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Friday, October 7 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Increasing Equitable Access to Digital Learning in Informal Contexts: Connecting Micro, Meso and Macro Level Factors

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This panel presents research and practice around the persistent challenge of achieving equitable youth access to digital learning opportunities in informal contexts. Researchers report stubborn disparities that run along all-too-familiar socioeconomic lines, with youth from wealthier communities enjoying more opportunities to learn important skills and dispositions related to digital media production and design (Hargittai & Walejko, 2008; Margolis, 2008). In an effort to help address this complex problem, we offer a holistic frame that organizes underlying factors impacting equitable access and uptake along three, interconnected levels:

(1) Micro or individual, e.g., factors pertaining to youth and educators and the interactions between them, including youth interest level and developing identities, youth help-seeking orientation and adult orientation toward brokering.
(2) Meso or organizational, e.g, factors related to the development of program models and institutional structures that promote youth access to programs and create viable links to other experiences.
(3) Macro or ecosystem, e.g., factors that may include the availability of programs in a given neighborhood, issues of safety as impinging on access, and discoverability of information about opportunities.

To further illustrate this frame, we have organized a diverse panel of researchers and educators who will speak to each of these levels.

First, Dixie Ching from Hive Research Lab / New York University will present case studies at the micro level, describing youth and Hive educator experiences involving brokering, efforts to make opportunities more accessible, interpersonal challenges that young people face and factors that attenuate that. In addition, she will bring needed attention to how attitudes and realities of informal educators impacts their brokering practices.

Next, Rafi Santo from Hive Research Lab / Indiana University will outline and present data from case studies of organizations within Hive NYC that relate to meso-level issues, offering a vision into the kinds of organizational practices, programs and structures that might be put in place to promote access to learning opportunities.

Following that, Eda Levenson from the Urban Arts Partnership will describe their Alumni Scholars Program (ASP), which seeks to close the opportunity gap by providing long-term support to UAP alumni that connects their programmatic experiences to college and or career goals. In addition to creative and artistic cultivation, ASP focuses on promoting academic persistence and life skills.

Finally, Caitlin Martin from the Digital Youth Network will present how we can utilize technology to address macro level issues such as identifying ‘learning deserts’ through city-wide mapping efforts, and designing programs and platforms that explicitly aim to address geographic gaps by connecting learners and families to digital and local resources and opportunities.

Hargittai, E., & Walejko, G. (2008). The participation divide: content creation and sharing in the digital age. Information, Community and Society, 11(2), 239–256.
Margolis, J. (2008). Stuck in the shallow end: Education, race, and computing. The MIT Press.

avatar for Eda Levenson

Eda Levenson

Alumni Scholars Program Manager, Urban Arts Partnership
Eda Levenson has extensive experience leading youth development work spanning across the education, public health, arts-education, and mental health sectors. Eda Levenson received a Masters in Education in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education... Read More →
avatar for Rafi Santo

Rafi Santo

Hive Research Lab/Indiana University

Friday October 7, 2016 9:00am - 10:30am PDT
Emerald Bay B