Maine Youth Center
Computing and Expression for Incarcerated Youth (2000)
The Maine Youth Center Project was a research endeavor to understand how youth-centered learning with computers could improve the education of juvenile offenders, who in their day-to-day lives had been subjected to solitary confinement, restraints, and drastic medications for behavioral problems.
As part of a team, I helped design a learning lab on the grounds of the prison that offered programming workshops, media activities, and support for self-motivated projects. I designed and led a digital storytelling workshop in which participants created stories about their everyday lives, edited their stories, and played all the roles in presentations of their stories to their peers. Technology interventions have very complex social settings. At MYC the interests were sweeping: from juvenile offenders, to volunteers and prison guards, and from psychologists and doctors, to the community at large. Each came with their own concerns and hopes for the program.
The program’s success led to the Maine 1:1 computing project and ideas persisted to influence the educational basis for the non-profit organization One Laptop per Child.