Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Growing Up Digital: the report

On May 8, 2008, Common Sense Media & the Joan Ganz Cooney Center released a study
conducted by Insight Research titled "Growing Up Digital: Adults Rate the Educational Potential of New Media and 21st Century Skills." The report is chock-full of information of interest to those who look for information to support the use of audiobooks in an educational setting. Unfortunately, the study targeted only four types of digital media: Internet, videogames, CD-Roms, and computer programs. I was amazed to see CD-Roms listed as an example of 21st-Century media - as a school librarian, I've removed all of our old CD-Rom-based programs from the library collection. They are as old-school to today's digital natives as laser discs. I wish that audiobooks had been included in the study. This is yet another example of The Mystery of the Missing Audiobook!

There is only one instance where audiobooks are mentioned. On page 9 of the report, we learn that in response to the question "In general, do you encourage, are neutral towards, or discourage this activity?" 6% of parents surveyed discourage their children from the activity "Read or listen to a book online."

On page 15 of the report, the study concludes "Teachers see the Internet, computer programs, and CD-Roms as having more educational potential than other forms of digital media, likely because they require kids to use their reading and writing skills." Of interest to those who promote the use of audiobooks in the classroom is this statement: "More than half of teachers see MP3 players as entertainment devices (54%) and feel they have no place in school (69%)."

The final recommendations of the report all clearly apply to the use of audiobooks as an educational tool:

• Policy-makers should support media education and the
integration of digital media into classrooms, a nationally
consolidated effort to fund research on the learning potential of
digital media, professional development for teachers as well as a
public awareness campaign for parents

• In addition, policy-makers in both the public and private sector
should create evidentiary standards to help make sense of
products marketed as “educational.”

• A national public awareness effort should be mounted to
help parents understand that the full range of 21st century skills
goes far beyond the traditional “3 R’s.”

• Research on the added value of digital media to teach both
traditional and 21st century skills needs to be conducted. We
also need to look at the critical role adults can play in guiding
learning for students who are at academic and social risk.

• The technology industry should create educational products
for digital media platforms– including the Internet, video games,
and cell phones– that help elementary and middle school age
children gain important 21st century skills.

• Schools should integrate digital media into classrooms in
order to engage and educate students as well as help them acquire
skills that allow them to create, collaborate, and communicate.
Training on how to maximize the use of educational technology
must be offered to teachers.

Let's hope that any follow-up studies include audiobooks as 21st-Century digital media!

Image from http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/

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