February 15, 2010

Recommended reading, watching, listening

Categories: Digital Citizenship, Educational Practice
group of global kids girls smiling holding up signs

Global Kids‘ New York City-based programs address the urgent need for young people to possess leadership skills and an understanding of complex global issues to succeed in the 21st century workplace and participate in the democratic process. The staff has a wonderful appetite for learning and we regularly provide DMLcentral.net a snapshot of resource picks we consider insightful and relevant. Please comment and tell us what you are reading and watching, too! Topping our current list: Feed by M.T. Anderson, a dystopic science fiction novel about a world where technology has become such a part of people’s lives that they wear embedded computers that feed news, advertising, television programs, music and electronic messages directly into their brains.

Told through the perspective of one teenage boy, Feed is a cautionary tale that explores issues of media consolidation, consumerism, privacy and environmental degradation.  For our work at Global Kids, it’s a reminder of the importance of who owns and controls these new media channels of communication, and how to empower our youth to be critical consumers, disseminators and creators of online content.

New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report (booklet)
Hurray! The seventh Horizon Report is out, one of the best annual check-ins summarizing, as they say, “six emerging technologies or practices… that are likely to enter mainstream use on campuses within three adoption horizons spread over the next one to five years.” In addition, each report lists critical trends and challenges that will affect teaching, and offers brief case studies for each technology. This year the list of emerging trends includes: mobile computing and open content, electronic books and augmented reality, and gesture-based computing and visual data analysis.

The Good Enough Revolution (article)
The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine,” written by Wired Magazine’s senior editor Robert Capps, was a very important framechanger for us, as great Wired articles often are. Published in 2009, it explores the rise of MP3, Flip cameras, Skype, and other forms of digital media that have revolutionized industries yet, from a quality level, can’t compete with their more expensive counterparts. Flip cameras, for example, seemed like a joke when they first came out in 2007. Why would someone want to buy such a cheap camera when the major companies were creating ever more complicated and sophisticated HD devices? Now, two years later, they control more than 20% of the camcorder market. No, not the low-end camcorder market but the entire market, forcing the high-end competitors, like Kodak, to create their own low-end versions. This article helped us not only think about the evolution of “good enough” technology but also how our work at Global Kids, innovating on the bleeding age of educational uses of emerging technology, is often “good enough” to be of value in the years before academics come in to provide the hard research to explain precisely why.

Diana Rhoten on Learning (video)
This month a great new video was released interviewing Diana Rhoten talking about the intellectual history of the new New Youth City Learning Network (of which Global Kids is excited to play a role). The information-packed interview, professionally created by the folks at the new Startl, focuses in large part on contrasting education versus learning, on moving from teaching content to teaching process, and on the importance of interest-driven learning and the need for solid examples. It’s a great introduction to this framework of learning within informal learning spaces.

Can Gaming Change Education? (article)
Subtitled, “New research on gaming design and brain plasticity offers more perspectives on educational gaming,” this article offers an excellent overview of recent research on gaming and education. Largely based on the recent MIT paper “The Instructional Powers of Digital Games, Social Networking Simulations and How Teachers Can Leverage Them” and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s “Game Changer: Investing in digital play to advance children’s learning and health.” Global Kids has seen, year after year, the power of games-based learning in the work with our youth. Other organizations are seeing the same. It’s great to have access to research like this that provides hard data to the assertions we’ve been making for years.

Digitally Inclined (report)
For seven years now, PBS has been running a study on the use of media and technology within K-12, this year adding Pre-K as well. Looking past PBS’ own immediate interest in learning how to get their tv programs and digital offerings into the classroom, the brief findings offer an excellent overview of teachers access to, attitudes towards, and specific use of digital media for learning, useful both as a snapshot as well as for trendspotting. For example, this year’s study finds that the most valued forms of digital media are “Games and activities for student use in school,” reported by 65% of those surveyed. At the same time, “43% of teachers who use digital media highly valued student-produced multimedia this year, up from 36% in 2008.” The report recognizes that this is “part of the broader and important trend, in which young people are becoming producers – not just consumers – of digital media.” Reports like this offer organizations like ours hope yet for digital media within traditional schooling environments, as disruptive as they often are to those very traditions.

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds (report & video)
The latest report from the Kaiser Family Foundation which found that those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with media devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the estimated hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.

Barry Joseph is Online Leadership Program Director of Global Kids, Inc.

Image credit: sonam mcrgurl http://www.flickr.com/photos/merodeshnepal/459249515/