I enjoyed learning about all five of the learning programs described in the video but my favorite was Digital Youth Network in Chicago, IL. Although all of the programs discussed teaching students problem solving and collaboration skills, I feel that the DYN program really went above and beyond to help students achieve their goals.
I could be biased; as a musician myself, I always enthusiastically advocate the use of creativity and performance-based projects in the classroom. DYN provided not only an environment for students to be creative but all the resources they needed as well. As the director, Nichole Pinkard, explained when referring to Malcolm, “If you put opportunities in front of him, he’ll take advantage of them, but if he doesn’t have those opportunities he’s going to find ways spend his time that might not be the most advantageous for him.” These students need an opportunity to be successful because they were otherwise denied the chance to do so in other aspects of their lives.
I was impressed by how dedicated the featured students were; Malcolm started with video instruction but then also took the initiative and self-taught himself photography and graphic design. Shani was not only a student but a teacher as well, sharing her passion and knowledge with a class of middle school students.
Another interesting point that was addressed was that even though these students are focusing on technology, they are using necessary skills such as reading, writing, and basic art. Graphic designers need to understand the concepts of shapes and colors, movie scripts need to be written down before performed, song lyrics need to be written before produced.
I feel that the students in the DYN program are not only learning skills that will help them find a job, they are also learning how to collaborate with others, how to problem solve, and how to be creative. They are clearly intelligent, caring, and dedicated students who realize their potential and embrace the opportunity to make something of themselves.