After School Chapter
- 0. Introduction
All of the Latino/Hispanic immigrant youths from this study actively participated in After School Programs (ASPs) that FHS provided. The after school context, in all its variety of clubs and programs, was a vibrant space of sociocultural activities where many of the students, especially the ones in disadvantage positions, accessed resources they could cultivate and mobilize, and found opportunities they could grasp. Almost every afternoon, when classes were not being held, Gabriela, Inara, Miguel, Antonio and Sergio, stayed at the FHS building in order to participate in different ASPs. As students of FHS and during the time of our fieldwork, they joined, for free and according to their personal interests, multiple programs that had a variety of goals, focuses, and learning approaches. Following his interest in digital photography, Gabriela joined the Digital Media Club (DMC); as a passionate dancer and fashion enthusiast, Inara became a member of the Drill Team and co-founded the Fashion Club; based on his interest in cooking, videogames, and Japanese animation, Miguel joined the Culinary Arts Program, the DMC, and the Manga Club; passionate of the arts, music, and digital media, Antonio became a member of the Art Honnors Society (AHS), the DMC, and the Cinematic Arts Project (CAP); and Sergio, following his interest in public speaking and the digital media arts, joined the debate club, the DMC, the CAP, and the AHS. Although the participation in the variety of ASPs changed during the course of the academic year, going from intense engagement to periods of absence, all these Latino/Hispanic youth, with the exception of Gabriela, sustained a regular involvement in at least one of the programs through the whole academic year.
Given the frequency of its activities, strong commitment and sustained participation of most of its members, and, overall, availability of qualitative data (field notes from participant observation, and semi-structured interviews), I have focus my analysis of the after school context only in one of the ASPs that FHS provided: the Cinematic Arts Projct (CAP). Given the digital media orientation of this program, examining it allows me to address more directly the core problem of digital inequalities and the evolving contours of digital and participation gaps, and try to understand how the field of after school programming is dealing with it. Moreover, the analysis of the CAP, allows me to study, in detail and from the ground, the media practices of two Latino/Hispanic immigrant boys (Antonio and Sergio), and investigate how they are shaping their process of assimilation to the U.S. society.
This chapter is organized in three sections. In the first one I provide a background of the field of after school. I discuss its historical evolution and relationship with immigrant and low-income youth; review some of the recent literature on ASPs outcomes, learning approaches, and incorporation of digital technology; and situate the CAP as part of the digital media oriented ASPs in FHS. In the second section, I elaborate a case study of the participation of Antonio and Sergio in the CAP. I analyze how the goals, structure, tools, discourses, media practices, and situated activities of the CAP, created a unique figured world or community where Antonio and Sergio became active agents. Particularly, I examine how the participation in the CAP helped Antonio and Sergio to access several social, cultural, learning, economical, and technological resources they could eventually mobilize for advancing their process of assimilation. Finally, in the last section, I provide some conclusions that intend to connect the findings of this chapter with the overaching purpose of my disertation and reflect on how the outcomes of participating in the CAP and the media practices developed within this specific afterschool context, shaped the assimilation trajectories of Latino/Hispanic immigrant youth.
- 1. The After School Program Field
With a history that expands for more than a century, After School Programs (ASPs) have become one of the most important institutions in the U.S. society for children care, and youth development and well-being. The origins of ASPs can be traced back to the turn of the 19th century and to a context of rapid industrialization and urbanization that transformed the nature of work, and the everyday activities of young people and their families. The disappearance of children labor, rise of parental employment, the creation of universal and compulsory education, and the increasing availability of free/leisure time in the hours that followed school, created a need for ASPs. (Halpern 2002, Kleiber & Powell 2005, Mahoney et al. 2009, 2010) Focusing on safety, health, and child protection at their beginnings, in the 20th Century ASPs evolved into institutions that also helped to develop social and academic skills outside home and school, and away from the streets. Since the 1990s, interest in these programs has re-emerged and both private and public organizations have increasingly supported ASPs intitiatives contributing to their grow.
Assuming that young people needed protection and care during their unstructured time, the after school institution has generally been defined by its different constituencies as a service provider that supports processes of socialization, acculturation, and training. (Halpern 2002, Kleiber & Powell 2005, Mahoney et al. 2009, 2010) Although in its origins ASPs' objectives positioned young people as in need of care and, particularly immigrant and poor youths living in inner-city neighborhoods, as requiring social control, being in danger, and deviant, their goals have evolved to include education enrichment opportunities and youth development. (Halpern 2002, Finn 2001, Herr-Stephenson et al. 2011)
After school providers have articulated different rationales and objectives according to particular sources of public worriness, and to the societal agenda for low-income children at specific political, economic, and cultural contexts. (Kozol 2000, Halpern 2002) Such ambivalent identity has allowed ASPs, as Halpern argues, to be flexible, to react fast to specific youth needs, and to keep a moderate adult agenda. However, the lack of stable purpose, has made ASPs "unable to resist pressures to promise more than was commensurate with their means; and they have been especially unable to resist pressures to promise to compensate for the perceived limitations of other institutions." (Halpern 2002, 180)
In contemporary U.S. context of standarized testing and achievement inequalities, the pressure for ASPs has been put on the side of the academic outcomes. In order to meet federal achievement standards, reduce school drop out, and support youth that is considered at risk (particularly low-income and minorities), policymakers, educators, advocates, and researchers have made the case that ASPs "can partially compensate for the inequities that plague our nation’s schools and play a role in efforts to narrow gaps in achievement between more and less advantaged students." (Garner et al. 2009) As a result, public and private funds have increasingly been alocated in ASPs that serve minority and socioeconomically disadvantage communities that are characterized in the statistical data by their low-income and low-achievement.
However, minority youth participation in ASPs does not only depends on the well intentions of policies and service providers. For instance, a national study from 2006, revealed that only 12% of Latino/Hispanic youth join ASPs compared to 26% African Americans and 13% of White. (Wimer et al., 2006) Socioeconomically disadvantage youth confront barriers to participation that are related to multiple individual an structural factors. In their extensive review of ASP studies, Garner et al. grouped those barriers in three categories: (a) poor availability, or a shortage in the supply of after-school programs; (b) logistical barriers, or individual- and family-level barriers related to cost, transportation, scheduling, or other obligations (e.g., employment, taking care of younger siblings); and (c) preferences and attitudinal barriers, or a lack of interest in participating due either to negative attitudes about programs or preferences for other after-school activities. (Garner et al. 2009) Overcoming those barriers is a complex task that involves several institutions and requires understanding educational equity within broader structural inequalities. Considering that challenge, several scholars have criticized the current trend in ASPs that over emphasizes academic outcomes as an strategy to close the achievement gap. (Hull 2008, Garner et al. 2009, Halpern 1999)
- 1.1. Outcomes and Learning Approches
Despite the pressures and expectations that historically have shaped the discourse and implementation of ASPs, their potential and positive outcomes continues to be recognized. Children and youth's afterschool time is considered an important part of young people's everyday lives. Research and evaluation studies from the last decade have confirmed that participation in these programs does make a difference for youth and generates not only academic, but also social, prevention, and health bennefits. (Little et al. 2008) Studies of New York City's DYCD's Out- of-School Time Initiative (Russell et al. 2006), the national 21st-Century Learning Centers(U.S. Department of Education 2003), and Los Angeles' BEST Program (Huang et al. 2005), revealed that ASPs lowered drop-out rates, fostered better attitudes toward school, and improved academic achievement (better performance, homework complation, and engagement in learning).
