Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bananas, MJ and the Internet for education and entertainment

There has been a dramatic shift in the way my children entertain and educate themselves since Google and You Tube came into our lives. I remember hearing about You Tube and thinking why would people put their movies on the net and I scoffed and thought if I want to watch that mind-numbing junk I will check out America's Funniest Home Videos, not!.

Well I couldn't have been more ignorant at that stage, now my children and I find songs we love and the funniest gems to share with friends. You Tube not only entertains-for free, but educates-for free! The next time you think "I need to do a course on that" check out what you can learn on you tube on that particular subject, there are video tutorials on just about everything, how to change a bicycle tyre or make a collage in Picasa 3, a free creative photo application I highly recommend.

I am writing this post is to highlight the FUN and FACTS that can be found by surfing around in You Tube, maybe I'm teaching you to suck eggs or hopefully this will encourage you to use it more in the classroom, in your living room and own learning.

During a family evening we watched Michael Jackson you tubes and the children felt compelled to get up and dance to the point where creativity ignites and Hannah begins to choreograph their moves :)...

...doesn't MJ do that to everybody? his music had no boundaries in terms of age and culture, a bit like the internet although, i'm not so naive to think everyone has access to it. Take Sweden for example, where men have twice as much access than their Japanese counterparts, while Swedish females have triple the average access to internet that females in Japan to read more, click here Isn't this interesting? and surprising given Japan's techological innovation (stats link). Sweden it seems looked to the future long ago and is committed to everyone having high speed broadband, even in remote areas;

Sweden is among the world's leaders in information technology, computer hardware, software, and services. It has the highest number of phone lines (combined fixed and mobile) per capita, as well as the highest percentage of Internet users in the world. Some 74 percent of Swedish companies and 45 percent of households had Internet access in early 2000. World Bank (2000)

The great social commentator and literary genius Stephen Fry debates with Biz Stone, Founder and Chief executive of Twitter on the power of social media for good, he tries to remind Biz that the internet is accessed mainly by the white, liberal and privileged, its a different story in Africa though. Thinking of Aotearoa, even closer to home, we are still on dial-up in most Early Childhood centres and homes due to the high cost of access. I hope all children can one day experience, free wireless internet in their communities.

Just as it is every child's right to become literate, he or she should have the right to become a skillful user of ICT. Children should be able to operate a computer and its functions, and experience ICT as a tool with vast possibilities for communication and information retrieval/sharing. ICT (including the Internet) gives children a medium in which information can be presented in both a linear and a nonlinear and associative way. Children's spontaneous thinking uses associations; ICT challenges young children to associate one thing to another in creative ways (Alexandersson & Pramling Samuelsson, 1998, p. 6).

"Learning through ICT in Swedish early childhood education from a pedagogical perspective of quality", 2003

I think the more people experience the wealth of information there is on the internet and it enriches there lives, the more communities and countries will move to this collective and collaborating platform, but for now I feel one of the 'privileged'. So I will make the most of it, my children are going to be all the wiser, fitter and happier for it!

Take for example your everyday Banana, in my daughters search for the ultimate smoothie recipe, we learnt how Monkeys open their bananas...!


Then we were entertained by the rapping banana, several times I might add, and you can't help but crack up...

But my favourite you tubes off all are the sesame street collection. Easy and quick to watch, they intermix comedy and messages on values, literacy, numeracy, friendship.. and in this one the magical and essential act of using your imagination.

Professional development and community education for people to feel comfortable and confident with ICT in home and educational settings will be essential as we need to monitor the creative opportunities and pitfalls of internet access, while this post highlights the two great entertainment and education aspects of you tubes, it won't forget to mention that there is alot of junk on there too and adult content in you tubes which are disguised as children's. I always encourage you must view them first by yourself if you are not sure, this is pretty quick as you can tell in the first few seconds if a you tube is appropriate for children.

Now here's my pondering and provocation, in what ways are children accessing the internet in your home or teaching environments?

Low Level of Quality= The lowest level of quality related to ICT in education settings is when only one computer is made available for children to use, either individually or together, at the teacher's discretion.

Good Level of Quality= ICT is directed toward specific educational use, and designed to challenge children's creativity. Digital cameras are also being used more and more frequently for advanced digital documentation of children's learning and multimedia programmes, which allow children to express and create their own experiences in text, sound, and pictures, are mostly used in combination with various research and/or development projects. At a good level of quality, children communicate, discuss strategies, solve problems, and have fun together while they use both games and educational programmes, they find their computer use to be meaningful.

"Learning through ICT in Swedish early childhood education from a pedagogical perspective of quality", 2003

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