Youth roles and leadership in an online creative community

Ricarose Roque, Natalie Rusk, Amos Blanton


Teens within local community organizations often serve in leadership roles, such as camp counselors or program assistants. As they carry out their responsibilities, they gain work skills and the community benefits from their contributions. With young people spending more time online, how might they build similar skills while contributing to the online communities they engage in? In this paper we examine the experience of youth who have taken on leadership roles within Scratch, a creative online community. We identify the main challenges these youth encountered, the strategies they used to manage these challenges, and what they learned in the process. Their descriptions suggest a progression from learning to carry out their responsibilities in collaboration with other team members to eventually developing their own visions for improving the community. We have found that these roles provide pathways of participation and deeper engagement for youth interested in contributing to online communities.

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