June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Computers in Education
23.261.1 - 23.261.9
Building Technology Fluency: Fostering Agents of Change Technological fluency, the ability to create and express through technology, rather than technicalfamiliarity, is becoming increasingly necessary to be a functioning member of our global society.In this paper we present the experiences of two interventions, one in the Birmingham, Alabama,and another in the Republic of Haiti, where technology fluency learning is driven by communityengagement and revitalization. In both locations, students’ solutions to important community-based problems such in healthcare, accessible water, and personal finances, were expressed usingtechnology. More specifically, Scratch, a visual-based programming language designed at theMIT Media Lab, was used in both interventions where students demonstrated their interactivepresentations, campaigns, and business ideas.During the summer of 2008 students in Birmingham, Alabama between the ages of 7 and 11worked with community health educators, teachers, and camp facilitators to learn aboutimportant healthcare topics such as obesity, diabetes, and drug abuse. After a brief introductionto the topics and structured lessons in Scratch, students selected a topic of interest, conductedresearch through various on and offline sources, and created educational campaigns for their owncommunities about the topic. During the following summer, students, also from the Birminghamcommunity, conducted research in a local business district. Then, after conceptualizing an ideafor a business, the students interacted with community leaders, venture capitalists, and businessowners to assess the feasibility of their idea and understand how it might be received in thecommunity. Their lessons learned were built into animated Scratch projects.In Spring 2012, students and faculty from the STARS Alliance visited the Republic of Haiti andworked with 24 young women mentors (ages 18-32) to develop their technology fluency. Thesementors taught computer classes after-school, on XO laptops to children in grades 3-5 (ages 8-15) about 6 hours per week at three northern rural schools. The mentors lead the children tocreate animations, but the learning had little connection to their schoolwork or daily lives.Through the STARS outreach project, mentors were taught to begin to think about how thecomputer classes could be integrated to help serve greater community needs. The mentorsbrainstormed on community problems, such as energy, schooling, water, food, and healthcare,and then worked together to create Scratch stories to better illustrate these problems to oneanother and to people outside their communities. The hope was for the mentors to integratetechnology into their explanations of and solutions to the challenges associated with, solvingcommunity problems. The mentors then conducted the same classes with elementary agechildren. Across these settings, a culminating event was an opportunity for participants to presenttheir project ideas to the community.Embedded in these interventions is the belief that enabling students to imagine approaches tobuilding their communities will plant the seeds for them to see themselves as agents of changewithin the community. By incorporating the development of technological fluency into theapproach, skills, important to future careers are cultivated.
Eugene, W., & Daily, S. B., & Barnes, T., & Burns, R. (2013, June), Building Technology Fluency: Fostering Agents of Change Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19275
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