1. Jill Denner
  2. http://www.etr.org/about-us/our-staff/jill-denner/
  3. Senior Research Scientist
  4. Building Pathways to Computing Education and Careers for Latino/a Youth
  5. ETR, Digital NEST
  1. Steve Bean
  2. http://digitalnest.org/about/staff/
  3. Enterprise Director
  4. Building Pathways to Computing Education and Careers for Latino/a Youth
  5. Digital NEST, ETR
Facilitators’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 12:11 p.m.

    Hey, this is Steve Bean, Enterprise Director at the Digital NEST. Welcome to our video! The Digital NEST is an independent 501c3 non-profit. We operate a tech-rich youth career training and co-working center in Latino, agrarian Watsonville CA and will be opening our 2nd center in Salinas, CA next year. While our center has only been operating for a year, our approach is based on 10+ years of NSF-funded work through the ITEST initiative. Along with my colleagues Jill Denner and Jacob Martinez, I was the PI or Co-PI on two ITEST projects: Girl Game Company and Watsonville TEC. Digital NEST employs all the strategies we field-tested in those projects, but is also a whole other animal – it my next post I’ll tell you what makes it different…

  • Icon for: Irene Lee

    Irene Lee

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 04:11 p.m.

    Hello Steve. Thanks for sharing this video. I’d like to know more about how youth develop collaboration and communication skills through NEST. Do they participate in team-based project work? The students in the video snippets mention learning new tools and techniques, and gaining access to technology at the space. I’d like to hear more about their projects. How are they applying the skills they learn? Is there a semi-structured goal or challenge?

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:35 p.m.

    Thanks Irene! We run the whole gamut. At the baseline our model is drop-in co-working. Then, one level up we have what we call our “Gen Ed” (general education) program. Gen Ed covers the whole range of tech interest areas with the intention of promoting exploration and exposure and helping Members ID whether they are interested in entering our career-track programs. Currently, these are in web design and video production with pilot efforts in entrepreneurship, ag tech (mobile app development) and game design. Gen Ed runs on workshops, talks, field trips, seminars and online courses through donated lynda.com accounts. Members enter career tracks through multi-session workshops that we call Institutes. These are categorized at levels 1-3 across different product-focused skill sets such as websites and narrative or documentary films. In Institutes, our youth Members receive direct instruction AND complete a project for a client – either “internal” or a paying client. The Institute leveling also serves as a certification system for qualifying our Members to do paid work through bizNEST. bizNEST is our low-cost tech consultancy, a service we’re providing to our local business community that gives those businesses the affordable tech help they need and at the same time it cements our Members’ skills, gives them a competitive edge on job applications, provides for alternate- and micro-credentialing and puts money in their pockets. Do date, our Members have built more than a dozen websites for clients and produced a handful of videos, including our STEM for All video! Members who excel at Institute work are selected by staff for our fellowship, which we call our Associates program. Our Associates receive privileged status and one-on-one career advising from staff. In exchange, they give back by recruiting non-Associate Members to their project teams to help them complete hands-on projects. The Associates get much-needed experience in project management and team leading and the non-Associates get the chance to apply what they learned in an Institute to a real project. In another post, I’m going to talk about our Contributing Member groups, which have yielded some remarkable, unanticipated outcomes/findings…

  • Icon for: Irene Lee

    Irene Lee

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 12:04 p.m.

    I think it is super that students complete a project for a client. There seems to be so much richness in what you offer students, clients, and community. I also appreciate that the students produced your video. Kudos to them!

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:10 p.m.

    Thanks Irene! Yeah, having to meet with a client really seems to make it real for the youth – in terms of expectations, deadlines and them understanding that we take them seriously as technologists. It’s not a magic bullet – we have plenty of youth who do not engage at that level – but for the youth who do, anecdotally speaking, I see them go to the “next level” really quickly. Much credit to our staff who put their own reputations – and weekend time if things go south – on the line every time they trust one of our youth with real client work.

  • Icon for: Leslie Herrenkohl

    Leslie Herrenkohl

    Professor, Co_Director 3dL Partnership
    May 16, 2016 | 04:53 p.m.

    Steve,

    The Digital NEST looks like an amazing place to learn skills with interesting people. I’d love to hear more about how the CS college students help support youth learning. Do you provide support for the mentors as well?

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:14 a.m.

