Intergenerational Computer Center

This past week, my Honors Composition II class volunteered at the Intergeneration Computer Center (ICC) on the campus of Oklahoma City University. The fifth graders of Linwood elementary used the program Kerpoof to create a story outlining what they would do if they were rock stars. I signed up for two shifts on the Friday before spring break. Because it was the end of the week, the children had already put the finishing touches and illustrated their story.

They were then given the task to make a short movie clip animating a scene from their story. The instructor showed the kids how to do the basic functions of the program and set them free to create their films. The children were told to use their imaginations and encouraged to explore the program before receiving help.

After a few minutes, we, the volunteers, walked around observing the children working on their movies. It was very strange. Some of the children were significantly more technologically advanced than others. Some would have multiple characters doing different things simultaneously with word bubbles making everything flow, while others simply placed the character stickers and were content with that.

The differences in digital literacy could be due to the degree of exposure to a technology, such as a computer or even an IPhone. It could also be due to the differences in imaginative capacity of the children.

So, after observing this, I walked around asking the children if they were done and if not, what they were working on. Each student was extremely proud of what he or she had created, whether it be simple or intricate. The more intricately designed movies were very well thought out and sometimes quite random. Though a common trait of the movies was the presence of a crowd watching the ‘rock star’s’ performance. Some would make the crowd dance once the music began playing on their skit.

One child in particular simply had the character stickers placed on the backdrop. No animations, no word bubbles, no music, no nothing.  She told me she was finished with her project and offered to show me. Only after praising her for her hard work, I asked her some questions about her movie. I asked if the singer onstage was herself? What kind of music she liked best? Then asked her if she would like to add music to her movie. She said yes and I showed her how to get to the music and let her do the rest. Next I asked her, if you were in the crowd watching someone play really good music, do you think you would stand still or dance? She immediately got where I was going, then smiled and simply said, “dance.” Without another word, she dragged the ‘dance’ animation to each audience group and made them dance when the music started. I asked if we could watch the whole thing again. She started it over and watched her movie again, grinning ear to ear the entire time.

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