Digital Video Community of Practice

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The after school world. A setting, a field of agency for youth. A case study of the three core members of this community and its teacher/connector/broker.

After School Programs

The context/field/arena/ of an after school program. The after school setting is an important societal field/arena/context for latino/hispanic youth.

Increasingly After School Programs (ASP) are a common after-school context for children and youth. There is institutional and federal support for this programs, especially for disadvantage areas and low-performing schools, and there is growing number of ASP.

A field of more and more importance: how children and youth spend their time after school.

Since the 1990s participation in after school programs has grown steadily, accompanied by substantial increases in investment. Research studies have tried to assess the educational potential of after school programs and identify promising practices.

After-school programs take place out-of-school. They can run directly after school, or during evenings, weekends, summer vacations, and holidays. After-school programs are hosted usually by schools, community-based organizations, churches. ASP can happen in a "variety of settings, including schools, museums, libraries, parks districts, faith-based organizations, youth service agen- cies, county health agencies, and community-based organizations."

"supervised activities intentionally designed to encourage learning and development outside of the typical school day. the terms “school-age care,” “out-of-school time,” and “expanded learning oppor- tunities” are sometimes used interchangeably with the term “after school.”" (Harvard family projecT)

"after school as we know it today has grown out of three interrelated traditions of school-age child care, youth development, and school-based after school programs. these three traditions carry critical concepts in after school—safety, positive youth development, and academic enrichment and support—and these con- verging traditions are responsible for a diverse range of after school program goals, such as improved self-image and self confidence, improved academic performance, and improved engagement in learning."

Extended learning opportunities in out-of-school time for students in need of academic assistance. expanded learning opportunities

Children and youth after-school hours are important part of their lives. They can engage in a variety of activities during this time.

After-school programs address one or more of the following functions: increase safety and supervision, enhance cultural and community identification and appreciation, develop social skills and increased competency, and improve academic achievement and skills. (Cosden et al. 2001)

"Given the broad range of program goals, it follows that activities offered in after school programs vary widely. they include academic enrichment, tutoring, mentor- ing, homework help, arts (music, theater, and drama), technology, science, reading, math, civic engagement and involvement, and activities to support and promote healthy social/emotional development." (Harvard family project)

There are structured extracurricular activities. They can be academic or nonacademic activities. ASP provide opportunities for participating in several kinds of activities such as sports and recreation, academic skill-building and homework help, college and job preparation, cultural activities, exploration of especial interests (music, dance, theater, art, computers, crafts, games, etc), community service and volunteer work, unstructured play.

Activities out-of-school have become very important. After-school programs have seen as way to address social and educational problems. Several studies have found these programs are associated with positive academic achievement (Marsh, 1992; Halpern, 1992; Huang et al. 2000; Cooper et al. 1999; Cosden et al. 2001; Biever et al. 2005; Little, P. et al., 2008; Mahoney et al., 2005; Welsh et al., 2003) Researchers have also found that participation in after-school programs increases social responsibility and sense of belonging, cooperation and self-efficacy (Bergin et al. 1992; Pierce & Shields, 1998; Little, P. et al., 2008) Halpern stated that after-school programs establish a norm of participation that may generalize to other settings. (1992).

Research from Harvard Family Project, identifies four different outcomes areas where the impact of APS has been assessed and measured: Academic performance; Social-emotional development; Crime, drug, and sex prevention; and Promoting health and wellness. (2008) That is, ASP can improve academic achievement, improve youth social and developmentaloutcomes, can have a positive impact on a range of prevention outcomes, and can contribute to healthy lifestyles and increased knowledge of nutrition and exercise.

For low-income and at-risk children and youth, after-school programs have become very important. There is a growing believe that low-income children deserve the same opportunity as advantage youth to explore arts, sports, and other developmentally enriching activities. (Halpern, 1999) Greater opportunities for participation in art and sport activities.

However, the problems in their funding, staffing, and facilities limit many times the development of after-school programs for low-income children and youth. (Halpern 1999) Concern about the program quality.

Some ASP cannot maximize the full potential of having positive outcomes due to several reasons and constraints. Research points to three critical factors that determine the impact of the ASP:

  • (a) access to and sustained participation in the program;
  • (b) quality programming and staffing (• appropriate supervision and structure • Well-prepared staff • intentional programming)
  • (c) promoting strong partnerships among the program and the other places where students are learning, such as their schools, their families, and other community institutions.

