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RU Connected

RU Connected

Racquet Up Detroit

Program Summary

RU Connected is an intensive two-week summer technology camp focused on creating powerful learning experiences that are hands-on, social, curiosity-driven, and fun. In line with these principles, RU Connected will introduce 14 Detroit rising 8th graders to a range of free web-based tools–for screencasting, searching, annotating, photo editing, collaborative writing, and more–and explore their potential to turbocharge learning and creativity around the theme of “Deception: Seeking and Speaking the Truth.”

Working with adult mentors, RU Connected campers will:
-learn skills and strategies for locating useful information and resources on the web;
-learn strategies for evaluating the trustworthiness of web content;
-study several hoax websites and discuss the dangers of misinformation and disinformation;
-build their own hoax website on a topic of their choice;
-engage in “serious play” with free tools for remixing web content (e.g., editing photos);
-create publicity materials for an organization of their choice (e.g., a digital brochure, a 2-minute promotional video);
-launch a personal digital portfolio of their work.

Beyond acquiring specific knowledge, the most important goal of RU Connected is to raise participants’ awareness of the awesome potential of digital tools to support their learning and creativity–and to ignite the kind of curiosity and passion that will fuel their growth long after the camp is over.

A final goal of the RU Connected camp is to start a multiplier effect–turning campers into mentors eager to share their knowledge with peers, parents, and others. To this end, camp activities will double as training activities for campers to become coaches on a “tech mentor team” for the 2013-2014 school year.

RU Connected is organized and hosted by Racquet Up Detroit (RUD), a nonprofit youth development program currently serving 40 Detroit public-school students. The camp will be held at the Northwest Activities Center in July 2013.


The 2013 RU Connected technology camp consists of 8 full days of activities (9am to 2:30pm) spread over a three-week period, starting Wednesday June 26th and culminating on Tuesday July 9th with an Open House to celebrate campers’ learning and hard work. The camp will be held in a classroom space at the Northwest Activities Center on Meyers Road in Detroit, Michigan where Racquet Up Detroit (RUD) has its headquarters. The camp will utilize equipment donated to RUD over the past two years: 14 old-but-functional Dell laptops, a wireless router, a digital projector, and assorted classroom supplies. The Northwest Activities Center is conveniently located for many attendees who live within walking distance or just a short bus or car ride away.

Each day, campers engage in a variety of hands-on activities around the theme of “Deception: Seeking and Speaking the Truth.” These activities will tend to blend the following ingredients: (a) activation and sharing of prior knowledge about a given topic (e.g., advertising, propaganda); (b) online research to find additional information and/or “cases” for the group to discuss and analyze together; (c) time to explore and “play” with a free web tool (e.g., CiteLighter, Screencast-O-Matic, Pixlr); (d) time to remix or create new content to deepen exploration of the day’s topic (e.g., editing a digital photo to deepen discussion about the power of advertisement images); and (e) time to reflect on the day’s activities and articulate emerging insights and new knowledge.

Knowledgeable staff and volunteers will be fully engaged in camp activities, scaffolding group conversations and learning throughout the day. This summer RU Connected will have two primary instructors, two instructional assistants, and two education consultants. Campers will thus be surrounded by positive, knowledgeable mentors eager to answer questions, help solve technology glitches, provide encouragement, and stimulate conversation.

Besides acquiring new knowledge and strategies for using the web in discerning and responsible ways (e.g., learning strategies to evaluate the trustworthiness of unfamiliar websites), campers will tackle two major projects. In Week #1, after studying a number of hoax websites, they will join with a partner and construct a hoax website of their own on a topic of their choosing. In Week #2, they will create publicity materials for a local cause or organization they have researched and consider worthy of their support. Both of these projects will involve applying the skills, strategies, and resources campers have explored starting on Day #1 of the camp.

Two other important features of the RU Connected camp are (a) using video conferencing during lunchtime every day to meet a member of the community whose work connects with the camp’s theme (e.g. a news reporter, a museum curator who does research on forgeries) and (b) training campers to become Tech Mentors (TMs) to their peers for the next school year. Campers who attend all 8 days of the camp and complete all the camp’s projects and daily “challenges” will earn their badge as an official TM for 2013-14.

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