ITSRG's Executive Director Dr. Masucci will present the lessons learned from running a summer intensive and after-school program for Philadelphia area high school students called BITS, funded by the National Science Foundation.
During the past four years the Information Technology and Society Research Group of Temple University has the implemented an NSF-ITEST program called BITS. BITS aims to raise information and communication technologies (ICT) skills among high school students enrolled in the School District of Philadelphia.
The program provided a context for social action research that critically interrogated basic assumptions about the ways in which information and communication technologies (ICT) intersect with people's agency in constructing the geographies of daily life. One of the persistent issues encountered in the implementation of BITS is the highly prevalent concern among participants related to safety and the difficulties of managing transportation logistics in daily life. These challenges were interconnected with virtually every theme students found of interest, including health, nutrition, access to grocery stores, access to employment opportunities, and perceptions of local environmental quality.
We considered how student construction of place understanding was related to concerns raised about health and safety. As a result we invested heavily in using web 2.0 tools to enhance their interactive understanding of other geographic locales (including virtual places), communication skills and social organizing strategies for connecting people and places. This paper considers the implications of web 2.0 is shaping as well as reinforcing place experience among this group of students. It also considers the implications of social action research methods as a central component in shaping place experience among the students.