Blog Post

Countdown to DML Competition Winners' Showcase: Day 28 with Youth AppLab

Last week, Mandy Dailey attended the "Digital Media and Learning Collaborations in Multicultural Contexts: Forging A Strategic Plan" meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, an event in the UNCF Digital Media and Learning in Multicultural Contexts Public Forum series.

Mandy recently blogged about the meeting, and I wanted to include some of her recap as part of our DML Countdown series: 

"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.)."

Leshell Hatley, 2010 DML Comp winner for Youth AppLab, can speak to those statistics. Leshell, a certified K-8 teacher and Phd candidate in the iSchool at the University of Maryland, founded Youth AppLab, an afterschool program designed to teach African-American and Latino students how to create Android apps. In the February 2011 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine, Leshell addressed this partcipation gap, "African American children are the most likely consumers of digital technology but are rarely exposed to what it takes to create it."

Leshell's work with youth, digital media, and learning includes culturally relevant pedagogy, manifested digitally and creatively in her cartoon characters Myles and Ayesha (they even have their own website, Twitter account, and iPhone app).

On her website, Leshell writes, "Myles & Ayesha are cartoon characters I conceptualized in December 2009. Why? To create culturally relevant characters I could use in learning technology geared specifically towards African-American children."

She continues, "Myles and Ayesha are African-American children who love science. They are positioned as learning companions to encourage learning and exploration of science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), history, art, and reading. You will soon see them in learning technology, games (mobile & video), cartoons, books, and on whatever merchandise I can get them on!  I am extremely proud of this creation and publicly released them in September 2010."

If Myles and Ayesha's tweets are accurate, we should be hearing great news from Leshell soon about Uplift, Inc. winning a Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) award. Congratulations!

To follow the work Leshell's students are doing with Android apps, visit them here on Flickr and on their blog. Or read Leshell's post here on HASTAC to find out what her class does when they aren't building apps.






Thanks Sheryl for sharing the news about these projects and their accomplishments.  I am sincerely appreciative of the MacArthur Foundation and Hastac for selecting us and helping to share our story.  

Youth APPLab students are excited and tremendously engaged in the class.  They love it, as it provides a platform for which they ask about all things related to technology, attending college, and finding their own voice.  I can't wait to see what types of apps they create - well, I already know what's in the pipeline and can't wait until everyone else sees the apps they create!  :)

Oh, BTW, the Myles and Ayesha app has been published in the Android market as well, as of February 5th.

Thanks again for writing such an awesome article and sharing our story!

More to come....



Youth APPLab's excitement is inspiring.  Thanks for all you do.



Thanks for your kind words!