Don’t feel guilty about screen time for children April 12, 2017Posted by Editor21C in Early Childhood Education, Role of the family.
Tags: parenting, technology and education
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Parents have been struggling to contain their child’s technology use to the recommended screen limit of two hours a day. With schoolwork, homework, communication , social media and fun, that limit doesn’t acknowledge our new reality. But at last authorities have listened and the guidelines for children’s screen use have caught up to the digital age.
The guidelines used by the federal Department of Health are based on those developed by the American Academy of Paediatricians. The academy’s new guidelines acknowledge the dramatic change in our device use and the need for children to use technology throughout their day. Even the long-held recommendation that children under two should get no screen time at all has been dropped.
The important message from the new guidelines is to shift our thinking from ‘‘ screen time’ ’ to ‘‘ screen quality’’ . Some new time measures are provided for younger children: one hour for children 18-months to five years. For children aged six to 18, the academy has passed the baton to parents to decide. Parents are asked to take a more nuanced approach and keep check of what their child does on a tablet, computer, TV or other digital device rather than counting minutes.
This is a sound approach as 30 minutes of playing a game that centres on stealing cars and dealing with drug lords (one of the most successful online games in the world) is quite different to spending 30 minutes creating music on a device. The previous guidelines were developed in the 1990s in response to research on children’s viewing of violent and sexual content . But the new guidelines are based on recent research that shows that use of today’s interactive devices can have valuable learning benefits . Technology can enhance the development of children’s language and literacy, stimulate creativity and allow children to work with ideas in deep and meaningful ways.
While loosening the guidelines is a great move for families, it may bring a new kind of stress. Parents often feel uneasy about guiding their child’s technology use. This is fed by the constant messages that tell us technology is bad for children . It’s a strong message that has led to parental uncertainty about what is best for children and how to guide their tech use.
The guidelines ask parents to take the lead and encourage educational content. However the term “educational” can be quite hard to pin down if you’re not an educator. There are more than 80,000 apps labelled as educational in the iTunes store but not each of them is a quality learning experience.
Unfortunately many “educational” apps are not designed by an educator, nor even someone who knows anything about education. To assess if a site or app is educational , consider what is beneficial for your child to learn and check if the app works towards that.
Educational does not necessarily mean a school lesson. Activities that are creative, stimulate imagination and allow meaningful connection with others are great – think, as examples, of developing a music playlist, video-chatting with mum while she is away, using an online recipe to cook, taking photos of the family and creating an online album, and using a video to learn how to draw.
Encourage children to apply what they have learnt on their device to an off-screen scenario. Follow up what your child has learnt online by looking at realworld examples. The more ways a child can apply their knowledge, the better the educational experience.
Many parents separate their child’s technology use from family activities and this exacerbates their unease in parenting around technology. Not only will playing or creating together online help with decisions about screen quality, but it is also a great way to bond with your kids.
Dr Joanne Orlando is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at Western Sydney University, Australia. This article was originally published in the November 22, 2016 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald Digital Edition.
Think again before you post online those pics of your kids February 13, 2017Posted by Editor21C in Early Childhood Education, Role of the family.
Tags: children's rights, Education and community, parenting, technology and education
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You might think it’s cute to snap a photo of your toddler running around in a playground or having a temper tantrum, and then posting it on social media. But did you ever think it might be a mistake, or even illegal?
The French government earlier this year warned parents to stop posting images of their children on social media networks.
Under France’s rigorous privacy laws, parents could face penalties of up to a year in prison and a fine of €45,000 (A$64,500) if convicted of publicising intimate details of their children without their consent.
This new legality is powerful food for thought for parenting in the Facebook era. As adults, we often express dissatisfaction at the ways young people post their lives online. But if we turn the mirror on ourselves, do we as parents actually have the right to make our family photos public? If so, which ones?
Part of the issue is our tendency for over-sharing. A recent study by Nominet, which handles the UK’s .uk domain name registry, found that parents post nearly 200 photos of their under fives online every year.
This means that a child will feature in around 1,000 online photos before their fifth birthday. We’ve even got to the point where if you don’t upload photos of our baby, others question whether you are a committed parent.
This new norm means that many children will have a powerful digital identity created by someone else. This process can be likened to the manufacturing of celebrity identities, where parents can potentially shape the public persona of their child in any way they want: child genius, disobedient, fashionista, fussy eater and so on.
How do you think your own mum or dad might shape your online identity? Do you think it would be an accurate portrayal of who you are?
There is also the issue of Likes and comments on those photos. Without realising it, are we choosing to upload posts about our kids that we hope will get the most audience attention? If so, how is this skewing the identity we are shaping for them?
The web never forgets
We often tell our kids that once something is on the internet it is there forever, and this is a core concern for kids. Research shows that parents often haven’t considered the potential reach and the longevity of the digital information that they’re sharing about their child.
