Week 12 – Product Review – Digital Native Learning Curve

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    • #2579
      Shannon Franzway

      According to Prensky, I’m a digital immigrant and I have a couple of digital natives in my house. So whilst they have been surrounded by ubiquitous technology since birth, they don’t acquire their digital literacy skills via osmosis – they still need to learn the skills from somewhere. Despite having at least two smartphones, two laptops and various other pieces of technology in the house, I quite like the idea of visiting the local library to clock up some digital literacy hours. Or maybe I just like to keep a couple of things in the house without fingerprints all over them. Fortunately, our local library offers computers that have been designed with pre-schoolers in mind.

      What do they look like?

      Funnily enough, big and small, at the same time.
      children's access computer terminalchildren's coomputer terminal

      Designed specifically for the pre school to early primary age group (roughly age 2 to age 7), the desk and chair height, in the words of Goldilocks, is “just right”. The keyboard has over-sized keys, good for chubby little fingers with unrefined motor skills. They’re also pretty sturdy – I suspect they might put up with being dropped a few times and also any over-enthusiastic button pushing. There is also a mini mouse to fit their mini palm (slightly awkward for parent-sized hands, just quietly). The touchscreens are surprisingly large – a pre-schooler needs to stand up to reach towards the top of the screen – and allow the pint-sized user to alternate freely between input methods.

      Each terminal is set to commence at a portal page only which offers all the children’s activities available on one screen – these are the only terminals in the library with access to the specific children’s portal. The user can choose from the following portal categories: Language, Learning, Reading, Games and Websites. Within each of these there are myriad videos, interactive stories, games and puzzles – enough variety to maintain even the smallest attention span.

      No login is required which makes it easy for someone to get started – the age of the children implies that parental supervision and therefore, consent is a given. But, as discussed on Twitter this week, it’s not always the case. The lack of login sets them apart from all the other computers in the library which require login with library member details and users under the age of 18 must have express consent from parents. But, as only the children’s portal can be accessed, there is no issue regarding accessing inappropriate content, it’s more about whether a parent wishes their child to be able to start a computer game (albeit educational) without their knowledge or permission if they happen to be stopping a sibling from singlehandedly dismantling the neatly shelved children’s book section or simply trying to eat the merchandise.

      What’s good about them?

      We’re all familiar with the QWERTY keyboard but it’s pretty awkward to get the hang of it in the first place. Peck acknowledges that many kids’ computer games can give a child keyboarding skills, so it’s a relevant skill to practice.

      Secondly, it’s all about access. Peck supports the creation of a library that is as comfortable and accessible as possible, to people of all ages, so that we create lifelong library users.

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    • #2591
      Sarah Ross

      I love the idea of the idea of the chubby little fingers friendly computers – and wonder whether it might be more friendly for seniors as well ;).

      Having just sat on the little chairs I can confirm they are perfect for small people and I think the idea of keeping sticky fingerprints of everything … cool. I really liked that the local library had computers set up for children in what looked like a safe environment.



      • #2633
        Shannon Franzway

        Thanks Sarah – good point on the big keys for the elderly.  I used to do work for a retirement village and they had special phones for the elderly residents with large buttons and numbers so it was easier for those with visual or physical disabilities – definitely same goes for tech. They could also very easily be an access tool for young people with disabilities to have a certain level of digital literacy.

    • #2605
      Stacey Larner

      Wasn’t it Goldilocks who said “just right”? I’m confused! Haha.

      It’s great the library has put thought into the design of the tech for kids. I had a laugh at “if they happen to be stopping a sibling from singlehandedly dismantling the neatly shelved children’s book section or simply trying to eat the merchandise.” because yes, I can relate to that!

      • #2632
        Shannon Franzway

        Oh my goodness, Stacey – you are right!  I completely made a mess of a classic cultural reference 🙂  I’ll edit that one before marking.

    • #2635
      Luke Mysliwy

      Great post Shannon, I had not heard of the terms ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’ before. It’s amazing to watch how quickly and instinctively children grasp technology, but they do still have to be taught how to use it and also important to teach them to have critical filters when consuming technology. Speaking of the QWERTY keyboard and also mouse skills I have noticed elderly people seem to enjoy using ipads and tablets more than desk-tops and laptops. would be interesting to see what devices are produced with the older demographic in mind. Entertainment in nursing homes a few decades down the track could be very interesting once digital immigrants start living there!

    • #2712
      Saurav Khadka

      Nice post Shannon, especially I liked the concept of library to have kid’s friendly computer for them to use and learn, it’s true that the normal keyboard and normal-sized mouse may be pretty annoying for children to use. Furthermore, the idea of login system is great, as you said it will prevent them to have access to inappropriate contents. As per the screenshot shown by you, it seems they have very limited computers as such, is it? Or do they have higher number of those computers in that library?

      • #2718
        Shannon Franzway

        Hi Saurav, there’s 4 computers at the library.  It can get busy on school holidays but generally speaking there’s usually one available.  Or, if not, it’s not a bad lesson for kids to learn to wait a little bit!!!

    • #2719
      Shannon Franzway


    • #2788
      hanan albishri

      Great post Shannon .. I like your idea especially for kids.Thanks 🙂

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