On a Tuesday afternoon in downtown Oakland, seven teens stare intensely into their laptops and type furiously on their keyboards. After a full day of classes at various schools across San Francisco’s East Bay, these teens work diligently until 6pm on the third floor of Youth Radio, a 25- year-old youth-driven production company. On this particular afternoon, the young people are figuring their way through the finer points of HTML. This image of teens on screens may conjure up similar scenes in any number of computer science classes in school-based and after-school coding programs around the country. What is not visible in this moment are all the pedagogical and curricular moves that take place before and after to connect young people’s computational skills to their growing capacity to critically examine social conditions and express civic voice and agency in a complex world. That context is essential to understanding how Youth Radio Interactive works. Interactive is the division of Youth Radio--a national network of next-generation journalism, storytelling and arts--where young people combine coding, design, and reporting to create mobile apps, games, maps, online quizzes, infographics, and other digital content. The projects that the Interactive youth team develops in collaboration with professional designers and developers have been distributed via Google Play, NPR, The Atlantic, and Teen Vogue. Their media products challenge audiences to engage with some of the most pressing issues of our times, including gentrification, sexual assault in schools, the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ youth, and the mental health struggles of urban youth of color.
Lee, C., & Soep, E. (2018). Beyond coding: Using critical computational literacy to transform tech. Texas Education Review, 6(1), 10-16.