TECH WITH KIDS

What do children think about digital technology?

Up until now, the way I have talked (typed) about digital technology has been from the perspective of a twenty-something-year-old educator, and the views I have mostly considered are those of parents and my peers. However, I realized that for a blog that’s dedicated to a class called Children & Technology, there is one point-of-view I have not yet covered in detail: the children’s.

What do children think about digital technology? How do children see digital technology as integrating with other aspects of their lives? I believe there is a misconception that because children are digital natives, they do not think twice about the way they use digital technology in their everyday lives. Yet they do!

A study showed that when children ages twelve and under were asked to draw a picture of how they would adapt digital technology, they came up with many interesting answers. One child wanted to be able to touch, feel, and move things on a screen; another child wished for a platform that could search and provide results for things not by using text, but drawings. Many themes and concepts included virtual realities and simulations, and human-like robots and virtual companions. The researchers noted that children see digital technology as an extension of themselves, not as an add-on in the way I think of it.

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In 2015, BBC Newsround sought out comments from children and young teens online regarding whether or not they thought [digital] technology helped them learn better. Surprisingly, there was a range of responses across the board, such as technology can be a distraction and encourages laziness and cheating; technology is good because it’ll be the way of the future, and technology can help improve concentration and makes knowledge more accessible. The Hechinger Report got similar responses when they conducted interviews with older children from middle-class rural backgrounds–in their opinion, while digital technology can be more fun and interactive to learn with, it can also lead to more distractions and temptations.

But what about children’s perceptions of cyber-safety?

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During a pilot-study project, researchers at the Learning Science Institute Australia found that 73% of the young children interviewed said that they would tell their names and addresses to someone they knew online (i.e., a player in a game). In my experience, children consider a stranger to be a random person on the street that they have never met. However, children feel a sense of familiarity with the people they’re interacting with in their virtual worlds.

As children explore and use new technologies and apps, parents and educators should be checking in and initiating dialogues to understand how children are thinking about digital technology. Every child is unique, and every child will have their own individual opinions and needs when it comes to using digital technology.

(Image credits: Latitude and the Learning Science Institute Australia)

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Resources, TECH WITH KIDS

Educational Games Roundup

For a reading reflection assignment for my Children & Technology course, I had to read two articles discussing the importance and benefits of digital game-based learning (DGBL). According to Shapiro, SalenTekinbas, Schwartz, and Darvasi (2014), using game-based learning as an educational tool encourages collaboration, problem solving, understanding of relationships, and mastery of concepts.

I found the idea of digital game-based learning all rather new and intriguing, so I decided to compile a few games and resources that can be used as educational and constructive tools, in either school or home settings. I sifted through some of the sites Shapiro et al. (2014) had recommended in the article and this what I came up with!

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  1. DreamBox features over 2, 300 game lessons that are designed to develop problem solving skills, critical thinking strategies, and math fluency. Educators can track students progress and make the lessons accessible in either English or Spanish. For one child at home, pricing is $12.95 per month; school pricing varies according to the number of children and comes in bundles.
  2. DragonBox 5+ is an app that’s designed to keep children the rules of algebra in a creative and learn-directed way. DragonBox 5+ first uses pictures rather than numbers or variables to make the concepts easier to understand. Children use the rules to solve puzzles and learn through trial and error. DragonBox 5+ is accessible on mobiles, tablets, and computers for $4.99.
  3. World of Goo is a Nintendo Switch game that’s focused on physics-based puzzle and construction. Globs of live goo are used to build bridges and structures. World of Goo is $9.99 on Nintendo.
  4. Bugs and Bubbles is a wonderful app for young children that helps develop their knowledge of colors, balance, letters, counting, shapes, patterns, sorting, and more. Detailed graphics, calming music, and advanced interactivity appeals to children’s senses and imaginative play. Bugs and Bubbles is available on the iTunes store for $3.99.
  5. Tell About This is a platform to inspire and capture children’s stories through word and photo prompts promotes children’s re-telling and imaginative skills. It’s easy to use and easy to share children’s thoughts and voices. Tell About This is available on the iTunes store for $3.99.

(Image credit: DreamBox)

Reflection

Playshops – an emerging curriculum model

What is a playshop?

According to Wohlwend and Peppler (2015), playshops are a curricular model that was developed to encourage playful and collaborative learning as well as rigorous learning as; each playshop features various combinations of literacy, arts, sciences, or technology. The playshop model is intended to bring together and combine children’s strengths with the school curriculum (Wohlwend & Peppler, 2015).

On March 15, in my second-to-last Children & Technology class, my group and I had the opportunity to design, create, and represent our very own playshop! Our professor provided us with a wide array of random (to us) materials to choose from, and we had to think of a theme or idea we wanted to center our playshop around, taking on the roles of children within a playshop experience. In anticipation of the season, we decided on creating a nature/garden theme scene–combining arts and science. We used play-doh, chenille sticks, water bottles, poms poms, and other every day materials.

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For a lot of parents and educators today, there is still a huge dichotomy between play and learning; however, in actuality, play can be the key to deepening learning and tapping into children’s interests and strengths (Wohlwend & Peppler, 2015). The playshop model enriches learning across technologies and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts, inventive and creative thinking, design and creative learning, collaborative experiences, and sustaining participation (Wohlwend & Peppler, 2015).

Each playshop experience is unique and individual to the children participating and their environment. Wohlwend and Peppler (2015) provide an example of a Grade 1 child who would typically only write a few words at a time transform into a screen-writer able to produce fifteen minutes of dramatic dialog within the context of a flim-making playshop. In the playshop model, children are active leaders in their own learning as they are given the freedom to create personal, meaningful experiences, take on different roles of their choosing, and scaffold on their previous knowledge.

I would love to see more of this model at work in school settings, considering there is so many socio-emotional and academic benefits to such a curriculum design that really taps into children’s interests and developmental needs.

Happy playing!

(Image credit: me)