Study of the Harvard Family Research Project looks at 10 years of research and evaluation on after school programs and finds implications for the future of the after school field. Research confirms that that children and youth who participate in after school programs can reap a host of positive academic, social, prevention, and health benefits. Well-implemented programs can have a positive impact on a range of academic, social, prevention, and other out- comes, particularly for disadvantaged children and youth. "Well-implemented, quality after school programs have the potential to support and pro- mote healthy learning and development." Rsearchers show evidence that after school programs do work when "key factors of access, sustained participation, program quality, and strong partnerships" are in place.


The field of after-school programs is very diverse. In Freeway High School, this field is very rich and heterogeneous. The school provides the facilities for hosting after-school programs. Some of these programs have external funding from the U.S. Department of Education and are able to provide transportation (buses), snacks, and paying teachers for the time they spent as sponsors.

There are clubs and programs such as athletics, debate, theater, band, college preparation, math, and digital media. It is precisely the digital media after school program the one that is the focus of this section of my study.

Among the several after-school programs at FHS, there is one focused in digital media that takes place at a computer lab. The program was not very structured but opened a space for messing around with computers and digital media technology. The program had been running for four years at the time of our fieldwork and has been sponsored only the last two. The program has been the house of the Digital MEdia Club, as well as the Cinematic Arts Project, as well as other initiatives. Although the program started as the house of the DMC, the program has expanded and other projects have taken place inside its realm bringing together an interest-driven community and providing access to technology. Althouth originally the program was designed to provide access and a social space for hanging out and messing around, some programs turned out more structured and allowed more geeking out. =. In a way the digital media after school program at FHS was very malleable. What matters here is not that much the program as the CoP that created it, and the different projects that emerged from it.

A mix of structured and unstructured activities. A mix of projects. The after school focused in sociality as well as in hands-on "real world" projects. A very open space for the high school students. They could simply go to the lab and access technology.

In this section, I focus on a particular after-school setting or space, where the activities of a digital video CoP took place. I observed this space and the activities of the CoP for the course of an academic year. Although the setting is the after-school program space, my analysis focuses on the activities of the CoP that meet in this space and used its resources. The activities of this CoP expanded beyond the space of the high school. This CoP was able to engage in shared practice during out-of-school time. And even sometimes during in-school-time.

My intention is not to assess or measure the ASP but to describe the shared practice of the CoP in the space that the after-school program provided. I am more interested in the media practices that occur in the after school space and the ones developed by the CoP, than in the outcomes of it. Although I would inevitable mention the kind of academic, motivational, and skill out comes of participating in the CoP.

An important space in the learning ecology of latino/hispanic youth. Not the only ASP, but one of several that conformed a vibrant and divers after-school ecology at FHS. Many youth participated not only in one ASP but in many.


  • Learning (connected, situated).
  • Literacies and practices
  • After School Programs


Describe the CoP that we encounter at FHS. Its characteristics and the kind of participatory process it facilitates. How it provided opportunities for solving different kinds of access. As well as its limitations.


  • CoP

What are the characteristics of the community? its shared identity? and its practice?

What are the structured social practices (activities, tasks, habits) of the community, their members and their roles? (community)

How does the framework of CoP allow us to understand the agency of Latino/Hispanic youth in the afterschool field/context/setting/space? their participation?

How does the CoP kept itself alive? What kind of resources was able to mobilize?

Can the concept of CoP be applied to the after school program? to the activities developed in the after school space/field/context of FHS?

What is CoP repertoire of resources, stories, tools, and ways of solving problems? (practice)

What is the shared identity? Is there a shared identity? What is the characteristic of it?

How does apprenticeship works in this CoP? How does it work? What are the scaffolds?

  • Participation

How does participation in the media and through the media happens in the context/setting/field of the after school space? and specifically while participating in the digital video CoP?

How does access to digital media, to material and technology resources support the participation in this CoP?

How did students find out about and initially decide to become engaged in the CoP?

  • Identity

What are the characteristics of the identity developed by the members of the CoP?

What kind of identity is supported by the CoP? How does the CoP transforms Latino/Hispanic youth identities?

  • Creativity

How does digital media, and in particular, digital video software and hardware support creative agency? creative autonomy?

What kind of media texts or content were created? What are the characteristics of the the media content that was created?

  • Connector and broker.

What is the role of connector in the mobilization of resources? What are the bridges that are extended? How does Mr. Lopez assume this role? What are the characteristics of his practice?

  • Skills

What skills are developed? Which literacies are supported? What did members learn while participating? What is the shared expertise?

How do they understand their learning in this context?

  • Digital inequalities

How does the participation in this CoP solved issues of access to technology? enrichment opportunities?

Which resources were cultivated and gained? Which were still lacking? Where did the inequalities remain?

What kind of accesses did the after school space facilitate? What kind of accesses were supported and how do they fostered the development of a CoP?


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