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In 2008, through support from the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) partnered with the Digital Youth Network (DYN) to explore the question of whether a space and a set of activities could inspire Chicago public high school students to tackle themes in books through the creation and showcasing of digital media artifacts. The pilot project challenged students to create digital projects centered on the novel The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Students’ projects included photo diaries of Chicago neighborhoods, public service announcement videos related to themes in the novel, and podcasts of thematic poetry with original score accompaniment.

Based on the success of the pilot, the MacArthur Foundation and the Pearson Foundation supported DYN and ...

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