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Digital Citizenship Lab Empowers Appalachian Youth to Address Broadband Access Issues Across the Region

Digital Citizenship Lab Empowers Appalachian Youth to Address Broadband Access Issues Across the Region

This August, AMI was able to offer a completely new type of program to advanced interns here in Letcher County in the form of our first Digital Citizenship Lab, as a part of the Digital Media & Learning Competition 5's Project:Connect. During the four-week program, seven interns spent 10 hours a week working on collaborative multimedia projects related to their experiences with Internet access in the region. Over the course of the month, interns used audio, photo, and video documentary approaches to explore the problems young people are facing because of a lack of Internet access and affordability across Appalachia.
Though all of these young people had previously participated in an AMI program, the Digital Citizenship Lab found interns experienced in video, for example, producing their first audio piece and collaborating with other young people practicing photography for the first time. It was an intensive and engaging month where we saw  young people interpreting the issues and opportunities facing the region as a whole and using new types of collaborative media to document what they found.

Following this flurry of interviewing, editing, production and polishing, interns presented their finished work to a crowd of over 50 family and community members at a premiere screening held at the Appalshop Theater in Whitesburg, KY. The pieces were widely applauded and even sparked a lengthy discussion from community members, one of which commented that "every teacher in Letcher County needs to see the work these young people have produced."

While we had an idea that this issue was ripe for discussion among our interns, we could never have anticipated the range of creative output that the topic would spark in just a month’s time. In the spirit of letting the work speak for itself, we invite you to see and hear the pieces below, produced during AMI's 2013 Digital Citizenship Lab:
“Broadband Epidemic” features interviews with an IT professional and local physician, discussing what the lack of high-speed Internet access in this region means for the healthcare industry which is increasingly becoming more dependent on the Internet.
2013. Produced by Joey Salyer & Eli Gover.
In this piece, high school students and teachers in Letcher County, Kentucky discuss the public education system’s increasing use of online assignments, and the problems this poses for young people due to a lack of consistent Internet access.
2013. Produced by Dustin Hall, Oakley Fugate & Jaydon Tolliver.
“Not No Excuse” features personal testimonies from young people about the various ways that a lack of Internet affects their daily lives.
2013. Produced by Brandon Hall & Robbie Thacker.
“The Double-Edged Sword” highlights the advantages as well as pitfalls from the Internet’s presence in our everyday lives, and what that means for young people growing up in this environment.
2013. Produced by Jaydon Tolliver & Robbie Thacker.
This science-fiction piece presents an interpretation of what the future of technology might look like in the region, and what the lack of Internet access in the region could mean in the wake of a robot takeover.
2013. Produced by Eli Gover, Brandon Hall & Oakley Fugate.
In “Library Internet,” a librarian at a public library in rural Letcher County, Kentucky discusses the need for increased public Internet access and education in order to equip citizens for the future.
2013. Produced by Joey Salyer & Dustin Hall.

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