    Leslie, we are still developing the CS mentors piece. We are building off the NEST’s existing work with industry mentors and bringing in best practices from the mentoring literature. We welcome input from people who have used mentors to promote high school students’ CS interest and knowledge of CS courses and careers.

  • Icon for: Barbara Ericson

    Barbara Ericson

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 17, 2016 | 03:41 p.m.

    Looks like a great project!

    You might be interested in Project Rise Up 4 CS and Sisters Rise Up 4 CS which I have been running at Georgia Tech to help under represented students pass the AP CS A exam. We use undergraduate students as near-peer models and they lead the twice a week webinars and once a month in-person sessions. I developed a free ebook for the undergraduates to use as they lead the webinars. It is at http://tinyurl.com/JavaReview. Some of your students might also be interested in the free ebook our research team at Georgia Tech created for the CS Principles course. It is available at http://tinyurl.com/StudentCSP

  • Icon for: Leslie Herrenkohl

    Leslie Herrenkohl

    Professor, Co_Director 3dL Partnership
    May 18, 2016 | 12:58 p.m.

    Jill & Barbara,
    Thanks so much for your responses. I’ll share your ebooks with our mentors and staff. We are working to articulate our mentoring model so I’m seeking papers or other resources that discuss approaches to mentoring. In our approach, mentors often learn as much as mentees (but perhaps in new areas such as facilitating learning, or what barriers and structural inequities impact their mentees, etc) so we are interested in finding other mentoring programs that show how both partners learn (and in our case it is often happening in small groups not just pairs). I have found that mentors-as-learners themselves is a really critical part of what helps the youth feel safe to explore and learn. But, this does seem somewhat different from mentoring approaches in the literature.

  • Icon for: Barbara Rogoff

    Barbara Rogoff

    UCSC Foundation Professor of Psychology
    May 16, 2016 | 05:01 p.m.

    Hi Jill and Steve,
    I’m glad to learn more about the impressive work that you are doing. I’ve heard about it in the local news, and it’s great you show it in the video!
    Barbara Rogoff

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:16 a.m.

    Thanks Barbara! The local community and county have rallied around this opportunity for youth, and that has been a key part of making an idea a reality.

  • Icon for: Katie Rich

    Katie Rich

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 06:30 p.m.

    Hello Steve and colleagues,

    It sounds like you offer some great professional learning experiences for students. How great that your students produced this video!

    Could you talk a little more about how you’re targeting underrepresented groups, and Latino/a students specifically? Would you say this happens largely through your location and recruitment strategies, or are there specific types of programming or pedagogies you’re developing for your target population?

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 07:47 p.m.

