning about respectful, positive online interactions.
Teaching Tech to State Legislators: How do you convince legislators that technology skills are essential to learning? Let the kids do the teaching.
TribLocal reporter Ashley Rueff reports on the efforts of two two fifth-graders who took their laptops, USB keyboards and newly learned composing skills to the State Capitol in Illinois this week to participate in Tech 2011, a program organized by Illinois Computing Educators to show lawmakers how students are using technology in the classroom.
Yanni Zentefis, 10, from Fernway Park School in Orland Park, and Abby Wierzal, 10, from John A. Bannes School in Tinley Park, use the software program Garage Band to learn about about song development. “It’s just a blast to create your own music,” Zentefis said.
Mike Gallagher, music teacher at Bannes School, said he’s hoping to show legislators “that technology in general in the schools is not only important, it’s crucial.”
Fernway Park music teacher Janet Jones also has another message: “For budget cuts, don’t look at music first, and the arts,” she said. “I feel like for many children, that’s their form of self-expression.”
You can view the variety of school presentations (pdf) selected for Tech 2011. Among them: Students teaching Students - Middle Schoolers, Undergraduates & Civil Rights; Thinking in Systems: Meaningful Play & the Game Design Process; Reaching Lincoln Through eBooks; and Rock Band Wiki.
Plus: Here’s another (brief) example of the kids doing the teaching—Lindsey Stiller, a sophomore at New Bern High School in New Bern, N.C., and a student in the school’s fledgling digital media program, won a $2,000 state grant to produce a youth suicide prevention video that will be shown online and in movie theaters across the state. The money will go toward a new digital camcorder, replacing one that still uses tape.
What Are Digital Literacies? Let’s Ask the Students: Last month, Cathy Davidson wrote a post for DMLCentral titled “Doing Better by Generation Y” that addressed criticism of Gen Y’s interaction with new media. The assessment, she argued, was neither truthful nor helpful: “It makes me mad, the scapegoating of youth without taking responsibility for improving the education they receive. If we blame them for being ‘alone together,’ absorbed and obsessed by digital media, and therefore living murkily in ‘the shallows,’ shouldn’t we also be making sure that we’re reforming our curriculum to give them some aids to liberate them from those putatively grim miasmas?”
With those critiques in mind, Davidson asked undergraduate students in her two classes -This Is Your Brain on the Internet and 21st-Century Literacies - to create a list of “new social media skills they had mastered and come to analyze and understand in my peer-driven, peer-assessed, peer-led classes. Of course they also mastered other content (whether regarding neural networks or novels) in each class, but I wanted them to focus on new skills. We might call these skills ‘digital literacies.’”
Without further ado, check out the impressive list (and the great comments that follow). As Davidson writes, “To my mind, this is a list of digital literacies any of us might aspire to.”
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