Shouldn’t we know how kids are using technology if we want to reach them? If we can understand how they interact with and learn from technology, couldn’t we design better ways to teach them?
We’re not training kids to work in a factory, we’re educating them to be citizens of the 21st century. For a 2 ½ minute, entertaining illustration, see Education Today and Tomorrow. That's also to show that Youtube does have educational value. In fact there is a group just for educators: http://www.youtube.com/group/K12.
With prepping kids for the 21st century in mind, this newsletter is focusing on three aspects of kids using technology.
First, Guy Kawasaki (venture capitalist and former “Chief Evangelist” at Apple Computer) interviewed 6 kids/young adults between 15 and 24 years old. Some interesting take-aways from the panel:
- The cell phone is king. Panelists send over 1,000 text messages a month (one sent 4,000 in one month). They rarely use land lines. They’d ideally like to use their phones for music and the Internet as well if the cost could come down. While they all have cameras on their phones, the cameras are not used. They use messaging to communicate with friends, email to communicate with adults.
- A prime use of the computer is social networking. They all have either MySpace or Facebook pages, or both. Rivalries are not over who has the most “friends” on the sites, but whether they are listed as one of the top 8 friends.
- None of the females do gaming. Two of the three guys play games, but they are not interested in individual games, they find the multi-user games much more interesting, chatting with other players while playing. While they have Xbox 360’s (not Playstations), they rarely use them.
- They discount any information people tell them about predators online. It's not a concern.
- They mostly purchase online, especially for items over $20. They believe they can find better deals online and it’s more convenient. If they are not sure what to buy, they might go to a store to look over models, but they’ll usually end up buying online.
- They all have iPods, and said that they see no reason to change, unless a device could include music, phone, messaging, and Internet. They buy 5 to 40 songs a month from iTunes, but have thousands of songs, presumably by “sharing” CD’s among friends. in fact, they've figured out how to get songs from Yahoo music onto their iPods, bypassing digital rights management.
- They only watch between 2 and 5 hours of television a week. What they watch, they watch on TIVO so they do not have to watch commercials and so they can watch on their schedule. In fact, one of the features they like best about Firefox over Internet Explorer is the ease of blocking popups and banner ads.
- They do read magazines (us, People, Wired) and they do look at advertisements sometimes in magazines.
- When they have a research assignment for school, their first stop is Wikipedia. They are aware that Wikipedia has errors, but that does not deter them from using it as a major source. Unless a teacher tells them it cannot be used for an assigment (something regarded as grossly unfair).
Second, at Simba Information’s Voyage to Achievement
Third, Computers for Youth is having it’s annual Family Software Award contest. CFY is a great organization that provides computers, Internet access, training, and support to at-risk kids and their families. The software award features middle school children using the software and then teaching a panel of educators how to use and learn from the programs. It's great to see kids that feel the education system passed them gaining confidence by having the teachers and software developers listen to their feedback. The contest is a great way for startups to user-test their software.