Catalytic Conversation with Lynn Schofield Clark and Alan Michel

Catalytic Conversation with Lynn Schofield Clark, University of Denver and the DU/South High school Digital Media Club and Alan Michel, Home Inc. March 26, 2013

Alan has worked with high school students in after-school programs involving the media arts since 1976. At the time he was a sculptor, and he and his partner wanted to develop a program with the housing project that was next to the studio. He learned quickly that the camera was an important lever that gave young people the power to do things. If you gave a young person a camera, he or she could interview the mayor, or anyone; without it, he or she couldn’t. He found that involving kids in media held tremendous potential to open doors for them. His organization, Home Inc., seeks ways to partner adults and young people so as empower young people, helping them to see that they have control over their learning experiences. It partners adults and young people together, utilizing media to help young people express their ideas in ways that are both persuasive and strategic. His organization pioneered the verified resume, an assessment tool that builds upon the Massachussetts work-based learning plan and that helps young people and those who work with them to identify and value the young person’s workplace-specific skills while also providing constructive suggestions for the student’s continued development toward professional life. Alan has found it especially rewarding when media work helps to propel a student from average to excellent in academics, and he enjoys celebrating their successes with them. At JTM, Alan looks forward to meeting like-minded people committed to utilizing storytelling for empowerment.

Lynn is a university professor who has been involved with high school and junior high students for more than 20 years. She has written extensively on young people and new media use. Her latest book is The Parent App: Understanding Families in a Digital Age. Two years ago, she co-founded the after school Digital Media Club at Denver’s South High school, which is the most culturally diverse high school in the Rocky Mountain region. In a program that shares some similarities to what Alan has been doing for a long time, Lynn and her student works with South high students to develop digital media literacy skills and put those to use in working toward goals that they are encouraged to identify and pursue. This year, because several members of the club hailed from Africa and Asia (some have been in the US for 2 years or less), the students developed social media and news campaign to support a fundraiser and dance that they designed to raise awareness and to help celebrate and include the English language learners in their high school community. As part of this effort, the students developed video essays about life in their countries of origin, and they are currently working on digital storytelling projects that they will share with their peers to communicate their lived knowledge. At JTM, Lynn is interested in learning more about how cultures of learning that are created in relation to school-based media programs can contribute to story-sharing and community-building, and how such cultures may help provide a foundation for the emergent news ecology.

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