C.O.O.L Media Academies

The Community On One Level Academies are programs committed to improving the quality of life for young underrepresented students in America, by eliminating the technological, citizenship, academic and achievement gap. The gap is evidenced by discrepancies in statistics such as standardized test scores, and the high school graduation rates between underrepresented students and their main stream peers. Receiving a quality education greatly increases ones ability to get a job, insure their financial future, and plan for success. In many ways, education is the key to improving the quality of life in our low-income rural and urban communities around America.
Ever since the personal computer was invented in the late 1970s, there have been concerns about inequities in access to this new technology. In an effort to address these inequities, some groups have worked to acquire computers for inner-city schools. Other groups have opened community-access centers, recognizing that schools are not the only (or necessarily the best) place for learning to occur. At these community-access centers, members of inner-city communities (youth and adults alike) can use computers at little or no charge. Community On One Levels Academies have grown out of this tradition, but with important differences. At many other centers, the main goal is to teach youth basic computer techniques (such as keyboard and mouse skills) and basic computer applications (such as word processing). At the C.O.O.L Academies we view the computer with a different mindset.

The point is not to provide a few classes to teach a few skills; the goal is for participants to learn to express themselves fluently with new technology blended with social-skills training, problem-solving, citizen training, job retention skills and technology, and social-cognitive skills training provided outside of the school setting. By combining the computer component, this simultaneously allows the students to experience technology in new and exciting ways, developing their skills and giving them the freedom to express their ideas. Adding media such as Radio, TV. Record Making, Video and Film Making to the mix and you have their attention! The students work on social, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in small groups of five. These small groups meet two times a week during after-school hours with each session lasting two hours. During these sessions, positive reinforcement, verbal instructions, and modeling are used to teach specific skills.

And, just as important, being exposed to some of the fun, exciting ways they can use technology to tap their own potential gets them more interested in school -- and in learning in general. Media Technology classes are held after-school. These interactive classes allow students to experience Media & Technology in new and exciting ways, developing their skills and giving them the freedom to express their ideas.

The C.O.O.L Academies will operate with a belief in the strength of parental and community involvement in education. Better parents produce better communities, better schools and better students! The most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income, race, language barriers, cultural background, education level of parents or social status, but the extent to which a student’s family is able to create a home environment that encourages learning; express high and realistic academic achievement expectations for their children; and become involved in productive ways in their child’s education at school, at home and in the community.

Schools can’t educate children without the support of parents, families and communities. Good teachers and administrators are invaluable to the educational process, but they are not miracle workers. Schools, by themselves, do not educate children; they simply reinforce and expand what children already know when they come to school. Active and involved parents, families, communities are necessary to educate children.

We help youth gain experience with self directed learning. When underrepresented students care about what they are working on, the dynamic of teaching changes. Rather than being "pushed" to learn, Underrepresented students will work on their own, and seek out ideas and advice. Underrepresented students are not only more motivated but they also develop deeper understandings and richer connections to knowledge.

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