Young Children, YouTube Kids & Learning: Thoughts to Consider

If you have preschoolers in your family, check out The Algorithm That Makes Preschoolers Obsessed With YouTube, appearing in The Atlantic.

YouTube Kids splash screenWritten by Adrienne LaFrance, the eye-opening article describes how the YouTube Kids app works as well as the experiences of 21st Century preschool children who use it. The author also shares thoughts about the app (though not endorsements) from academics including Michael Rich, who directs the Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard Medical School and Sandra Calvert, who heads up the Children’s Digital Media Center at Georgetown University.

It appears that many older toddlers and preschool kids spend a considerable amount of time with YouTube Kids. They love the app, and the article in The Atlantic details many of the reasons why.

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Virtual Reality Is Amazing & a Little Bit Scary

My virtual reality head-gear.

Many years ago, at a conference on the campus of Virginia Tech, I entered a virtual reality (VR) area — I think it was  called “the cave” —  with all sorts of things going on around me. I think I was expecting the holodeck from Star Trek, where they went through a door and suddenly found themselves on vacation in a beautiful and peaceful place (check out what Virginia Tech’s video that describes virtual reality and the holodeck). Instead during my first foray into VR I wore big goggles, and I got a bit dizzy. So I’ve been a bit hesitant to try again.

This past week I gave virtual reality another try, this time at the Newseum VR Lab in Washington, DC. I was handed a pair of goggles, put them on, and followed the instructions to start the show. Continue reading

News Literacy Skill Requires Knowledge About Evaluation and Credibility

Check out the News Literacy Project video below.

I’ve spent some time on this blog discussing the importance of credibility and evaluation — what I call 21st Century vocabulary words. Understanding how to evaluate and judge the credibility of content is digital life survival skill. Thus, when I discover a new resource that supports student learning I am always excited.

The News Literacy Project website features an excellent video with individuals — of all ages — sharing their thoughts about how news literacy skills can help people know what information to trust. It will be a useful tool for teachers who are developing student activities that focus on media credibility and evaluation. It can be well-paired with student activities that feature the online or app exhibits of the Newseum front pages

Watch the video.          Continue reading

What Do You Know About Artificial Intelligence & How It May Affect Your Life?

Ideas about artificial intelligence (AI) have tended to swirl around without offering me much to think about. I use Siri and Hello Google on my iPhone, I’m aware of the increasingly powerful social media algorithms, and I’ve watched, with some interest, the accomplishments of IBM’s Watson. Yet I haven’t really thought much about it.

The developments and decisions made about AI over the next couple of years may well affect our lives and the lives of our descendants. It’s best to get to know a bit about what is going on, especially when it comes to personal privacy, and also to ensure that our children learn about the positive and negative aspects of artificial intelligence.

Over the past several days I’ve read Maureen Dowd’s long and detailed report in Vanity Fair, Elon Musk’s Future Shock, describing the unbridled, and sometimes turbulent Silicon Valley debate about AI. This is the first detailed AI article that I’ve read, and it offers readers much to think about as Dowd circles, again and again, from Elon Musk to other AI researchers who oppose his views and back Musk again. I’ve realized that artificial intelligence is no longer something we see in science fiction movies. It may well affect our health and digital wellness. Continue reading

Classifying News Sources With a Venn-Diagram Mapping Strategy

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See larger image below.

How to scrutinize, classify, organize, and evaluate today’s media — as much as possible, online and off? That’s the question.

As we search for ideas that can help young people explore news sources, evaluate their preferences, examine how the media outlets identify and share facts, we mustn’t forget incorporating the the opportunity to talk with one another about the perspective that each source brings to its news-sharing. Recently I found Vanessa Otero’s interesting diagram that demonstrates how we can focus on media sources as well as consider their viewpoints and biases.

Evaluating 21st Century news is more complex than it’s ever was in the 20th Century. Reading the news is de-emphasized and watching the news is more prevalent, so we don’t interact much with information sources. The Internet and cable television channels allow opinions or made-up stories to masquerade as news sources — even when those opinions have no credible or factual source. Social media amplifies everything. Truth and expertise are incidental.                                                                             Continue reading

Teach Students to Use Words Other Than Fake!

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-10-06-52-amFake is a generic term. It means one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. Anyone can say that something is fake or made up.

More descriptive words make it more difficult to label information that is untrue, and easier to challenge. We — kids, adults, parents, and teachers — need all the help we can get in this 21st Century connected world when it comes to evaluating credibility

My ideas?

  • Confirmed news
  • Authoritative news
  • Substantiated news
  • Verified or validated news
  • Corroborated news
  • Proven news
  • Authenticated news
  • Reliable news
  • Credible news
  • Unambiguous news

Teaching our children and all citizens to check for credibility, evaluate, and celebrate substantiated news has become more urgent In today’s hyper-connected world. Read my more detailed post on this topic.

Admiral Grace Hopper & Her Singular Achievements

Public Domain from the U.S. Navy website.

Public Domain from the U.S. Navy website.

In the late 1980s, early in my educational technology career, I attended a one-day conference about technology in schools. Held in a hotel in the Washington, DC area — I don’t remember which one — the conference convened a small number of teachers, identified as early adopters, people from that National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, what seemed hundreds of technology consultants from places like Cambridge, Palo Alto, and various state universities, and one older, somewhat fragile woman far ahead in the front of the room, who attended for a short time.

That was my first encounter with the life of retired Admiral Grace Hopper. She lived for only a few more years after that, passing away at the age of 85, but I remember her face, her eagle-eyed attention, and the reverence with which others in the room regarded her.

Yale University has decided to change the name of its residential Calhoun College to Grace Hopper College, honoring the computer scientist who played a significant role in moving the country (and the world) into the age of technology and who became a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. Hopper received a master’s degree and PhD in mathematics from Yale and was one of the mathematicians  who programmed some of the earliest computers before and during World War II.                                             Continue reading