Sunday, January 13, 2008

When kids create digital content

I spent some of my weekend at a meeting hosted by the Bureau of Instruction and Innovation within the Florida Department of Education. I always love going to these meetings because I get to connect with others who are passionate about students using technology and because I get to keep my pulse on where technology is going in the State.

Of course, there is also the Mommy Guilt of not being with my boys for part of the weekend and the messy house phenomenon to deal with when I get home. (Yep, you Moms know!!)

Nonetheless, a major topic of the meeting was the importance of getting students to create their own digital content (sometimes also called media assets). In fact, the DOE is currently processing grant proposals designed to support such creations and has some very forward thinking plans to help teachers support the process.

As I was listening to all the talk about the power of having students create digital content I kept thinking about how many Moms would interpret the phrase "student created digital content." It sounds a bit daunting. In fact, I bet it is daunting to more than a few professional educators too!!

Yet, it doesn't have to be complex and it can be FUN. So, I have decided to devote the next couple posts to examples of digital content created by my boys using free, simple web tools. (Of course, if you have looked at dates on my postings this may take me until summer to get done :)

But, Drew (4) and I created one this evening before he went to bed. We used a program called VoiceThread which is amazingly simple to use. It is basically a combination of a very simple online presentation tool and an audio discussion forum minus the threads.

Drew selected some pictures he wanted to tell a story about and then talked into the internal microphone of our computer to tell the story. Drew practiced his story once and then we recorded. Older children could write simple (or elaborate) scripts to narrate a story. They could even illustrate their story.

Interestingly, before every story I reminded Drew to start with "Danny and I" rather than "Me and Danny" but he got so excited to start talking that he forgot every time :) However, this is a still a great opportunity for Moms to talk with their children about proper grammar, story structure and elaboration. I didn't do much of this with Drew because of his age but the opportunities are there.

It is also a great opportunity for relatives and friends to communicate with a child. It is simple to create an account and comment. Go ahead, give it a try!! Drew would love to hear from you!! (If you want to comment you will need to access the presentation directly so you can create your account)


Ben said...

Hi KD - I hope you don't mind me commenting here, My name is Ben Papell and I am a Co Founder of I live in south Florida and I have to say, it's great to hear that a topic like, 'student created digital content' is finally getting the attention it deserves here at home. Enabling students to create, share and even collaborate with fellow students from all over the the world is so important. Equally important is making sure that technology becomes available to educators and their students.

Thanks so much for filling us in on your DOE meeting. Great stuff!


Ben Papell

P.S. I would love to get more details on the meeting if you have the time. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kara -

One more benefit is for us parents - I love little voices and evolving use of words, evident in every statement. What a great way to preserve the memory! I hope to try the tool with Katie and Mac!

Love the postings!

Mary said...

Hi Kara -
I have got to try this with Allison (almost 5) because she is quiet the talker and loves to tell stories.
I have been doing some technology activities with her, but not much that involves creation. I can't wait to get started.

Matthew said...

Found your blog via your Youtube account. I placed a video of my son at the ballpark and I saw the video of your boys at the ballpark. Glad I found your blog you are very informative and insightful. Technology is a big part of my life as well as my wife's, so our 4 children learn as well. Technology is a very important part of their lives. Thanks for posting and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

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Josh said...

I've recently opened up Ed.Voicethread to my 4th grade class. Suffice to say, they are LOVING it!