    Hi Katie! Watsonville and Salinas are interesting: these communities are 80% Latina/o so our youth are not “minorities.” Yet Latina/o educational and career attainment is below the state average. In Silicon Valley, less than an hour away, Latinas/os are a mere 2%-4% of the technical/managerial workforce! So recruitment isn’t a problem for us. But to answer your question, I think the first thing I would assert is that a genuine positive youth development approach, which we try to embody, is universally culturally (and developmentally) sensitive. The second thing I would stress is that it’s important to have staff and role models that belong to the same culture as the youth being served (though I think that a genuine PYD approach can compensate for a lack of representation). The third thing I would say is that we look for assets within youths’ home culture. For example, we frame our youths’ bilingualism as a marketable skill. We also talk to them about the tradition of entrepreneurship within sus familias y sus communidades. Many of them have tias/tios who do whatever it takes to make financial ends meet – sell tamales, fix cars, bake wedding cakes, do weekend home repairs, quincenera dress-making, etc. This is a STRONG tradition of entrepreneurship that goes unrecognized here in the shadow of Silicon Valley b/c it doesn’t involve venture capital, a tech product cycle or an initial public offering. We use the Hack the Hood lesson on code-switching and present this as a professional workplace skill, not a “sell-out” – the proverbial “uniform doesn’t make the man [sic].” Next, our program fills a need that we saw over 10+ years of NSF-funded out-of-school programs: a brick-and-mortar youth co-working center that provides ongoing access to technology. Our CBO 501c3 and its supporters are Hell-bent on keeping this center open in perpetuity. No offense to anyone – I was a PI on ITEST projects for years – but “drive-by” programs that don’t address the issues of social- professional- and economic capital over the LONG-TERM for “underrepresented” groups aren’t going to solve the problem, no matter how good a “program” or “pedagogy” is. So maybe I would say that our most critical “culturally sensitive” strategy is long-term engagement with our youth. As far as programming goes, I think we have similar successes – and challenges – as everyone else. We have our “self-starter” success stories, like Luis and Luis who came to us AFTER they started building their own social networking website (www.ratesify.com) or Martin (mar-TINE) the community college student body President who started college without a reliable computer. We also typically have a 25%-66% attrition rate in our multi-session “Institute” workshops. We have 30-50 Members drop in to our center every day but probably 20-30 of these aren’t doing any CS or career development – they’re gaming, texting, watching YouTube, etc. Right now what we’re seeing is that our most engaged youth are also the ones who are busiest outside of our program – and therefore likely to attrit – and are also the ones we lose to non-local colleges. While we’d never tell a youth not to go to college, we’re trying to develop a local tech workforce anchored to our agrarian communities by ties of history, family and culture. So we’re looking at how to recruit and engage more out-of-school youth who are dead-ending in minimum wage jobs in the fields, discount stores and fast-food restaurants. We’re building out our bizNEST tech consultancy to be able to employ youth part-time using their new skills. We probably can’t replace their summer jobs, but by next summer we aim to have six Members only working part-time at their other jobs and making up the rest of their income through bizNEST consulting. We’re trying to show these youth that in the 21st c., global, digital workplace, they can be international tech consultants using a broadband connection in their living room. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that so many of the issues of “minority” groups are not issues of “race” or ethnicity, but of poverty or low economic and educational opportunity. These youth don’t need to be “convinced” of the value of our program – they need help and resources to remove barriers and navigate their fears and culture shock around trying to live in two different worlds.

  • Icon for: Katie Rich

    Katie Rich

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 09:52 a.m.

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks so much for the thorough response! I’m a relative newcomer to efforts to broaden participation, and finding the appropriate balance of strategies targeted to a specific population versus simply working to provide access and opportunities to groups who did not have it before is something I think about often. Access is hugely important — as you say, many issues are related to lack of opportunity, not race — but I think it’s important to consider when is providing access may not be enough. I’m very inspired by your work and your attention to both sides of this issue by, for example, providing the brick and mortar location as well as recognizing the huge amount of entrepreneurship in your students’ families.

    I’d love to hear from anyone else who has navigated this issue as well!

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 10:43 a.m.

    Katie – that issue of universal needs versus tailored strategies is something we struggle with too. It is difficult to know what tailored strategies should look like and be confident of avoiding essentialism. We went through this with our ITEST projects. “Family is a central focus of Latinas/os…” We thought: “Show us a culture/ethnicity for whom family is NOT a central focus…” But the universality of such values doesn’t make them less powerful. The Digital NEST’s ED who was previously the Program Manager on Jill’s and my ITEST projects embodied the values of familismo and comunidad – he lives in the community, coaches kids’ sports teams and went to his students’ events in the off hours: their games, their graduations, etc. That was BOTH a tailored strategy (comunidad) AND a positive youth development asset builder. At the Digital NEST we have a tremendous AmeriCorps volunteer, Ximena. She grew up in Watsonville in a family of modest means, earned her way into the local University of California school, earned her 4-year degree and is now helping us with volunteer management and youth engagement. She’s our “key informant.” She keeps us honest, reminding us of things our youth are raised to believe, like: “you don’t question the teacher” (important to know if you’re trying to do inquiry-based learning) or “you don’t complain about your job” (important to know if you’re trying to teach youth to advocate for themselves in situations where structural bias is keeping them down or excluding them from opportunities).

  • Small default profile

    Marcia Quackenbush

    Guest
    May 17, 2016 | 12:24 p.m.

    Great video! Go, Digital NEST! Coolest of the cool!

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Associate Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 12:55 p.m.

    This is a great example of professional learning within an authentic learning environment! I would love to hear more about the badge and monitoring system, and how it will motivate and measure what students learn.

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:47 a.m.

    Hi Brendan, We are rolling out the badge and monitoring system in increments, starting with participation badges. We were advised by people who have done badges before to take small steps to ensure that there is youth buy-in, so we are getting their input and will carefully monitor their response and make adjustments before rolling out content-focused badges.

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 10:53 a.m.

