The Digital Practices of Black and Latino Youth, MIT Media Lab, 4/12, 5-7 pm

On Thursday (4/12) evening at the MIT Media Lab, S. Craig Watkins from the University of Texas at Austin will present what he’s learned about the digital practices of black and Latino youth from studying the social and digital media behaviors of young people.

Craig Watkins: “The Digital Edge: Exploring the Digital Practices of Black and Latino Youth”
Thursday, April 12, 2012 – 5:00pm to 7:00pm
MIT Media Lab, E14-633
MIT Campus Map
A Civic Media Session and Comparative Media Studies Colloquium

Addendum 4/12: Many young people are early adopters of mobile technology, regardless of what kind of Internet or computer access they have at home. In some ways, that fact is a paradox.

Homes where families are struggling with finances are becoming more and more the norm. These families’ struggles resonate in different ways. The researchers have been looking at the 2010 Census data. Great implications for society lie in these challenges: public education, support for the poor, changing demographics, etc. Slightly more than half the students enrolled in public education in some areas are non-white. Watkins showed a map of the percentage of infants under age 1 who are non-white. Many of the areas along the coast, particularly from California around the southern edge of the US and coming up along the southeast, show more than 60% of babies are not white. These population changes will have different impacts.

Some of their projects center on the fact that school is not the only place where people learn. They try to look at a child’s entire life, not just the time spent in class. They want to figure out how to establish different pathways throughout, say, the peer community to school.

They work with a high school with about 2200 students: ~30% Hispanic/Latino, ~30-40% African American, and the rest are a mix of Asians and whites. They’re looking at the broad picture: who has access to upper level academic classes, who’s going to college. They looked at elective technology courses, the after school digital media club, and homes and other non-school activities. They followed 9 males and 9 females for a year to study their digital habits. Individual interviews number around 150. Researchers spent more than 120 hours in the classrooms. And “because it’s Texas,” they attended a high school football game.

They paid special attention to connected learning in edge communities.

1) Technology-rich, but curriculum poor

Some schools emphasize technology (computers, using digital media, teaching technology skills, etc.) when they can’t really afford to update textbooks, paint the hallways, pay great teachers, etc.

2) Restrictive policies block social media and learning opportunities

Schools often block technology they think is not worthwhile or would be misused or a distraction, including social media. The researchers found schools harm students’ learning by having policies that are too restrictive. For one thing, students don’t fully learn what it means to be a citizen in the digital world.

3) Uneven support networks

A school project in Argentina provided kids with computers. Within the school, there’s support for the technology for the most part. Outside of the school, there’s not a lot of tech infrastructure. Some of the teachers don’t fully understand or embrace the technology students use. The researchers found that when they bring technology to the students, they also need to do more to make sure teachers understand and can give students support.

Out of school learning: Digital Media Club: social space, learning space, interest-driven space

School libraries are very different from what Watkins remembers. Spaces today are collaborative and noisy, where students are encouraged to work together.

Design literacy is very important because its elements can apply to all sorts of situations. Discovery, analysis, strategy, design, build, discovery, analysis …

“Learning to be more related to real-world questions and problems and to also be a productive activity, in which children make things” (Leadbeater & Wong 2010)

They’re working on various summer programs to keep the kids engaged, help them not forget what they’ve learned during the year.

The Young & The Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future

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