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5 Ways Parents Can Better Utilize YouTube for Learning

What if YouTube Was an Encyclopedia?

The Digital Age, which started to emerge soon after the rise of the World Wide Web, in the 1990s, unleashed a wave of technological innovation that has transformed how we consume and produce information. Many of these advances have, and are causing, disruption to the traditional methods of information transfer that exist within the traditional worlds of communication, marketing, entertainment, and education.

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YouTube, which is one of the world’s most popular websites, remains a touchstone example for many of the characteristics that now make up our Digital Culture – for it contains user-generated content that is consumed and shared daily from mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Furthermore – and perhaps more appropriately related to this article – YouTube is one of the first entry points to the World Wide Web, for many young children in possession of a mobile device – for this reason alone it requires our attention!

See Also: Making Connections: ‘Daddy I need more input’

I’m confident most parents can relate to the feelings of wonder as they witness their child as young as 18 months, begin to navigate through the platform. It doesn’t take long for them to learn how to independently locate their favorite unboxing videos, and use their finger to swipe, pause, and even turn up the volume of that annoying soundtrack that you’ve just turned down.

Using YouTube, I've watched my eldest seek out information about other countries in the world, and look for videos that contain maps, which he can copy on his own.
Using YouTube, I’ve watched my eldest navigate through the platform to seek out information about other countries in the world, and look for videos that contain maps, which he then copies.

Our little ones will soon discover that YouTube, contains an infinite amount of information. You can practically locate a video about anything you want. While YouTube was initially banned in many schools districts after it first came out in 2005, I now think that educators have become reasonably good at curating content using the platform, and for the most part have gained control of it’s use as a tool for learning within their classroom environment. However at home, and often before children enter Kindergarten, the access to YouTube for many littles ones appears to take place without the guidance of an adult, and for me this raises some issues when it comes to the information that our children are accessing prior to entering schooling.

It's really important to find ways for your child to express their understanding about topics they've explored on YouTube. In preparation for our trip to Naples, my eldest watched videos about Pompeii - specifically what made that particular eruption so devastating.
It’s really important to find ways for your child to express their understanding about topics they’ve explored on YouTube. In preparation for our trip to Naples, my eldest watched videos about Pompeii – specifically what made that particular eruption so devastating.

In order for parents to better leverage YouTube as a tool for learning, we must take more of an active role in how it’s used within our home, otherwise it will most likely remain primarily a source of entertainment, and this is perplexing given the treasure trove of educational resources that exist within it’s page. I am one of those parents who has concerns how much time my youngest spends on YouTube. I certainly consider it an issue if wakes up in the morning and immediately asks for his iPad. Equally it’s a concern when I wonder if it’s possible to take him on a 10 minute car journey without ‘having’ to bring it with me.*  BUT – and here’s for me a GREAT BUT – I wonder what I would think if YouTube were an encyclopedia? Would I be as concerned about the hours my youngest spends accessing its pages? You see, the way my eldest uses YouTube, is very different to how my eldest uses YouTube. My eldest’s use of YouTube, can in many ways be likened to  the use of an Encyclopedia, for he spends hours and hours of the week consuming videos about Volcanoes, DNA, Climate Change, Countries of the World, and the Solar System. This is the type of use that I want to promote on YouTube, and it’s a type of use that I feel develops as children begin to progress  beyond the unboxing videos that I referenced earlier.

How YouTube differs from an Encyclopedia?

Recently I shared a story about how my child uses Google Voice Recognition to locate video about Pangaea, “he was teaching me about Pangaea” I said, but he reminded me that this behavior isn’t that different to past generations. Ultimately, he’s seeking out information about topics that he finds of interest – what’s changed is the method to which he accesses that information. When he said this I could immediately relate  – I remember using my parent’s encyclopedia to seek out new information about similar to my eldest. However, as I went away and thought about it a little more, I soon remembered that while I would seek out information in my parent’s encyclopedia, I was ultimately limited to what information I could access based on my level of reading. I did not have the ability to access the massive amount of information that is now available to young children through YouTube – this would have required skills that I probably wouldn’t develop until high school (and I might add that with my Dyslexia it took me longer that the average child to develop these skills), as well as access to a library with a vast selection of books. The ease of access, the selection of videos, and the fact that a child no longer needs to be at an advanced reading level in order to consume content, has allowed our little ones to begin pursing information related to their interests at a much young age. And it’s this use of YouTube, that I feel offers exciting opportunities when it comes to learning and promoting Creativity (on  a very important side note – I still read A LOT to my boys and would never in anyway suggest that YouTube should be a replacement to reading!!!!!).

