Learning StumbleUpon

date: 2017-09-27
belief: likely
status: finished

I reflect on how kids at the shelter are using the public computer. I propose two moves towards digital literacy.

Experience at Shelter

I’ve noticed the kids weren’t actually playing computer games, but rather watching YouTube videos of other users playing. So, after having enough YouTube, I introduced 4 of the kids to StumbleUpon. We choose interest categories, including, namely, fashion (an immediate and nearly unianimous decision), drawing, New York, cooking, music, and pets.

I’m particularly proud we found:

With the hope from a positive experience branching out into the wider internet, I now have to goal to ween the kids off of YouTube and flash games.

A qualm against flash games: the kids can’t save. And, without a framework to save their progress, I am concerned that these little users will be discouraged (and numbed) by incessant advertising and random, instantly gratifying repetition based games (the highest offender of which is presently agar.io).

They’ll be stuck in window shopping mode if I can’t load some software onto that computer: wandering as flaneurs between engaging content and family-friendly site blockers. The impacts on working memory seem to be apparent: frequently broken concentration, a sense of overwhelming futility, and a disregard of personal agency in “making the computer work”.

Recommendation

When I was a 6th grader, I had installed LimeWire (to pirate the American Idiot album), Line Rider, and the N-game. And earlier, I had the Pokemon Saphire through Emerald as thick texts to follow along with and struggle against and build something out of. (But did I not miss out on Oblivion? the Legend of Zelda?)

How can I create license for the kids here? How can I usher the kids into digital literacy (beyond button mashing)?

  1. I can suggest flash games that allow a user to create their own space. For me, two such games (both allowed a user to save their progress) were

    • Junkbot Undercover (which is no longer on lego.com) and
    • Motherload (produced by XGen, of which I had pirated the Goldium edition)
  2. Also, I can push the kids to browse other sites (i.e., isn’t there another site outside of YouTube you’d like to visit?) and make referrals to “quality” flash games (as I define them). I might be able to usher the kids into digital literacy (beyond button mashing).