Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 12:21 p.m.

    Your work is very exciting. Taking the technology on the road to make it accessible is very much needed. Can you say more about the population of young people who have taken advantage of the program (e.g. age, demographics, gender, familiarity with technology or games,areas of the city)? Also, can you share any data about how often you visit each of the sites and the “staying power” of the young people in returning to the van sites over time. The enthusiasm of the young people in the video is compelling!

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 06:17 p.m.

    Thanks for your question. We visited the four sites every week for six weeks. We have 70 different students who signed in during the course of the six week. In-terms of demographic, the majority of students who attended were early teens/pre-teens. We do not have the specific race/gender of all students who attended (they were not required to provide this information); however, the majority of neighborhoods we worked in were majority minority neighborhoods.

  • Icon for: Lisa Samford

    Lisa Samford

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 09:57 p.m.

    FAB PROJECT! How long were the sessions?

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:00 p.m.

    Thank you Lisa. The sessions were 4 hours weekly at each site.

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 05:53 p.m.

    This is so great to see the bookmobile remade for the digital age. Training facilitators to chaperone mobile tech studios seems to be a really impactful strategy that looks really promising for broadening participation and advancing STEM literacy nationwide.

    It was interesting to see how well Minecraft seems to be working as a way of initially recruiting newcomers to show up.

    I am interested in exploring further this sound bite that keeps re-surfacing “technological skills” . What kinds of tech skills are being prioritized through this project and how?
  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 07:02 p.m.

    Thank you for your question. In addition to its popularity among youth, Minecraft has many computational components that have been integrated into the game itself, including logic gates, computer programming, and design. In our work, we are designing worlds for youth to engage in these computational activities, paying particular attention to computational thinking practices (e.g., algorithmic thinking, debugging, and conditional logic) and computer programming.

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 05:19 p.m.

    Here is an example of a sample session: https://youtu.be/xroUaY5ZaFo

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 04:22 p.m.

    The video shows the energy and enthusiasm of the young people. The challenge is how to sustain it over time and capitalize on it. Any ideas on how to do that?

  • Icon for: Amy Eshelman

    Amy Eshelman

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 07:11 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment and question, Vivian. That is our challenge moving forward. This summer we are taking the mobile hub back to locations we visited last summer to build on the connections we made.

  • Icon for: Susan Renoe

    Susan Renoe

    Principal Investigator
    May 18, 2016 | 09:50 a.m.

    I want to echo the other comments that seeing technology taken on the road is exciting and has implications for other areas that might be ‘computing deserts’, namely rural areas ( in our state) that have poor internet access or cost-prohibitive access. Do you see your program expanding into rural areas of Illinois? Or smaller communities?

  • Icon for: Amy Eshelman

    Amy Eshelman

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 07:17 p.m.

    Hi Susan: I agree that this model can work in more rural environments. At the present time we do not have plans to expand to smaller communities in Illinois, but taking resources and relevant experiences to youth — and designing making activities that can be supported even without Internet — would be a a great solution.

  • Icon for: Alycia Hund

    Alycia Hund

    Professor
    May 18, 2016 | 01:23 p.m.

    Did you gather data about students’ interest, skills, and future plans? Are there ways to extend the availability beyond the drop in days or weeks?

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 11:58 a.m.

    For this initial pilot, we did not collect data on interets and plans for the future. Our survey focused more on the activities students engaged in and their interactions during the program. However, this summer we are planning to collect more information about their interests and technical experiences outside of the program. Thanks for your question.

  • Icon for: Michelle Wilkerson

    Michelle Wilkerson

    Assistant Professor
    May 18, 2016 | 07:11 p.m.

    Hi! This is so exciting and it’s great not only to see that it is serving so many young people who participate in the camps, but also that there are so many mentors involved who get the opportunity to see youth learning and excitement “up close”. I’m wondering what types of supports are in place for mentors: What is their training, their backgrounds, and how do they understand their role within the project?

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 05:46 p.m.

    Hi Michelle, Thank you for your question. We used the Connected Mentor Framework (http://connectedmentor.com/) to develop our training. Mentors had two weeks of training before the session started. All mentors had prior experience working with youth. During the training we familiarized mentors with the content and the connected learning framework. We also stressed and showed mentors how to build social relationships with youth, as well as facilitate relationships among youth. Another element we stressed was modeling learning. Most mentors were not experts in Minecraft or computer science, and we stressed to them that they did not have to be, that learning from and with youth was preferred. Let me know if you have other questions.

