Between Learning and Opportunity: A Study of African American Coders’ Networks of Support


  • Antonio Byrd University of Missouri-Kansas City



ecological writing studies, critical race theory, coding literacy, ego network analysis, racially marginalized digital literacies


This study examines how African American adults attending a code bootcamp continue to learn coding literacy despite life challenges associated with racial oppression. Eleven out of twelve study participants drew maps of their support and discussed in one-on-one interviews how the people, objects, and animals in their drawings assisted their approaching learning computer programming. Applying ego network analysis, these interviews and drawings suggest that participants use various clusters of support in their network to provide the personal resources coders need to code and what is hard to come by in situations of racial injustice. These resources may have helped participants manage the risks of losing access to coding literacy. Instead of a universal approach to accessing technology, different kinds of networks and resources can lead to continuous access. This study furthers research on racially marginalized adults’ digital literacies and demonstrates how ego network analysis maybe useful for qualitative research on theories of ecological writing.

Author Biography

Antonio Byrd, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Antonio Byrd is assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he teaches courses in literacy, composition studies, and professional and technical writing. He studies African American digital literacy and computer programming as a literacy. 




How to Cite

Byrd, A. (2019). Between Learning and Opportunity: A Study of African American Coders’ Networks of Support. Literacy in Composition Studies, 7(2), 31–56.