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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Digital Youth Portrait: Sam

An avid gamer and video maker believes that digital media is her second life. More to this story.

Digital Youth Portrait: Sam (Transcript)

Sam: I'm Sam. I'm a fifteen year old girl and digital media is my second life.

Hello. I am Sam. Sam I am. If it's a school day, I spend just two hours on the computer. If it was not a school day, I'd probably spend twelve hours or more on World of Warcraft, MySpace, listening to music while I draw or yeah.

Teacher 1: Good. First thing we're gonna look at today is the bone from every angle.

Sam: My typical day is I wake up at six thirtyish. I check my text messages and then get dressed and go to school.

Teacher 1: There you go.

Aline: Samantha's an excellent student. She is very smart. She's on the honor roll, does well at school, off the charts in math.

Teacher 2: Now mezzo forte.

Aline: And, you know, she's very musical.

Sam: I enjoy very little piece of band. I like listening to the music and how we progress and the songs we make for our concerts.

John Murray: Sam is a creative girl. She, when you give her a project or an assignment, she thinks outside the box.

Sam: Hello, Plutonians. Today's weather is going to be a high of two hundred thirty six degrees Celsius.

John Murray: She is always using all sorts of multimedia technology to create projects.

Sam: What is Pluto's mass?

John Murray: Always doing something different than the rest of the group.

Sam: Correct! Now isn't that just great? For one of my school projects, I had to read a book and it was really boring. I didn't really understand half of it, so I saw that you can buy the book on the iPod and it reads it to you, so you can like listen to the book.

Digital voice: Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen, having asked me to write down--

Sam: And plus, it scrolls and you can read it on it, instead of just holding a book. My first life would be me with my friends and like going outside and riding my bike and taking care of my foster puppies. Drawing, painting, music and all that. Digital media is my second life because when I'm on the computer, I can really like do whatever I wanna do. I can create whatever I wanna create and I can be a different person if I want. That's me. That's another one of my characters. I play World of Warcraft with all my friends. See, this is my team and right now, we have the flag. That's what that icon means.

Aline: World of Warcraft is a pretty interesting game in that it's one of those multi user online games. So there's other people in there from other parts of the world.

Sam: Our team has the flag and they're bringing it to our base to get a point.

Aline: You have to work with other people to do this, and so they're learning teamwork.

Sam: Right now, I'm going to defend the flag with an ice trap. That means if someone steps on that ice trap, they will freeze.

Aline: And they're problem solving. They're using the different tools within the system to problem solve. So I think it's very educational in that way.

Sam: I like this, 'cause it's competitive and it's really using strategy in your mind, and it's not like clicking on something and it's killing for you. It's like, you have to use your own mind and figure stuff out your way.

Aline: Samantha is very much intrigued with technology. She was not the kind of female child that was drawn to dolls. She just has always wanted to be on the computer, playing with technology, and is comfortable with it.

Sam: And action.

Courtney: Let's go to the kitchen, girls.

Sam: When I was a little kid, I was handed a video camera for the first time. And, action. I'm kind of into directing, you know. I've don lots of videos with my friends and I'm usually like telling them what to do, what to do with their faces, taking the scenes. How about you do it over here?

Tiffany: Sam is creative, one of the most funniest people I know and she's just cool in every single way possible. What does she have to say?

Sam: "To make it from scratch." And then you be like, "Betty Crocker style."

Courtney: She's a little bit more advanced with technology. She's taught me a lotta stuff about it. She's really smart.

Sam: So do you want this first clip or do you want the second clip?

Courtney: The second one looks more professional.

Sam: Awesome.

Courtney: Betty Crocker style.

Sam: I text more than I call people. Like no one calls anyone anymore. If you wanna get hold of someone, you have to text them. Right now in my in box, I have one hundred and fourteen and it's ninety nine percent full.

Dave: Sam's definitely learning social skills and able to connect to more people that way, and she's definitely learning future work skills as far as learning applications and programs and just learning how to manipulate the software.

Sam: My method of learning new software is really trial and error. If something doesn't work out, I just go back and try something else, and then just explore it until I figure out what I'm doing.

Aline: Or just go to the Second Life-- I develop online education for Northern Illinois University, and I was asked to help students build a microfinance game simulation. Most of my students are college students and don't have a lot of graphical background or multimedia game development background. So I said, "Well, you know, Samantha knows how to do this. If you need an extra hand, she can come in and help you."

Sam: Then I can take this one and I edit the object, so the top would close in to make it look like a different shape. I hit taper.

Student 1: Oh, so you can manipulate. Okay, I got ya.

Sam: And I made it flexible, so that it would move.

Ken Tinnes: Yeah, I just wanna change my clothes and appearance in the open sim.

Sam: Go to your inventory and click create at the top.

Ken Tinnes: You know, I can understand how my parents feel now, you know, taking advice from a younger person, but I'm pretty impressed. I kinda wish I knew some of this stuff when I was thirteen. Probably help me out a lot now.

Sam: Then you can be a guy if you want.

Ken Tinnes: Nice.

Dave: Sam just picks up on technology so easy. She'll just explore the application or the laptop and the cameras and just spend all day at it, just having fun.

Sam: Yes, that was me. I am Sam. Sam I am. So this is the end of the video, so... I saw this link for a virtual piano. It shows you what note to hit. And I would write down the notes on the piece of paper. Then I'd go downstairs and I would practice it.

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Video Credits

Produced and Directed by

  • Carl Bidleman

Coordinating Producer

  • Lauren Rosenfeld


  • Karen Sutherland

Camera Crew

  • Ned Miller
  • Matt Oliva

Production Support

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely

Executive Producer

  • Ken Ellis


OpenSimulator (OpenSim): An open source server platform for hosting virtual worlds.

World of Warcraft (WoW): A massively multiplayer online role-playing game where thousands of players adventure together in an enormous, persistent game world, forming friendships and engaging in epic quests that can span days or weeks.

Sources: Wikipedia.org, WorldofWacraft.com


Discussion Questions

1. Is Sam typical of kids in your community? Why, or why not?

2. Sam spends a lot of time on the computer, but she also enjoys a lot of other activities as well. Do you think she leads a balanced life?

3. What do you think of how Sam uses her iPod to read her books aloud? Is this a good way to read or to learn new content?

4. Sam's parents and teachers are very supportive of the way she creatively uses technology in her schoolwork. How can you support the students in your life to help them creatively express themselves with digital tools?

5. Does it surprise you that Sam is learning teamwork and problem-solving skills through games? Why, or why not?




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