Can Children Learn on Digital Devices? That’s the Wrong Question

From the Book Business post:

“One of the issues that troubles parents and educators alike is the question of whether children can learn to read on digital devices, or if they need to read good old-fashioned books in order to become literate. Many people have strong views on both sides of this issue, but the relevant research is inconclusive.

Along comes an expert who says that the people who worry about this are asking the wrong question. “It’s a stale conversation,” says Michael Levine, founding executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, the people who brought us Sesame Street. “Screen time is not the issue.”


Game Developer Barbie Can Actually Code

From the Slate article:

“Game Developer Barbie is wearing jeans, sensible shoes, and a T-shirt that is both nerdy and kind of cute. (I think it could be translated as “control-alt-ponytail.”) She has a laptop that is laptop-colored, because women can actually use tech products that aren’t pink. There are no pictures of Ken or fashion magazines around her workspace, just coffee, headphones, flowcharts—not to mention actual programming books (C++ and C#) and action figures (He-Man!). She still likes some pink, of course; this is Barbie, and there’s nothing wrong with pink.

Perhaps most striking, Barbie can actually code. With some help from my colleagues as well as the Twitter hive mind, we were able to just barely make out the code on Barbie’s laptop. The interface appears to be Alice, an educational programming environment, and the code it’s outputting is ActionScript (or maybe Haxe). Basically, she seems to be making a Bejeweled clone in Flash. And whatever you think about that choice, it’s a huge step up from Computer Engineer Barbie’s laptop showing nothing but ones and zeros.”

Parents are Worried the Amazon Echo is Conditioning Their Kids to be Rude

From this thought-provoking piece on

“Alexa will put up with just about anything. She has a remarkable tolerance for annoying behavior, and she certainly doesn’t care if you forget your please and thank yous.  But while artificial intelligence technology can blow past such indignities, parents are still irked by their kids’ poor manners when interacting with Alexa, the assistant that lives inside the Amazon Echo.”

New Apps Teach Kids about Their Health

Boston University Alum creates smartphone games that help kids manage their asthma, allergies. (ED not: Tablettoddlers teaches Communications at BU).

Check out this post for more.

“Asthma—a chronic disease that causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing—affects approximately one in 10 kids in the United States, and that number is on the rise. The disease is the number one cause of pediatric emergency room visits in the country, and children with asthma missed more than 10 million days of school last year. But a 2008 study found that fewer than half of American adults and children with asthma were taught how to avoid triggers for the disease, underscoring the need for better education.

Now, Boston-based app development company Wizdy, cofounded by Nikita Virani (Questrom’14), has created a game for iPhones and Androids called Wizdy Pets that secretly educates kids about how to manage their asthma symptoms, as well as how to identify the warning signs of an impending attack. Virani and her team just completed a semester fine-tuning the app at Harvard University’s iLab.”