Teaching Technology in the Neighborhood?The Digital Life of Minority Kids.

14853200_10154489957556327_3337540437451713017_oIMG_7779I went to a special presentation. It was the Common Sense and George Mason project entitled ” The Digital Lives of Minority Kids: Barriers,Opportunities  and Every Day Kids  ”    .

The two main presenters were  Dr.Michael Robb of Common Sense Media ( mrobb@commonsense.org) and  Dr.Kevin Clarke of George Mason University ( kclark6@gmu.edu) I have been working in digital equity and social justice for about 30 years and it was good to see that there is funding for this kind of advocacy!


I liked the way in which they used case studies to present their work.

One Research topic was “ Connection and Control: Case Studies of Media Use Among Lower-Income Minority Youth and Parents ( Dr. Robb) You can find his work at www.commonsense.org .

The second topic was:“The Digital Lives of African American Tweens AND Parents: Innovating and Learning with Technology.” Kevin Clark, PhD, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University

Here is more of Dr. Clarke’s research:

ASU and George Mason were supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


His presentations are here. You can find the case studies I will reference .

The presentations are key for stakeholders and community to understand.




Jenelle Leonard , mentoring a student.

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA USA. Email: kclark6@gmu.edu

Using self-directed learning communities to bridge the digital divide

Kevin Clark

“The “digital divide” is the gap between those who have access to new information technologies, the information “haves”, and those who do not have access, the information “have-nots.” The digital divide and digital equity are sometimes used interchangeably, but a clear definition of digital equity describes its relationship to education. “Digital equity in education means ensuring that every student has equitable access to advanced technologies, communication and information resources, and the learning experiences they provide. Digital equity also means that all learners have opportunities to develop the means and capacity to be full participants in the digital age, including being designers and producers of current and future technologies and communication and information resources (Solomon et al, 2003).”

Research on the digital divide or digital equity is diffuse and typically appears in three forms: policy studies, theoretical considerations and societal impacts, and examination of patterns of use, online content, and the expressed needs. Policy studies focus on how issues of access to information technologies are impacted by governmental, educational, and social policies. The theoretical considerations and societal impacts point of view examines the digital divide by examining economic, urban planning, and sociological analyses factors. The patterns of use and access research areas focus on examining ways in which information technologies can be used to address community and individual needs.

                                 I am usually where the rubber meets the road.

Last night I was working in Southwest Washington DC at a Southwest Community Center where students come to learn  computer use. I was there because of Jenelle Leonard who was a mentor of mine long ago. She and I have pioneered lots of technology in communities and schools.

Sometimes I am at Joint Educational Facilities in Anacostia.

Here’s the best part. A grandmother who had no idea who I was gave her grandson a hard time because I asked him to show me what the game was that he liked. She said , I have no tolerance for games on the computer. She fussed and fussed.

I leaned back and decided to engage. I told her about my experiences with the George Lucas Education Foundation. I told her some personal stories from George Lucas. I have lots of stories about games and gamification.  She stepped back and looked at me. I smiled and shared some of the things I learned about how students learn with games, and play, and innovation.14907651_10154516716046327_3514225813942021979_n-2

By playing games you can artificially speed up your learning curve to develop the right kind of thought processes.

Nate Silver

You can make a mistake in a game and get a do-over. Lots of games have different paths to winning.

Bonnie Sutton

14947946_10154516733951327_5065136500173474039_nFrom the Institute of Play


“The meaning of knowing today has shifted from being able to recall and repeat information to being able to find it, evaluate it and use it compellingly at the right time and in the right context.”

“Education in the early part of the twentieth century tended to focus on the acquisition of basic skills and content knowledge, like reading, writing, calculation, history or science. Many experts believe that success in the twenty-first century depends on education that treats higher order skills, like the ability to think, solve complex problems or interact critically through language and media.”

“Games naturally support this form of education. They are designed to create a compelling complex problem space or world, which players come to understand through self-directed exploration. They are scaffolded to deliver just-in-time learning and to use data to help players understand how they are doing, what they need to work on and where to go next. Games create a compelling need to know, a need to ask, examine, assimilate and master certain skills and content areas. Some experts argue that games are, first and foremost, learning systems, and that this accounts for the sense of engagement and entertainment players experience.”

The interesting thing about Dr. Clarke’s work is that it is in case studies that are pictoral.