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Digital Age Learning

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is devoted to accelerating children’s learning in a rapidly changing world.

I was recently reading their “iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category on Apple’s App Store” and came across some very interesting findings related to the fact that apps are an important and growing medium for providing educational content to children. More than 80% of the top Education apps on the iTunes store target children. However (speaking from experience) the educational value of the grand majority of apps are zilch, zero, nada! At best, the apps I have downloaded have entertained and distracted my child… but effective learning? One of the main recommendations from this report was:

Academia needs to address the rapidly growing app market by setting a research agenda regarding digital age learning. Developers and researchers should work together toward the design of effective, high-quality products.

Well, guess what: I know a group at MIT who are doing just that! Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts as we set forth on a journey to bring active-engagement learning to young digital natives across the world!


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More than just a story

Stories are more than just a way to transfer information. Stories are a way for people to understand each other, to share facets of themselves with each other. In storytelling, a lot is communicated in the background channel, such as personality, character, disposition, and emotion.  You learn more about the person from listening to them than just what they say.  On the other side, they learn a lot about who you are from the way you listen.  One of my favorite stories is a short story I read about an adult son who talked to his aging father about music. The father said he had once had the chance to play in a jazz band professionally. The opportunity to follow a dream was offered to this father, who had always been a conservative, responsible parent to his son. His father said that he had gotten that chance to work two jobs (playing in a band by night). In the end he was offered the chance to go on the road, and he chose to stay home. For the son, this was a momentous discovery about the man he had known all his life. The storytelling had added a new facet to his appreciation for his father. He now knew what self-sacrifice his father had made to be the man that he was, and also that his father had talent and once had opportunities to become a professional musician, was an acknowledgement of his father as more than a father. The son now understood why the father had been so supportive of his son’s explorations into art.

So more than just a story, the act of storytelling (and story listening) builds rapport between the people involved.

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