Hatley brings technology success to D.C. youth
During the Digital Media and Learning conference in San Francisco, she and several students demonstrated their skills with the program AppInventor, in which they won a national competition one year earlier.
As Education Secretary Arne Duncan lays out a shocking picture of neglect and lack of service for most black youth during a speech at Howard University presenting the Civil Rights Data Collection, culturally-responsive innovators like Hatley are showing that the innate curiosity and creativity of the students is just waiting for effective learning strategies.
Dr. Nicole Pinkard of DePaul University created the Youth Radio Network, first at an elementary school and now as a citywide program with the Chicago Public Library, where students learn through using social media, video and audio tools. They've been commissioned by singer Lady Gaga to design a tour bus for her 2013 tour.
Constance Yowell, director of education for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which funded both Hatley and Pinkard's initiatives, describes another school built around gaming principles where she interrupted a group of students completely engaged. They were frantically attempting to find a miniature doctor who had been sucked up the nose of a body, lost his memory and was describing his location to them.
"Dr. Smalls is stuck inside this body and we have to get him out," they exclaimed to her impatiently. While pursuing this quest, they had to learn the anatomy of the body and its systems.
Dr. Craig Watkins, leading a team of researchers for the foundation's Connected Learning initiative, said students are increasingly learning through non-school sources, particularly digital media. He is following students at a school in Austin, where teaches television and film at the University of Texas, to chronicle their interactions in school and out of school with media.
Dr. Jabari Mahini, author of Digital Tools in Urban Schools, said educators are not using the power of digital media to access the full community, particularly culturally relevant resources. He leads a literacy project at the University of California, Berkeley where students use the entire array of digital tools for expression.
Mike Hawkins, who directs You Radio for Dr. Pinkard's program in Chicago, said the new media also help support traditional forms of learning. Unexpectedly, there was a 700 percent increase in books checked out by the students participating in the Youth Radio Network.
Data for black students in more than 100 school districts nationally is available in the Black Parents Guide section of this site. Interviews with many of the education innovators cited will be aired in April on ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage Black Parents Empowered show.