Of course there are issues to what I’m promoting. For starters the ubiquity of information, and it’s availability to children of all ages, brings unique challenges for parents and education. Have we really studied the consequences of preschool aged children learning about 1st and 2nd grade topics, out of sequence, and without the guidance of a teacher? Do we know how to evaluate one’s understanding of a topic when the information has been obtained through video? In addition, the information accessed within the classroom is usually vetted by the teacher before it is made available for consumption by the student, however the information that our children access on YouTube is non-vetted, and so there are genuine issues surrounding it’s accuracy, which if not addressed at some point in the future, might contribute somewhat to our growing culture of Fake News. Ok, I feel this article is getting too long, so let me conclude my point.

5 Ways Parents Can Better Utilize YouTube for Learning

YouTube can be used as a tool for learning, it doesn’t have to be all about entertainment. However, in order to progress beyond the mindless unboxing videos, we need to be more active as parents and encourage teach children how to use it for learning outside the classroom. Here are five suggestions on how one might make this happen:

 

  • Download YouTube for Kids, and hide or delete the YouTube app. Tools such as ‘Google Complete’, and the selections that come about after a search query like Green House Effect, will be geared toward children.

 

  • Sign into YouTube, and create a playlist of videos based on topics that are of most interest to your child. For example, a playlist on Volcanoes, will be helpful, and after your child has consumed them, a further selection of videos on Volcanoes that they haven’t seen will most likely appear next.

 

  • Teach children how to search use Google’s Speech Recognition, which is the little microphone in the search bar. My youngest is only two, and obviously struggles, but he’s still in his unboxing phase – I’m talking about children four and up.

 

  • Engage children in conversations about the content that they access, and keep an eye out for fake or bias content. They’re probably too young to evaluate the content by themselves, but it would be great if they at least develop a tendency to say ‘hmmm, Climate Change is made up by the Chinese?’ Mommy, is this true? (I might add that I haven’t stumbled across too many wild or whacky videos on YouTube for kids).

 

  • And perhaps most important – try and encourage your child to come out of the iPad to express their understanding of the information that they have accessed. This could be a conversation where you ask questions, it could be picture that illustrations their understanding like the one above, or it could be through the creation of videos as demonstrated below.

 

*The American Academy of Pediatrics, have recently changed their recommendation of two hours of screen time per day. They now recommend no more than one hour per day for children 2 to 5 years of age, For children 6 and older, parents can determine the restrictions, and it should be noted that homework conducted on a screen does not count. Finally infants aged 18 months and younger should no be exposed to Digital Media.


 

CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More

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4 Great Things for Advocates of Creativity

As humans we have a habit on focusing on the negatives, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, as I feel (or hope) it’s part of our natural instinct to produce solutions to problems. However, given that it’s Thanks Giving, I thought it would be nice to identify 4 great things for advocates of Creativity.

SEE ALSO: Introducing some of the principals Design Thinking to young children

1. Digital Technology

In some circles within education, digital technology might be perceived as a distraction, or worse, a nuisance to the traditional system of information transfer that is still a significant component of the classroom experience. However Digital Technology, which continues to evolve as a rapid pace, is offering new opportunities for our children to create and make. Many of us see this in our little ones, who having been inspired by their favorite YouTube videos, ask for our devices so that they can produce their own content. With minor adult intervention, these videos can not only be impressive, but also engage a variety of Creative Thinking skills along the way.

SEE ALSO: DadsforCreativity – Moviemaking Tips and Activities

Moviemaking is just one example of how digital technologies have encouraged creating and making, which also encompasses 3D Printing, Digital Game Design, Authoring iBooks, and storytelling through a variety of mobile apps.

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2. Maker Spaces

One of the greatest outcomes of our Digital Age, has been the transformation of the everyday user from consumer to producer. As I mentioned above, Digital Technology now offers a variety of opportunities for people to create and make, and this has spawned a new type of D.I.Y movement, which has led to Maker Spaces, popping up all over the place. Libraries, museums, schools, and universities are redesigning rooms so that they can accommodate this exciting venture. While many of the early Maker Spaces usually centered on 3D Printing, they have since evolved to include, not only other forms of Digital Technology, but also traditional arts and crafts as well. More importantly, from a Creativity perspective, the facilitators of these spaces often encourage participants to apply Creative Problem-Solving principals to their process, with one of the preferred favorites being Design Thinking, which I particularly like because it places significant emphasis on the intended user, as well as some type of Iteration process.

