Bridging the Digital Divide

Bridging the digital divide

By Avy Oaknine

For K-12 students to advance their education or career, they need to not only demonstrate their 3-R skills (reading, writing and arithmetic), but be able to express themselves in the current multimedia environments. Unfortunately not all schools have the adequate resources readily available and students in underserviced areas risk being left behind in the digital divide.

Adobe Youth Voices educator teaches lighting concepts for film project at the 2009 Adobe Youth Voices Summit

Their latest initiative is called Adobe Youth Voices Essentials, a set of open curricula and resources based on the best practices of the Adobe Youth Voices program. Miguel Salinas, Senior Manager for Adobe Youth Voices, sees the Essentials program as an opportunity to reach beyond the communities where Adobe Youth Voices already has a presence. “Our global network currently includes more than 620 sites, including seven in Ottawa and 25 in the GTA, and a large, expanding number of grantees and organizations in 45 countries,” said Salinas. “Since 2006 we’ve reached over 64,000 young people and over 3000 educators. The Essentials program brings Adobe Youth Voices to educators the world over.”

Adobe Youth Voices Essentials includes downloadable sample curriculum and activities for video, multimedia, digital art, web, animation and audio projects. For educators, the program can enhance both their skills and resources, providing comprehensive professional development and cutting-edge digital tools. Teachers learn new ways to encourage students to use 21st century communications skills in telling stories that have an impact. The site is open to all educators who wish to take advantage of proven curricula and resources.

Adobe Youth Voices students brainstorm a film concept at the 2009 Adobe Youth Voices Summit

“It’s a publicly available site and all that’s required is that educators register,” says Salinas. “The curriculum itself is fully downloadable in modules for three types of projects: print, music video and animation. Educators see step-by-step how easy this is and can also view samples of youth projects already completed in print, photography and video. There’s also a section on our ‘create with purpose’ methodology, helping educators understand the context of the entire process. We also include stories about how well other educators have done with this program. We urge educators to take a look and discover what is available to them.”

The fruits of Miguel Salinas’ labour paid off in a big way recently. All over the world, Adobe offices hosted Adobe Youth Voices Live! events, showcasing the creative efforts of local students. Ottawa played host to the event in Canada, and Patricia Cogley, Adobe Youth Voices’ Program Manager in Canada, saw Ottawa’s youth distinguishing themselves by expressing a positive emphasis on diversity.

“We see similarities among young people around the world participating in Adobe Youth Voices as they are all concerned about the environment, relationships, poverty and education,” she said. “In each region there is a bit of a different emphasis and in Ottawa I have seen Ottawa students particularly conscious of the city’s diversity. Last year there was a really moving experience where a young woman in high school did a piece about wearing a hijab. There were elementary school students who went up to her afterwards and thanked her for the piece and admitted they weren’t as confident. In a lot of ways, young people are making media pieces for other young people and becoming leaders for one another.”

Check out the documentary videos produced by the students at the Adobe Youth Voices Live! event in Ottawa.

Avy Oaknine is National Manager, Education at Adobe Canada.

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