Visual literacy in the information age

ching-chiu1Ching-Chiu Lin is a founding member of the Youth Community Informatics project. Her work with Timnah, Lisa, and Karen at the Urbana Middle School integrated art, music, story-telling, cultural heritage, and multimedia in an after-school program. That’s one of the models for our current work.

michoacanChing-Chiu’s dissertation, A qualitative study of three secondary art teachers’ conceptualizations of visual literacy as manifested through their teaching with electronic technologies, analyzed similar arts and new media projects in three schools. I’ve learned a little while ago that it was awarded second place for the 2008 Eisner Doctoral Research award. This was officially announced at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) convention in Minneapolis this month.

Congratulations, Ching-Chiu!

Creating opportunity through new media

clay_animationOne of the most impressive set of projects I saw while in Dublin, Ireland last year was the Community Links Programme out of Dublin Institute of Technology. It was established in 1996 by DIT lecturer Dr. Tommy Cooke to help individuals and communities reach their full educational potential. Programs include psychotherapy, music, and courses for mature students.

One important component is the DISC Programme, which operates in 38 inner-city disadvantaged primary and secondary schools. DISC installs computer resources in schools and community centers, and trains teachers to integrate the use of computers into the teaching/learning process in all curricular areas. Projects include the use of comic creation, clay animation, video production, class blogs, podcasting, video game making, 3d design, and robotic Lego.

Staff such as
Ian Roller and Riona Fitzgerald bring knowledge of pedagogy together with skills in video and computers to help teachers and youth leaders do amazing projects. More importantly, they do it in a way that empowers teachers as creative agents in the education process.

You can see DISC publications, including their very useful monthly newsletter online. Here’s the April edition.

RiseOut: “Defining Our Own Education”

I’ve been reading the articles on RiseOut, an online “news center focused on deschooling, youth activism, and other related issues concerning the rights of youth in the U.S.” There are entries on deschooling; unschooling; youth media; racism; the Highlander Folk School in New Market, Tennessee; Dr. “Patch” Adams; a review of the book, The Teenage Liberation Handbook, How to quit school and get a real life and education (by Grace Llewellyn); critiques of school segregation (and recent Supreme Court decisions that support it), credentialism, and military conscription.

Most of the articles on RiseOut are well-researched, thoughtful, and provocative. They remind me of the wonderful book, Letter to a teacher by the schoolboys of Barbiana, in which youth in Italy present a searing critique of their education and the unjust society it supports.

Both the Barbiana book and RiseOut address the question that Earl Kelley asks: What is real in education?. Kelley answers that the bedrock reality is the the actual life of youth.

The Obama administration’s proposed “Cradle to Career” education plan, has many good components, but education reform will never accomplish much if schooling continues to be separated from actual life and fails to come to terms with the issues raised in RiseOut.

From the RiseOut site:

We provide a diversity of alternatives to education that are self-directed and decentralized from standardized schooling. We support a young person’s choice in dropping out of school, free of social stereotypes and biases. We aim to provide a plethora of alternatives from a 12-year prison like sentence of state schooling, while staying vigilant of abuses against young people through diagnosing, segregation, ageism, adultism, sexism, and other assholisms.

A message to those who have decided to quit school:

Instead of dropping out, we applaud you for your courage to “riseout” from a nightmarish disposition of compulsory schooling. We hope RiseOut can be a resource for sharing your stories and providing choices towards regaining control over your own education.

TakingITGlobal – Inspire. Inform. Involve.

tigI heard Michael Furdyk from give a very interesting talk with slide show on Thursday. TakingITGlobal – Inspire. Inform. Involve. “is an online community that connects youth to find inspiration, access information, get involved, and take action in their local and global communities.”

It offers many of the features found on other social networking sites, but with a focus on social good and attention to the special needs of schools and youth leaders for protected spaces and appropriate content. Youth can share media they have produced as well as discuss projects around the world. They can participate in fully online communities or build an online community to support their face-to-face interactions. TakingITGlobal now works with 235,701 individual members and 1008 schools in 261 countries.

You can see a short CBC documentary about Michael and co-founder, Jennifer Corriero, here:

Illini Summer Academies plans, 2009

isa_logoIllini Summer Academies is a three-day event providing Illinois teens opportunities to explore the University of Illinois campus, study potential careers, develop leadership skills, and meet with youth from across the state. One of the nine academies will be on Youth Community Informatics, in which youth will learn about GPS/GIS, video editing, and other digital communication tools as means for contributing to their own communities.

alumnicenterThe Academies are open to youth in grades 8-12. They take place from June 29-July 1 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Delegates live in college dormitories and tour the campus. Joint activities for all delegates offer opportunities to meet with those attending different academies and with youth from around the state. These include opening and closing sessions, activities every evening, and a formal banquet at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

The Illini Summer Academies are just one among many camps and activities for youth offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during 2009.