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One of our first inventions using Little Bits. We took a trip to Michaels to gather the materials needed for our Solar System.

3. New Toys

The combination of new technology, and the interest in engaging young children in creating and making, has led to some exciting developments within the toy industry. Little Bits, which is an electronic kit, has offered support to the Make Movement, and with a vibrant online community users can be inspired to make absolutely anything. I might add that with the introduction of the Little Bit apps, children can also interact with their creations using their mobile devices, which I feel is taking this toy to another level. The base kit is a great place to start for the little ones, and runs between $80-$100.

Little Bits is not the only cool new toy to embrace the Maker Movement, Makey Makey is another cool example that engages young children in computer engineering and software development, and Legos now offers kits that teach children about robotics and programming.

4. Growing Discussion

With an energized community of parents and educators, who are engaging young children in creating and making activities outside the classroom, the discussions about Creativity in Education is expanding. Once more, as the alternative learning opportunities outside the classroom begin to define themselves further, the school system and the traditional role of the teacher might be challenged for the first time by parents – who are taking an increasing interest in Digital Technology, Creativity, and Project-Based Learning.

As I look at the 4 great things for advocates of Creativity can be grateful for this Thanks Giving, I can’t help but highlight the opportunities that have arisen because of Digital Technology. Yes, it certainly brings about challenges within society, but the innovation that is has spawned has allowed people like me to share my voice, and engage my little boys in Creative activities that wasn’t possible just 10 year ago – for that I’m truly thankful!


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More

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How to apply the principals of Design Thinking during Halloween?

Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding from this post– I LOVE THE SUMMER, but we are now technically in Fall, which is a fantastic time of the year. While Apple picking is probably high on the agenda, most of the conversations with family friends seem to center on that all important question – What are you going to be for Halloween? 

Last year our goal was to ‘make’ the costumes as opposed to ‘buying’ them, and I wrote an article about the need for time – time to incubate ideas, time to plan, time to gather the material, and finally time to prototype (when you’re trying out ideas to see if they work, you’re prototyping).

SEE ALSO: Introducing some of the principals Design Thinking to young children

I advocate for the making of costumes, because it provides an opportunity to involve the family in a design process that engages our creative thinking and problem solving skills.

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Design Thinking is the name of a specific problem-solving methodology that has been made popular by design firms such as IDEO, but many of it’s principals can be found in most problem solving methods that require practitioners to navigate toward a creative outcome. Below is how parents can apply some of the principals of Design Thinking during Halloween.

STAGE ONE: Clarifying the Problem: What are we going to be?

The first stage of the process begins with clarifying the problem. Ultimately, this is where you have to work with your little ones to identify what costumes you need to make? During this stage you will no doubt welcome the whacky ideas that naturally manifest, and eventually settle for something in the middle (unless of course, your field of expertise is costume design). A few years ago Lucas was intent on being a fire breathing, robot skeleton dinosaur, but over time he opted for a Peter Pan theme, which was more inclusive for the family.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2013
Halloween Costume 2013: My wife deserves all the credit. She researched the idea of a plane and made it. We noticed Lucas had difficulty climbing stairs and turning around in tight corners, but it certainly got all the attention from fellow parents! A little more prototyping perhaps!

STAGE TWO: Ideating: How to I make the costume?

This is the stage where you need to go out an explore ideas on how to make your costume. Pinterest is a place where all the creative parents hang out, so I highly encourage you to explore this as part of your research, but a quick Google image search is also great place to start.  I encourage you to identify a few different options, as you’ll likely benefit from taking a little bit from here, and a little bit from there, in order to make the perfect costume.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2014
Halloween Costume 2014: Characters from Never Never Land, Last year we had to creatively steer Lucas away from a fire breathing skelton dinosaur, and to a more family friendly, and doable in short-time frame option. I was a Lost Boy – can’t you tell? I rolled on the grass to get the grass stains!

STAGE THREE: Prototyping: Does it work? In other words can they actually wear it?

