This is an eleven-week class in which middle and high school students will learn to make video friv games. The software used in the class will be entirely open source and students will be encouraged to use CC-licensed materials, and to share code and resources in making their games. Once the class has completed, the students will keep the computers they used for the class.
By the end of the class, all of the students' games will be compiled into a single volume, on a disc which will also contain the operating system and all the tools the students used in the class. Students will also keep journals of notes charting the process of creation, which will also be compiled and published in print, at the students' discretion, in a single volume which will be distributed alongside the disc.
I am targeting low-income, at-risk youth of color from impacted neighborhoods in San Jose. Many schools in these neighborhoods, in order to stay open, tend to focus on raising test scores, at the expense of arts classes, even though the arts have been proven to improve students' understanding and retention of other subjects. Getting computers out to students, I am hoping to supplant more expensive methods of getting information to students (textbooks) in favor of open resources available freely online -- the cost of a single computer, which can access open resources online, for each student would significantly reduce the cost of classroom materials for chronically underfunded schools. Schools also act as community centers, so in making and displaying their work, students involved in this class will instill in their communities a sense of pride.br />
I've lived here for only a year, but in that time I have made connections to community members and leaders alike, through journalism and community outreach through Silicon Valley De-Bug. I am probably not the best individual to lead this project -- I'm aggressively noncompetitive, so really, I wouldn't know -- but I am here, now, and willing to do a thing that needs to be done. I have prior experience, most recently with De-Bug, in facilitating writing workshops, one of which resulted in the first issue of the magazine In The Zone, an independent publication written entirely by high school students from Napa, California; in 2007, I worked with the Urban League and Digipen as an on-site facilitator for the Digital Academy project, an online class in which youth from low-income neighborhoods learned programming for video friv games.
Impact on the students will be measured by their satisfaction with their own output, and enjoyment of that of their classmates. The impact on the instructors comes from seeing students grow, and from learning from those students. The community at large will not only have access to this work, but also the software the students used to make their games, and, having seen what is possible, will be encouraged to follow suit.
Six students and two facilitators (including myself).
The core idea here is to spread a bug of creativity virally, by showing a group of people they are capable of making things they want to make, providing them the means and the training and sharing their work with their neighborhoods as further agents of instruction, resulting in an atmosphere of shared creativity.
This project will use the GNU/Linux operating system and Scratch. I've made games in the past, using a bunch of different tools, I've built computers, installed and maintained Linux systems. Technical needs amount to a set of computers for the students, as everything else is pretty much covered by a network of people totally willing to volunteer advice.
As with any class, each student is a unique challenge. The small class size and the structure of integrated theory and practice will lend to minimizing challenge by having students take the lead in solving any problems they come across in the subject matter.
The published game compilation will be sold around the community and in any store that will carry it, to raise funds to start a new class in the spring.
At the end of the class, students keep their computers. When the next class starts with a new group of students, the same thing happens, and so on and so forth. Each time, it's like sending an apprentice out with a full toolshop, so they can continue to work long after the class has ended. The students' work will be compiled onto a disc containing a live distribution of Linux, and the tools used in creating games. Each person who holds a copy of the games also holds a copy of the means to make them, if they can get access to a computer. It's the slow, but deliberate, construction of a bridge across the digital divide.
Web space and a little bit of media attention are all that's necessary.
De-Bug has a magazine, a website, a public access television show and a radio show, all of which highlight the stories and showcase the talents of the face of Silicon Valley that goes overlooked in mainstream press.