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Learning + Engagement


ngagement implies commitment to a system or process. When one is engaged in something, one cares about the outcomes of their actions on the thing in which they are engaged. As a result, engagement often results in, or is the product of, learning. This section presents cases that focus on how the affective qualities of learning and engagement are mobilized towards civic impact. From media literacy programs in schools to citizen journalism in cities, these cases highlight where and why learning happens in civic life and the myriad ways it builds commitment and engagement.


POPPYN: A Philly Youth News Platform

The following case study of a youth-produced TV News Show in Philadelphia illustrates how a community journalism project mobilizes available local and media resources to reconfigure the perception of stigmatized urban youth as valuable civic actors.

iPads in Education: Lessons in Civic Discourse and Disengagement ​ ​

​Ipads and Education. Implementing iPad programs in schools has become the new technology rage in many K-12 schools. While most of the time we hear about the positives of this type of program, we tend to hear less about the negatives or the problems faced by schools unless it is on the grand scale such as the Los Angeles School Department (Blume 2014).

NYPD Stop and Frisk: A Youth Media Project

In 2012, students from The Academy at Urban Arts Partnership and LatinoJustice PRLDEF took on the policy of “Stop-and-Frisk” in New York City and created a viral and grassroots campaign that changed the landscape of youth participatory digital politics and community policing in New York City.

Civic Intelligence Research and Action Laboratory

The Civic Intelligence Research and Action Laboratory promotes diverse projects and approaches through a participatory “make the road by walking” approach. The 30+ lab projects include an anti-bullying game and housing for disabled veterans and are conceived and developed by students. The lab’s “radical center” helps address the role of agency, motivation, freedom, and the use of media…

Hacking politics: civic struggles to politicize technologies

Hacker collectives have increasingly gained media and scholarly attention in recent years. Yet, theoretical and empirical investigations of hackers’ entanglement with institutional politics are still rare. Based on interviews, observations and media analysis over two years this case study fills parts of this gap with the Chaos Computer Club – one of the world’s oldest and largest hacker collectives…

Padres y Jovenes Unidos:A Case Study of Student Empowerment through Critical Media Literacy

Padres y Jovenes Unidos is a multi-issue and multi-generational organization started by people of color in Denver who work for educational justice. In recent years, Padres has been organizing to combat the “school to jail” track that has seen increased numbers of urban students leaving school with a criminal record…

The Digital Empowerment Academy

by: Lanise Block, Maya Buckner, and Fred Sanders
The Digital Empowerment Academy program engages underrepresented youth to develop their digital literacy and leadership skills. Our mission is to support youth in their endeavors to make social impact in their community via digital engagement. The DEA curriculum is designed based on Digital Kinship Model…

Community Radio as Civic Media: The case of Radio al-Balad 92.4FM in Amman, Jordan

In 2000, Jordan’s first community radio station Radio al-Balad 92.4FM emerged to break the government’s monopoly over local media by launching to produce community news content for Internet distribution and broadcast on nearby FM stations in Palestine…

NewsActivist: Using globally networked writing to facilitate cross-campus dialogue and engagement

NewsActivist strives to build a global community of students and teachers who are thinking and writing their way into civic action. Research on the characteristics of school curricula and learning environments that correlate with civic commitments demonstrates the crucial role of open discussions and exposure to many viewpoints…

Transforming conceptions of Teacher Professional Development: a three year-case study at a rural school in Spain

by: Sara Villagrá-Sobrino, Luis. P Preto-Santos, Ivan M. Jorrin-Abellan, and Sara Garcia Sastre
This case study was conducted in a Primary rural school where a new collaborative software was introduced, to analyze how teachers designed and orchestrated classroom activities in technologically-rich settings…

The #WalkMyWorld Project

The #WalkMyWorld explores the use of digital texts and tools to respond to and author poetry. Beginning with a literacy focus, it expanded into an affinity space across multiple portals and pathways to meaning-making. The primary focus empowered educators and students to engage in social scholarship practices…

Your Story Goes Here: A Case Investigating Digital Storybuilding

'Your Story Goes Here' is an open-access, remixable, digital teaching kit designed to cultivate and engage new Citizen Planners – urban planning activists of all ages. Storytelling is a powerful participatory and inclusive tool to explore how we live and thrive in our shared and growing cities and a platform that empowers citizens…

Connected Messages

by: Orkan Telhan, Yasmin B. Kafai, Richard Lee Davis, K-Fai Steele, and Barrie M. Adleberg
Connected Messages is a construction kit that lets youth express important personal and communal ideas by designing interactive community murals. The project was launched by the Maker Jawn Initiative across five Free Library branches in Philadelphia, and over 1,000 youth worked together to create murals from foam boards, markers, and low-cost networking technologies...

Hacking for Gold

A hackathon in South Los Angeles hosted by YCSC’s(YouthBuild Charter School of California) and WebSlam (an innovative event that served multiple functions) is examined…

Room to Tell: Designing Affectively Engaging Civic Opportunities with New Media for Adolscents Hospitalized with Cystic Fibrosis

“Room to Tell” is a project in a children’s hospital with new media for patients hospitalized with cystic fibrosis [CF}...

Youth Data Literacy as a Pathway to Civic Engagement

The City Digits project seeks to integrate data literacy and civic education into the school curriculum, using digital tools and a student-driven pedagogical approach. It is a high school math class and an accompanying web application that provide opportunities for youth to explore data, develop data literacy, and engage in analysis and debate around civic issues...

Tracking Traveling Paper Dolls:  New Media, Old Media, and Global Youth Engagement in the Flat Stanley Project

In the past two decades, thousands of students around the world have come into contact by exchanging handmade paper dolls, or Flat Stanleys, and tracking their global movements through journals, emails, and social media...
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