Catching Up with the Aprendiendo Juntos Council

by Briana Pressey
September 9, 2015

On August 12th, returning and new participants of the Aprendiendo Juntos Council gathered at Sesame Workshop for the 3rd annual working meeting of the consortium.

The Aprendiendo Juntos (Learning Together) Council is a multi-sector group of researchers, practitioners, media producers, and policy experts who seek to identify new models and practical strategies to improve educational outcomes for multicultural Hispanic-Latino families through the wise deployment of digital technologies. The group, which strives to take a strengths-based approach to optimizing educational outcomes for families, welcomes new participants and work that align with this objective.

AJC_August_2015_13

Sylvia Acevedo, Presidential Commissioner, White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics 
Photo by Robin Oelkers

This year, the AJC invited several new participants, including Olga Vasquez (UC San Diego), Gigliana Melzi (NYU), Maryann Marrapodi (HITN), Gay Mohrbacher (WGBH), Don Hernandez (CUNY Hunter College, SUNY Albany), Elisabeth Gee (ASU), Sinem Siyahhan (Cal State San Marcos), Silvia Lovato (Northwestern), Ernesto Villanueva (Chula Vista) and Sylvia Acevedo (White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics). The day began with an introduction to our new participants’ work and an in-depth discussion of the implications of their work.

The Council then took time to reflect on the accomplishments to date of the AJC, discussing the reach and impact that its work has achieved thus far, and how to increase its impact in various fields. For instance, Vikki Katz of Rutgers University recently presented her Leveraging Technology work, which stemmed from a discussion at the first AJC meeting, at the U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition in Washington, D.C. In addition, three AJC-related reports, including Aprendiendo en Casa, Connecting to Learn, and Digital Media and Latino Families, all written by AJC members, were released with mentions in NBC Latino, Ed Central, and Slate. It also prompted inquiries from Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro’s staff, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s staff. Andres Lombana Bermudez of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society shared a study that he is currently running in the Austin area with KLRU-PBS, which he claims is strongly impacted by the agenda and research objectives of the AJC.

Amber Levinson leads AJC members through an exercise highlighting emerging issues across disciplines. Photo by Robin Oelkers.

Amber Levinson leads AJC members through an exercise highlighting emerging issues across disciplines.
Photo by Robin Oelkers.

In addition, Amber Levinson of Stanford/JGCC led AJC participants in an exercise that highlight issues emerging across several different fields. Each participant, even those participating remotely via live video stream, contributed to this conversation by writing topics they felt were important onto sticky notes or via email. Once everyone contributed, participants reorganized these topics into broader categories, including, but not limited to:

  • Technology as a gatekeeper in a context of inequality.

  • Outcomes of engagement with media.

  • Promoting intergenerational learning in diverse Latino families.

  • The role of play in engaging families with learning.

  • Understanding the extreme multicultural diversity within the broad category of “Latino.”

  • The role of language in use of media and technology.

  • Strengthening home-school connections.

  • How to effectively communicate research.

Meeting participants plan to use the list of generated categories to set an agenda for future research and AJC activities.

As a fairly young and still evolving council, a large portion of this year’s working meeting was dedicated to solidifying the identity and agenda of the AJC. This particular discussion, led by Ellen Wartella of Northwestern University, aimed to foster a strong sense of affiliation and purpose among the participants in order to tap into the full potential of the group as a whole.  As an assorted group of researchers, media practitioners, policymakers, funders, etc. with varying experiences, skill sets, and objectives, how can we most effectively rally together around a goal to make a collective and successful impact? How can the multi-sector work of the AJC be used as a model of collaboration for other collaborative work?

Finally, AJC participants set short term goals to continue the momentum of the day, then expressed a great amount of excitement and enthusiasm for the potential work that will continue to emerge from the group. We look forward to seeing more within the next year!

Learn more about the Aprendiendo Juntos Council and some of our recent reports.

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