Recommended Reads (August): Youth Culture, Games & Learning, Teaching 2.0

The latest fascinating report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, “Families Matter: Designing Media for a Digital Age,” offers one of the first large-scale studies to explore ideas parents have about their young children’s use and access of media. A review on the web site for the New America Foundation, “Parental Worries, Or the Lack Thereof, About Digital Media,” does an excellent job covering the key findings and putting them in context. “It’s encouraging to see these robust conversations among early childhood experts about the roles that families and educators are playing as they guide their children to use new technologies,” they write. “Given parents’ ambivalence about digital media and its impact on their own children, it is becoming more and more important that we make distinctions between types of media and media platforms, the content and quality of the media that are consumed or created, and the ages of the children who are interacting with it.”

Teaching Kids How to Break Up Nicely (article)

An article in The New York Times discusses how the Boston Public Health Commission held a day-long conference on “healthy breakups” that addressed, among other issues, how teenagers break-up through social media like Facebook. Youth were able to voice their opinions about the etiquette and intricacies of dating in a digital world, which all fed back to the theme of healthy break-ups and relationships. This is a great example of adults meeting young people where they are by addressing a very real-life challenge that teenagers face regularly with digital media, and doing it in a way that encourages open and honest dialogue. A conversation like this can easily spin off into other important topics such as digital citizenship, digital responsibility, social skills, and other uses of social media.

New Girl Scout Badges for Fall 2011 Include ‘Making Games’ and ‘Game Visionary’ (blog post)

Traci Lawson offers a wonderful review of the next season of Girl Scout badges with a focus on those related to media literacy and technology. She highlights such skills as “Digital Movie Maker” and “Netiquette” and is especially pleased with two on gaming: “Making Games” and “Game Visionary.” Beyond the joy of looking at the design of these badges (what exactly should a game visionary look like?) she offers a useful critique of the Boy Scout’s less-than-inspiring game design badge, compares them with the Girl Scouts, and vents some frustration on about “when one group gets credit for being innovative when in fact, another group has already been doing the so-called new thing for years.”

Second Life Makes $100M A Year in Revenue (article)

“While the real-world markets take a nosedive,” begins this recent article on Second Life, “a virtual world’s economy is on the up and up, and its parent company is reaping the rewards.” This might come as a surprise to many who stopped seeing the world mentioned in the press for some time. Yet Second Life has continued, for better and for worse, and is still an innovative space used by educators. Most recently at Global Kids we launched “Let’s Talk Sustainability,” a youth-led talk show to be produced within Second Life, and partnered with the World Bank Institute to support their distance learning trainings. This posting might provide a useful retort to those who respond, “Second Life? Are they still around?”

The Planet Zero (game)

A website created by Nissan Motor Co. offers a new game to learn about alternative energy sources with a focus on electric cars. While the game is still in its early stages – only four of the ten levels are available thus far – it allows the player to learn more about energy consumption and its environmental impacts through basic jumping and search games. The player is introduced to various characters that teach about wind and solar energy and at the end of every level is introduced to facts about the environment.

Teaching the iGeneration (article)

Larry D. Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University and author of Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn, shares his latest perspective, based on his research, on how different generations relate to digital media. More specifically, he is concerned with how schools will respond to today’s youth being “immersed in technologies that give them opportunities no previous generation has enjoyed.” The piece details the difference between the generations and offers some very practical advice for how educators can respond. “Technology is all about engagement,” he concludes. “The iGeneration is immersed in technology. Their tech world is open 24/7. Now, we need to take advantage of their love of technology to refocus education. In doing so, we’ll not only get students more involved in learning, but also free up classroom time to help them make meaning of the wealth of information that surrounds them.”

Global Kids does a great job each month flagging relevant resources. Daria Ng, Juan Rubio, and Joliz Cedeno contributed to this month’s picks. Please share what you’re reading and watching, too! Global Kids’ NYC-based programs address the need for young people to possess leadership skills and an understanding of complex global issues to succeed in the 21st century workplace and participate in the democratic process.

Banner image credit: Global Kids http://www.flickr.com/photos/holymeatballs/6032750943/in/set-72157627410824402/