Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kids + Technology + Pittsburgh = Awesome!

Kids + Creativity

When Kelley asked me to blog about my experience at the Fred Forward Conference, I was thrilled. What better way to share information about a conference on technology in the lives of kids than a blog post?

I am continually amazed at the innovative and developmentally appropriate technology that is being created for kids in Pittsburgh. One of the programs that is sparking great technology experiences for young children is the Kids + Creativity initiative funded by The Grable Foundation.

Check out this video by WQED. (Note: It's 12 minutes long, but I promise that you will be proud and hopefully pleasantly surprised at the technological experiences for kids that are being created in Pittsburgh.)

OnQ OnDemand: OnQ Close-up: Kids & Creativity

What can we learn from Fred Rogers?

Fred Rogers saw the potential of television to be a positive and nurturing part of the lives of children. The 2010 Fred Forward Conference brought together people working in technology, media, and early learning to explore how the technology that increasingly permeates our culture can be used to engage children in learning.

As Maxwell King and Rita Catalano, co-directors of the Fred Rogers Center, stated in their welcome message for the conference:

"With the extraordinary explosion in communication technology of the past 25 years--a development that has radically changed almost every aspect of modern life--we see opportunities to emulate and extend what Fred accomplished, finding powerful new ways that media and technology can nurture creativity, curiosity, social-emotional development, and learning for children everywhere."

Three days of amazing panels, lectures, and demonstrations in one short(ish) post

are three of the most fascinating presentions at the conference:

1. Keep a look out for Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky.
  • This book provides an accessible overview of research on early childhood development as well as an anaylsis of what should be done to create the best educational atmosphere for children ages birth - 8 years old.
  • Check out www.mindinthemaking.org for more information and for some video clips of the actual research experiements.
  • Ellen Galinsky also wrote an interesting article on what Fred Rogers would do with today's technology, check it out here.
2. Joan Lombardi, Ph.D. - Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Harriet Dichter, J.D. - Acting Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare talked about what everyone needs to do to be an advocate for early childhood education.
  • I think that we, as children's librarians, are all very supportive and engaged in early childhood education and so this was a particularly interesting discussion to me.
  • One of the issues noted in this discussion was how to link the neighborhood, the family, and the educational system together into a network of support for early learning (birth - 8 years old). I think that public libraries are uniquely situated to help create a network--often I think we are already in a network as we collaborate with families, teachers, librarians, and other agencies in our communities. What can we do to expand and support this network?
  • An effective early childhood education program recognizes that both social-emotional health (i.e. recognizing social cues, recognizing and handling emotions, etc.) and executive function (i.e. self regulating behavior, handling abstract concepts, forming ideas, etc.) are integral to learning. How can we continue to support these skills?
  • Another issue that was noted in this discussion was that technology often separates parents from their children. How can we use technology to engage parents with their children?
3. Can Elmo really teach young children? Research indicates that young children may learn better from video when the character is familiar to them.

  • Alexis Lauricella, Alice Howard, and Sandra Calvert from Georgetown University's Children's Digital Media Center presented their research on "Familiar Characters for Toddlers' Learning from Video"
  • The researchers noted that previous research has indicated that young children learn better from live rather than video presentations. This research has led organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend no screen time for children under the age of 2.
  • The previous research that has found video deficient has used an unfamiliar character in the videos. The researchers hypothesized that the familiarity with the character impacts the learning potential.
  • The researchers state that based on their findings 21 month toddlers can learn important information from a video, which is a finding that questions previous research.
Just ask yourself, what would Fred Rogers do?

Throughout the conference, we were asked to think about the example of Fred Rogers and think about how we could create innovative and developmentally appropriate technological experiences for young children. So, I thought I'd leave you with another video of Fred Rogers.

~Megan Fogt
Manager of children's services at The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Squirrel Hill


Kelley B said...

Megan - this was great! Thanks for sharing the experience. SO wish I could have been there. Do you think they'll be doing this again?