This is where you get the little ones to try on your invention (or perhaps even better the collaborative invention). Ask them how it feels? Does it need any adjustments? You can also have them make observations, and offer suggestions for improvements. Each improvement is called an iteration, and there might even be a need to scrap the idea and start all over again – but of course time is probably playing against you during this stage of the process.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2015
Halloween Costume 2015: This year Lucas wanted to be a Wild Kratt, with frog powers. I was determined to practice what I preach and design this costume for him, but toward the end he opted for an Indian theme, thanks to a short lived obsession with Pocahontas. Mommy of course assumed the lead role, while Daddy made an attempt to replicate the character of John Smith, from the Disney movie.

Time is always a factor, so perhaps you alternate years of making and buying costumes. Whatever you do, just be sure to start thinking early, involve your little ones in the process, and most of all don’t forget to take those pictures!


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More

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Using Video Games to Teach Children to Fail

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison

We’ve all probably made the connection on how important it is to fail. I recently read the book, Creativity Inc, written by Ed Catmull, and Amy Wallace. The book charts the rise of Pixar, specifically detailing their process of Creativity and success. One of the things that Ed Catmull, highlights throughout the book, is the importance in learning to ‘Fail Early, and Fail Fast’.

My boys increased interest in the iPad, has come about thanks to his discovery of Minecraft (going beyond YouTube Kids). Minecraft is a great game for Creativity, as it's sole goal is to create and make.
My boys increased interest in the iPad, has come about thanks to his discovery of Minecraft (going beyond YouTube Kids). Minecraft is a great game for Creativity, as it’s sole goal is to create and make.

As adults, I’m sure we all recognize that when we start something new, it’s probably going to take a few attempts before we get it right, particularly if the activity requires a set of skills that must be developed or learnt along the way. However, teaching this concept to a child can be difficult, particularly to the ones that are impatient and want to succeed on their first attempt. How do you explain to a five year old that they’re going to fail at first, and however upset they might become, they should keep trying (and keep failing) so that they can get better – they want to win, and WIN NOW!

See Also: Creativity Chit-Chat: A Parents Quick Guide to Creativity at Home

I’m not going to take a really deep dive into my feelings toward failure, and how students in our current system of schooling are not always given adequate opportunities to fail – neither am I going to talk too much about how we as parents, in our desire to ‘help’ our little ones along the way, often remove the opportunities for them to fail, because we want to see them constantly succeed. Instead, I’m going to talk about a mobile game called Mr. Jump.

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I think this is probably the first time that I’ve actually written about a mobile game, and that’s because I don’t find the time to play them often. However, my eldest has finally begun showing a greater interest in the iPad, and recently requested that I download Mr. Jump, after spending a day with his cousins.

Given his enthusiasm, I immediately made the purchase from the App Store, and we began playing. Oh my days – it was hard, and of course it immediately provoked annoying temper tantrums that made me want to delete the game immediately. But, then I realized that we can use video games to teach children to fail. One of the things that I noticed immediately about Mr. Jump, was that instead of losing a life after dying (failing), the screen displays the percentage of the level that the player has completed. This was fantastic, because it allowed me to show Lucas that he was making progress. As opposed to focusing on getting to the end of the level without dying, we were able to set goals, and the game assisted us with our goal setting by providing a line to indicate our best attempt. At first we just tried to get into the teens, then the twenties, and finally thirties. Each time we reached a new high I took the time to celebrate the success, and slowly the goal of our game shifted to beating our previous number, as opposed to getting to the end of the level (which is really hard!).

Mr. Jump, displays the percentage of the level completed. Allowing players to see their progress, and thus improvement.
Mr. Jump, displays the percentage of the level completed. Allowing players to see their progress, and thus improvement. It’s a minor detail that for me, has made all the difference.

In-between our attempts, we discussed the concept of failure, and I used our progress as an example to how we get better, and learn after each attempt. We even began to singing one of the verses from Zootopia after obtaining a new high number

‘Birds don’t just fly, they fall down and get up’ 

Slowly, but surely, Lucas was discovering that it’s ok to fail, so long as he picks himself back up, and tries again.

On writing this article, I find myself thinking this is an obvious thing to discover. After all, digital games are designed to give their players the opportunity to fail. It’s how players learn, and develop the necessary skills to overcome future challenges. I think this is referred to as ‘Game Flow’ within game theory classes.

Anyway, I’m going to take this experience into teaching Lucas, how to ride his bike – wish me luck on that one! If you haven’t see it, here’s the Zootopia song.

PS. The game’s great. I’ve been sneaking off to play it myself. Just got to level two yesterday!


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More