Hey! I Want to Do That Too! Gaming and the Elementary Age Child

Slides should be appearing soon on the ALSC wiki

My bookmarks from the session are online at http://del.icio.us/informationgoddess29/heyiwanttodothattoo

This Sunday afternoon session began with Smart Moves as people filed into the room. Smart Moves is a non-interactive DVD from Fablevision, that contains a series of body puzzles designed to strengthen the corpus callosum, the connection between our right and left brains.

The ALSC ChildTech committee put together a mini poster session to highlights successful children’s tech programs. The Showcase of Success is also online at http://wikis.ala.org/alsc/index.php/ALSC_ChildTech_Wiki

“Until you’ve tried it you don’t understand.”
~Dr. Warren Buckleitner, founder of the MediaTech foundation & editor of Children’s Technology Review journal

Buckleitner’s presentation focused on the story of Mediatech at the Flemington Free Public Library, NJ, where is a trustee, and present and future of children’s technology.  He encouraged us to consider media in two ways:

  1. Interactive media (IM) , which includes videogames, toys, handheld devices, interactive DVDs, MP3s, and electronic learning aids — the hardware doesn’t matter; focus on the behavior (interactive)
  2. Linear media: Linear DVDs, books, etc.

Buckleitner imagined a school where kids want to come, where the teacher is the senior or teen, where the text is the Internet, where the bus = a bicycle. This is the vision for MediaTech at the library – a tech and gaming lab with 700 registered members that averages 22 visitors a day. Incidentally, MediaTech is not just for kids. There are developmentally appropriate things for each age range. MediaTech is open 1-5 T Thursday & Friday, 1-9 Monday – Wednesday and 11-1 on Saturday.

What would (Ben) Franklin do, in 2008? What kind of library would he build? Don’t forget that access to games & tech is like a digital divide.

Start a Mediatech in YOUR town! get a CPA, get an attorney, get the schools on board. But, embrace the uniqueness of your town. Don’t fight if you can’t win. The library provides basics, but MediaTech expands library offerings, with unique resources.

Mediatech has three types of social interactions: an opening meeting room, a cross-shaped set of computers where all monitors face the same direction, for individual or group use, that also face a projector & screen to enable classes and lecture hall style. iChat & video camera makes it a smart classroom.

People in the community came out to help build and teach. It’s a way to showcase local talents and interests. Services were donated from a lawyer and accountant. PCS donated from PC magazine, site became first WiFi spot in Hunterdon County. At first, kids did all of the custodial work but it was a disaster. Staff found ice water is a great bribe to get kids to help out. Kids make all the signage. Donors bought steps for $1000 each; one is still for sale. A Donation Jar and Suggestion Box are essential resources.

One activity is the Series Games Testers Club that meets weekly – they dissect gender, violence, the commercialism of a game circulating game collection. This is just like doing a book discussion group.

MediaTech owns 4000 game and software titles, all donated. There are no M or A/O rated games. The collection is being cataloged by the library and will be shared with other libraries in the county. Kids play games online (FunBrain , Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean) and on consoles (Rock Band! \m/)

The filter is being able to see all the monitors; duct tape is a great theft deterrent. So is a (fake) webcam that is “recording everything they do.”

Buckleitner advised that we “make it inconvenient to steal!” Build a sense of ownership – kids will take care of it. A daily inventory keeps stock of all items. Everything is labeled and outlined, so it’s easy to see at a glance when something is not in its place. A receptionist records who comes & goes. Members have to be registered members. When items go missing, every parent gets a phone call. Items get returned. All software is labeled MediaTech. Security locks are also an option.

Noise can be an issue, even with MediaTech on the second floor. Headphones help; kids self-regulate volume very well.

There are no time limits – the kids work it out – staff training on child management is provided. The “go outside & cool down” approach is often a workable solution).

Lessons Learned:

  • you’ll laugh and cry
  • If you build it they will come
  • it belongs to all
  • never say no
  • everyone has a crisis at one point or another
  • someone always needs help
  • ask for help
  • be an asset, not competition
  • needs the most help at first
  • Listen to your gut and trust your instincts

Don’t just link to game sites! Have things for kids to create on every computer. “Get kids off addictinggames.com” said Buckleitner. Instead, look for games and software that encourage socialization, expand skills and knowledge and offer multiple challenge levels.

Some Recommended Software:

  • Scratch, game design software
  • Google Earth, 3-D maps
  • Animationish, doodle pad & flipbook software
  • iMovie, movie creation & editing software
  • Garage Band, music & podcast creation software
  • PBS Kids, games & interactive media
  • Other bookmarks to good websites
  • Hook up a musical keyboard or microscope with a USB port to one computer for kids to play with

Consumer Reports WebWatch: Kids Online

The Case for Rock Band:

  • Quality time
  • Multigenerational
  • Teamwork
  • Reading
  • Biofeedback – pitch
  • Report card style feedback – serious skills needs improvement

Looking toward the future of children’s tech:

  • More Nintendo (Warren compared the DS = 1 laptop per child. Touch screen, Wifi Voice recognition, droppable…)
  • Bigger Interaction
  • More connectedness
  • More power per dollar
  • Sandisk MP3 recorder
  • Growth: from 2 platforms to 20 different platforms

Next, Buckleitner showed 87 things in 2 minutes! I wish this had been the focus of the session. Here is what I caught, as things that are notable (not necessarily good, but notable). I caught 25%:

  1. EyeClops, the bionic eye that plugs into your TV and magnifies the stuff you focus n up to 200 times
  2. Hyper Dash, an active game
  3. SingStar, a karaoke game for PS2 & PS3
  4. Kid Works, software to build creative writing skills
  5. Giggles, computer software for babies
  6. Plant Tycoon, a real-time gardening sim
  7. Lego Universe, a Lego MMOG
  8. Barbie Girls Club VIP a virtual world dedicated to the Barbie universe
  9. Disney Fairies create a fairy, play games
  10. Inspire Data, a data literacy tools that shows data visually
  11. Drawn to Life, a DS game where your drawings make the game
  12. Jam Sessions, a DS guitar simulator game
  13. Boogie game for Wii, PS2 & Nintendo DS
  14. Kidizoom Cam, a digital camera for kids that contains games on it
  15. Pusle Smartpen, a digital quill for taking notes
  16. Tango Desktop software
  17. Rock Band for Wii, PS2, PS3, & XBox360

Why Interactive Media?

  • You can fix your mistakes: undo, save, reverse features
  • Symbolic & abstract
  • Adaptable to level
  • Control, trial & error, empowerment
  • Supplements text
  • Opportunity to build a better mousetrap
  • Computer use is through the roof, but book circ is NOT decreasing

A great tip for librarians: there might be no way the powers that be will let you spend 10K on videogame equipment… call it interactive software & you’re in.

Circulation Issues

  • Saved content an issue – create a policy that the library is not responsible for saved games or personal data; take out of circ until you are ready to clean off content
  • All the disks get a label – permanent marker like a sharpie
  • Use the same security you do with CD or movies
  • Some will get scratched, you can buff it out, you’ll loose some

Two resources that I shared in the Q&A sessions:

Contact: warren@mediatech.org