Monday, 20 October 2008

Digital momentum

Haven't had time to blog recently as have been teaching on weekend schools throughout October. (And here is the link to the paper for students on the EdD early childhood route.) So this is a quick post to signal some recent useful digital-related stuff on the web which has made me feel quite optimistic about change - for today at least! First, David Puttnam's talk at the Handheld Learning conference raised some interesting points about the need for education to transform itself in order to keep up with developments in the digital age. Nothing new here for those of us immersed in the field, but good that someone in his position is saying these things. Second, a new Pew Internet report on networked families has been published, which indicates how much more connected many families are due to mobile technologies and the internet and confirms that members of families have shared screen time. Finally, I was recently introduced to the work of the Joan Cooney Ganz Center and found a number of interesting reports on their website, including The Power of Pow! Wham!: Children, Digital Media and our Nation's Future. For those of us who have been working in the field of education for many years on the issue of the importance of building on children's out-of-school popular cultural experiences, the explosion of interest in this area is very exciting and there is certainly momentum for change building up. Things can only get better!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Gay's the word

Well, not a post about technology today, but another important topic - homophobia. At last, a campaign to address the widespread use of the word 'gay' as a derogative term in schools. The website reports some depressing statistics e.g. 9 out of 10 LGBT students report being harassed at school in the last year. Over 1/3 of LGBT students have been physically assaulted at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression...and so on. So, the next time you overhear someone use the phrase, 'This is/ You are so gay' as a putdown/ criticism, point them to this website.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Internet Safety

The BBC have reported that a new internet 'watchdog' has been set up to protect children from harmful content. As one of the outcomes of the Byron Review, a 'Child Internet Safety Strategy' will be developed, which will:

• establish a comprehensive public information and awareness and child internet safety campaign across Government and industry including a ‘one-stop shop’ on child internet safety;• provide specific measures to support vulnerable children and young people, such as taking down illegal internet sites that promote harmful behaviour;• promote responsible advertising to children online; and • establish voluntary codes of practice for user-generated content sites, making such sites commit to take down inappropriate content within a given time.

There are lots of questions raised by this, such as: can a 'one-stop-shop' be effectively created, given the diverse nature of sites on the internet and the different safety strategies they require?; how will 'illegal internet sites' be defined and then tracked, especially if not located in the UK? ...and so many unknowns. This will be a development that will need careful monitoring by all of those interested in children's use of the internet. This is not to suggest that there are not positive aspects of this initiative - a public awareness campaign regarding use of the internet has the potential to raise a number of significant issues with parents and children, but it will need to be undertaken in a way which acknowledges the agency of individuals and the considerable knowledge many already have about ways of keeping safe online.