The mind of a child is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled.
Children love new technology (I should know I have three children of my own), however many of us struggle to know how best to actively learn from children's skills and experience online, and how to support them and help them find the right "tech-life balance"
Through developing an international awards programme which rewarded young people who were developing outstanding online projects which benefited other people, I have seen just how powerful the positive use of technology can be in shaping children – both in terms of their own identity and self worth, - but also in terms of their opportunity to help others and develop their own learning resources.
Children learn by doing and much of the interactive opportunities afforded by the new social media require active responses (lean forward) which can lead to deeper learning than earlier media in which they were largely passive (lean back). However any benefit to children needs to be evaluated against the possible risks and dangers and children – especially those children who are already vulnerable offline - can be influenced by negative communication, the persuasions of others and easily get involved in anti-social behavior online.
The Stay Safe outcome of the UK Government's Every Child Matters strategy outlines a range of issues where children should be safe and free from harm, including; bullying and discrimination, anti-social behavior crime injury, violence, sexual exploitation neglect and maltreatment. Children can come across all these risks online so if we care about children we will care about children online.
I can offer the following services:
- Training sessions for children – both in primary schools and secondary schools on using the internet positively and how to avoid risk
- Work with a group of children to produce a short film about their skill or a key area of concern - see examples
- Helping to run reward incentive programmes and stimulate children to produce their own online learning resources.
- Running focus group or research clusters with children and young people.
- Judging children's awards programme (I've been a judge for 4 award schemes)
- Working with organizations to ensure that the voice of the child is heard and that young people are consulted in the development of new online services and resources.
- Working with children to think about how technology is developing and changing relationships and power.
- Linking schools up with professionals in other organizations – including Childnet – who can help and provide advice.
A slide from Stephen's presentation to students.
Examples of education resources produced for children and young people:
for 8 years I ran the Childnet academy which was an awards and training programme rewarding children for producing outstanding internet projects which benefited other children. Promoting quality online content in schools is a superb way of validating new technology skills, recognizing excellence, building self-esteem and confidence and raising standards. SMART adventure (primary schools)
I oversaw the production of this 3D animation with funding which I secured from Government Departments and which is now available to all schools across the country free of charge. Cyberbullying film and education resources
I wrote the tender which secured the contract from the Government's Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) to produce the guidance for schools on responding to and preventing Cyberbullying within schools. This work involved managing staff and working with colleagues in hiring experts, consulting a wide range of stakeholders, drafting the guidance, planning and running two national Cyberbullying Conferences and working with young people and production companies to develop an award- winning film which has now been rolled out across schools in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and translated into