Part of the Volume on Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth.
Students should have opportunities to create digital media in schools. This is a promising way to enhance their "civic engagement," which comprises political activism, deliberation, problem-solving, and participation in shaping a culture. All these forms of civic engagement require the effective use of a "public voice," which should be taught as part of digital media education. To provide digital media courses that teach civic engagement will mean overcoming several challenges, including a lack of time, funding, and training. An additional problem is especially relevant to the question of public voice. Students must find appropriate audiences for their work in a crowded media environment dominated by commercial products. The chapter concludes with strategies for building audiences, the most difficult but promising of which is to turn adolescents' offline communities -- especially high schools -- into more genuine communities.