Youth Community Inquiry

New Media for Community and Personal Growth

by Bertram Bruce (Volume editor) Ann Peterson Bishop (Volume editor) Nama R. Budhathoki (Volume editor)
©2014 Monographs XII, 198 Pages


Youth Community Inquiry offers a detailed look at how young people use new media to help their communities thrive. Chapters address questions about learning, digital technology, and community engagement through the theory of community inquiry. The settings range from a small farming town, to a mostly immigrant community, to inner-city Chicago, and include youth from ages eight to 20. Going beyond works on social media in a narrow sense, the projects in these settings involve the use of varied technologies, such as GPS/GIS mapping tools, video production, use of archives and databases, podcasts, and Internet radio. The development of inquiry-based activities serves as a record of the diverse experiences and a guide to future projects. The book concludes with an overview of a curriculum that readers may adapt for their own settings.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • This Book
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Community Inquiry, Bertram C. Bruce
  • Engagement in Community Life
  • Youth and Their Communities Today
  • The Youth Community Inquiry (YCI) Project
  • Ethos of Inquiry
  • Supportive Environments for Inquiry
  • Inquiry Units: The Community Is the Curriculum
  • Communities of Inquiry
  • Section 1: Learning About the World in a Connected Way
  • 2. Youth Interests and Digital Media: 4-H Podcasting Program in Urbana Middle School, Ching-Chiu Lin and Karyn M. Mendoza
  • Overview of the Program
  • Student Vignettes
  • Achievements and Challenges
  • Implications for Community Engagement
  • Final Thoughts
  • 3. New Media Technology: Tools of Expression/Repression in Communities, Alex Jean-Charles
  • From Community Engagement to Community Inquiry
  • Purpose
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Findings
  • Street Interviews
  • Participants’ Personal Reflections on Interviews About Power
  • Face-to-Face with Surveillance Technology
  • Working the System: Coping with Surveillance Technology
  • Presenting the Project to the Community
  • Final Thought
  • 4. Beyond Human Sensors: The Learning Instincts of Youth Using Geospatial Media, Nama R. Budhathoki, Bertram C. Bruce, Jill Murphy, and Kimberly Rahn
  • Human Instincts and Youth
  • Media for Communication
  • Media for Construction
  • Media for Investigation
  • Media for Expression
  • Youth Mapping Around Illinois
  • Cemetery Mapping in Onarga
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • 5. “Now I Am College Material”: Engaging Students Through Living Reflections of Self-Identity as a Form of Pedagogy, William Patterson and Shameem Rakha
  • Social Capital and the Youth Media Workshop
  • Project History
  • Project Impact
  • Research Using Indigenous Knowledge
  • Acquisition and Use of Social Capital
  • Unforeseen Impacts
  • Section 2: Learning to Act Responsibly in the World
  • 6. TAPping In: Education, Leadership, and Outright Gumption, Sally K. Carter, Shameem Rakha, and Chaebong Nam
  • Making Connections: The History of Tap In Leadership Academy
  • Summer Enrichment Program and Tap In—YCI Connection
  • Accomplishments and Stories: The Photography Project
  • The Future of Tap In Leadership Academy
  • Nam’s Reflection
  • Rakha’s Concluding Remarks
  • 7. Teen Tech, East St. Louis: Navigating New Community Partnerships, Chris Ritzo and Mike Adams
  • About East St. Louis
  • About Teen Tech Team
  • The YCI Project Model
  • New Partnerships, New Curriculum
  • Navigating a New Path Toward Local Autonomy
  • Analysis and Lessons Learned
  • What We Learned from Working with Teen Tech
  • Challenges and Transformations
  • Conclusion
  • 8. The Learning Never Stops: Creating a Curriculum That Resonates Beyond the Classroom, Jeff Bennett and Robin Fisher
  • You’re Always Welcome
  • Ask: How Can We Make Formal Education More Relevant?
  • Investigate: Motivations for Curriculum Development
  • Create: Growing a Curriculum
  • Discuss: Educating for Community
  • Reflect: Educating in Community
  • Section 3: Learning How to Transform the World
  • 9. (Re)voicing Teaching, Learning, and Possibility in Paseo Boricua, Patrick W. Berry and Alexandra Cavallaro, with Elaine Vázquez, Carlos R. DeJesús, and Naomi García
  • Narrative Openings
  • From Urbana to Paseo: Some Background
  • Replaying the Movie of Paseo Boricua
  • To Yale and Back: Carlos DeJesús, Literacy, and Education
  • Diverse Critical Pedagogy: Elaine Vázquez’s English Class
  • On the Edge of Success: Narratives of Community Building
  • 10. Youth Asset Mapping: The Empowering and Engaging Youth Project (E2Y), Chaebong Nam
  • Participants
  • Community Inquiry
  • Youth Activities in Mapping
  • Youth Learning Outcomes
  • Discussion and Implications
  • Conclusion
  • 11. Creating Collaborative Library Services to Incarcerated Youth, Jeanie Austin, Joe Coyle, and Rae-Anne Montague
  • Why Library Services in Juvenile Detention Centers?
  • Partnering with Juvenile Detention Centers
  • Beginning ELSEY
  • Fostering a Collaborative Approach
  • Linking Incarcerated Youth to Library Services
  • Critical Literacy Programming
  • Conclusion
  • Section 4: Evaluating and Making Sense of Youth Activities
  • 12. A Needle in a Haystack: Evaluating YCI, Iván M. Jorrín-Abellán
  • Setting
  • Cast of Characters
  • Individuals
  • Groups
  • Machines
  • The Show: Backstage
  • Storyboard
  • Scene 1: Reality Bites; Creating Unity
  • Evidence 1: 2009 YCI Summer Academy Agenda
  • Scene 2: Mapping Around the School
  • Evidence 2: Virginia High School Agenda
  • Intermission
  • Evidence 3: Issues Observed
  • Final Act: A Needle in a Haystack
  • Applause
  • 13. “It Takes a Community”: Community Inquiry as Emancipatory Scholarship, Indigenous Agency, Performative Inquiry, and Democracy Education, Angela M. Slates with Ann Peterson Bishop
  • YCI as Indigenous Agency
  • YCI as Emancipatory Scholarship
  • YCI as Performative Inquiry
  • YCI as Democracy Education
  • Conclusion
  • 14. Citizen Professional Toolkits: Empowering Communities Through Mass Amateurization, Martin Wolske, Eric Johnson, and Paul Adams
  • Public Computing Centers: From Diffusion of Technology to Hubs of Social Change
  • Equipping Public Computing Centers for New Roles
  • The Citizen Professional Toolkits
  • Computing Platform
  • Video and Audio Recording
  • Other Components
  • Toolkit Use Scenarios
  • Conclusion
  • 15. Youth Community Informatics Curriculum, Lisa Bouillion Diaz
  • The Role of Curriculum
  • Curriculum Uses—Current and Imagined
  • References
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


