Media Literacy DadsforCreativity

Why parents have an important role to play in Media Literacy

My activity on Dads for Creativity dwindled to only a few articles last year because I was finishing up my documentary, Class of 2032: Schooling for a Digital Culture. This film project became a significant learning experience for both myself as the educator, as well as the proud parent of three small boys; it began with an intent to explore how educators foresee the future of schooling but instead examined the rise of digital technology and how it disrupted the traditional transfer of information for learning. Anticipated topics like how virtual and augmented reality will change the traditional classroom experience, were replaced by conversations about the ubiquity of information, and the concept of Google knowing versus true understanding of a topic. As my story emerged during post-production, it soon became apparent my most important audience was parents of young children, and therefore I present an article on why I believe we (they) have an important role to play in Media Literacy.

Media literacy is more important than ever before. Because of course knowledge again is the seed of our economy. And education is the prime way we get citizens to be able to access that knowledge, to become informed citizens. And in order to do that, educators right from the gecko, right from Preschool, really need to start explaining to students… not all the things on the Internet are true.”

Michael Lynch, Class of 2032: Schooling for a Digital Culture

Thanks to tablet devices like the iPad, young children are now able to access the world’s information. For many, this experience begins with YouTube. As many parents know, around two, most children with access to tablet devices will learn how to navigate the search bar to find their favorite unboxing videos. The image of young children on these devices might now begin to stir feelings as we reflect on what we see at restaurants and supermarkets. However, as children mature, YouTube – like many applications that access content on the World Wide Web – not only provide a source of entertainment but an opportunity for learning. It is the latter that I care deeply about. As demonstrated in the short clip from my documentary, my eldest has independently taught himself about Pangea, Climate Change, countries of the world, the solar system, and random animal facts. He is literally a walking encyclopedia on a variety of topics.

 

 

As pointed out by Jonathan Plucker – a renowned Creativity scholar and someone who I was lucky enough to interview in my film – young children seeking out information on topics of interest is nothing new, it’s the where we get the information that has changed. I remember reading about Mount Krakatoa at an early age and thinking what it would be like to see a super volcano explode. I’m sure we can all relate (though perhaps not about volcanoes). However, there would be two major differences if we replay my curiosity of volcanoes today. First, I would be less likely to access the information using the children’s encyclopedia sitting on my parent’s bookshelf. Secondly, instead of turning pages and reading a text, I would be using voice recognition and selecting a video.

See Also: Five Ways to Utilize YouTube for Learning

Here’s the problem that requires participation from parents. Many young children today* have access to technologies in their home that wield incredible opportunities for learning. Knowledge is no longer confined to the teacher and the textbook. Furthermore, our little ones are interacting with these devices ‘before’ they enter formal schooling. And even then, many are still tasked with learning for a print world, as opposed to the world that exists outside the four walls of the classroom. Therefore, like reading regularly to our children. this is why parents have an important role to play in Media Literacy – especially when at home.

 

I was lucky to interview a variety of professionals in my film. My first interview was Tom Scheinfeldt who explained our cultural transition to consuming more information via the video screen.
I was lucky to interview a variety of professionals in my film. My first interview was Tom Scheinfeldt who explained our cultural transition to consuming more information via the video screen.

Teaching media literacy takes effort on our part, and requires us to move beyond using these tools simply as devices for entertainment and social interactions (e.g., Facetime with Grandma). Tablet devices with access to the World Wide Web are incredible tools for learning, however, we must teach children to see them in this way, as well as developing the necessary skills needed to navigate their way through the ubiquity of information. This task is more challenging than teaching children how to use that encyclopedia sitting on my parent’s bookshelf, as it lacks the traditional gatekeeper charged with examining the quality and factual integrity of the content. Therefore, the challenge is not only teaching children how to access information on the World Wide Web but asking the necessary questions to determine its integrity. Unfortunately, as Xennials and early Millenials, we ourselves might be lacking some of the Media Literacy skills we seek to develop in our children. Just think about how many facts we reference come from our social media feeds (you know you do!). Therefore, we must begin practicing good Media Literacy ourselves, which starts by learning to identify quality content for ourselves, and not judging it based on how well it aligns to our existing values. Look this is daunting, and I’m not suggesting we pursue a certification in media literacy, however, I have found a few simple steps to be helpful when teaching my eldest how to use his iPad for learning.

How parents can support Media Literacy

  • I use the YouTube for kids app. This helps filter inappropriate age-related content
  • I teach him about Google search, and how it presents information based on my interests. We discuss “recommended” videos.
  • I ask him to consider who produced the content. If its a five-year-old do they really know everything about the topic?
  • We then discuss the concept of a perceived authority over a topic. If NASA made the video we can assume they know a lot about Space.
  • I then ask him to consider if it looks and sounds genuine?

I’m still learning myself. I’m not an authority over the topic myself, but I’m trying to summarize my journey as a filmmaking exploring issues that impact the Class of 2032 and beyond. The statements above were covered over a two-year period, as my eldest became more comfortable with using the device for learning. My closing statement – it’s a process, but one that needs our attention.