    Brendan – Jill and her team have been great about taking on the challenge of this for our youth. On the one hand, our youth lack a broad perspective on the world and all their possible pathways, but on the other, they’re also pretty sophisticated – I chalk that up to access to tons of info on the internet combined with a certain degree of “street” savviness. All of that is to say that it’s pretty clear that they won’t be motivated by a widget that appears on their screen that says they did something. They do appear motivated if they can share out the marks of their accomplishments out to their peers and families AND if they can export these accomplishments to their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Jill and her team are taking on the challenge of creating a system that has those features right out of the gate.

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Associate Professor
    May 18, 2016 | 10:56 a.m.

    Thanks – we are using badges in a very similar way, but also to possibly help us track how kids are doing, and what sorts of tasks they choose to work on. Maybe we could share ideas at some point…BTW: We got similar advice on student buy-in!

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:51 p.m.

    Brendan, it would be great to share ideas. The use of badges in CS education is really new, and we would benefit from any lessons you are learning.

  • Icon for: Barbara Ericson

    Barbara Ericson

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 17, 2016 | 03:41 p.m.

    Is this only for after school students? It would be great if you invited local teachers to learn as well. That way the teachers could take what they learned back to the classroom. Teachers might not want to learn along with the students, but maybe you could do some special programs just for teachers.

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 10:49 a.m.

    Barbara, you’re not wrong. We DO have local teachers involved – they volunteer to teach workshops at the NEST on an individual basis. I taught in school-based program for several years, but the truth is we are explicitly NOT a school program. We’re trying to do all the things that the schools are unable to address, like entrepreneurship, micro-credentialing, tech ed and alternative paths to tech careers. While we would welcome teachers who would want to study what we do and see how it might be adapted to their classroom, we’re working hard to be all the things schools so often aren’t. We have good relationships with the local schools, keep them apprised of what we’re doing and help them funnel their students into our center.

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Associate Professor
    May 18, 2016 | 10:59 a.m.

    I like that. Who are your school contacts, teachers? administrators? Are they part of an advisory board?

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 05:51 p.m.

    Brendan – through our 10+ years of work with the district through our ITEST projects and Jill’s newer NSF grants, we we have a strong relationship with the District tech department and the Extended Learning (after school) program. Several district administrators are serving, or have served on our Board of Directors or our advisory board, including the most recently retired Superintendent. It’s interesting to me – we’re pretty much a mutual admiration society, but Digital NEST is trying to do all the things the schools can’t do, so while we have a strong sense of mutual support, there isn’t a ton of overlap. But just today, a teacher dropped by from one of the two local high schools. Turns out she teaches graphic design. She integrates real client work into her in-school program similar to what we do in bizNEST so when I explained bizNEST to her she was off and running on how we could cross-market and cross-pollinate. For example, we’re badly in need of youth Members who can generate content for client websites, but our Web Development program lead hasn’t had the time to build out educational programming in this area. SO the teacher was talking about her students becoming bizNEST’s off site content creation “department!”

  • Icon for: Brenda Britsch

    Brenda Britsch

    Sr. Research Scientist
    May 18, 2016 | 02:37 p.m.

    Steve, Jill, and Jacob, what a great video! It’s nice to learn more about the NEST from the youth involved and to hear more about the research component. Exciting work!

  • Icon for: Evan Korth

    Evan Korth

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 09:06 p.m.

    This program looks great. The real world projects for client reminds me of something the NY Public Library does with their programming courses. They usually look for projects in the same underserved communities. Think about building websites for your local bodega. It is really cool.

    How do you select the students who use the NEST. Do they self select? From those students how do you select the 100 for your research? I wish the research project was more than two years so you could follow your students and see what kind of long term impact you have on their lives.

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 10:45 a.m.