  • Icon for: Amy Eshelman

    Amy Eshelman

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 07:20 p.m.

    Hi Alycia: I will let my colleague Ugochi jump in on our survey data…we did extend the mobile hub at libraries to a week-long Minecraft camp which required registration. Thanks for your question!

  • Icon for: Leslie Herrenkohl

    Leslie Herrenkohl

    Professor, Co_Director 3dL Partnership
    May 18, 2016 | 10:30 p.m.

    This sounds like a fantastic program. The youth seem very enthusiastic and engaged. What a great way to make sure programming accessible. How have you addressed the need for on-going programming with youth who want to keep coming back for more?

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 05:55 p.m.

    Hi Leslie, Minecraft has a huge community around it, so there are a lot of fabulous learning activities and challenges already out in the ether. Thus we are currently focused on making these learning opportunities visible to youth by modifying Minecraft to reveal them in-game.

  • Icon for: Lisa Samford

    Lisa Samford

    Facilitator
    May 21, 2016 | 06:32 p.m.

    I love the “deep dive” approach for engaging kids in multiple longer experiences, over time. This is as relevant for remote/rural locations as it is in addressing gaps associated with socioeconomic limits. Really FAB project.

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 21, 2016 | 07:58 p.m.

    Thank you Lisa for your kind words!

  • Icon for: Sujata Shetty

    Sujata Shetty

    Associate Professor
    May 22, 2016 | 09:07 a.m.

    I wanted to echo an earlier comment (from Vivian Guilfoy) about making the program sustainable so students have consistent and easy access to the resources you are currently making available to them on your visits to neighborhoods. Wonderful program!

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 11:02 p.m.

    Thank you so much for your kind words and support!

  • Icon for: Sophie Joerg

    Sophie Joerg

    Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 12:34 p.m.

    This is beautiful and important work, great to see it’s happening!

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 11:02 p.m.

    Thank you for the support!

  • Icon for: Angie Prindle

    Angie Prindle

    Executive Producer/ Series Producer, SciGirls
    May 22, 2016 | 04:42 p.m.

    Wonderful project and compelling, energetic video. Really enjoyable to see what you’re doing in Chicago! I agree with other commenters that it would be interesting to see how the work translates to a rural computing desert, and scaled up in multiple cities/regions. Did any part of the mentoring program focus on the types of educational or career pathways in tech or IT that kids can envision for their futures?

  • Icon for: Ugochi Acholonu

    Ugochi Acholonu

    Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 11:52 p.m.

    Hi Angie, Thank you for your question. We did not have a formal career pathway in our program. But it is something that could add a lot of value to the program. Thank you for the suggestion.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

  1. Ugochi Acholonu
  2. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/staff/ugochi-acholonu/
  3. Research Scientist
  4. Broadening Participation in Computing through a Community Approach to Learning
  5. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Dominic Amato
  2. DePaul Graduate Student
  3. Broadening Participation in Computing through a Community Approach to Learning
  4. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Amy Eshelman
  2. Partnership Coordinator
  3. Broadening Participation in Computing through a Community Approach to Learning
  4. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Nichole Pinkard
  2. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/staff/nichole-pinkard/
  3. Professor and Co-Founder of Digital Youth Network
  4. Broadening Participation in Computing through a Community Approach to Learning
  5. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
Presenters’
Choice

Combating Chicago’s Computing Deserts through a Mobile Van Initiative
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Chicago has a rich ecosystem of low-cost, informal learning opportunities that expose youth to STEM experiences and STEM communities. At anytime, families can find opportunities around computer programming, robotics, and making. However, data from the Chicago City of Learning website, a site that catalogs over 4500 STEM-related informal programs in the city, suggests that these opportunities may be inaccessible to working-class families and families of color. When we mapped the locations of code-related, face-to-face programs in the city, we found the majority of opportunities were located in the downtown area, a nonresidential area not heavily populated with working-class families and families of color. In many residential areas where working class families and families of color primarily live, little to no coding opportunities were available in their neighborhoods in 2015. These families, in essence, live in a computing desert.

In an effort to highlight and combat these computing deserts, the Digital Youth Network at DePaul University formed the Mobile Van initiative. The Mobile Van initiative brought trained mentors, laptops, and online curriculum to community centers that served traditionally underrepresented families and were located in areas with little to no informal opportunities around computing. Community centers included parks, libraries, and churches. In this video we provide an overview and snapshot of the experiences of the mobile van team as they work with students and community partners in the city. The mobile van initiative is an example solution to broaden access to informal STEM and computing learning opportunities.