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Digital Youth Network

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The Digital Media – New Learner’s of the 21st Century video was amazing. In a community of school and teachers that is still relying heavily on traditional ways of teaching curriculum and is reluctant to dive into the technology pool, it is really awesome to see schools that are throwing the old-school rule book of education out the window and embracing all that this century has to offer.

I found the Digital Youth Network incredible. The school show-cased offered high school students in the area a “place to access their passion”, when they may not have the means/resources to do so otherwise. Many people interviewed in this segment commented on how every child has a passion, and that their environment can either harbor or defer that passion. So many children do not have access to the necessary tools to grow into what they love doing and as a result, find other ways of spending their recreational time – often not positive ones.

The Digital Youth Network gives high school students those tools. They have the drive as well as a good balance of guidance from teachers and independence in their own learning and creativity. They are producing final products that instill a sense of accomplishment and self-awareness. The operators of the network pool their resources as well, working with public libraries to reserve space specific to these students, giving them the space they need to put their minds to work. 

The kind of learning that takes place under these conditions is truly amazing. These students are participating in problem solving and useful learning that won’t go out of date – not just traditoinal ways of taking in information or learning facts. They are realizing their passion to become a learner. One commentator noted that many people think this digital way of teaching and learning is “killing reading and writing”. In some ways it is easy to agree with that – where are the books? Where are the pencils and paper? Are students missing out of those skills by way of engaging in this digital learning? I think that students in certain environtments have to be looked at carefully. Would they benefit from a traditional way of learning to read, write and know facts? I think that answer is a strong No. While it may seem like they are being robbed of that education that so many this is standard, traditional, “effective”…many children, especially those who do not get the support they need outside of school, need a different way to learn. 

The tasks they are taking on in their digital classes are based on traditional literacy skills. Students participate in their project based learning and understand the skill set needed to complete the task. They are building on our traditional literacy skills writing scripts, making diagrams, etc. By this way they are learning, they are getting to know themselves as a learner and they are contributing to their communities.

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