YouMedia Success

As a die-hard Chicagoan, I write extensively on the YouMedia experiment.    YouMedia, for those of you who don’t know, is an experiment between the Chicago Public Library, Depaul University, and the Digital Youth Network.  It is funded, in part, by a MacArthur Foundation grant. This grant is being replicated for an additional 50 labs throughout the country (have you considered applying?)

The YouMedia experiment is a 21st century teen learning space.  It is really a digital media lab.  But it is so much more.  The YouMedia folks recognize that technology alone will not save us.  The success of this experiment lies in the team that YouMedia has built.  Not only do the kids who use the space have access to librarians and library staff, but they also have access to mentors and instructors.  The mentors and instructors have expertise in the tools, in tapping into creativity, or in just listening to the kids.  They all have the goal of helping these patrons find their voices.  It is in these people that the success of YouMedia is built.

So why do I write about YouMedia again.  YouMedia recently witnessed a major milestone.  While the research findings on the success or the failure of the experiment will take years to construct, the kids recently began providing solid anecdotal evidence pointing towards success.  One example of that evidence is the recent results of the Louder than a Bomb Youth Poetry Festival.  The winner of the contest was a young man who represents a YouMedia team of teens, and he even gives them credit.

To understand what the kids are learning at YouMedia, you must check out Malcolm London’s winning poem. This library certainly understands the principles of transliteracy and the role it plays in spurring creativity and content creation among patrons.

Digital Media Labs: The YOUMedia Experiment

I thought that my inaugural post should be on something near and dear to my heart, and my library.  The Chicago Public Library’s YOUMedia Lab is now the model that libraries the world over will follow.  The MacArthur Foundation and the IMLS will be funding 30 more labs similar to YOUMedia.  This is what YOUMedia looks like:

The YOUMedia design is based on the research conducted by Mizuko Ito and others.  The research was published in Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. A version is also available for free from the MacArthur Foundation.  It is titled Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. Either one of these resources is a must read for anyone interested in digital media labs or transliteracy.

The research indicates three zones that teens, and likely others, live in.

Hanging out is primarily participatory and social.  It is marked by the desire to use new media to fit-in and belong.

Messing around is a more intense use of new media and technology.  This zone is marked by the desire to explore our vast world, to interact an play with that world.

Geeking out is the final zone.  Geeking out is the most intense form of participation with and through technology.  Geeking out is where identity is formed.

Libraries are adapting to these zones.  Some of us are positioned for the 21st Century.  This is our future.

YOUmedia, Coming to a City Near You

The MacArthur Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced plans to create 30 new youth learning labs in libraries and museums nationwide. These labs will be modeled on YOUmedia, an innovative digital space for teens, at the Chicago Public Library.

The competition application process, which will include a request for proposals, will be announced in 2011. Check back with Spotlight regularly for stories and updates.

“This partnership helps to advance IMLS efforts to make libraries and museums places for 21st century learning.  Projects like YOUmedia are pioneering efforts that use research and evidence to demonstrate how our nation’s libraries and museums can be powerful and innovative spaces for young people’s out-of-school learning,” said Marsha L. Semmel, IMLS acting director.

“Utilizing YOUmedia has redefined who I am as a person,” says Jabari Mbwelera. “I knew I wanted to do something with audio. But I didn’t have the skills or the tools that I needed to do what I wanted to do.” Mentors at YOUmedia helped Jabari gain those skills, and he and his friends have sparked each other’s creativity. Today, Jabari is on his way to college to major in audio engineering. “So yeah, it’s really changed my life,” he says.

YOUMedia: Innovate to Educate

Youth Learning Labs Modeled on Chicago’s YOUmedia to Expand Across the Country

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YOUmedia, Preparing Children for a Transliterate World

YOUmedia is a joint venture between the Chicago Public Library and Digital Youth Network, the YOUmedia expansion is funded by federal stimulus dollars, the City of Chicago and private investment from theMacArthur Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust.

YOUmedia is an innovative, 21st century teen learning space housed at the Chicago Public Library’s downtown Harold Washington Library Center. YOUmedia was created to connect young adults, books, media, mentors, and institutions throughout the city of Chicago in one dynamic space designed to inspire collaboration and creativity.

High school age teens engaging with YOUmedia can access thousands of books, over 100 laptop and desktop computers, and a variety of media creation tools and software, all of which allow them to stretch their imaginations and their digital media skills. By working both in teams and individually, teens have an opportunity to engage in projects that promote critical thinking, creativity, and skill-building.

Mentors from Digital Youth Network as well as Chicago Public Library librarians lead workshops to help teens build their skills and create digital artifacts – from songs to videos to photography to blogging. Teens learn how to use a variety of technology and digital equipment, including still and video cameras, drawing tablets, and video and photo editing software. YOUmedia also provides an in-house recording studio featuring keyboards, turntables, and a mixing board.

Earlier this month The MacAuthor Foundation highlighted plans to expand the program –  YOUmedia Program Builds On Success at Downtown Library, Expands to Underserved Chicago Neighborhoods

Now, just over a year after its launch, YOUmedia is expanding to branch libraries in three underserved communities: Pilsen, Englewood and Humboldt Park. The first two locations are scheduled to open this winter, while the Humboldt Park space will be housed in a new library that will open its doors in summer 2011.

Description: YOUmedia, an innovative 21st century learning space for teens, is located at the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago. The first-of-its-kind 5,500 square foot place is home to thousands of books, laptop and desktop computers and a variety of media tools and software, including a recording studio. Because of its ability to successfully engage young people, YOUmedia was recently recognized by President Obama, and has inspired the creation of 30 similar hands-on learning centers across the country.

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