Digital Learning

SCE’s Big Questions

On January 2, 2017, SCE is launching a new Challenge initiative focused on digital learning. Our first blog outlined SCE’s methodology and why we are prioritizing digital learning as a key pathway to the development of 21st century skills. This post provides a list of questions we will address through this new initiative. Check back next week to see our final post in the series: What Does Success Look Like?

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Our last post described how SCE’s Digital Learning Challenge intends to bring together leading program practitioners, an evaluation team, HR Professionals, digital product developers and distributors to form a learning community. Our goal is to challenge this expert group to answer important questions about what it means to be a 21st century citizen, and share wisdom about how digital tools and practices can equip youth with the skills needed to thrive as individuals, professionals and citizens in a rapidly changing world. Our hope is that other organizations will find this knowledge useful to more effectively support the development of programs and services that cultivate 21st century skill development.

The learning community will attempt to answer the following questions:

  • What does it mean to be a 21st century citizen? What skills are needed to thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s workforce? How do organizations think about, identify and measure outcomes?

Why this question?: We believe that in order to persist through school and be successful in today’s changing world, students must be flexible, collaborative, curious, resilient, and be able to communicate effectively. We want to understand how your organization interprets 21st century skill growth and is supporting and measuring the growth of these skills. We will then use this information to facilitate discussions to understand how employers are defining 21st century skills.

  • How are you engaging youth ages 13-18 using digital media to explore their interests?

Why this question?: Many organizations have cited consistent attendance as a challenge. Teens tend to ‘vote with their feet’ meaning, they show up when they are interested in the programming provided to them. Out-of-school time (OST) programming is entirely voluntary, which further supports the notion that attendance is driven by student interest levels and quality of offerings. We are interested in connecting with organizations who have a proven track record of success engaging youth in digital media programming.

  • What are the best ways to support adults to a) teach with digital media, and b) build meaningful and motivating relationships with teens?

Why this question?: We have taken a specific interest in teens because they are at a critical juncture in their lives; they are independent, but still require the guidance of adults to help them navigate the rapidly changing world. We believe that the most successful organizations have developed staff practices that promote learning and leadership in order to support youth voice and meet the youth where they are. We also want to understand how your organization has supported staff development so they feel confident in engaging youth while building digital skills.

  • How have organizations overcome obstacles specific to their communities or settings to increase digital media opportunities for low-income youth?

Why this question?: Afterschool programs and informal educators, in particular, face challenges acquiring technology (hardware, software, and network), the skills to teach with digital media (pedagogy), and the knowledge about which tools to employ (navigation and quality of tools, safety and privacy concerns) to support youth-driven digital media practices (participation, production and co-creation). We want to understand the ways in which different programs have addressed and overcome these barriers.

  • What are the main characteristics of youth serving organizations that successfully create digital media learning opportunities for teens? How do they address place-based priorities and capitalize on community assets?

Why this question?: Communities, like people, are different.  They have different strengths and weaknesses, are different in sizes and how they use space and serve different demographics. While some might face greater challenges – lack of resources, infrastructure, political will, funding – we believe the seeds of innovation exist in every home, school, neighborhood, and community. We want to understand the context of where you work, what barriers exist, and how you are breaking through these barriers.

Check back for next week’s blog: What Does Success Look Like?