Academic, Career, and Community Connections

“Learners flourish and realize their potential when they can connect their interests and social engagement to academic studies, civic engagement, and career opportunity” (Ito et al. 2013:8)

“It is important to consider the context of academic learning being framed: educators must push to integrate the socially and culturally meaningful contexts of youths’ lives with the academic expectations of today’s classrooms.” (Garcia, 2014)

The week ahead …

Let’s start getting back into things here at ED677 by hearing from the youth at Youth Radio. Youth Radio’s mission is to launch young people on career and education pathways by engaging them in work-based learning opportunities, creative expression, professional development, and health and academic support services. Click on the “Youth Storytelling” to sort through the range of work that they do.

Learn more about Youth Radio by reading this profile of Asha Richardson published by the Connected Learning Alliance a few years ago. What are all the different elements you can see coming together here that supported Asha in making connections in her life and through her interests?

Return again to Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom starting with Chapter 3: Academically-Oriented Teaching on page 39. In the introducation of this chapter, Antero Garcia asks what is academic in the first place and then introduces us to Janelle, Larissa, and Nick and their students. Extend this reading to include this article on How Playing with Math Helps Teachers Better Empathize with Students.

Then, check out this webinar at Educator Innovator from last summer, teachers from Los Angeles, Oakland, and Chicago shared their experiences implementing curriculum exploring the expanded possibilities and risks associated with youth civic and political engagement in the digital age. Here is a version on Vialogues.

Joe Kahne, a lead research from this project above, writes in the Washington Post that getting kids “college and career ready” isn’t enough.

Finally, I’d be interested in your thoughts emerging from this recent NWP Radio where I had the opportunity talk with colleagues about #techquity and explore the intersections of civic engagement/imagination and digital literacy.

What are the implications for your inquiry work this semester? In thinking about the “Academic” piece of Connected Learning, the authors of the Connected Learning Research and Design Agenda provides these guiding reflections :

  • Do adults celebrate youth participation as academically meaningful and relevant?
  • Do formal/academic settings provide space/opportunity for [youth] engagement with interest?
  • Are outputs made visible within academic/institutional contexts that have relevance to the adult world?
  • Are mentors present who can help young people to connect their interest/activity to academic/institutional domains?

Let’s add two more questions from Garcia and Kahne:

  • Are there socially and culturally meaningful contexts of youths’ lives within the academic expectations of today’s classrooms?
  • In what ways are youth being supported in being college, career and community-ready?

App Making/Imagining

This week let’s make something inspired by the youth and educators at Youth Radio. Check out Teach Youth Radio. And then let’s try this fun experiment — What if we could use our devices and design a mobile App that allowed you to create more of these kinds of connections for the youth we work with … What would it do? … How is it awesome?

Youth Radio provides this DIY Toolkit: How to Come Up with Your Own Mobile App. The example here is about making public art more visible. What if our apps here at ED677 were instead designed to support youth in being college, career and community-ready? And/or was designed to create socially and culturally meaningful contexts of youths’ lives within academic spaces? And/or create more connections from our academic contexts to the adult world by providing supportive mentors and mentorship?

In other words: With our shared ED677 goal to create equitable connected learning opportunities for youth that supports academic, civic and community connections … what would kind of App would you design and why?

Do some imagining and playing this week with this idea and share on your blog — you can be as practical or fantastical as you like. Use the resources gathered by Youth Radio (see also Interview Three below).

Share your App ideas and tell us about it while also reflecting on the implications for equity in connected learning and teaching.

Interview Three

This PDF is provided by Youth Radio to support the process of making an App — and it suggests that designers put together three questions and then interview three other users as part of a user research process on the way to creating the App:

User Research allows you to understand your users’ wants and needs. Figure out the users’ problem, and how they might like it to be addressed. Or figure out the opportunity your users have, and how the app can help them achieve it. This is also the best time to get ideas.

Instead of finding 5 this week, interview 3 people to support your own “user research” for your App idea. You can pick 3 people to ask in this class or outside of it .. youth, colleagues, neighbors, friends, mentors, etc.

In connected learning solidarity,


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