Sunday, 28 October 2007

Baby Einsteins

Couldn't resist linking to this photograph, from Trendhunter, which accompanies an article about how Baby Einstein videos 'make infants dumber', according to research by Zimmerman and Christakis at the University of Washington. More interesting than the study itself is the report about how Disney, owners of Baby Einstein, have asked the UoW to retract its media report, given the critique of the study's methodology (for a brief overview of those criticisms, see here). If this is true, then this raises a number of important issues about the relationship between academia and the media industries. Rather than demanding the retraction of media reports, Disney should simply provide a critique of the study in question themselves - after all, that's how things work in peer-reviewed journals. However, perhaps more significantly, this story illustrates the misplaced emphasis in much of the research on young children and media effects, which often seeks to prove causation rather than correlation between factors and is thus open to promoting sensational media would be good if we could move on from this narrow and limiting agenda.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Famiglia e Cittadinanza

I am speaking at this conference in Padua tomorrow, in the beautiful ‘Palazzo Bo’, pictured left. For the conference participants, the link to the ‘Digital Beginnings’ project is here. I cannot fail to notice the popularity of mobile phones whilst I have been here in Italy; they appear to be even more widely used than in England, if that is possible. Interesting then, that Italy appears to be the first European country to ban the use of mobile phones in schools. I don't know if I will have time to mention research on the potential educational use that can be made of mobile technologies in my talk, but in case I don't, an interesting report can be found here.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Copyright confusion

Copyright laws are confusing for many educators and academics, as this report, 'The cost of copyright confusion for media literacy' outlines. I myself am not entirely comfortable about sharing presentations online just in case I am in some breach of copyright through my use of images from websites. I am making an exception this week for folks at the University of Birmingham (thanks for a very interesting discussion at the seminar!). I posted my slides from the presentation here for a few weeks, but have now taken them down until I can check the copyright issues.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Future directions in literacy

I did say at the 'Future Directions in Literacy' conference that I would post the paper I gave there on to this blog. I have no idea if anyone did want to download it but if you did, I apologise for the delay. I have posted the paper here, which is a new venture for me, so I hope it works!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

MA in New Literacies

The colleague I mentioned in the previous post, Julia Davies, has developed an online masters programme, the MA New Literacies which begins this Monday. I am very pleased to be a member of the programme team, as the programme site offers a very exciting learning space – and is also visually appealing, thanks to Julia’s imaginative layout! I am looking forward to sharing my research with the students on the programme and finding out about young children’s digital literacy practices in their own countries (the students are located across the globe). We are also intending to hold seminar sessions in Second Life, which will be a novel experience for me – although I am interested in children’s use of virtual worlds, I haven’t used them extensively myself. I guess when I do, I will be even more in awe of many children and young people’s dexterity in using these spaces. For an example of their skills in online worlds, see the Club Penguin machinima here.