Your child won’t have much control over where that home video of her having an embarrassing first singing lesson ends up or who sees it.
And for this generation of kids, the publicising of their lives can start even before they are born when parents broadcast photos to all their friends and their friends’ friends of the antenatal scan.
Parents’ actions are generally not maliciously intended. In fact, they actually often see they are exposing something personal about their own life in such posts rather than that of their child.
There’s also benefit from such sharing. Posts about your child bed-wetting might help a friend find solutions, or boost their patience for dealing with a similar issue with their own child. Many parents find this community of support important.
Given the relative youth of social media, it’s hard to say exactly how growing up online could affect children’s privacy, safety and security. But social media has also been around long enough now (Facebook is now 14 years old) that it’s important to seriously consider the issue.
It’s time to question how individuals (both children and adults) should manage boundaries around sharing personal information, and how they can control information that is shared about them.
Posting embarrassing photos of others on Facebook without consent is definitely tricky territory, but what constitutes embarrassing is slightly different for everyone, which makes this new issue even more of a minefield.
Get the kids involved
The answer of how to approach this new-found issue might be to listen to what kids have to say about it. Recent research from the University of Michigan asked children and parents to describe the rules they thought families should follow related to technology.
Adults tend to think of these rules around how much time kids spend on screen, but about three times more children than parents thought there should be rules about what parents share and don’t share on social media. Many kids said parents should not post anything about them on online without asking them.
Both children and parents considered positive images, events and news more appropriate to share than negative ones. An image of the child playing on the swings at the park is a lot less likely to resurface than a YouTube video of them having a tantrum because their breakfast is not in their favourite bowl.
If you’re a parent looking for advice or sympathy about a behavioural problem, then a community approach is still very helpful, just don’t post an image and your child’s name as part of the post. This will help to limit the searchability and reach of it.
Asking your children’s consent is also part of the issue and part of the solution. Asking if your child likes the photos of them and whether you can put it up online can be a very quick and respectful conversation. It also sets up a great approach to your kids understanding digital etiquette.
Parents sharing photos of their kids online isn’t only about digital identity. It’s also about our obsession with taking photos of our kids, particularly when they shine (or don’t shine) in their respective activities.
This can make kids feel pressured to perform to help mum and dad get the right snap to share. What the children really want to see is you taking notice of them and acknowledging that they and their actions are important.
Tags: creativity, curriculum, curriculum design
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With an ever increasing focus upon the need to develop graduates with high level creative, risk-taking, and entrepreneurial skills, it is more important than ever to explore our approaches to the teaching-learning process. Graduate teachers need to be able to design, plan and deliver exciting, engaging and innovative learning opportunities. This article argues that the approach to planning, whether formal or informal, needs to be considered in relation to developing creative learning activities and creative learning environments. We need to start questioning the processes we use to plan the types of learning environments and activities that encourage the development of creativity. This article explores different approaches to planning and asks, ‘are we using the most effective approaches to planning to ensure creative skills are developed?’
Rationalistic, technical curriculum planning has been the dominant model underpinning planning for teaching and learning for a generation or more in England and Wales (Parkay and Hass, 2000) and involves the use of a linear approach to planning, which begins with the specification of objectives and ends with a lesson evaluation. This dominant or ‘rational’ approach to planning is based on Tyler’s (1949) model of curriculum theory and practice, comprising a systematic approach based upon the formulation of behavioural objectives. This approach provides a clear notion of outcome, so that content and method may be organised and the results evaluated. It considers education to be a technical exercise of organising the outcomes or products of learning, whereby objectives are set, a plan drawn up and applied and the outcomes (products) measured. Snape (2013) provides an example of what he defines as ‘quality learning’ through such a technical, sequenced linear pathway, including: the intended learning; teaching episodes; opportunities for tangibly evidenced student work; and criteria for successful achievement.
Several alternative and adapted planning approaches are present in the current literature, which are particularly pertinent to when requiring a more creative, risk-taking approach to teaching and learning, for example in Technology education. The ‘naturalistic’ or ‘organic’ model, based on the work of Stenhouse (1975) and Egan (1992; 1997), was developed from the apparent conflict between the need to carefully specify learning intentions and the dynamic nature of classrooms, and was an attempt to emulate a realistic planning process based on the ‘natural’ interactions in a classroom. Naturalistic planning involves starting with activities and the ideas that flow from them before assigning learning objectives (John, 2006). Although lacking detail in terms of pedagogical requirements and consideration, this model does resonate with Perkins, Tishman, Ritchart, Donis and Andrade’s (2000) notion of ‘learning in the wild’, when learning settings are recognized as ‘messy and complex’ (Carr, 2008: 36). Perkins and Saloman (1992) argue for the need for learners to experience more ‘natural’ learning environments, with teachers’ planning procedures supporting this notion.
