Nichole Pinkard on Digital Literacy (Big Thinkers Series)



literacy has always been defined by the technology right before the printing press your ability to orally recite something meant to be literate and so as technology has made things cheaper we're now saying well is someone literate if they cannot critique mediatek media in if they're only taking in traditional text so if it's 6th grader today by the time they graduate from college is not fluent if you will in some of these other forms of media I would venture to say that they won't necessarily be considered as being literate the digital youth network was started over five years ago really out of trying to understand how we can support youth in learning to use digital media initially for schoolwork but the more we thought about it and the more we realized how the world was changing and evolving we realized we really needed to help them understand how to use digital media for all aspects of their life our population of youth were urban youth living in the city of Chicago and we couldn't assume that they were going to learn how to use technologies and media in the way that we wanted in their home life so we had to figure out how to how to make it happen within the context of school or in the space where kids connecting to school and we realized that so many efforts around tech integration in school have failed mainly because the purpose was to try to get teachers to be the ones who taught kids how to use technology and we just knew that that couldn't be the way to go first because our kids were more digitally sophisticated than teachers we've also then in the last year established a partnership with the Chicago Public Library to open up a high school only space call you media which is a space just for 9th through 12th graders and in that partnership the Chicago Public Library provides two space provides the library so we provide the digital mentors who collaborate collectively with the librarians to create opportunities learning opportunities digital opportunities for youth we've also created a social network called remix learning and that's a platform that you use to connect one one another 24/7 so the Dyn is a after-school program and in school program a shared space with you media and there's also an online social space what we initially did is we asked teachers to just come and watch and to look at their students and to see their students using technology in a way that was very different from how they were using it in the school so they saw their students as producers and creators of technology they saw them creating videos they saw them creating some video games and music and songs and what they saw which many of them talked about is that they saw students who were quiet in the school day come alive in the after school space the thing that draws me in about Dyn was the studio that was upstairs and that's just like a place that I'd love to be in the spot for inspiration really and on top of the inspiration it's a spot where you have the tools as well to again like I said earlier bring out what you want to what you hear in your head and putting it in front of a camera or in a peep machine or paper and you know how to use it this is amazing I think we've structured our work with students in such a way to try to create a cycle where they are developing the skill sets but they're constantly making use of those skills in ways that are you know first personally beneficial but also beneficial to their society we have a trajectory if we will its first you're just a regular Dyn kid and you're learning how to use digital media and if you choose to like really develop a passion to geek out if you will in one area then you can become a junior mentor because now you've developed a set of skills that we think can be used to teach others and at that point there's a set of responsibilities that come with that one is you're responsible for working with those who are younger and teaching them how to do what it is that you do but then you also get more specialized support and mentoring to help take care of skill sets to a different level you get opportunities to be professional and to go record your and if you really are do this for a couple of years and you've demonstrated some mastery if you will you can get paid to do this particular work I started off as just a student but now I'm getting paid to do what they do and that's how long I've been with and now I actually have my own class and I used to just be a part of the class and I don't know any teenager or a senior in high school that has a class full of students where they get to teach and create their own curriculum I think the ways in which most technologies have been brought into the classroom and videos and things they've come in with a natural audience so I think if you were just doing the video that only your teacher saw I think eventually you would get to the point that that would be the same as doing the essay you know but I think because oftentimes they're brought in which you're going to share with your classmates you can take in and share it with your parents or with your friends that that motivates you to do work but before his voice box was completely backed in he thought to himself why should i silence myself part of what we've also been trying to understand is well does this matter what impact does it have besides yes as good a kid can make a video or a podcast does it lead to a set of portfolio a set of skill sets that it can impact their life so we did a three year ethnography on a group of kids starting from the sixth grade in their sixth grade year following them all the way through the end of their eighth grade year and the question really was okay so what does this matter and we needed to compare them to a group of kids when we felt we're probably exemplifying what digital natives should be and so we chose to compare our kids to a group of kids and Silicon Valley kids who grew up in environments where we started in the water the use of digital media their parents work for tech firms and we wanted to see could we create an ecology if you will a cocoon above in school after school online social capital here in Chicago where our kids can begin to look like those kids in terms of the digital their digital portfolios and so starting at the beginning of the sixth grade year as one will suspect 96% of our kids have fewer digital media experiences portfolios if you will then the kids in Silicon Valley and every year we test it and we you know we looked at where we were going at the end of the sixth grade year beginning of seventh grade year I think 76% of our kids had more experiences than the kids in Silicon Valley and at the end of the eighth grade year believe the number is more like 86 or 84 percent of our kids had more have more experiences almost any kid that you look at and you say wow this is a great user of digital media you can trace back there's a parent there's a you know a program there's something that inspired them and develop them and that we need to make sure that we have those types of programs and those people represented equally throughout all of society you

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