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Friday, July 10, 2009

all opinions all the time aided by technology

I read an article the other day about a 3 year old child talking on a cell phone and infuriating the doctor he was going to see by walking right past him while talking. The writer of this article was asking for people to express their opinions about it.

We live in a world where all opinions are equally valid and must be expressed.We also live in a world where children must all have cell phones and will imitate their parents who likely treat their phone call as more important than the people they are having dinner with. This is the technological world we have created. I am all for new technology of course, but at some point we need to ask software companies to start creating intelligent applications for that technology.If kids are going to play with electronic gadgets at dinner, could we at least make the software on them something that opens their minds in some way? When we build e-learning software could we try to make it better than school and not worse? When we report news constantly could we be done with Michael Jackson in something less than all day every day for weeks in every country in the world?

The fault is, of course, due to Google and Microsoft. They have plenty of smart software people whose main intention, it seems, is to beat the hell out their competitors. How about harnessing their abilities to help education?

We are heading for a time when no one talks to anyone except via technology any more. This wouldn't be so awful if they had anything of interest to say. Everyone expresses their opinion all the time. No one gets any smarter as a result. (Me too.)


Dan said...

au contraire!:

Tanya said...

My nearly-3 year old son is just starting kindy in Hong Kong, and I've put him in the Cantonese stream. My husband and I speak very little Cantonese (he's English-educated Korean and I'm Australian). But I decided 'this is the year' for me to learn Cantonese too, and be my son's learning partner. (I'm an ESL/EFL teacher). Actually, I started off teaching him, two months ago, now i really need to keep up.

Point: Since he started kindy last week, he won't put down my iPhone, but he no longer plays 'Monkeyball', he's using it as student-controlled learning resource. The touch screen puts it entirely in his control. I've loaded on some kid-targeted animated character 'flash cards', some adult resources, and some multi lingual piture books (he can select the story in english, spanish or cantonese). I can't find any video, but i'll make some.

It's so empowering for him that i'm going to go buy him an ipod touch (so i can get my phone back).

I love watching him. He'll play the same card 5 times, then flip through the rest. He'll run the story in English then in Cantonese twice. He'll go backwards through the story for a while then forwards again. He knows what he's doing, what he's selecting. Unlike with adult-controlled interactions, he can select topics, demand repetition, move one when he's had enough.

It's hard to find Cantonese stuff, most resources are for Putonghua, I've started hassling developers.

I keep catching myself feeling suspicious, he's 'playing a computer game', am i a bad mother? No one else is doing this. Will he go blind? But then I watch what he's doing, and it makes total sense to me as a language learner and a teacher. So I just keep being his partner, and we see what we can find.