The materials on YouthLearn focus on learning, not technology, and attempt to help you integrate technology into out-of-school programs in ways that help children:
- become active learners,
- strengthen academic skills,
- work in team environments,
- inspire confidence, and
- broaden opportunities and life goals.
Successful technology learning centers often function as an integrated component of a youth program that provides activities which extend beyond computer learning to include mentoring, family outreach and family support services. They also have leadership that has earned the trust of youth and families in the neighborhood.
Organizations that operate technology learning centers need active support from peer organizations and from organizations with an interest or investment in its success. Designing and implementing technology-enriched learning programs is a new and complex challenge. Staff who are taking on this work need peer support as well as access to advanced expertise on the technical, educational and managerial components of their programs.
From our work with the two-year YDC Pilot project, we've concluded that a model out-of-school program can successfully integrate technology into learning when it has the following core components:
At least one full-time staff person dedicated to overseeing technology classes and associated activities. The center could also employ teens, college students and other part-time instructors to work with youth.
A staff that does not work or learn in isolation, but as partners with staff dedicated to other components of the youth program.
A teaching and training space with at least 15 networked workstations; a high-speed Internet connection; a suite of software appropriate for project-based instruction; and peripheral equipment, such as digital cameras and printers.
In the teaching area of this site, you'll find a variety of approaches, methods and tips for helping kids learn, including good modeling techniques and pointers for teaching about (and with) technology. And you'll find a wealth of information on equipping and running a technology learning center.