Researchers have documented positive social and developmental outcomes such as gaining communication and interpersonal skills, cultivating social relationships, and decreasing behavioral problems (lower levels of depression and anxiety) across several studies. In their examination of ASPs across the nation, for example, Durlak and Weissberg (2007) revealed that programs with strong focus on improving social and personal skills improved youth self-condifence and and self-esteem. Prevention bennefits continue to be one of the most important ourcomes of ASPs in the 21st century and researchers have confirmed that programs help to decrease delinquency and violent bahavior, avoid drug and alcohol use, and knowledge of safe sex. Goldschmidt et. al (2007) examination of LA's Best program across 24 schools revealed that this ASP had a positive impact on the reduction of juvenile crime. Finally, evaluators have also measure the health bennefits of participation in ASPs, partcularly the ones that focus on physical activity and well-being. A study of the Cooke Middle School After School Recreation Program in Philadelphia (Lauver 2002), for instance, found that that participation in the program contributed to promotion of healty lifestyles among students.
Several factors influence the success of after school programs in terms of learning, opportunities, and development. Researchers from the Harvard Family Research Project argued that sustained participation, quality programming, and strong partnerships are the key factors needed to maximize ASPs potential and impact. (Little et al. 2008) Based in an extensive review of ASPs studies, Little et al. found that programs with higher frequency of participation and sustained attendance increased positive outcomes. They also identified several features of quality programming such as physical and psycological safety, appropriate supervision and structure, well-prepared staff, and opportunities for autonomy and choice. Further, they also revealed that the impact of ASPs depends on strong partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, especially among the various institutions in which participants spend their day (schools, families, communities). Service providers need to conisider all these factors when defining the programs goals, structure, staff, management, participants and funding.
Moreover, researchers in the field of after school have categorized ASPs in relation to their approaches to learning. These categories are useful for analyzing the rich variety of programs and understanding broader discourses that surround their impelementation. Noam et al. (2003) have described three different approaches: extended, enriched, and intentional learning. ASPs that embrace an “extended learning” approach have a strong focus on academic outcomes. As a result, their objectives emphasize supporting and mentoring students in homework and acadedemic subjects, improving academic achievement, and reinforcing content standards. In contrast, the “enriched learning” programs have a more flexible structure that allows for the development of project based learning activities, and their goals are releated to supporting hands-on experience, exploration, and self-direction. This approach, as Herr-Stephenson et al. have noticed, supports "interest-driven" participation and emphasizes the agency of young people in their learning. Finally, the "intentional learning and programming" approach has an emphasis on non-academic skills and social abilities, and focuses on youth development and empowerment.
- 1.2. Incorporation of Digital Media in ASPs
The increasing popularity of ASPs during the past decades has developed in paralel to the dawn of the digital era, the transition to a knowledge and information society, and the emergence of a networked communication environment. Child care and ASPs support, as well as issues of technological access and education, have gained public visitbility and been subject of political debates, presidential campaigns, and legislation. The Clinton administration, for instance, created the 21st-Century Community Learning Centers’ (21CCLCs) afterschool initiative in 1998 in order to support ASP around the county, serve students attending high-poverty and low-performing schools, and reinforce academic programming with additional services including technology education. Likewise, Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) dedicated resources to improve children’s access to digital technology, and reauthorized 21st CCLC transferring the administration of the grants from the U.S. Department of Education to the State Education Agencies.
In a context of rapid transformations, discourses of equal access to technology and the future of work started to be embraced by afterschool service providers, policy makers, researchers, educators, philantropists, and youth advocates. As Herr-Stephenson et al. have stated, the discourses of the digital divide and workforce development, have become part of the struggle to provide technological infrastructure (hardware, software, and networking), and to support youth-driven sociocultural practices (participation, production, and cocreation). The latter, in particular, has been framed by various researchers, educators, and advocates, as supporting new literacies (e.g. information, visual, computer, new media, etc), fluencies (e.g.technological, network), and twentyfirst century skills (e.g. applied, noncognitive, soft, interdisciplinary).
Although the use of media technologies in ASPs can be traced back to the 1980s with the use of video cameras for creative expression and media education (Sefton-Green 2012), their incorporation was not guided by the sense of urgency that the discourses from the turn of the century created. Incorporation of digital tools and networks became a high-priority and pressing challenge for afterschool service providers. As they balanced the risks and bennefits of digital technology implementation, ASP providers articulated different approaches to learning matching particular pedagogies and resources. (Herr-Stephenson et al. 2011)
Learning approaches have shaped goals, structures, funding, participant relationships and media practices within ASPs. For instance, ASPs that take an "extended learning" approach have focused on improving academic achievement by meeting content standards like the ones created for the Partnership for the 21st Century Skills (e.g. information literacy, problem solving, creativity), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. These programs are usually well funded and mantain close relationships with the industry by jointly organizing technology-related competitions and activities. In contrast, "enriched learning" ASPs focus on supporting the exploration of students own interests without necessary relying on content standards. Initiatives such as Computer Clubhouses, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America (B&GCA) are examples of ASPs that support a range of activities in where students engage in multimedia production following their own passions, developing their own creative expressions, and "learning with and about digital technology". Finally, ASPs that embrace the "intentional learning" approach are usually youth media programs that "are intensively and exclusively focused on media production as a pathway of youth development" and "tend to encourage young people to view media creation as a political act." (Herr-Stephenson et al. 2011, 30) These programs are aligned with a longer tradition of media education that promotes critical literacy, supports a political agenda of social change and youth empowerment, and relies in mentorship and structured activities with variety of media production tools, both digital and analogue.
Since digital technology oriented ASPs are supposed to serve low-income and low-achievement youth, they should be producing some impact in the Latino/Hispanic youth population who is situated at the wrong sides of many divides, including the digital one. However, research and evalution studies that especifically look at Latino/Hispanic look participation in digital technology oriented ASPs remain scant. One of the few studies available, was conducted in 1999 during the piloting of Project Connect, an initiative founded by Microsoft and that took place in the form of technology centers embedded in fourteen B&GCA Clubs around the country. Henriquez and Ba reported on the positive impact of the Project Connect across all sites, including four clubs where Latinos/Hispanics were the majority (two in California, one in Texas, and other in Colorado). The researches concluded that the incorporation of technology in the Clubs helped to increase Latino/Hispanic membership and regular attendance, suported Internet and computer access, and created a learning and engaging environment that bennefited not only the participants but as well the whole local community. (Henriquez and Ba 2000, 34) As regard to learning, researchers concluded that the incorporation of technology within the Clubs helped students to gain "deeper understanding of how the Internet, multimedia tools, and technology can be used for research, design, and communication." (Henriquez and Ba 2000, 35) However, researchers noticed that the presence of technology also created several challenges such as the lack of qualified staff, technical assitance, financial sustainability, technology integration into other educational programs, and a systematic program evalutation. (Henriquez and Ba 2000, 35)
In perhaps the most detailed studied on the impact of digital ASPs on immigrant youth, Rebecca London, Manuel Pastor and Rachel Rosner, found out that the implementation of digital technology across six afterschool service providers in California helped to solve not only the problem of access to technology, but also to support immigrant youth development and acculturation processes. Based on case studies of six Community Technology Centers (CTC) that provided afterschool programming to Asian and Latino/Hispanic immigrant youth, researchers revealed that besides bridging the digital divide, what they called the "Information Technology (IT) framework," fostered the creation of a supportive and safe environment where immigrant and disadvantaged youth could "find a voice, a place, and a future" in the new country. The ASPs "created spaces for immigrant youth to connect with one another and with supportive adult mentors, to express themselves freely, and to be comfortable in compatible cultural settings." (London et al. 10) Further, researchers argued that these technology oriented ASPs supported the process of acculturation of immigrant youth "in their broader communities by providing leadership education and other means of empowerment." (London et al. 10) The importance of adult staff who understood and respected immigrant cultural heritage and their familial context was crucial for fascilitating the acculturation process and openning opportunities to valuable information and opportunities. Hence, besides being mentors in technology, ASPs staff also "acted as cultural, educational, and generational brokers" who could address the specific needs of immigrant youth and help to connect their "existing ethnic identities with their new American identities." (London et al. 11)
- 1.3. Digital Media After School Programing at Freeway High School
After school programming was diverse and dynamic at Freeway High School (FHS). When classes were not being held, the school infrastructure was transformed into the vibrant space of ASPs' activities. From theater to culinary arts to debate to college preparation to digital media, ASPs offered opportunities to expand students' learning, socialization, and skill development during out-of-school time. Given the size of the school (almost 2000), the raccial/ethnic composition of the student population (88.2% were minorities), and the number of students who received free lunches (61.7% were economically disadvantaged), FHS embraced afterschool programming as one of its major services. Although economic funding was scarce and only few programs were supported by state/federal grants (Texas ACE/21st CCLC), FHS supported the creation of ASPs (especially Clubs) and provided spaces were students could meet and engage in actitivites under the supervision of an adult (usually a teacher that served as sponsor).
