Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Youth Media Activities in your Communities

Music created at YouMedia, Chicago Public Library

The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.”--Arthur C. Clarke.

The presenters, Patrick Stillman & Jodi Cilley,  create youth media programs at Media Arts Center San Diego.

Today’s youth are digital natives with a cell phone in one  hand and  a laptop in another. Libraries will lose them if we don’t meet their needs. Libraries have to be centers for lifelong learning, not just resource centers. Staff must embrace technology and become champions.

Facts about technology and youth from Pew Research Center:

  • 93 % of teens (21 million youth) use the Internet  vs. 75% of adults.
  • The majority of online daily users are teens (11 million).
  • 75% of teens have cell phones
  • email is considered antiquated vs. texting & instant messaging
  • online gaming has dramatically increased

Libraries need to meet youth where they are at, such as using gaming technology to engage youth. It is similar to teachers using  "Roots" to educate via television but with new technology. This way, libraries provide the groundwork for adult learning.

Suggested youth media programs:

  • Blogging
  • Music creation (in spite of the popularity of Glee & American Idol, music programs in school are being cut left and right)
  • Citizen journalism
  • Gaming (including creating games with software such as Scratch)
  • Stop-motion animation and green screen special effects
  • Spoken word videos

Libraries have to adapt to the popularity of  smart phones and tablets. The Media Arts Center San Diego did a citizen journalism program using smart phones to capture HD video and edit it using the iMovie app. No computer was involved. For music creation, Madpad is an app for iPad that can record and mix sounds all on the device.

Libraries need  deeper cooperation & coordination with other organizations--not just someone giving a program and then disappearing. You have to ask yourself: What's out there? What can our staff handle? What space do we have? Programs have to be sustainable and long-term. Plan for programs a year at a time, because if you plan too far ahead, the technology could become obsolete. Remember, you can make adjustments along the way. If you don’t get enough patrons, displaying or having a showing of youth work can be great publicity. Plan, review, adapt should be your mantra.

Steps in the youth media program strategy process:

  • Identify a leader to head the process who is close to digital natives, has tech skills, is aware of current trends and can work with the community.
  • Set a date for a staff and teen brainstorm session.
  • Google youth programs to find potential partners that will enhance your skill set.

An archived version of the webinar, handouts, and a resource list are available here.

--Andrea @Central

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