YDME: Designing for designers: Exploring ways in which online community settings support young people’s participation as digital media creators


Theories about communities of practice and situated learning give us ways of thinking about how community settings can support the learning of a practice – by providing learners access to others and opportunities to explore the activities, artifacts, ideals, and norms of the practice. In this workshop, we explore a central challenge: how can access and opportunity be cultivated through the design of online settings, to support young people’s participation as digital media creators?

Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu) is a programming environment that enables young people to create their own interactive digital media (such as stories, games, animations) and then share their creations online. Using the Scratch online community as a central example, we will examine a series of questions about community, identity, and activities/artifacts from the perspectives of a new Scratch participant and a more-experienced Scratch participant. We will discuss the implications of these perspectives for design and study, also referencing other sites/communities where young people participate as digital media designers.

The workshop, led by members of the MIT Scratch team, will be highly interactive, with attendees investigating the Scratch website and discussing case studies of community members’ participation as digital media designers. To start, workshop attendees will explore the community from the perspective of a new Scratch participant through several hands-on activities. The activities and discussion will focus on three questions: How does a participant come to know what the community represents? What are the ways in which a participant can represent themselves to the community? How does a participant find people and content that they are interested in?

Workshop attendees will then explore the community from the perspective of a more-experienced Scratch participant through discussion of community participation case studies. The discussion will focus on three questions: How can a participant contribute to the shaping of a community’s ideals and norms? How does a participant cultivate status in the community? How does access to other people and content support a participant’s development as a digital media designer?