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Kids, News, and Video

Posted on Feb 13, 2013 in eLearning, Future of News | 0 comments

My 10-year-old daughter has become a blogger! (Kudos go to her teacher; I never thought to introduce her to blogging myself.) No, you won’t find her posts out in the blogosphere; they are safely contained behind But her class is engaged in a unit on blogging, and you can imagine that I’m delighted. One thing that struck me was how many of the kids in her class post videos on their blogs. Video sharing has become an integral part of the digital native’s world, and it’s remarkable how engaged children are with the medium. Hardly a day goes by that Sarah doesn’t show me a video she discovered from someone at school. At this age, kids are also getting more interested in news. I remember being introduced to current events by my 4th grade teacher. Could this be a teaching moment for the news industry? I was looking over the web properties owned by a potential client today, and I noticed that they contained comparatively little video, and that the news agency itself lacked their own YouTube channel. Now, when I was at we started with a heavy video element, but we eventually re-balanced the video against text, image, and interactives when we saw that our demographic wasn’t clicking video as much as we expected. I believe that every smart, forward-looking news agency has been looking at similar metrics. But we may be missing an opportunity. Think about it: the next generation of news consumers are already keenly engaged with online video. My daughter is a digital native. She thinks that NPR and The News Hour are boring. She won’t read newspapers. “They’re for grandpas” is a direct quote. No surprise, right? When I was her age I just read the comics section. But she’s curious about the greater world around her, and it’s time to introduce her to online news sources. She needs a site that is rich with video and images and focused on the types of stories kids are interested in, including stories involving local kids (sports, community programs, theater, music, and other events). News sites of course carry a lot of material that...

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Tablets, eBooks, and eLearning Make Middle School Less… Awkward

Posted on Feb 7, 2013 in eLearning, Future of eBooks | 0 comments

Last week I toured the middle school that my daughter will be attending next year. One thing that struck me was the school’s decision to issue every student an iPad at the start of the term, as a core teaching device. The operating system was slightly modified to restrict certain applications and features; students can’t download games–the general obsession with Minecraft comes to mind–and after some experimentation this year, they chose to disable messaging as well, due to the (one-could-have-guessed) distractions it causes. The staff at the school cited the weight and heft of textbooks as one factor in their decision to go with eBooks on the iPad. But the advantages I saw went far beyond the tablet as a lightweight alternative to a child lugging a crippling backpack. While observing students in their classrooms, I saw that they were adept not only at note-taking, but in switching applications rapidly and effectively, from reading to research to note-taking. And all of those tasks now embrace interactive multimedia, which makes learning not just more immersive and stimulating, but actually fun. I recall spending hours poring through the World Book Encyclopedia as a child. I don’t miss it; I’d rather use and support Wikipedia. During the tour I had the opportunity to sit down with a 5th grader who had just completed an assignment on her iPad, an extended and thoughtful blog post (“essay” for you old-timers) on “Was Cooking in the 1950’s Fun?” Not only was this bright young lady impressively articulate and engaged, she was eager to share with me the process she used for her research (searching online sources), drafting (first on paper!), and project management (Evernote, which I have now downloaded upon her thoughtful recommendation). Students and teachers admit that the ability to cross-reference and flip back and forth between pages, especially of multiple books, was often awkward. And some of the larger form-factor textbooks might be a bit squashed as compared to their print counterparts. But overall, the students were far more engaged with their eBooks, and increased engagement simply equates to more learning. The middle school’s iPad experiment for the 2012-13 school year has been...

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