Logging Into The Playground: How Digital Media Are Shaping Children’s Learning

On May 9, 2008, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center held its first annual Symposium called “Logging Into The Playground: How Digital Media Are Shaping Children’s Learning.” Leaders from across research, communications, education and policy convened to set a new benchmark for the way in which digital media is used to improve children’s literacy, learning and development.Michael Levine, Executive Director for The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, said: “Digital media is driving what is now a multi-billion-dollar business that shapes the learning and entertainment experiences of most school-age children.” He added: “It is our mission to counsel the industry’s movers, shakers and policymakers and provide a needed bridge to what has become traditional education’s fourth and fifth “Rs”, reform and research. Wise and informed investments will harness the growing power and full potential of digital media’s use in educating young children.”Gee’s recommendations include: funding digital research and development to invest in what works; establishing a digital teacher corps for the nation’s lowest performing schools; designing alternative assessments and new standards; creating community-based literacy tech centers across the country; establishing Governor’s digital partnership schools; and finally, modernizing public broadcasting investments in digital platforms for the next generation.The agenda for the day-long symposium also featured child-led demonstrations of new technologies and a hands-on forum promoting two dozen of the best digital media initiatives in the world. Attendees were shown one of the first demonstrations of BOOM BLOX, a new game for Nintendo Wii developed by EA in association with director Steven Spielberg along with promising emerging technologies from exhibitors including: Community Building with Google Earth by Google Earth creator and Google Chief Technology Advocate, Michael T. Jones; Web-based books in English and Spanish by the Center for Applied Special Technology, to help individuals, especially those most at risk, to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for reading; IBM’s Traducelo AHORA! (“Translate Now!”) that uses IBM WebSphere software to translate web sites from English to Spanish for schools, community organizations, as well as parents so they can correspond directly with teachers no matter what language is spoken at home; and an Apple in the Classroom demo by Kathy Shirley, an Apple Distinguished Educator, on using iPods to strengthen reading fluency and comprehension.More details on the reports and Symposium are found on the Joan Ganz Cooney website.

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