    Thanks Evan! Our Members haven’t built a website for the Library, but they DID produce and shoot a documentary film about local Latina/o leaders under a grant the library received! That film will screen at the upcoming Watsonville Film Festival. And while they haven’t built a website for the library, they HAVE built 14 websites to date for local businesses and non-profits, including My Mom’s Mole, a United Way-sponsored youth violence prevention project and New Way Homes, a local social entrepreneur who is building tiny houses as a way to address our significant homelessness issue. To answer your question, the youth who use the NEST select themselves: we are a free, drop-in center for ages 12-24. Right now we have over 700 registered Members (as we call them), 125-150 regular or active Members, 20 Contributing Members who volunteer their time to help us run the space and the program and 20 Associate Members – our elite fellowship program. I’ll let Jill talk about how their team is recruiting Members for the study. I wish it was longer than two years too! Not only would I like us to be able to track those 100 Members down their pathways, but I’d like to be able to see whether those – and other – Members have the impact we’re hoping they have on local economic development. California’s rural/agrarian communities lag behind the state’s urban areas in both economic opportunity and educational attainment. We’re trying to create a local tech workforce that will have higher median family incomes at the same time that it helps local businesses generate more revenue through use of business-applicable tech tools. What we expect to see is more local spending and a higher tax base that creates even greater economic opportunities and funds more tech ed programs. We believe that we’re doing REAL youth-driven social entrepreneurship – empowering youth through positive youth development and tech training to raise their own community up!

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:42 p.m.

    Evan,for the 100 students in our study, we are taking the first 100 high school students that bring in consent forms and agree to participate. We are tracking attendance and participation, and we expect that the 100 will represent a range of demographics and involvement in the NEST.

  • Small default profile

    Mark Guzdial

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 09:43 a.m.

    Wow! What a great example of informal education as a way to broaden access to computing education. Really compelling video – thanks!

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:50 p.m.

    Thanks Mark!

  • Icon for: Irene Lee

    Irene Lee

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 11:20 a.m.

    Great work, Jill, Jacob and Steve! This looks like a fabulous model for others to copy and modify to meet local needs.

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:50 p.m.

    Thanks Irene. I am very interested in seeing what elements of the NEST are retained and what are adapted in different settings. The second NEST will open in early 2017!

  • Icon for: Sarah Dunton

    Sarah Dunton

    ECEP Alliance Manager
    May 19, 2016 | 12:21 p.m.

    Jill – it was nice to meet you at NCWIT this week. The work of NEST is amazing, great diversity statistics. Here is the project that brought our team to NCWIT: http://videohall.com/p/752

    Steve – thanks for connecting our CS projects via the comments.

    This is a fantastic video. It captures your project and is engaging media.

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:49 p.m.

    Sarah, great to meet you too. Thanks for pointing us to your video. We need to do a better job of connecting our community-based efforts with state-level efforts.

  • Icon for: Roxana Hadad

    Roxana Hadad

    Director of Math, Science, and Technology
    May 20, 2016 | 01:11 p.m.

    Great project! How are structuring the study to understand how relationships affect participation and learning?

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:48 p.m.

    Good question! We are collecting survey data to measure whether and how youth perceive their relationships with peers and romantic partners influence their interest and attendance at the NEST. We are also doing observations and interviews to supplement the survey data. We are interested in how relationships increase access to technology and CS opportunities, as well as how they may become barriers to access. If you know of other studies we should be looking at, please let us know!

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Co-Presenter
    May 23, 2016 | 11:13 a.m.

    As this wonderful event wraps up, I’m realizing that I never discussed our Contributing Member program. The outcomes from this part of our program have been both amazing and unanticipated. A little context: we opened our first NEST center in a small, out-of-the-way space owned by a Board Member’s company. This was our pilot location but our goal was always to be in downtown Watsonville. When we secured our new, larger space and started setting it up I knew immediately: we wouldn’t be able to manage the larger space well with just our small staff. So we made plans to launch volunteer youth Contributing Member groups to help us out. Members could log volunteer hours for their community service graduation requirement and being a Contributing Member would be a pre-requisite for being selected as an Associate. We started three groups: Tech Squad (loans out and maintains tech equipment), Connect Crew (welcomes Members and helps staff the front desk and helps maintain a positive community) and Social Networkers (spreads the word about the NEST in their schools and other community setings). The help we needed from these groups was critical but very basic. Three months after re-opening in our new space, these groups have FAR exceeded our expectations. Tech Squadders are moving into more advanced tech tasks like website maintenance and network administration. Connect Crew have taken charge of the required Member Orientation and have begun populating a new group – E(vents)-Unit – and organizing educational and social events on their own authority. Through their work as Contributing Members, our youth are demonstrating how important the NEST is to them and that they are willing to give of their own time and energy to make sure this tech-rich training and co-working space is available to their peers. At this point we couldn’t do it without them – the NEST has become a TRUE youth-adult partnership.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.