FHS also supported the incorporation of digital technology by ASPs. Despite banning student's use of mobile and digital devices, blocking social network sites inside computer labs and classrooms, and struggling with budget cuts, FHS offered two digital media oriented ASPs were students could access computers, the Internet, and audiovisual production gear: the Digital Media Club (DMC) and the Cinematic Arts Project (CAP). These two programs embraced the dual discourse of the digital divide and workforce development, were not academically oriented, and had many low-income Latino/Hispanic youth as participants. With the exemption of Inara, all the subjects of our study participated in the digital oriented ASPs, although with different degrees of commitment and engagement. Although these programs were closely related to each other and shared some members and sponsors, they had big differences regarding their structure, goals, and approaches to learning.
- The Digital Media Club (DMC)
Founded in 2009 by a group of junior students interested in digital media, the video technology teacher (Mr. Lopez) and the Videogame desing teacher (Mr. Warren), the DMC was youth-driven, student centered, and run by students (had a president, vicepresident, historian and tresurer). It offered a wide range of unstructured activities that included playing videogames, messing around with professional software, browsing the Internet, and producing multimedia. Because the DMC supported hands-own projects, experimentation, and the intensive engagement of students with subjects of their own interest, it could be said that it had an "enriched learning" approach. Thanks to the popularity of the club during its first year (more than fifty FHS students participated regularly) and the active mobilization of social, technical, cultural, and human resources done by the adult supervisors, the DMC obtained a Texas ACE/21st CCLC grant in 2010 that provided transportation (buses) and snacks, and payed the teachers for the afterschool time they spect at their classrooms (the payment was only for 2 days a week).
The activities of the DMC splitted across two spaces: Mr. Lopez' and Mr. Warren classroom/computer labs. Both settings were equipped with late-model iMac desktops neatly lined up around the edges of the rooms, around 30 in total for each room. All of the computers had Internet connectivity and a wide array of software installed on them - Final Cut Pro, iMovie, Garageband, Celtx, Photoshop, Illustrator. Three days a week, from 4pm to 6pm approximately, the two spaces remained open to members of the DMC as well as to other FHS students interested in accesing computers and the Internet. Members of the club, however, had also access to other media production tools such as video/photography cameras, midi keyboards, microphones, drawing tablets, and laptops.
Each of the spaces where the DMC expanded its activities attracted different kinds of students according to their interests and the elective classes they were taking at school. While students interested in videogame play and design, such as Miguel, used to hang out in Mr. Warren's computer lab, students passionate of film, music, photography and videography, like Gabriela, Antonio and Sergio, prefered to spend their time in Mr. Lopez' classroom. Given the loose structure and opennes of the DMC, attendance varied from week to week and was neither consistant nor mandatory. However, during the year of our fieldwork the DMC seemed to gradually lost student attendance due the fact that the teacher supervisors and student members, included Antonio and Sergio, got involved in other projects and could not dedicate time to plan especial events for the club as they did in previous years.
- The Cinematic Arts Project (CAP)
The CAP was precisely one of the projects that emerged from the DMC and that evolved into a unique and independent program leveraging some of the physical, social, technological, cultural, and human resources that members of the DMC had been cultivating. Originally created in 2010 as a collaboration between Mr. Lopez and the two directors of a small local ﬁlm postproduction company, the CAP was a joint enterprise that intended to teach the art of ﬁlmmaking and digital storytelling to high school students. In contrast to the DMC, the CAP was a structured program and it was run by adults and recent FHS alumni. It was organized according to the traditional ﬁlm industry processes of pre-production, production, and post-production, studio hierarchies, and had clear goals and deadlines such as completing several short ﬁlms and the creation of a complete multimedia website. Given its focus on media production, goals, and the activities that participants developed, the CAP embraced an "intentional learning" approach. The CAP mision, as stated in its website, was "to educate, empower, develop, and celebrate the next generation of emerging artists," to help high school students "to be productive citizens, creative individuals and active participants in shaping our communities in the 21st century." In order to achieve that, the CAP was "dedicated to teaching the art of cinematic digital storytelling and digital media production to young people."
Due to the recognition that the CAP acquired among the local community during its ﬁrst year, it grew very fast in its scope and goals. At the time of our ﬁeldwork in 2011-2012, and just one year after its foundation, the CAP had turned into a non-proﬁt organization, had several sponsors from the local business, and included students not only from FHS but also from two other high schools from the district (scaled up from a group of eleven students to a group of forty students). Participants worked in ﬁve diﬀerent teams (Narrative, Making-of, Webisodes, Publicity, and Documentary) and their tasks were organized according to the hierarchies and work flow of a professional film studio. The CAP had especialized departments (e.g. Production Management, Sound, Art, Costume & Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup, etc.) and especific roles for each student (e.g. director, manager, camera operator, grip, cinematorgrapher, etc.). All the CAP teams were supervised by adult executive directors (three high school teachers and two professional ﬁlm producers) and mentored by ﬁve FHS alumni who had previously worked in the CAP during its ﬁrst year of existence.
From November 2011 to April 2012, CAP participants met regularly at Mr. Lopez' computer lab. Although sometimes, especially during the production process, the activities moved to other locations for shooting scenes or for presenting the work in public, most of the time, Mr. Lopez' classroom served as the everyday headquarters for the project. Paradoxically, during the six months of CAP activities at the time of our fieldwork, the DMC was gradually marginilized from the space of Mr. Lopez' lab as many of its members, including the student president (Sergio) and vice-president (Antonio), and one of the teacher supervisors (Mr. Lopez), focused all their attention in the hard work that the CAP required. Although like Gabriela and Miguel, Antonio and Sergio were part of the DMC, they decided to focus all their afterschool activities on the CAP as soon as this program started. Due to the way in which the CAP was structured, its location, and the amount of time that it demanded from its participants, abandoning the responsibilities with the DMC was accepted among its members, and some of them, like Antonio, even said that the DMC had slowly disappeared.
- 2. Latino/Hispanic Youth Agency in a Digital Media Production World
Participation in the CAP was trasnformational for Antonio and Sergio, two Latino/Hispanic boys with low-income and low educational attainment working class families, who despite their disconnection with formal schooling found in an ASP, one of the strongest connections to the U.S society. The CAP offered to them a safe, creative, and positive space where they could develop their interest in digital media production, engage in media practices, and articulate a filmmaking learning identity. It provided them with a community they could join, help to build, and proudly and publicly feel part of it. Moreover, the CAP give them access to social, economic, technologial, and cultural resources they could use for navigating their process of assimilation. However, although in the short term and during their participation in the program the outcomes were for the most part positive with their assimilation trajectories moving upward in terms of aspirations, connections, and opportunities; in the medium term the bennefits seemed to fade out as Antonio and Sergio graduated from high school and could not continue having access to the system of support that the CAP gave them.
