Concordia University

Juan Carlos Castro is Assistant Professor of Art Education at Concordia University in Montreal.

David Pariser is Professor of Art Education at Concordia University in Montreal.

Martin Lalonde is a Teacher and Pedagogical Developer and Cité des Arts program director
at the Commission Scolaire Marie-Victorin.

MonCoin: Designing mobile networks to foster educational engagement with at-risk youth

MonCoin, is a research project that explores the potential for mobile media to enhance the educational engagement of at-risk youth. In comparison with other Canadian provinces, Quebec faces chronically high dropout rates. Many variables contribute to school dropout rates but perhaps the most predictive is a student’s overall engagement with their education. Mobile computing by young adults is popular and it has the potential to reshape formal and informal educational practices. Participants in MonCoin are students at an adult education centre that encourages academic engagement and socio-professional reintegration. The educational programs offered are designed to help these youth achieve their secondary diploma and to acquire job skills. Participants create visual works and texts that respond to the question: How can my neighborhood be better?

Using their photos and comments, we will examine how these youths responded to the question. We are especially interested in the ways in which the youth commented on each other’s images through decentralized peer-networks. Enabled by a platform of social and mobile media, these networks encourage asynchronous and ubiquitous possibilities for learning such as questioning who and what is considered a teacher and who a learner. We have found that the ability to generate and share content anywhere at any time, is a powerful tool for reintegrating youth who have been alienated from traditional forms of schooling.