When we imagine young people today, we often see them glued to cell phones, mobile media devices, digital cameras, or handheld games. Or, they may be sitting with a computer, sharing music, photos, and videos, podcasting, web surfing, playing video games, or interacting on social media sites. Their experience of the world seems markedly different from that of their parents, or even older siblings (Alvermann, 2010; Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear, & Leu, 2008; Ito et al., 2010; Jenkins, 2006). This digital realm offers many benefits. Words such as adventure, learning, connection, social, and global have become commonplace in descriptions of so-called “digital natives.” For some, their experiences are liberating and integral to the development of identity and social relations, but they can also be excessively individualized, aimless, and isolating. Moreover, living in a digital environment does not entail being digitally competent (DiMaggio & Hargittai, 2001; Li & Ranieri, 2010).

Another image for young people and technology involves their use of social media for political change. Through cell phones, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Wordpress, etc., young people around the world are seen to protest and organize resistance movements. Studies of such social action (Earl & Kimport, 2012; Loader & Mercea, 2012) are underway to determine who participates, what they accomplish, and how these online activities relate to offline life (Haythornthwaite & Kendall, 2010).

There are other possibilities for how youth relate to digital media, including embedding technology use in a community-focused context (Warschauer, 2003). The use of new media for active citizenship, beyond protest per se, is receiving increasing attention (Benson & Christian, 2002; boyd, Palfrey, & Sacco, 2012; National Writing Project et al., 2006; Ross, 2012). A broad range of practices from mapping community assets to writing community history has the potential to bring the facility with and attraction to diverse digital media together with the drive for social change. Young people can build upon their actual or latent abilities with digital photography, audio and video production and editing, Internet search, GPS, databases, Internet radio, and more. They can go beyond individual use and beyond social media in a narrow sense to make a difference for their neighborhoods and their communities.

What does that look like? What could they accomplish and what challenges would they face? Can learning and technology use become more integrated and connected to community life? Can young people be allowed, indeed expected, to become responsible participants in the public sphere and to address problems such as economic injustice, racism, alienation, illness, or environmental degradation? Can they become active sustainers of their own communities? Can they use their facility with new information tools in a way that helps connect and build community, rather than leading to further isolation? ← vii | viii →

Our book brings a new perspective in three ways: (1) It shows how youth energy and facility with new media can address community needs in a concerted way, rather than simply describing existing youth practices with new media. (2) The use of new technology goes beyond social media per se to include building geographic information systems, designing community technology centers, hosting Internet radio, and other extensions of typical use. (3) It brings in the perspective of community members in the selection of problems, design of activities, and the interpretation of results. Many of the coauthors are non-academic, community members.

