Youth Community Informatics Studio

This semester, I am teaching a new community-engagement course called Leadership in Information Organizations. I am particularly excited about the course because it has been an opportunity to implement the Community Informatics Studio, which I have been developing with my co-author Martin Wolske at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over the past three years.

This spring, my students (as both students and co-investigators) and I will be using our Critical Interpretive Sociotechnical (CIS) Framework as one of the guiding theoretical foundations for our class. I am also excited to announce that the class meets weekly in and with the community at the Moore Public Library, where we will be working with teens on a youth-led action research and participatory design project to redesign the Teen Space.

Our community-based research project is very much inspired by K-Fai Steele’s work with teens at the Free Library of Philadelphia as well as the amazing grassroots organizing and digital media education work taking place as part of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition.

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The class is part of a research project, which I am calling “YouthStudio” or perhaps more accurately “Youth Community Informatics Studio.” Here is a description of the case for spring 2015:

Overview: For the Spring 2015 design case, student teams will partner with professionals and youth at the Moore Public Library to: (1) design and implement innovative popular and progressive digital literacy programs; and 2) develop evaluation models based on community-based and outcomes-based evaluation frameworks. These YouthStudio projects for spring 2015 will focus on creating teen digital literacy and community leadership programs with youth at the Moore Public Library. By participating in an iterative cycle of digital literacy program development and delivery along with development of evaluation rubrics, students will help to define new approaches to bridging these output/outcome evaluation gaps. The results of this studio-based learning approach will immediately inform programming at the Moore Public Library, and they will also be made widely available to inform the work of LIS professionals more broadly.

Additional Details: This course is part of a research project led by Dr. Colin Rhinesmith to investigate how studio-based learning can be used to help teens develop digital literacy and community leadership skills. Studio-based learning is a common pedagogical model in fine arts and architecture, but it is less frequently used in library and information environments. The goal of the research is to understand how librarians can use studio-based learning to assist youth in developing the digital and leadership skills they need to excel in college, in the workplace, and in their community.

The flyer above was created by the good folks at the Pioneer Library System in collaboration with two of my students who are also information services professionals at the Moore Public Library. I am very excited about this opportunity to work with teens, my students, and librarians in Moore to help teens use the project to address a youth-identified problem or issue in the community as well as to help create a stronger relationship between the library and teens in Moore.

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