- 2.1. Entering the World of the Cinematic Arts Project
The framework of "ﬁgured worlds" elaborated by Holland et al. (1998) is useful for analyzing the experiences that Antonio and Sergio had as participants of the CAP and their relationship with the processes of assimilation. I argue that the CAP can be understood as a "ﬁgured world" formed through social and situated activities. This world was historically situated, socially enacted, and culturally constructed. It was a collectivity where members "ﬁgured out" who they were in relation to each other and through a set of practices. (Holland et al. 1998; Urrieta 2007) At the CAP after school program, students came together to construct joint meanings and leveraged technological, social, and cultural resources. Within this "ﬁgured world," Antonio and Sergio reinvented themselves as ﬁlmmakers, found opportunities to connect with their school and the local community, and developed media practices and skills that allowed them to participate in social, cultural, and economic domains they had not explored before. In other worlds, the CAP allowed them to advance in their assimilation process.
By analizing the CAP as "figured world" I also intend to address the relationship between assimilation and learning identities, and highlight the learning outcomes of participating in ASPs. Learning and identity are strongly related. As much as learning is a process of becoming (Wenger 1998), so is identity an act of self-making. (Holland et al. 1998; McCarthey and Moje 2002; Urrieta 2007) Both, identity and learning are produced in practice through life experiences. When people participate in activities within particular contexts or "ﬁgured worlds" they engage in both a learning process and an identity work. (Holland et al. 1998; McCarthey & Moje, 2002; Urrieta 2007) Hence, by developing shared practices, establishing relationships with others, and enacting performances of the self, people construct their selves as learners. However, because identity and learning are historical phenomena, their processes are also embedded in both a collective past ("history-in-system") and a personal subjective history ("history-in-person"). (Holland et al. 1998; Urrieta 2007) When people enter "ﬁgured worlds" they bring with them a personal subjective history of social life experiences and conceptual understandings that establish diﬀerent possibilities of engagement.
In my analysis I understand the learning identities of Antonio and Sergio as both performances and narratives situated in the "ﬁgured world" of the CAP. On the one hand, I analyze the enactments of the self that these boys developed as they engaged in shared practices and played diﬀerent roles. On the other, I examine how they narrated their activities in the CAP, and told stories about themselves and their social interactions with peers, mentors, and the local community.
- 2.2. Space, Tools, and Discourses.
The activities and resources of the CAP where localized in the speciﬁc physical space of a FHS computer lab supervised and designed by Mr. Lopez. Although sometimes, especially during the production process, the practices of the CAP moved to other locations for shooting scenes or for presenting the work in public, most of the time, Mr. Lopez' computer lab served as the everyday headquarters for the project. It was in this particular space inside FHS major building, and during the speciﬁc time of after-school hours, where the "ﬁgured world" of the CAP was recreated by the social engagement and shared activities of the participants.
Mr. Lopez, a third generation Mexican American from Houston, bilingual, and with a strong sensibility towards the Chicano activist movement and the creative arts, had assembled during his 5 years at FHS a space not only rich in computer and video technology tools, but also in Latino/Hispanic cultural artifacts. All the walls were decorated with iconography rich in Mexican and Latin-American symbols such as posters of Zoo Suits, Chicano art, the Mexican ﬂag, and images of cultural heroes such as Frida Kahlo, Che Guevara, and the farm workers activist Cesar Chavez. As regard to technology, the lab was equipped with 24 I-Mac desktop computers organized in three rows next to the walls. The computers ran the latest OS-X operating system, were connected to high speed Internet, had web cams, internal microphones, headphones, and several media production software applications such as I-Movie, Garage Band, Key Note, Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Eﬀects), Final Cut Pro, and Celtix. The layout of the desktop computers left a clear wall for screen projections, as well as an open space in the middle of the room were movable and circular tables were available and could be used for group meetings. The lab also had an equipment room with lighting kits, green screens, tripods, microphones, boom poles, sound recorders, midi keyboards, headphones, laptops, and several HD video and DSLR photography cameras. Furthermore, and speciﬁcally for the activities of the CAP, the lab was upgraded with more professional ﬁlmmaking gear donated by a local media company such as a dolly, a jib, and a fake rig.
Besides designing the space of the computer lab as a supportive and safe environment for Latino/Hispanic youths, Mr. Lopez played a central role in setting up the discourse and practices at the "ﬁgured world" of the CAP. He made availabe "positional frames" (Greeno 2009) that entailed active roles for students in their learning. Using the frames of project-based learning (PBL) and filmmaking, Mr. Lopez positioned students as active learners, creative media producers, and authors. On the one hand, the PBL frame was based in a pedagogy that was situated, experiential and social, inspired bt learning by doing, and constructivism. The PBL frame empowered students to learn through experience and media production activities, and fostered peer-learning, collaboration, and entreprenuership. On the other, the filmmaking frame was shaped by the discourse of professionalism and workforce preparation and positioned CAP participants as possesing technical expertise, being capable of finishing a range of media products, and assuming responsibilities. The "filmmaking" frame entailed active roles for students in their learning and positioned them as having authority and obligations as if they were professionals. Each department or team had students assuming diverse roles that went from directors to camera operators to editors, allowing them to learn and practice particular skills, and to exercise different degrees of agency according to their responsibilities.
Finally, it is important to mention that Mr. Lopez was invested in building "caring relationships" with his students and the participants of the CAP, in particular the Latino/Hispanic ones. (Valenzuela 1999) He valued the cultural resources that minority students brought to the after school program, especially the Spanish language and the popular Mexican and Chicano heritage. Instead of "subtracting" the minority students cultural and social resources, Mr. Lopez supported and enhanced them by valuing their Latin-American ethnic background, traditions, and their Mexicanidad. (Valenzuela 1999) He acted as a "cultural broker" (Cooper, Denner and Lopez 1999) for Antonio and Sergio, and other Latino/Hispanic students and minorities, helping them to feel safe at after-school and in the broader school community; opening pathways to learning and earning experiences beyond the classroom; and supporting their process of assimilation to the U.S. while respecting and valueing their ethnic heritage.
- 2.3. Motivation and Empowerment (motivation access)
Motivated by their interest in digital media, the success and publicity of the first CAP iteration in (2010-2011), and their enrolment in Mr. Lopez video technology class, Antonio and Sergio entered the CAP with great enthusiasm in their senior year (2011-2012). Both had been in general low-track during Middle and High School, and had become low-academic achievers that knew how to "do school" by passing standardized tests and completing homework very fast during school time. Antonio and Sergio were also passionate about arts, computers, and digital media, and deeply invested in self-teaching and messing around with technology. Because they did not have that much material and usage access to technology at home, the school's computer labs and audiovisual production gear were very valued by them. Across several interviews they mentioned being "fortunate" and "grateful" for having this kind of accesses. In contrast to the allienation and boredom they experienced in the core curriculum classes, they were able to connect to the school via technology elective clases and ASPs (e.g. arts honor society, debate, DMC). Inside the CAP, and empowered by positional frames and diverse accesses (motivation, material, usage, and skills), they became some of the most active participants, showed up regularly, took responsibilities, played different roles, gained new media skills, and shaped their assimilation trajectories in a positive way.
The dynamic linkage between the filmmaking and PBL frames was very important for Antonio and Sergio, because it positioned them as competent media makers capable of using digital software, operating professional video gear, and authoring multimedia content, as well as having some understanding the different phases of the filmmaking process and the division of labor in professional film studios. Further, this layering of frames offered to these working class Latino/Hispanic students several goals that were bigger than the ones they encountered in the general track curriculum classes they took at FHS. In contrast to the low expectations, test work, and passive roles of schooling, filmmaking-PBL frames positioned them as active hands-on learners and media makers with clear objectives and deliverables. For instance, in their particular roles, Antonio and Sergio had to complete certain taks and collaborate in finishing and publishing multimodal media texts. Antonio, for instance, authored three different short videos (approx 3 minutes long) in where he described the activities of all the participants of the project during different production phases. Likewise, Sergio, as the main camera operator of the short narrative film, had to complete and intense shooting schedule for several weeks and was responsible of capturing all the footage according to a precise shot list.
