D-LIT 2018

A summer intensive in digital literacy and smartphone technology for middle school youth, made possible by a collaboration between Vassar College's Urban Education Initiative and The Art Effect.

Day Ten: Phone Rules and Beyond!

Today was bittersweet, as it was the last day of the 2018 D-LIT program and we're all going to miss each other, but at the same time we've created so many amazing works in the past two weeks and we're so proud of what we've been able to accomplish!

We started out by taking a feedback survey (because #feedbackempowers), and then getting a crash course from Kenji in spreading positivity online and using social media to lift each other up. After that, we got into small groups and created lists of "rules" for parents and for teachers about using smartphones in class and at home.

And then, it was showtime! Every D-LIT youth had a photograph/digital painting and a video to share. In just two weeks, we completed: 15 digital paintings, 8 video film reviews, 11 representation trailers, 3 collaborative stop-motion animations, 2 horror/comedy films, and 10 YouTube videos! Wonderful work, everyone! Can't wait to see what you come up with next year!

Day Nine: Stop-Motion Animation and Playlist Preparation!

Sadly, D-LIT will be winding down soon, so part of today was spent curating a video playlist for our big parent screening that will be held tomorrow evening. While one by one students met with Mary Ellen to curate their part of the playlist, everyone else busily finished editing the pieces they want to screen tomorrow.

We spent all afternoon learning the art of stop-motion animation! We tried out clay-mation, whiteboard animation, and humanimation (where we made animations using...ourselves, our bodies, and some chairs!


Day Eight: Internet Safety and Self-Confidence

Today we started out with a quick lesson on internet safety. Since parents had told us that being safe on the internet is their #1 concern for their kids and Smartphones, we wanted to make sure to equip everyone with some tools for protecting themselves, such as the Grandma rule (if you'd be embarrassed to show something to your Grandma, don't post it online).

We also surveyed ourselves about what OUR biggest concern is. Turns out, it's getting hacked. So tomorrow we'll cover some tools for protecting your phone from getting hacked.

Next, counselor Jahasia gave an awesome presentation about how social media can help people build confidence and community, giving some examples from YouTube as well as some personal examples. After, we got into groups and designed and created our own self-esteem building games!

Later in the day, we got the chance to become film critics when we each chose a favorite film to write, audio-record, and edit together a "film critic review!" We will debut these reviews at our final sharing on Friday afternoon. Stay tuned!

Day Seven: Painting in Digital and Physical Spaces

Today in D-LIT we spent some time experimenting with painting, both digitally on our phones and physically with paints and canvases.

Some of us preferred using brushes and paints so we could feel the painting process in a more physical way... and some of us preferred doing it digitally so we could use the "undo" button!

In between painting sessions, some of us got a quick tutorial in 360° video. We watched some 360° films on YouTube, and then began planning and filming one of our own!

Day Six: Film Genres & Horror Comedies

To start off our day, we created and untangled The Human Knot. Great feeling to work it out together as a team!

After that, counselor Tre gave us a great presentation on what makes film genres different from each other. We made lists as a class of what elements tell us whether a film is a comedy, horror, drama, or romance.

Finally, we spent the afternoon planning, filming, and editing short horror/comedy films (check out Janelle's zombie makeup!). We found it's quick and easy to film on Smartphones, but many of us found it's harder to edit on Smartphones. Jaime stuck to it like a champ and was the first person to finish editing@

Day Five: New York Hall of Science Trip!

To cap off a great first week at D-LIT, on Friday we took a trip to the New York Hall of Science, an interactive and exploratory museum with tons of hands-on exhibits.

We learned about light, color, and thermodynamics via lasers and motion-dectected heat-color signatures; ecological conservation via Virtual Reality touch-screens, and outer space through a 3D film narrated by Levar Burton!

And, of course, everyone took their devices to collect lots and photos and footage for more editing challenges to come next week. We had a wonderful time -- thanks, NYSCI!

YouTubing w/ D-LIT: Days Three and Four

Vassar President Betsy Bradley stopped by to hear about how the program is going!

YOUTUBE!! Just say the word and teenagers get excited. When we announced that we'd be spending a full two days covering YouTube day, the room began to buzz. Everyone had prior experience with YouTube, and everyone already had favorite videos and channels, so the youth entered into this lesson with some expertise already under their belts. To acknowledge this, we began by discussing the difference between what it means to have the most views vs. the most subscribers (the difference between accidental fame and intentional influence). Youth then presented to the class their favorite "influencer" channels, some of which were BigDawsTv, The Hacksmith, Odd Ones Out, and How Ridiculous! We also discussed what "appropriate" and "inappropriate" content means, and many students expressed how confusing it is to be given one set of rules for "appropriate" in real life and then be able to go on sites like YouTube where a whole other (far less appropriate) set of rules apply. All part of being a digital citizen.

We spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning breaking into groups and creating original videos modeled after ones we'd seen in our favorite channels (and we learned about "genre" along the way). Some videos included a speedpainting video by Jamila, a dance video by Kallista and Tyanna, a "Would You Rather?" interview video by Logan, Jaime, and Keory, and a a Parkour video by Jameel and Jaiden.

Later on Thursday, we moved into a more specific YouTube video project: Representation BioPic Trailers. Counselor Laura gave us a fantastic presentation on under-representation of women and minorities in popular media, stressing her own experience never seeing accurate reflections of herself or her Mexican identity in movies, and how important it was to her to see Coco on the big screen.

We then each chose an under-represented person or fictional character, researched their lives, and created movie trailers for a hypothetical biopic we would want to make about them to make sure they get the representation they deserve. For example, one student made a trailer about Myles Morales, the main character in the forthcoming animated Spiderman film who is the first black Spiderman, and another student made a trailer about Camilla Cabello, an up-and-coming Cuban American dancer, singer, and performer.

Next step: create our own class YouTube channel with original content! But we'll need to save that for next week, since our last day this week is going to be spent doing to the New York Hall of Science!

Day Two of D-LIT

Today was selfie day at D-LIT, as well as World Emoji Day! We looked at the history of selfies, from Van Gogh's self-portraits to Andy Warhol. We debated whether selfies are "art" and then took some very artistic selfies. We also talked about the origins of emoji, and tested our wits out with emoji riddles. We took some common sayings, translated them into emoji, and then tried to guess what each phrase was! Can YOU guess?

Day One of D-LIT 2018

D-LIT is off and running! Today we dove right in, setting up our devices and getting to know each other. Did you know? According to findings from Common Sense Media, the average teen spends 9 hour a day using media, and yet, only 3% of that time is spent making art or generating creative content. Just 3%!! The rest of their time is spent either passively consuming media or using media to interact with others. Clearly there's still lots of room to explore when it comes to teens and smartphones... and that's what D-LIT is all about!

Among other things, today we...

Learned about media literacy and took a survey on our media use--and then discussed the results in real time!

As it turns out, most of us have consistent access to smartphones at home, but we aren't able to use that technology in school. What does this mean? Do smartphones have unlocked potential for creative projects that could be taught in schools, if only smartphones were allowed?

Later that afternoon, we learned about different shots and angles, and then went on a scavenger hunt to collect footage while getting to know the campus.

Day 1: DONE! Day two, we're looking at you!

Link to Day One Smartphone Survey