Abridged Pattern 50 -After-school programs and the Network

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Casey Hughes

After-school programs and the Network Society
Scott Webber

Elementary School Family Night is not attended by whole families


Schools are important sites where it is suggested that the negative attributes
of finding oneself on the "wrong" side of the digital divide, meaning access to computer and Internet technology and access to skill training related to
this technology, can be lessened. Access to technology and skills is being made
available at many schools through after-school programs.


Using information gathered through volunteering at the Lincoln Elementary
Family Library and Computer Night, I will present here three main findings.
First, Family Night was absent families. Second, Family Night brought
students into the network society--of game playing and entertainment sites.
It is important to note that the Internet was touted as a place for democracy
and education (it still is, to some extent), today it is increasingly seen by
many using it as a place for entertainment and shopping. I will make this
argument through the use of family interviews conducted as part of a research
team at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Third, though students
acquired computer-related knowledge and skills at Family Night, the most
important skills gathered likely occurred in the interaction between student,
teacher and school. For many students, Family Night was their once-weekly
shot to surf the web and I would argue that a connection to their school,
even through the auspices of the WWF website, was a benefit for the students.
When I pointed out that one regularly attending bilingual student was telling
his friends about the WWF site, the teacher in charge of Family Night (Eve)
said to me, "well, at least he's reading." Not all the teachers agreed with
Eve, however, and I will relay these stories also in my discussion


Becoming a member of the network society means acquiring skills beyond those
related solely to the technology. In this case, then, corporate-sponsored
entertainment and game sites may serve a more important purpose in enticing
students to spend time at their school even after the final bell rings

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