How can learning to blog make a lasting impact on a 12-year-old boy living in a rough, East Oakland neighborhood?
In the second installment of MindShift’s My Education series, which examines whether technology in learning can have a lasting impact on low-income kids through the perspective of one child, the question focuses on Makeal Surrell, a sweet-natured kid who lives with his two sisters and his aunt/guardian a few blocks from Elmhurst Community Prep (ECP) middle school.
Last year, Makeal missed more than 20 days of school, partly due to being sick from asthma. But since he started an after-school blogging apprenticeship with Google, through the Citizen Schools enrichment program, his absences have declined. During the spring semester, Makeal and his classmates were bussed once a week to the Google offices in San Francisco, where they were taught by Google employees all about blogging. By the end of the semester, Makeal had published his own blog about his favorite subject: skateboarding.
Or at least a little about skateboarding. During the spring semester, Makeal published eight posts consisting of mostly videos, photos, and a couple of short written entries. And though he started with three skateboarding-related posts, he moved onto other subjects that interested him: movie reviews and rap videos.
And that was the point — to get Makeal and his classmates a medium for their self-expression, as they learn technical skills like how to create a blog and upload content.
“The educational environments … that have most impact will be the ones that create opportunities for kids to create digital media literacies that we all recognize as important and that have social implications, educational implications and civic implications, as well,” said S. Craig Watkins, author of The Young and the Digital in a recent interview. “So we have to equip kids with skills that help them not just to consume, but to become architects of their information environment.” Continue reading