The filmmaking positional frame helped to organize the social relationships, tools, and learning activities of the participants according to the film industry processes of pre-production, production, and post-production. Using this frame, adult supervisors, mentors, and students, confronted the challenge of finishing up several videos and creating a complete multimedia website, and established a tight schedule of deliverables, online publishing, and public exhibitions. Students worked in five different teams (Narrative, Making-of, Webisodes, Publicity, and Documentary) and their tasks were organized according to a film industry division of labor. The "filmmaking" frame entailed active roles for students in their learning and positioned them as having authority and obligations as if they were professionals. Each department or team had students assuming diverse roles that went from directors to camera operators to editors, allowing them to learn and practice particular skills, and to exercise different degrees of agency according to their responsibilities. Due to the size and the structure of the CAP all student members had to apply to speciﬁc roles or positions in one of the ﬁve teams. The application, as Sergio explained, consisted of a written form and an interview where students explained their previous experiences, answered questions regarding problem solving, and stated their reasons and motivations for playing speciﬁc roles. After evaluating the applications and conducting the interviews, the CAP mentors and supervisors took executive decisions and assigned positions. Since the ten FHS students who participated in the CAP had already taken elective classes with Mr. Lopez they had an adavantage over the other thirty students who came from the other two high schools, and felt confortable using the filmmaking frame for playing powerful roles in the different teams.
- 2.4. Media Practices and Skills.
The media practices and skills developed at the CAP can be grouped in two categories according to their orientation: technical and sociocultural. By engaging themselves in these practices, Antonio and Sergio not only became some of the most active participants in the CAP but also had the opportunity of participating in other societal realms and advance their assimilation trajectories. Although those opportunities were unsustainable for longer periods of time, the fact that they happened at least during the CAP, can still be considered a positive outcome. However, the difficulty to make opportunities sustainable beyond the duration of an afterschool program reveals some of the paradoxes that the incorporation of digital media carries across formal and informal learning institutions and the challenges of balancing all forms of access to technology (motivation, material, usage, and skills).
- 2.4.1. Technical Skills and the Importance of Material and Usage access.
Given the "intentional learning" approach of the CAP, hands-on media production and technical skill acquisition was at the core of most of the situated activities developed at this ASP. This approach tended to focus too much on the digital tools, the personal artistic expression, and an industrial conception of "filmmaking" that was hierarchical and very aesthetical and technical oriented. As a result, the majority of participants focused on gaining technical skills in order to collaborate and deliver the media artifacts that each of their teams needed and did not spend that much time interacting with the broader networked communication environment or analyzing media texts. From photographing to sound recording to video editing, participants engaged in media practices that required technical expertise, and were able to master them thanks to the acces to digital tools and the frequency of meaningful production activities within the CAP. For low income students such as Antonio and Sergio, that kind of material and usage access to media production gear and computer power was crucial. It not only allowed them to develop technical expertise but also to articulate their learning idenitites as filmmakers, exercise their creative agency, and connect to local institutions and communities (in particular the school and some small creative industry players).
Inside the CAP the levels of technical expertise were not evenly distributed among the participants. Although the media practices developed during the pre- and production phases such as audiovisual recording, lighting, and photographing, had lower barriers to entry and were mastered in short periods of time by the students, the practices of post-production such as editing and sound mixing required more advanced technical skills, knowledge of software, and storytelling abilities. These latter practices also required more solitary time in front of a computer watching, cutting, and organizing lots of audiovisual material. Among all the participants of the CAP, FHS students, such as Antonio and Sergio, who had already taken classes with Mr. Lopez, had a technical advantage compared to the students from the other two high schools because they were already familiar with the video production gear and computer software. Based on this advangate, CAP executive directors and mentors positioned FHS students in roles that required more responsibility and autonomy, and as a result, gave them more power.
- Being a Camera Operator
In the figured world of the CAP, and according to the filmmaking frame and ethos of "professionalism", being camera operator required an advanced technical expertise, it had clear goals, it was structured, professional, and artistic. Technical expertise varied according to the media texts that each team had to produce. Working on the short narrative team required the most advanced camera operator. This team had to deliver the emblematic product of the CAP: a short fiction film that was going to be submitted to an international film festival. The short film, or digital video to be more accurate, was supposed to have a high aesthetic quality and be representative of the level of professionalism of CAP participants. Although Sergio wanted to be the director of the short film, he took the challenge of playing the role of camera operator and became very passionate about it, developing technical expertise and close relationships with the peers from his team, especially with the cinematographer, a Mexican student who had participated in the CAP the previous year and had cultivated the filmmaker learning idenity for several years.
As a member of the short narrative team Sergio had to prepare himself both technically and physically, and he had also to practice camera work not only during after-school but also at home. According to Sergio, it was one of his peers, the cinematographer of his team, the one who taught him what to practice and how to learn. “ >Q: What was the preparation for this position? A: Mainly Javier told me what to do to practice. He told me to take the camera home, learn the settings of the camera, learn how to set it up, how to find everything in case something goes wrong, and he also told me to lift weights -- because when you’re holding the camera -- we did a lot of moving shots -- to not have too many shake shots.
Access to a professional tool (an HD video camera) for extended periods of time and across settings extended the technology usage that Sergio had, and as a consequence, his ability to gain expertise. Although Sergio had already had experiences of video recording by taking elective classes in FHS, and had learned how to focus, frame, and set-up the white balance, the cameras that he had used before were little and not as sophisticated as the Panasonic AVCCAM HD Handheld Camcorder he had to operate within the CAP. The complexity of the tool also required a more advanced technical knowledge of all the settings. Learning, for Sergio required a lot of hours of practice, and that was his main responsibility during the preproduction phase.
Sergio's camera operation practice expanded beyond the space and time of the CAP in afterschool, and also involved lots of hours of practice at home. The fact that Sergio had to borrow the camera equipment home in order to be able to master the operation of a technology tool reveals how issues of access to technology and usage at home are crucial for learning. According to Sergio, it was precisely when he borrowed the camera and practiced at home, that he was able to learn. He said,
“When I would learn with the camera I had to take it home, practice filming little things in low lighting, and then messing around with the iris and F-stop and trying to make it so it would look better, because last year’s problem with the film was it was too dark, so we’re trying to fix that this year. So it wasn’t as bad this year.”
After a successful production phase in where he was able to shoot everything according to the schedule and solved several technical problems working closely with the cinematographer, Sergio felt he had acquired an expert level in camera operation and, although he wanted to become a filmmaker, did not take another position in the CAP. Instead of engaging himself in a new practice during post-production, Sergio's activity in the CAP became a more social oriented experience of hanging out with peers, with sporadic collaborations with particular teams that needed help. However, leveraging his camera operation technical skills he was able to participate in other media production projects that emerged outside the CAP and FHS. Thanks to the networking efforts of Mr. Lopez and the visibility of the CAP in the local community, opportunities for working in small video production jobs started to emerge out of school, and Sergio, as well as some of his closest peers, did not hesitate in taking them. Confident of his technical expertise, Sergio found two temporary jobs as a camera operator in the local creative industries (one in a well known Latino/Hispanic Television Studio and other in an independent digital studio who produced websisodes), and was able to not only translate his media skills into income, but also transpose the CAP filmmaking and PBL frames to other realms for short periods of time.
