DML Collaborations in Multicultural Contexts, a UNCF Capacity Building Strategic Meeting

On January 27-28th I had the honor of representing the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition at the "Digital Media and Learning Collaborations in Multicultural Contexts: Forging A Strategic Plan" meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, this was the culminating event in the UNCF Digital Media and Learning in Multicultural Contexts Public Forum series. Overall, the meeting was an altogether inspiring two days of learning, networking, and collaboration.

You can read/view more about prior forums--"To Be Young Digital and Black" (February 2010), "Digital Media and Literacy in Networked Learning Environments" (March 2010) and "Opportunities and Issues for Engagement in Digital Culture" (April 2010)--on the MacArthur Foundation's Spotlight Blog. Program booklets for each of the forums are also available for download on the UNCF website.

The collective recommendations and feedback generated over the 1.5 day meeting will inform a UNCF DML white paper and proposal for a collaborative digital media and learning initiative aimed at supporting research and innovation by faculty and students who are doing DML work focused on talent development of underrepresented youths. 

The purpose of the strategic planning meeting was threefold. 

***To encourage dialogue among educators from diverse higher education institutions and K-12 institutions who are engaged in research and application of digital media to facilitate learning;

***To explore opportunities for partnerships between individuals at diverse education institutions to create and implement digital media and learning initiatives;

***To discuss strategies for infusing innovative digital media approaches to teaching and learning in the K-16 pipeline in ways that facilitate the transformation of education.  

Highlights from the meeting included an opening keynote by S. Craig Watkins on "Beyond the Digital Divide:Exploring the Digital Lives of Black and Latino Youth." Watkins discussed recent statistics that indicate that Black and Latino youth are primary consumers of media, suggesting that, with now nearly ubiquitous mobile technologies, we need to look beyond issues of mere access to technolgy (i.e. the digital divide) to also consider the so-called "participation gap" (i.e. the rate of engagement with social media and the general purposes for which technologies are being used.)

Watkins concluded his address by showing a video from 2010 Digital Media and Learning Competition winner "Out the Window"--in which youth collaboratively write and produce videos and TV screen banners that explore aspects of their families, blocks, streets, and neighborhoods that are transmitted on TV screens on the 2200 LA Metro buses that travel throughout the city--as a shining example of underserved youth engaging with digital media to positive ends and with exciting learning outcomes. I was later able to share several more positive examples and collaborations happening with our DML Competition projects (more on this at the upcoming DML Conference!)  during a brief session where David Theo Goldberg and I discussed the Digital Media and Learning Competition.

The second day included three collborative workshops--"Assessing Digital Media Engagement at Special Mission Institutions," "Making Connections: Opportunities for Inter-Institutional Research Collaborations" and "Transforming Education: A Digital Media Pedagogy Project."  Notes and outcomes from these sessions will be published on a wiki (now in development) that will further faciliatate post-meeting collaborations and ongoing discussions. 

Many thanks to the UNCF, to Clarissa Myrick-Harris, Executive Director for UNCF Institute for Capacity Building, and to the MacArthur Foundation for the opportunity to participate in this inspiring event. I look forward to hearing from my fellow attendees in the future, learning more about their exciting projects as they unfold, and brainstorming future possibilities for collaboration and partnership.