WHUT Digital Media Curriculum

The Public Media Corps and the Digital Media Arts Club

In this video, learn about the history of National Black Public Media and the Public Media Corps, and its role in establishing the WHUT Digital Media Arts Club (dMAC). Find out how WHUT is implementing its innovative dMAC program in schools, after school programs, and community centers across Washington, DC. Howard University Fellows are trained to teach our "digital native" youth how to use digital media and technology. The program also includes professional development for teachers.

Closing the Digital Literacy Divide

In 2010, the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) launched The Public Media Corps (PMC), a community engagement public media project to better involve and inform diverse users in the digital, participatory era. The project builds upon NPBC’s experience as a national public media organization with a 30-year track record of increasing communications and production capacity among minority communities. Based on other service corps models, such as Teach for America, the PMC was conceptualized as a new national service to connect underserved communities with both broadband-enabled public media resources and social media tools. The project aimed to show how public media could serve as a driver for broadband adoption, civic engagement and collaboration between stations, community organizations, and members of the public.

As noted in the influential 2009 Knight Commission report, “Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age,” America needs to support local resources and institutions to ensure that democratic values of openness, inclusion, participation, and empowerment thrive across all appropriate media, engaging and encourages members of the public to be active citizens.

The Digital Media Arts Club (dMAC)

The Digital Media Arts Club (dMAC) was one of three community engagement projects developed during the PMC Beta to embrace the Knight Commission’s charge with a gaze focused on youth facing educational challenges. dMAC is an after school media production and digital literacy program that address the need for greater inclusion, participation, empowerment and engagement of youth in communities underserved by public media’s resources. The after school program focuses on high school students attending schools with lower graduation rates and introduces them to a range of media production skills and digital technologies. Students learn to produce audio and video content, create websites and blogs and, most importantly, expand their use of online technologies. These new skill sets ultimately support the student’s educational attainment by developing their critical thinking and problem solving abilities, increasing opportunities for collaboration and team work, empowering self-expression, and introducing the participants to new career opportunities in the digital media landscape.

As the “digital divide” of the 1990’s between the technology haves and have-nots narrows with the increased availability and use of the Internet on mobile phones, it is rapidly being replaced with a new divide. Researchers are discovering a troubling trend of “children in poorer families spending considerably more time than children of more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites.” (Source: NYTimes article, “Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era,” 5/29/12) This gap is more a consequence of little parental monitoring and limits on how children use mobile devices, and for many students attending under-resourced schools, little classroom instruction on using technologies for personal growth and development. The Digital Media Arts Club curriculum is designed to improve students’ digital literacy and to create more meaningful and productive use of the technology.

dMACs in Washington, DC are set up year round in community anchor institutions, such as libraries, or for the entire school year in high school. Borrowing again from the Teach for America public service model, dMACs are staffed by Fellows recruited from Howard University and trained by NBPC under contract to WHUT-TV a “hub” station for the American Graduate drop out prevention Initiative. The Fellows serve as trainers and mentors to the students, and are responsible for collecting data on attendance, participation and skills development to measure the program’s impact.

The dMAC Curriculum

The curriculum that follows is designed for dMAC students, ranging in age from 13 to 18, to learn a range of online and open source digital tools and media production techniques:

  • Prezi: a dynamic, interactive online presentation tool that can be used for class reports as well as presentations for any purpose.
  • Animoto: a web-based application that produces videos from photos, video clips and music;
  • Wix: a free web-based and blog building tool.
  • Audio production and storytelling, including recording, scriptwriting, editing and publishing Podcasts and oral histories on Soundcloud or iTunes.
  • Video production — from conceptualizing to shooting, assembling, editing and publishing a PSA and short form video on YouTube using small format camcorders and iMovie or Windows Movie Maker editing software.

The program also features periodic guest speakers who will discuss such topics as financial literacy, local history, careers in social media, new technologies and technology trends. In addition to guest speakers, field trips are organized to broadcast stations, media organizations, museums and other institutions that are leading technology innovators.

As dMAC students learn to produce content and master the digital tools in the program, Fellows shift their focus to translating applications of the technologies for class assignments and projects. Students will be encouraged to use the tools to expand their own learning experience and view the digital landscape as a gateway to achieving success in school and for their own personal ambitions.