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If you’re interested in this topic, or want to learn more, I encourage you to check out the film Class of 2032: Schooling for a Digital Culture (as an FYI – in case you haven’t noticed, this blog is an example of potential bias, am I partially writing it to promote my film? Should that make you question the accuracy of the information? Something to consider as we begin this challenging journey of navigating the world’s information).

*whenever I write this type of statement I’m reminded that access to tablet devices are limited. However, more and more students have access to the World Wide  Web while outside of school.

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DadsforCreativity

I like to write. I love to parent. So why not share the occasional weblog?

A random blog article for the few readers that stumble across my articles or graciously liked the DadsforCreativity Facebook page. I haven’t written for two years! My absence is not because I have lost ideas on what to write or even lacked motivation. DadsforCreativity simply found itself lower down the priority list that we all must construct to survive our busy lives as parents, professionals, and wondering humans.

In January 2017, my even busier wife gave birth to our third boy. Wow. She’s been either pregnant or nurturing babies for almost a decade. The little guy, of course, created a disruption and is now sitting on my lap as I write this article. He has a pacifier in mouth, a cuddly toy, and yes an iPad (bad Daddy!).

During this period, not only have I been adapting to life as a parent of three children under the age of seven, but I also produced my second education documentary (check it out here), collaborated on a supporting application that helps facilitate a conversation about the future of schooling (download iOS or Android), and started a doctorate so I know a little more about what I sometimes find myself talking about – education technology and changing schooling.

Here’s a clip from the documentary – Class of 2032: Schooling for a Digital Culture. Examining how children interact with YouTube speaks to the opportunity and challenges of learning in the digital age. 

I share this information because it helps add links to the projects online (always good from a digital marketing perspective), and more importantly to provide a statement on a change to how I will approach my future works on DadsforCreativity.

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My favorite thing is parenting. I love my role as a father, and it will be my greatest accomplishment. Therefore, I’m going to continue to write from that perspective, and use my blog as a creative outlet to share my thoughts, ideas, and feelings toward parenting and using technology in the home to nurture the type of skills that we value in our young.

Occasionally I might share a study or academic perspective that I think is particularly relevant for informal learning environments (e.g., the home), but I will NOT be applying APA or offering citations. These articles are not going to find their way into a journal, and perhaps my most important readers will simply be my three boys, and God willing my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren many many years from now.

I’ve realized I like to write. I love to parent. So why not share the occasional weblog?

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Making a Christmas Card: 4 Things to Consider

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I consider it my absolute duty to make the Holidays a magical experience for my two boys (soon to be three come January). At first merging family traditions with my wife offered some challenges, but through the years we’ve successfully merged the best of both worlds, and established some of our own traditions along the way.

SEE ALSO: Check out lessons learned from last year!

One of my new favorites (which started two years ago) is the making of a ‘festive’ picture for the Holidays. Thanks to Digital Technology, it’s now easier than ever to turn this creation into the artwork for the family Holiday card.

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Through experience, I wanted to offer 4 things to consider when making a Christmas Card.

Making a Christmas Card: 4 Things to Consider

1 Know the Size: I make this mistake every year, but it’s helpful to know the size of the card prior to making the picture. Without this you might lose some parts of the image when it’s uploaded and scaled to fit the template.

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The first picture we produced for our Christmas card. It shows our tree and fireplace, and was a joint effort between Daddy and Son.

2. Pick the Right Time: I suggest that you identify a ‘good’ time to create the picture so that’s it’s not too rushed. Take sometime to let them know how it will be used, and ask them some questions about the picture that they plan to make.

One of the few times Arthur was engaged. This year wasn't the fun and magical experience I remember from last year.
One of the few times Arthur was engaged. You can see how we had to add a second piece of paper to accommodate the fireplace.

3. Leave Them Alone: If your little one is past three you probably need to give them the freedom to produce their own image. Last year I found my eldest to be particularly resistant to the activity when I offered too much in the way of direction. I recognize it’s difficult as we probably want the picture to demonstrate their best abilities, but unfortunately, the more we get involved, the more we risk diminishing the opportunity to engage Creative Thinking skills.

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This year’s card. I had hoped to move away from the Tree and Fireplace, but he was having none of that. The new addition was the flags of his family – which I thought offered a nice touch. It was also the first card that he produced by himself.

4. Involve them in the Upload: Involve them in the process afterwards, let them see how their image is being used on sites such as Shutterfly and Vistaprint. This is a great way to introduce them to Digital Technology, and it might even offer some reading and writing extensions, should you decide to seek their help in crafting the Holiday message.

I recently wrote an article that referenced the ‘Maker Movement’, which has offered new ways to engage young children in Creativity, through creating and making. Ultimately, this activity is another example of how Digital Technology, can take an original picture produced by a child, and turn it into something that can be enjoyed and cherished by others – there’s something ‘Christmasy’ in that concept. I hope you enjoy!

How to Make a Family Christmas Card

  1. Paint or draw the picture*
  2. Capture and crop finished picture using your smart phone
  3. Visit online printing company (I use Vista Print)
  4. Select a customized card option that best fits the size of your picture*
  5. Upload image and be sure to preview sample
  6. Confirm order

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