- Editing Digital Video
To become skillful in video-editing software (e.g. Final Cut Pro), and learn how to ensemble a narrative with moving images it is necessary to have at least access to computer power and lots of hours of usage and practice. In his role of editor of the webisodes, Antonio, confronted the challenge of the video editing practice and narrated it as a kind of learning process that was difficult and unpleasant at the begining, and later became more playful and fun. Gaining video-editing skills became a sort of badge of honor inside the CAP because only very few were able to do this practice. Moreover, mastering this technical practice was also crucial for authoring audiovisual media texts, articulating a filmmaker learning identity, and developing a unique voice.
Acquiring video-editing skills was challenging for Antonio given the high responsibility he had been assigned as the editor of the webisodes. Although initially he had applied to be camera operator, the supervisors and mentors gave him the double task of being both camer-man and editor. As Antonio explained in one of our interviews, the knowledge that he had of the editing practice was little when the CAP started and he had to catch up and learn fast in order to complete the webisodes. He said,
>"this is like the first time I'm actually editing this much, because last year I learned how to use it (Final Cut Pro software) and that's all I really did with it -- learned. But this year I'm actually applying it to a lot of videos I'm doing. (...) It makes me hate editing even more, but I know it's a crucial part of post-production, so it's helping me out. (...) I'm learning a lot."
As Antonio spent more time engaged with video-editing, he gradually honed his technical skill, and his feelings toward this media practice transitioned from hate to fun. This transition reveals a crucial aspect of the learning process he experienced at the CAP, and is the importance of practice and usage. As Ellen Seiter has pointed out, "when large amounts of time 'practicing' are invested, the computer user is rewarded by the achievement of a kind of automaticity of many levels of competence." (Seiter 2008, p.33) In order to meaningfully "play around" with video editing Antonio needed to experience several hours of practice using the Final Cut software, watching, cutting, and pasting digital video footage. It was only after Antonio had completed two webisodes that he was able to had "fun" in the third video he created, and exercised his creative agency in a more playful way. When I asked what was his favorite webisode, he said
>"A: I think the third one, because I had more fun with it. Q: Why? A: Just because they told me to have more fun with it because they were kind of getting boring, so I was like, "Hmm, what can I actually do?" And I was just playing around with it. Q: And it worked? A: Yeah.”
Antonio's mastering of the video-editing practice positioned him as a central agent inside the CAP, and strenghtened his filmmaker identity and artistic confidence. After overcoming the challenging of the editing and shooting the webisodes, he felt confortable with playing and improvising different roles within the CAP figured world. Moreover, he also felt confident on transposing the filmmaking and PBL frames into other social realms given the oppportunities to do so. During the CAP post-production phase, for instance, he found a temporary job as an editor of a live music show in one of the Latino/Hispanic television studios. Thanks to his video-editing skills, as well as to the social resources mobilized by Mr. Lopez who acted as a broker for his students, Antonio was able to connect to the local creative community, and to translate his technical skills into earning. By taking this opportunity, as well as another job as a camera operator, he was also able to continue developing his filmmaker learning identity and to making connections, at least temporary, with adults and creative industry professionals from the broader Austin community.
- 2.4.2. Sociocultural Skills in a New Networked Media Environment
Although all the media practices within the CAP were sociocultural and situated in a social and cultural world, I have separated the ones that are heavily focused on technical skill acquisition, from the ones that are more oriented towards social interactions and connected to a broader digital and networked cultural environment. These sociocultural media practices still rely on technical expertise, but instead of focusing that much in personal artistic expression and individualized skills, they place more weight on the interactions with broader communities, the connection to new knowledge cultures, and the circulation of content in a networked communication environment. As Jenkins et. al (2006) have argued, the social skills and cultural competencies that emerge from participating in a new media communication environment, require "new ways of processing culture and interacting with the world around us." (21) Those emergent sociocultural skills, also conceptualized as "new media literacies" (Jenkins et al. 2006b), are necessary to find opportunities and participate in twentyfirst century culture, society, and economy.
Although the program had great potential to fostering digitally mediated sociocultural practices, developing new media literacies in the CAP was challenging and uneven. On the one hand, the hierarchical structure and division of labor of the CAP assigned to only one team (Publicity) most of the responsibility of interacting with the networked environment. Although eventually most of the CAP participants produced some kind of multimodal content that was published online or interacted in conversations in a dedicated Facebook group, only few students, mentors, and supervisors, were regularly interacting with the networked environment and gaining new media sociocultural skills. On the other, the CAP filmmaking frame and ethos of professionalism imposed constraints to the young filmmakers, mentors, and executive directors, that limited them to freely connect with emergent creative communities and cultures. Overemphasizing the high artistic quality of filmmaking, and imitating the twenty century film industry division of labor and studio structures, increased the barriers of participation in a digital and new media culture where the boundaries between amateurism and professionalism are being blurred. As a consequence, the degree of connectivity and networking of the CAP members remained limited to the local and profesional creative community. Although in the short term, such limited connectivity was very useful for leveraging social and economic resources, in the long term, CAP participants and alumni struggled with following a creative career path.
- Transmedia Navigation
In his double role of camera operator and editor of the Webisodes team, Antonio was one of the few students who could participate in activities that supported the acquisition of new media literacy skills. Particularly, by editing and shooting three videos for the web he was able to gain expertise in what Jenkins et al. call "transmedia navigation." In the case of Antonio, "transmedia navigation" was especifically related to telling story across multiple media and "read and write across all available forms of expression" (Jenkins et al. 46) By actively participating in the construction of a coherent and multimodal story about the CAP using multiple new media texts and several media channels, Antonio was able to experience for the first time in his life, the online publishing and circulation of media texts he had helped to create. The webisodes he made, were part of a bigger transmedia story that expanded both offline and online, and that included public screenings of two documentary-style short films about the CAP everyday activities (one produced by mentors and other produced by students) and one short narrative film, a complete multimodal website, several online photo galleries in Flickr, three webisodes in Vimeo, a dedicated blog in Tumblr, and a micro-blog in Twitter.
In order to contribute to the transmedia story of the CAP, Antonio had to become very aware and self-reﬂective of the all the practices, discourses, tools, and teams. The three webisodes that he edited became multimodal texts that were intended to portray the everyday activtities of the CAP to a broader audience and became pieces of a bigger story that expanded across several media platforms. These videos showed diﬀerent members of the CAP working together and performing various activities, and had the specific function of explaining to a broader audience the diﬀerent production phases of the CAP. As Antonio explained in one of our interviews, the stories that he had told with the webisodes focused on the everyday actitivities of the CAP. He said,
> "A: I had to edit and shoot clips where the public, like family or donors or people that just want to know about the CAP -- instead of reading they can actually watch a video on what we're doing and actually help us get more money. "
Antonio structured three micro narratives about the different production phases and told concise stories about the CAP activities positioning he and his peers as young filmmakers. He recorded the activities as a camera operator, acted as a narrrator reading a script he wrote, and selected and sequenced the footage. A look at the third webisode illustrates how the learning process of creating webisodes that were part of a bigger transmedia story helped Antonio to develop his own voice and gain narrative skills. The one minute video is a montage of moving images that show all the diﬀerent CAP teams engaged in diﬀerent practices and working not only on the space of Mr. Lopez' computer lab but also in the halls of FHS, and in outdoors locations. As the images pass with a rapid pace, we hear the voice of Antonio describing the various media practices that members of the CAP developed. The excerpt bellow is a transcription of a section of the video where Antonio narrates the pre-production phase. “ > "The past few months have been dedicated to prepare everything for this day. We have gone through script writing, storyboarding, auditions, set- preparation, and read-throughs. All to make filming goes smooth. Everyone is excited and ready to jump right in and hit the ground rolling as production begins this saturday and last all through this month of January."
