PLAYBACK: Ask Not What Digital Media Can do for Kids, but What Kids Can Create With Digital Media
2.25.11 | James Paul Gee on the brain, video games and learning; preview of the 2011 Digital Media and Learning Conference; research on gaming and urban black youth; Doug Rushkoff on understanding Google; sharing your iPad with your 6-year-old; and Global Kids takes on gaming and global issues.
Learning and The Brain: Educators from around the country gathered in San Francisco last week for the Learning and the Brain conference. If you weren’t lucky enough to make it out to the west coast, Tina Barseghian from KQED’s MindShift has put together a few helpful summaries, including neuroscientist Gary Small’s discussion of how technology wires our brains for learning, and James Paul Gee’s 10 research-validated reasons why video games are good for learning.
Gee, a professor of literary studies at Arizona State University, says new understandings of how we learn should change how we teach. Paraphrasing Gee’s arguments, Barseghian writes: “What we’d assumed about the importance of brain functions – following rules and logic and calculating – are no longer relevant. There’s been a revolution in the learning sciences and the new theories say that human beings learn from experiences – that our brains can store every experience we’ve had, and that’s what informs our learning process.”
DML 2011: Spotlight will be at the Digital Media and Learning Conference next week: Designing Learning Futures. Among the many cool things we are looking forward to (including warm weather) is getting to watch and demo the new generation of learning games that won development awards as part of the Digital Media and Learning Competition.
The demonstrations will include a science-based social network for girls and new mobile apps designed by and for youth to tackle issues they have identified as pressing in their own communities. Stay tuned for posts from the conference.
Young Black Males, Learning and Video Games: Writing at DMLcentral, Liz Losh highlights fascinating research from Betsy James DiSalvo at the Georgia Institute of Technology that takes advantage of the passion for sports video games.
In an unconventional approach, DiSalvo, who studies the role that video games play in urban black youth culture, runs an after school program called Glitch Game Testers. The program employs African-American kids from low-income communities in the Atlanta area as testers for commercial gaming companies. Their job is to search for bugs in new video games.
“Participants have part-time jobs during the school year and full-time jobs during the summer that provide economic as well as educational incentives to pursue careers in computer science and other STEM-related fields,” Losh writes. Students also get local mentoring from Georgia Tech and Morehouse College.
Read the full post here.
They Want Their iPad’s: Starting a bit younger, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue provoked a slew of comments on his blog yesterday when he asked for advice on how to deal with his 6-year-old’s constant demands for the iPad.
And while it’s gratifying for those of us who are parents to hear that even leading technology columnists are struggling with how to balance technology use as home, the most interesting piece is Pogue’s question about what kinds of apps are useful for our kids and what kinds of limits make the most sense.
“Is a gadget automatically bad for our children just because it’s electronic?” he asks. “Shouldn’t we make exceptions for creative and problem-solving apps?”
Reading through the comments, it’s clear that balancing and vetting how and what technology their kids use is a big issue for many parents—even those with children much younger than 6. Comments run the gambit from, “Who in their right mind gives an iPad to a 6-year-old!” to concerns about using digital devices as babysitters and recommendations for innovative learning opportunities the iPad may provide—such as teaching the cello to autistic students.
You can chime in here.
Beyond Google: Spotlight has written lots about the help students need sifting through the information they find online. In an interesting interview at School Library Journal, author Doug Rushkoff says educators and librarians need to help teach kids to challenge the “all-high-authority of search results.”
Rushkoff, whose new book, “Program or be Programmed,” argues that programming is the new literacy of the digital age, says that today’s students have been raised in a world where they are used to having information at their fingertips. Rushkoff says educators should help kids ask the kinds of questions that put them, not the search engine, in the driver’s seat:
How does Boolean search work, how does Google’s algorithm work, and how is this kind of data mining biased? What sorts of results are possible, and what sorts are not? What is being hidden from view? What would be lost if everyone in the world could only find things out this way?
Plus: For more on teaching students to program, read Spotlight’s “Mozilla Encourages Young Programmers to Change the Web.”
Video Can Change the World: Finally, we wanted to point you to these powerful videos from students working with Global Kids. The New York City nonprofit worked with high school students to create videos about global issues such as genocide, food politics, media consolidation and global poverty.
The videos will be used as part of Global Kids’ Playing for Keeps program that trains youth to think critically about game design and develop games based on global issues. Be inspired by students from West Side High School’s moving skit about U.S. immigration below. And watch all the videos here.
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