This Book

This collection addresses questions about youth, community, and new media through the theory of community inquiry (Bruce, 2008a; Bruce & Bishop, 2008; Bruce & Bloch, 2013) and by means of a detailed look at how young people use new media to help their communities thrive. The examples come from Youth Community Inquiry, a large-scale collaboration among diverse urban and rural communities, schools, public libraries, community centers, a public media station, 4-H, and the University of Illinois. Chapter 1 develops the theoretical and historical background.

Succeeding chapters tell the stories of work with young people engaged in community building using new media. The settings range from a small farming town to an inner-city neighborhood of Chicago, and with youth from ages 8 to 20. Going beyond works on social media in a narrow sense, the projects involve the use of varied technologies and media, such as GPS/GIS mapping tools, video production, use of archives and databases, podcasts, and Internet radio. The chapters present extensions of theory, the inquiry-based activities, the technologies, the experiences, and what has been learned.

Each chapter addresses questions such as the following:

 What are the participants doing?

 What are they learning?

 How are new literacies employed to enhance community inquiry?

 To what extent is the experience a good model for informal learning and community development?

 What role can and should adults play in youth-oriented community-based projects?

You will discover a variety of purposes, perspectives, and styles in the chapters. Some are more scholarly in style, often displaying a critical perspective on community activities. Others emphasize pedagogical goals; still others, community building. The authors include teachers, community activists, students, university staff, and others. Most of the projects have changed in some ways since the writing—coming to an end, expanding, shifting ← viii | ix → direction, generating spin-offs. The chapters discuss those changes during a segment of time, but you would need to follow up with particular sites to know what they are doing today and planning for tomorrow. We deliberately chose to preserve that variety as a manifestation of the diverse ways that the Youth Community Inquiry (YCI) ideas were realized. In each case, the projects embody the goals of learning about the world in a connected way, acting responsibly in the world, and transforming the world, which are ultimately inseparable.

We hope that these chapters will be useful for communities. They should also help professionals who work with youth in educational settings. These include K–12 teachers and media specialists, youth services librarians in public libraries, education directors in museums, and youth development specialists and program directors in agencies such as Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H, and summer youth programs. In addition, they should help university staff and students whose work involves connecting communities and higher education, fulfilling the promise of public engagement. Finally, they provide insights for anyone interested in the meaning of new media in a diverse and changing world.

Bertram C. Bruce
Ann Peterson Bishop
Nama R. Budhathoki

| xi →


This work was enabled by generous volunteer work across many communities, by libraries, schools, and community centers, by individual community-focused grants, and by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant No. RE-03-07-0007-07). It would not have been possible without the support of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and 4-H Extension at the University of Illinois. In addition to the authors of chapters in the book, many other individuals contributed in important ways to the project, including Moustafa Ayad, Naomi Bloch, Christy Brinkley, Susan Bruce, Lynn Carter, Jon Gant, Carol Inskeep, Sharon Irish, Chera Kowalski, José López, Sandra Mitchell, Alejandro Molina, Matthew Rodríguez, and Claudia Şerbănuţă, and XiaoXiong Xu.

| 1 →

1. Community Inquiry

Bertram C. Bruce

The concept of community inquiry highlights the ways that people come together to establish common ground and to work toward common purposes. The process is an essential aspect of building a larger democracy (Williamson, Alperovitz, & Imbroscio, 2002; Longo, 2007). It might also be called participatory democracy. But the usual terms fail to capture the process we envision. Democracy is often reduced to a particular form of government, such as having a constitution or a parliamentary system of representation. Participatory democracy sometimes means little more than having the right to vote. Community inquiry could be similarly reduced in scope. But for the purposes here it emphasizes inquiry conducted of, for, and by communities as living social organisms. It implies support for collaborative activity and for creating knowledge connected to people’s values, history, and lived experiences. The inquiry entails open-ended, democratic, participatory engagement. Community inquiry is thus a learning process that brings theory and action together in an experimental and critical manner.


XII, 198
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (April)
learning digital technology engagement
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 198 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Bertram Bruce (Volume editor) Ann Peterson Bishop (Volume editor) Nama R. Budhathoki (Volume editor)

Bertram C. Bruce (PhD in computer science from the University of Texas) is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois. His many publications include Network-Based Classrooms; Electronic Quills; Libr@ries: Changing Information Space and Practice; and Literacy in the Information Age. Ann Peterson Bishop (PhD in information transfer from Syracuse University) is Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois. She is the co-editor of Digital Library Use and co-author of chapters and articles in publications that include Library & Information Science Research and The Journal of Community Informatics. Nama R. Budhathoki (PhD in regional planning from the University of Illinois) directs Kathmandu Living Labs in Nepal. His interest and expertise lie at the intersection of digital media, civic engagement, and collective action, with particular focus on crowd-sourced mapping and social media.


Title: Youth Community Inquiry
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
210 pages