However, despite his participation in the webisodes and his later collaboration the making-of video as an editor, Antonio did not find nor make opportunities to continue telling transmedia stories leveraging the networked media environment. Although he seemed to have developed the "transmedia navigation" sociocultural skill within CAP, this practice faded out very fast as the CAP entered the post-production phase. Neither in the temporary jobs he got outside of school, nor in some of the independent media projects he eventually made with his peers, he was able to engage in transmedia storytelling. This fact, reveals one of the most problematic aspects of the CAP organization and division of labor: the centralization of online interactions in one single team, and to be more precisely, in one single person: Mike, a FHS alumnae that became one of the most active mentors. As the supervisor of the publcity team, Mike was in charge of publishing all the online content, setting up all the social media accounts, and designing and managing the CAP website. Hence, although Antonio had the opportunity to create multimodal narrative pieces that were part of a bigger transmedia story, and understood a little bit of the process of multiple platform dissemination, he depended in somebody else in order to circulate the media artifats he created.
Networking using digital media tools and platforms was another of the mediated sociocultural skills or new media literacies that some participants of the CAP were able to gain. For a program that was based in a school that banned the use of mobile and digital devices, and blocked social network sites inside computer labs and classrooms, it was quite innovative to foster a range of networking media practices among its participants. Interacting in a unique Faceboook group, blogging, desiging a website, and circulating the CAP media artifacts through social media platforms, enhanced the networking skills among some students, particularly the ones who were in the publicity team, but also others like Sergio and Antonio who participated in networking-related activities.
Although the networking skill involves several media practices such as searching for, synthesizing, and disseminating information, in the CAP, it was mostly about the latter. As Jenkins et al. have explained, this aspect of networking "implies the ability to effectively tap social networks to disperse one's own ideas and media product" and learning "how to be heard by large audiences" (51) Disseminating information was a crucial skill for the CAP because it allowed its members to circulate their media productions, reach out to other audiences and publics, and especially connect to sponsors who could help the project finnancially. Although the CAP was able to use the Texas ACE/21st CCLC grant that the DMC had gotten in 2010, the funding was not enough for paying for all the adult supervisors (5) and mentors(5), and for financing a transatlantic trip to a prestigious film festival that a small group of students did. Hence, disseminating the CAP media products among potential donors and targetting local business and small creative industries, was part of the objectives that students had. The fact that the CAP website had one section showcasing the donnors, and another section dedicated to explain in detail the different levels of sponsorship that supporters could do, reveals the strong finnancial orientation of the networking sociocultural practices that members of the CAP developed.
For Latino/Hispanic youth such as Antonio and Sergio who had not published content online beyond mainstream Social Networking Sites like Facebook and Myspace, the practice of creating a unique website, circulating audiovisual texts in streaming platforms, and reaching out a broader audience was certainly positive and formative. Even though they were not directly involved in the process of uploading files or setting up accounts, they felt good about creating specific multimodal content for the web (eg. webisodes by Antonio, a blog entry by Sergio) and having diverse kinds of CAP media producitons available online. They proudly shared this content with peers and family. Antonio, for instance, explained how he enjoyed showing the CAP website to others. He said,
>"it feels good for people to see my work (...) I've showed it to many people, because when I'm in the computer lab or have my laptop at school, I'll pull up the website and show them the trailer, because we already have the trailer out, or I'll show them some photos that we took on set, and for pre-production."
In another interview, Antonio told me that for the first time in his life he was being able to search for his and the CAP names in Google and find an extended list of links to the different media channels and multimodal content they had produced. To get their name "out there" in the Internet was narrated by Antonio as something "really cool." As he explained,
“It's a good way to get our name out there, because I remember searching up CAP when we barely started, and there was nothing. You had to type in the URL to actually get the website. But now you can get like news -- our actual webpage, Flickr -- all of these directly on Google, and it's really cool.”
The CAP website gave Antonio and Sergio a public visibility that they had not experienced before and the opportunity of articulating their filmmaker learning identities in public. One of the website sections introduced all the CAP participants with short biographies, black and white portraits, and, for the ones who had published content online before, links to their online portfolios and multimedia works. Each participant wrote their own profiles using a third person point of view that was supposed to match the ethos of "professionalism" characteristic of the CAP. Sergio, for instance, wrote:
>"Martinez has always held more of an interest in directing, but he never left out the real magic in producing a movie. (...) He worked on projects with Mike Davis and Antonio Chapa (...) He has always been inspired not by the physical prize that is given to him, but rather the experience and knowledge he gains. He plans on applying to USC's School of Cinematic Arts. (...)"
Likewise, Antonio wrote:
>"Chapa has shown great interest in music and digital art within the last few years of high school, but is beginning to show a passion for film making. He has worked on countless projects alongside Sergio Martinez, such as (...) He was inspired to join the Cinematic Arts Project by the opportunity to work with his friends, but also to meet new people to work with and to expand his network portfolio. Medina’s personal goal is to gain experience and applying it for future use, and possibly to apply for college."
The public profiles that these two Latino/Hispanic boys wrote for the website reveal an effort to disseminate personal information about projects, motivations, and future goals, that not only position them as experienced members of the CAP but also as active learners interested in pursuing filmmaking careers. The profiles were almost as digital business cards they could use when presenting themselves to others. Interestingly, these public personal narratives also revealed several positive outcomes of the networking sociocultural practice in relation to the assimilation process such as self-confidence, connections to the local community, English language knowledge, desire to achieve in their craft, and even some sort of college orientation.
Overall, it could be said that Antonio and Sergio had a good opportunity to start developing the digital networking sociocultural skill with the activities that the CAP developed online . Both as a collectivity and individually, they bennefited from the CAP networking practices. Based on the the number of supporters that were listed on the website at the moment of doing the major public screening (52 sponsors that included private and public organizations, local businesses, media companies, and individuals), on the media production job opportunities that emerged during the CAP post-production phase, on the invitations to present in technology conferences, and the awards that some members of the team received (Mr. Lopez won an outstanding youth media entrepreneurship award), it could be said that the networking efforts were succesful while the duration of the CAP. As a result, Antonio and Sergio were able to experience, at least during the months that they were involved in the CAP, some of the possibilities digital networking can generate, and the social and economic resources that can be mobilized with this new media sociocultural practice.
- 2.5. Exiting the Cinematic Arts Project and Finishing High School: Confronting Structural Social Inequalities.
During the CAP post-production phase, after almost four months of intense media production activities, technical skill acquisition, and development of new media sociocultural practices, some members of the different teams started to grasp opportunities to learn, earn, and participate in media production worlds outside school. Thanks to the public visibility of the CAP, the increasing number of sponsors (including several local creative industry players), and the brokering efforts of Mr. Lopez, opportunities to participate in temporary and project based media work with local organizations and even between peers as independent producters started to pop up. As soon as those opportunities became available, Antonio and Sergio were some of the first students who took them, leveraging the social, cultural, and technological resources of the CAP (e.g. using profesional production gear from Mr. Lopez' lab for jobs out of school). For instance, they got temporary jobs in a Latino/Hispanic television studio as camera operators (Antonio and Sergio) and editor (Antonio) of a live music show that focused on Tex-Mex local bands. Both of them also worked for an international educational web video series about zoology and did camera operation for a couple of episodes that were shot near Austin. Furthermore, the two of them were able to collaborate with their closest CAP peers, during one weekend, in the making of an independent short video that ended being accepted into a prestigious international ﬁlm festival. By taking these opportunities they were able to bring their ﬁlmmaking practices, skills, and frames to other contexts, and translate them into earning capacity, learning opportunity, and social prestige.