Within a creative or problem-solving learning space – for example, in a Technology education context – ‘wicked problems or tasks’ (Rittel and Webber, 1973) can be set. These are described as ‘problems of deciding what is better when the situation is ambiguous at best’ (Marback, 2009: 399), and support the ‘naturalistic’ model, as wicked problems are not solvable. These problems are contingent problems of deciding what to do. They require continual evolution and, as such, are based upon the continual morphing of ideas and idea development, through a problem- solving process (Kimbell, Saxton and Miller, 2000). Such a ‘naturalistic’ model requires teachers to plan and create realistic design scenarios in order for students to learn the authentic nature of design activity, thus allowing students to experience environments where experimentation and exploration are dominant approaches.
The ‘interactional method’ of planning, another alternative to the dominant model, stresses the interactive nature of learning and, therefore, learning objectives (Brady, 1995; Bell and Lofoe,1998). Whilst the ‘interaction’ model specifies the same design elements as the linear objectives model, the ‘interactional method’ planning process can begin with any of the elements. Based on this model, all curriculum elements interact with each other throughout the design/planning process and, therefore, the design of one element will influence and possibly change the design decisions for other elements. For example, method might be specified first, but altered later as a result of an assessment decision. From a practical perspective, this model makes it possible to specify learning objectives after all other elements have been decided (Bell and Lefoe, 1998).
The ‘articulated curriculum’ (Hussey and Smith, 2003: 360) provides a similar approach to the ‘interactional model’, where the respective elements exist in a state of mutual interaction and influence. Alexander (2000) compares this ‘articulated curriculum’ approach to planning to the structure of a musical performance, where the composition is analogous to the lesson plan, and the performance shifts according to interpretation and improvisation. This ‘responsive’ approach to planning requires the teacher to be vigilant of the learning progression within the class and respond accordingly, and is synonymous with the formative assessment principles of ‘feedback’ (Ramaprasad, 1983). Biggs’s (1999) notion of constructive alignment also supports this way of approaching planning for teaching and learning.
To allow students to develop creative, risk-taking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, we as educators need to provide authentic opportunities for students to develop such skills. By using different approaches to planning, teaching and learning, a greater range of ideas are produced and consequently new and innovative teaching and learning environments are potentially developed. Arguably by generating a creative input into the initial stages of the teaching-learning process, we are more likely to not only produce a creative output, but maintain creativity and innovation throughout the process. I believe it is important for pre-service teachers to have the opportunity to explore different approaches to planning, to develop their own approaches and styles, and to identify planning approaches that support the nature of the subject being taught.
Alexander, R. (2000). Culture and Pedagogy. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Bell, M., and Lofoe, G. (1998). Curriculum Design for Flexible Delivery- Massaging the Model. In R. Corderoy (ed), Flexibility: The Next Wave. Wollongong, Australia: Australian Society for Computers in Tertiary Education.
Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.
Brady, L. (1995). Curriculum Development. Australia: Prentice Hall.
Carr, M. (2008). Can assessment unlock and open the doors to resourcefulness and agency? In S. Swaffield (ed.), Unlocking Assessment, 36-54, Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
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John, P. (2006). Lesson planning and the student teacher: re-thinking the dominant model. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 38 (4), 483-498.
Hussey, T., and Smith, P. (2003). The Uses of Learning Outcomes. Teaching in Higher Education, 8 (3), 357-368.
Kimbell, R., Saxton, J., and Miller, S. (2000). Distinctive Skills and Implicit Practices. In J. Eggleston (ed.), Teaching and Learning Design and Technology, 116-133. UK: Continuum.
Marback, R. (2009). Embracing Wicked Problems: The Turn to Design in Composition Studies. National Council of Teachers of English, 61 (2).
Parkay, F. W., and Hass, G. (2000). Curriculum Planning. (7th, Ed.) Needham Heights, MA, USA: Allyn and Bacon.
Perkins, D. N., and Salomon, G. (1992). Transfer of learning. International Encyclopedia of Education, Second Edition. Oxford, UK. Pergamon Press. [online]. Available at: http://www.cdtl.nus.edu.sg/Ideas/iot18.htm [Accessed on 31 March, 2013]
Perkins, D., Tishman, S., Ritchart, R., Donis, K., and Andrade, A. (2000). ‘Intelligence in the wild: a dispositional view of intellectual traits’. Educational Psychology Review, 12 (3), 269-93.
Ramaprasad, A. (1983). On the definition of feedback. Behavioural Science, 28, 4-13.
Rittel, H. J., and Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in General Theory of Planning. Policy Sciences, 4, 155-169.
Snape, P. (2013). Quality Learning for Technology Education: An Effective Approach to Target Achievement and Deeper Learning. PATT conference, 137-145. Canterbury: University of Canterbury.
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Dr Mary Southall is currently the Curriculum Advisor for the School of Education, having worked in the UK as an independent education consultant for over ten years. Prior to this, she worked as a design and technology teacher in a range of school contexts and was involved in the development of the National Strategies embedded in all secondary schools in England and Wales.