We caught up with Ken Denmead, the editor of Wired Magazine's Geek Dad, a blog aimed at parents who love all things geeky, to get his take on early education.
Me: Do you think technology has a role in early education?
Ken: Absolutely! The first thing to remember is that technology - any technology - is just a tool. Heck, a white board is technology! But if we're talking computers or Leap Frogs or other kid-focused devices, they all have a role. Obviously the people behind the technology, from the programmers and content creators, to the teachers and parents implementing the technology in the learning environment have to do so sensibly, but anything that helps engage kids and open up their imagination much be used.
Me: How do you and your kids use technology together?
Ken: For the most part, we game together. However, my boys do have access to their own computer with a (guarded) internet connection, and regularly use it for research and drafting papers. This year, my older boy is going into 6th grade, and we've purchase a LiveScribe pen for him. We're looking forwards to seeing how well he can integrate it into his studies. What's been impressive is how quickly they've adapted to using it for reports and incidental things, like making cards for birthdays and such. Bless the Mac OS!
Me: What is your opinion of the educational technology (hardware and software) for young kids you've come across? What's the best thing you've seen?
Ken: Depends upon where you're going with "young." My wife teaches 4th grade, and is exploring using a "digital white board," - basically a device that works in conjunction with an LCD projector to turn the projected image into an interactive touch-screen. Special educational software devised for the available models makes giving lessons and having students interact with them quite amazing.
Me: What's your Jerry Springer Final Thought on the subject of technology and early childhood development?
Ken: The value of technology is what you can do with it out of the box. Well-designed devices and software can always be ruined by poor implementation, so they truly need curricula and users' guides that make them as easy as possible to put into functional use.
If you're a geek parent you can find a treasure trove of insights and discoveries at the Geek Dad Blog, part of the Wired Magazine family.