However, media production opportunities became scare for Antonio and Sergio as they exited the CAP figured world and finished highschool. Although their filmmaker learning identities, social, technical, human, and cultural resources expanded during the months that the CAP was runing, they were not sustainable in the long term. Unfortunately, similar to the CAP itself, which could not sustain at the same big scale after 2012, Antonio and Sergio's resources became precarious after the termination of the school year and high school graduation. As Antonio, and Sergio exited the ﬁgured world of the CAP, and decided to break their connections with the afterschool world, their personal and subjective histories (history-in-person) became determinant for ﬁnding career opportunities and participating in different social domains. Very soon they were situated in a position of power that was fragile compared to the one that they had within the CAP figured world. Although both of them wanted to pursue ﬁlmmaking and creative careers, they confronted the challlenge of not having accesss to the resources and supports that could help them to continue that pathway.
With a history of average academic performance in the general track at FHS, and with working-class and low academic attainment immigrant families, Antonio and Sergio remained ambiguous about continuing their formal education and had not idea about how to get a job in media production. On the one hand, their families did not have the resources to help them to connect into a post-secondary education trajectory or into a creative industry job. None of the members of their immigrant families had gone to college and they struggled with ﬁnancial hardship while working in low skill jobs. On the other, neither the general track education they had received in FHS nor the CAP had prepared them to continue formal education after high school or how to apply to creative industry jobs. Despite all the positive outcomes of the CAP, the "intentional learning" approach, ethos of "professionalism," and filmmaking and PBL frames were too focused on the short term and the deliverable of media artifacts. Within the figured world of the CAP, a broader understanding of the media production job market and changing creative economy was something that was never addressed. For instance, even the temporary job opportunities that some students grasped did not required complete applications but were negotiated in an informal way. Moreover, and equally determinant, was the fact that the filmmaker learning identities of Antonio and Sergio were still very early in their development. For both of them, becoming filmmakers was something that emerged until their last year in high school while they participated in the CAP and became very engaged in the shared practices of the figured world.
Given such personal subjective histories, "ﬁguring out" a creative career outside the CAP was diﬃcult. As Antonio explained in a follow-up interview months after graduation, he couldn't translate what he learned at the CAP into economic opportunity after graduating from high school. He said, “ > “I can't find a job. I'm calling Target, Walmart, stuff like that. I don't want to work at Walmart though. I don't want to work in fast food either. (…) I don't have any other job experience, except for video editing, and the only thing that really counts out of that is the communication part, for any other job. So, for me it's kind of hard, since I don't have previous job experience.”
After exiting the "ﬁgured world" of the CAP and finishing high school, Antonio and Sergio confronted the harsh reality of deep occupational, educational, and digital inequalities in the U.S and a very competitive and fast paced economy. In their position of disadvantage as working-class minority youth with low-educational attainment, they struggled with the lack of access to social, cultural, economic and technological resources. In the absence of supports, and lack of knowlegdge about the broader economic and social system, they had to deal with the impossibility of translating their technical and new media sociocultural skills into future opportunities. Suddenly, after their a great year of filmmaking, and having obtained a high school diploma, they realized that what they did not have all the skills and experience to continue participating in media production worlds. Their creative career trajectories seemed to be broken at that point and the powerful agency that they had developed inside the "ﬁgured world" of the CAP faded out very fast. Although they were able to enter a community college one semester after graduation, they remained ambiguous about the usefulness of formal education and had stopped making videos given the lack of access to professional video production gear.
- 3. Conclusion: Confronting Paradoxes. Connected but disconnected. Segmented digital assimilation?
After school programming continues to be relevant for minority, low-income, and immigrant youth in the 21st century. ASPs are still important because they provide support and access to social, cultural, economic, human, and technological resources that are scant in disadvantage communities. In the case of Antonio and Sergio, the two Latino/Hispanic immigrant boys that participated in the CAP, afterschool programming had positive outcomes not only in their assimilation trajectories but also in their development. It allowed them to cultivate social relationships, develop a filmmaker learning identity, improve their self-confidence, gain communication skills, and feel part of a community and a media production figured world. Because this community was situated within FHS, being part of it also fostered a connection with the public school social institution. Evidence of that is that both Antonio and Sergio graduated from high school (an achievement that moved upward their assimilation trajectory, distancing them from the low academic attainmnet of his parents). Moreover, the CAP opened some opportunities of participation in the economy (e.g. temporary media production jobs) and in culture (e.g. Internet, local film culture), and very importantly, it provided multiple digital media accesses.
Because access to digital technology across its motivational, material, usage, and skill dimensions can help to bridge some of the divides that social inequalities are creating it is crucial that ASPs incorporate digital media in their programming. However, the way in which this incorporation is made matters. Afterschool service providers not only need to address the multiple dimensions of access but also have to balance them in a productive and generative way. In the case of the CAP, although all the dimensions of access to digital media were available at the program, not all of them were supported with the same strength. Although motivational, material, and usage access appeared to be well developed, the complex dimension of skills, was not very robust. Due to the "intentional learning" approach of the CAP, and particularly its filmmaking frame and ethos of "professionalism," the program placed too much weight on specific technical abilities and overlooked the importance of developing new media sociocultural skills. As a result, CAP participants like Antonio and Sergio were able to hone their skills in the operation of video production gear and computer software, but only briefly, and frequently with the mediation of an adult mentor or a supervisor, were able to develop new media literacies or sociocultural competencies.
Insufficient development of new media sociocultural skills did not help Antonio and Sergio for confronting the harsh realities of a rapid changing economy and deepening social structural inequalities. Once they lost the connection to the figured world of the CAP, their skills turned out very weak and they did not feel confident on using their media practices strategically in order to pursue a creative media career. This deficiency, however, cannot be blamed only on the afterschool service providers but needs to be understood in relation to a broader unequal social context, and to the subjective histories that Antonio and Sergio (e.g. their life-long learning and assimilation trajectories). Although it is true that the CAP could have supported the acquisition of new media sociocultural practices in a more consistent and horizontal way, the responsibility of doing so needs to also be distributed among other institutions such as formal schooling and home. For Latino/Hispanic youth that have been positioned in general curriculum tracks, and come from immigrant families with low-income and low educational attainmnet, participating in digital media oriented ASPs for one year in high school is not enough for developing the complex set of skills that are required for participating across multiple social realms. Developing these new media sociocultural skills needs to thought in an ecological way in where multiple institutions need to be commited to support their acquisition. In the case of the CAP, this program gave Antonio and Sergio, for few months, the opportunity to experience some of the power of networks and allowed them to exercise their creative agency in a figured world of media production they imagined and enacted. While participating in this world, it seemed like their assimilation trajectories moved upwardly very fast, finding connections to local economic and social institutions. However, the lack of sustainability of that participation after high school graduation, made their assimilation trajectories move to a lower position, that although it was not the one of their parents, did not offer many possibilities for continueing digital media creative careers.
The broken trajectory that Antonio and Sergio faced after high school graduation and after exiting the CAP, reveals the harsh reality of the evolving digital, educational, participation, and occupational divides in the U.S. Even the ASPs with the best intentions canot solve the paradoxical nature of rapid sociotechnical change and the discourses that try to level the playing field by providing access to new ditial media (e.g. digital divide, preparation for future workforce). In a society where structural inequalities determine the access to economic and future opportunity, disadvantage youth, such as the ones from Latino/Hispanic low-income immigrant communities, have to confront the challenge of bridging many gaps with evolving contours. From digital to participation to educational gaps, the problem of "leveling the playing field" continues to be one of the biggest issues for policy makers, educators, urban planners, and scholars. There is an urgent need for creating an infrastructure that supports the continuity of the creative career trajectories of non-dominant youth passionate of digital media tools and networks. The fact that despite having provided important opportunities during the school year, the CAP was not enough for supporting Antonio and Sergio's creative trajectory highlights the diﬃculty that Latino/Hispanic low-income youth encounter when they try to convert their media skills into social prestige and earning capacity. Without a more equal and continuous access to social, technological, and ﬁnancial resources, this segment of the youth population will continue to struggle ﬁnding connections to opportunity even if they have developed some new media skills.
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