Designing the Game: How a Project-Based Media Production Program Approaches STEAM Career Readiness for Underrepresented Young Adults
Numerous studies have indicated a need for a diverse workforce that is more highly educated in STEM and ICT fields, and one that is capable of responding creatively to demands for continual innovation. This paper, in response, chronicles the implementation of the Digital Pathways (DP) program, a two-time ITEST recipient and an ongoing initiative of the Bay Area Video Coalition. DP has provided low-income, underrepresented minority young people with 180 contact hours of activities in digital media production to prepare them to pursue higher education and technology careers. A design-based research approach synthesizes staff interviews with student observations, interviews and artifacts to identify a set of generalizable best practices or design principles for empowering young people to move from being consumers of digital media to producers. These principles are illustrated with a case study of the 3D Animation and Gaming track from the second ITEST grant. Researchers argue for the importance of attending to the noncognitive elements of learning and illustrate ways in which instructors encouraged creative expression, personal agency, and collaboration through long-term projects. They also identify strategies for sustaining young people’s participation through the establishment of a supportive community environment.