Tag Archives: 21st Century Literacy Skills

Highlights from Our Animation Festival

Here’s a re-post of the clips from our Animation Festival in New York last night. As per many of you requested, her’s the 16 world premieres and standing room only fest in NY! We could have run the city for days on their energy. You had to be there, but this is the next best thing. I am very proud. Another 200 kids are now film makers, stars, and distributors!

French Powerpointers Vs. American Powerpointers

I’m going to post on a visual topic without using visuals. Not good. But this is an anecdote from a dinner conversation I thought would be worth noting.

A friend who teaches entrepreneurship for a major university in New York City relayed the curious incident which follows. When he found out my passion is visual literacy for young people,  he was quick to point out his gladness that someone was teaching American kids to communicate visually, then gave his reasons why.

He teaches his entrepreneurship class to mostly French speaking students. Why this is I’m not sure. He notes the stark contrast in visual styles between the French powerpoint presentations, and the US student presentations.

When US students in the class fire up powerpoint, he says, it is the usual bullet-driven, too-small-font-laiden, no-design-beyond-templates visual drivel.

The French students, by contrast, rarely use powerpoint for their presentations. They use interactive-flash, quicktime wired, animation suffused, movie clip peppered, flip video staccato cut “experiences”. (his words)

This is how they (French students) come in from the start. This is the way they’ve been taught to communicate persuasively. I indicated they have been taught visual communication skills as part of their primary and secondary schools in Western Europe. By some estimates, they are 10 years ahead of the US in this respect. Additionally, they are having fun communicating. They feel the need to entertain as they inform.

The US students are trying to catch up.

Ever try to play catch up to someone in college when they have been perfecting their skills since 4th grade?

Seems the US is still not churning out the globally competitive communicators from our high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. A/V is still a nice extra, but not a core literacy competency.

Too bad. We need more global competitiveness these days, not less.

The Seven Dollar Laptop


Seven Billion Channels seem too distant? Check out this.

Is your child the next Mozart?

With the ease of technology as it approves on the net, the options of content creation has become one that is easily accessible by kids. Yes, you heard right, kids are making video and posting it on the web. Sites like YouTube are giving kids the opportunity to express themselves in ways that are now turning them from passive spectators to captains of there own internet destiny, giving them the opportunity to hone their multimedia skills and join the world that is thriving around them.

There are at least 2 million kids who surf the Internet on a daily basis and 9% of those children are between the ages of nine to twelve. This portion of users are also webmasters creating original content that is both entertaining and relevant to their world, but also significant to the web in general. With 33% of that particular demographic planning to launch their own websites, this number of technologically creative kids is going to increase dramatically. Software providers and multimedia site companies have sensed this wonderful trend and are making themselves available to assist in this explosion of experience and learning.

One facet of this impressive kid-generated content contribution is music that can be uploaded online and broadcast to the world, letting the internet experience the true talent of your composing child. This is the perfect time to take advantage of this technological opportunity and allow your child to flower their creative ideas. Why now? Well Mozart began composing his timeless and beautiful works at the age of five! Well we’re way past the age of the clavier but there are computer-based avenues of content creation that are available to you child that can give them the head start in the creative world and give them the satisfaction, experience, knowledge and confidence that will set them apart, allowing them to join society as socially aware and responsible internet citizens.

Fleximusic, a reputable software developing company has heard the call of kid generated composition and audio. They have provided a wonderful new product called ‘FlexiMusic Kids Composer to assist your child in creating their first symphony of fun. With FlexiMusic, your child can learn the fundamentals of music and grow on that experience by making their own compositions and recording the result in music files that can be easily uploaded and streaming from the Internet, allowing your child to musically express themselves to the world. This content can be shared with other children, creating a network of creativity hitherto unknown to the youthful population.

Now if you can learn how to podcast, the entire world can hear your child play. How would Mozart’s father have promoted his prodigy today?

He’d be all over podcast world, and he’d probably set up a membership site to develop a fan base who’d beg for his son’s newest composition, which they would get via his sites’ RSS feed.

Are you part of the new illiterate?

We, in america, overlook the fact that we may be illiterate by global communication standards? Have you ever met an adult who’d covered the fact of their own illiteracy for decades? Have you seen the movie Stanley and Iris? DeNiro plays an illierate who’s love interest teaches him how to read. I remember seeing this and thinking, “How did this person get by? Not able to read a newspaper, a government form, or basic directions for product assembly. Not even a bedtime story for the kids?” Check out these statistics. Evidently this is a massive problem.


Yet…people can function in a limited way for years.

I was raised by a reading consultant. I’ve created software programs geared to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. I’ve written over 35 early reading books for k-3 learners. I have a modest clue about literacy. Which is why I think you’ll find the following provocative:

You may be illiterate by today’s globally competitive communication standards. This is not a post about the failing school system, or the lack of parenting involvement in teaching our children to read, or adult literacy, at least in the traditional sense.

Media literacy is the new gold standard of sharing and communicating. It does not replace traditional reading/writing, speaking/listening but according to a survey conducted by the Canada Media Awareness Network 2006 students are downloading television, movies and music, instant messaging, enjoy popular websites like Wikipedia, use webcams, video cameras, digital cameras, and cell phones for communications, and have a larger educational video library in iTunes and on their iPod than most school libraries. This generation of learners is defining what “being literate” is for the rest of us.

Have you thought of video as text? Can you read filmic text? More importantly, can you WRITE in this text? Do you know the language of film? With the camera as pencil, and the home computer editing station/sound studio as paper, can you write so others can understand?

This “literacy” is upon us. Are you Stanley?

Is your child the next Leno?

Web content has evolved over the years to provide Internet viewers with options of self-expression that are relevant, informative and entertaining. With the advent of streaming video, the internet has opened itself up to becoming a forum for children and parents alike to inform the world of issues that are important to them, while adding a dimension of entertainment that makes what they have to say attractive to a wider audience who will benefit from the information they have to share. The possible directions that your child can take are as limitless as their imagination.

Kid generated web content in the form of broadcasted media is becoming more and more prevalent, allowing kids to create a forum of idea exchange and world exploration not known before. Being able to visually define their experiences and share their views with a multitude of online denizens will give your child the opportunity to hone their creative skills, while growing their cognitive ability and enhancing their social skills. This is far better than watching your child atrophy in front of the computer playing that mindless and possibly violent video game that has no relevance to the real world around them.

There are many online sites that provide a place for the broadcast expression of ideas such as Disney, who recently launched a children’s program that solicits original content from their viewer base for possible play on future episodes or placement on their web site as original content. Other providers such as YouTube, Google and Yahoo give your child the opportunity to create their own T.V. show and broadcast it to the world for consumption and comment. These broadcast endeavors are providing these children a foundation for a future career in entertainment that might not have otherwise available ten years ago.

With this world of opportunity, your kids now possess the ability of creating their own kid-generated multimedia and providing others with like interests with laughter and enjoyment. The extent of their contact as previously illustrated is mind boggling as video content on YouTube can reach millions of viewers. This is a tremendous educational tool that can be used in both career and social development for your child.

Even if your child doesn’t grow up to be the next David Letterman, by opening this avenue of expression, you will be giving your child the opportunity to build a solid educational foundation and the necessary varied experience that will brighten their future prospects of employment.