Crucial Thought Rss

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Chris selected as K12OnlineConference keynote speaker Each year the K12OnlineConference provides tremendous professional development for free, and entirely online. This year, they have selected me as one of their keynote speakers. I am thrilled to have been chosen and look forward to participating in the conversation. Read the full post announcing all the keynote speakers here.

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Two quick links on Cognitive Load Theory I've been fielding lots of questions lately about Cognitive Load Theory. Here are two quick links that may be useful. First is an article talking about the practical implications of CLT on the design of learning. The second are some "recent" (as of 2003) developments regarding CLT. Happy reading! Update: I clarified the second...

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Practical advice on kids and Android app development After hearing about my students' success developing an Android app, I've gotten several emails asking for more details as to how I practically worked with my kids. Here are some pointers that I offered to the first person that emailed me, perhaps they are of some use to you. Please note that your mileage may vary. It's ok to not be...

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Publishing an App Inventor app to the Android Market As I mentioned earlier, my students and I published an Android app to the Android Market. See those links for more information on the background. This post is decidedly technical. First, once we finished the coding process, we packaged the app for to download to the computer. This is an option in App Inventor. This downloaded an .apk file....

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Designing and publishing an Android app with kids This post is designed to provide some context around how/why we decided to build this app. The more technical details of the code and how we published it will come in a future post. My students and I recently completed and published an Android app, and here's how we did it. First, the genesis for this goes back to a question I asked...

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An iPod to a pre-kindergartner?

Category : General

Recently, I was asked to offer comments/ideas on a post by MagistraM. She gifted her newly 5 year-old daughter an iPod Nano. She specifically wants the device to be a source of learning for the child. I left her a fairly long comment, and I wanted to re-post it here for you to examine.

Here is my comment to her. I invite your thoughts.

I think I may be the lone dissenter here.

I think this is a question of attention and perception. Most children at that age do not have sufficient mental abilities (nor should they) to truly differentiate the two. That is to say, all too often, children at a young age do not know how to *not* follow all of the stimulus around them with their attention.

For example, you and I know how to ignore certain external stimuli, as well as distracting internal stimuli (i.e. thoughts) when we are concentrating on something else. Children do not. Often, attention and perception are not separate at such a young age. This is common, and not bad.

Children tend to learn this in the structured environment of school since school expects a child to not necessarily follow their attention everywhere it wants to go.

Also, I would argue that children at her age should be involved almost exclusively in imaginative play. It is in the context of re purposing everyday items into different items (i.e. the broom into a horse) that higher order cognitive abilities form at a young age. This is a crucial step that is often usurped by screen time.

Now I am terribly hypocritical of this, as I am working on a project and my girls are watching Dora. So I am not practicing what I preach as much as I ought, but nonetheless it is an arguable position.

So, is it bad to give her an iPod? No, not necessarily.

I guess the question becomes, it is a good thing?

I question that.

First, how much can she really learn at that age? Not a whole lot, I’d argue. The reason being, she does not have a sufficient set of cognitive schema through which to analyze new information. So, without a constructed lens through which to view new information, it will all seem a bit foreign.

Not only that, I suspect there isn’t much she *should* learn from an iPod at that age that she wouldn’t be better served by interacting with an adult.

Now, give her an iPod so she can listen to her music when she wants to? Sure.

But to give her an iPod because it is specifically a learning tool? Not so sure I buy that.

But then, it may just be me.


Comments (4)

Okay I disagree with your perspective and here is why…
An ipod (imhop) is simply a tool the developmental appropriate use is a question of content…
I am not sure a 5 year old with an ipod is any different than the little box phonograph I had as a young child…and all of the story, language lessons, and music appreciation records my parents bought me. they did not replace time with adults but I loved everyone of them and I learned a lot….I listened to a record called Spanish for children, a music series that introduced all of the instruments in the orchestra and countless storybooks….

Hi Barbara,

I don’t disagree at all. I do agree that it is dependent on content. The question I would ask you is whether your parents bought it for you for entertainment, or learning.

Certainly learning *can* result from an iPod, but the question remains if that is the central purpose of the device, perhaps the purpose needs to be rethought.


Thank you for helping me think this through. When you questioned the validity of the iPod as a learning tool for my 5 yr old, I realized that probably wasn’t really my goal. But as a suburban mom and teacher, for some reason I felt I had to justify this (perhaps extravagant) gift in the name of education. The issue is mine (and probably many other suburban parents’). Not every gift I give my girls needs to be educational. Sometimes the goal is entertainment and that is enough.

I feel an ipod for a 5 year old as a learning tool is too much. For music, maybe. She is a child, let her PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are pushing kids way too much! Where is the creativity in watching a screen? A sandbox is more appropriate for her, in my opinion.