Thursday, 23 June 2011
Today (23rd June 2011) J K Rowling made an announcement that has made Harry Potter fans around the world very excited and has made KidsOKOnline (KOKO - the people behind the Kids and Media International Parents Network) very happy indeed.
We have been working with J K Rowling's development team in secret for over 2 years, and now at last, we can reveal the project that will change the face of publishing forever!
Pottermore, the new Harry Potter website was revealed today. It is a fantastic adventure that adults, teens and young children will just love!
The Harry Potter storyline will be brought to life with sumptuous illustrations and interactive ‘Moments’ through which you can navigate, starting with the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone. First you choose a magic username and begin your experience. As you move through the chapters, you can read and share exclusive new writing from J.K. Rowling, and, just as Harry joins Hogwarts, so can you. You visit Diagon Alley, get sorted into a house, cast spells and mix potions to help your house compete for the House Cup.
At a press conference at the Victoria and Albert Museum, J.K. Rowling revealed that Pottermore brings to life the Sorting Hat and Ollivanders experiences from the books for the first time. The Sorting Hat places newcomers into their Hogwarts houses according to their characteristics. The Wand Chooser finds the right wand for each user from over 33,000 possible combinations.
KOKO worked with J.K. Rowling's literary agents from the earliest conceptual stage to guide the site owners and their development teams to make sure that the finished site would be a safe and delightful and educative experience for children and young people.
KOKO advised on effective child protection systems and worked with digital agency TH_NK advising on the site activities and the user interface design. Pottermore is designed for a global audience, so KOKO researched and advised on international legal guidelines on child protection.
It has been a great honour and frankly, a real thrill, to work on this amazing ground-breaking project. We believe Pottermore is a delightfully stimulating, purposeful and creative environment where children and adults will safely enjoy a delightful and compelling experience.
Here's a sneak preview of some of the activities:
All aboard the Hogwarts Express
Into the Chessboard Chamber
Posted by Robert Hart Fletcher at 07:53
Monday, 16 May 2011
Your children can meet new online friends, have fun and learn a great deal from taking part in online Social Learning Networks. These are a new breed of social networks, restricted to real children and dedicated to helping their learning.
You need to know just 4 things to help your children get the very best from this exciting new educational development:
- What can my children do in Social Learning Networks?
- What can my children learn?
- How can I help to keep my children safe?
- Where can I find a safe Social Learning Network?
1. What can my children do in Social Learning Networks
Children can have fun sharing their interests and at the same time they learn all sorts of things. They learn personal skills that will help them now and in the adult lives and mostly they learn by doing. Here are the kinds of things they can do:
- Email friends – They can email their online friends and learn how to express themselves, carry on a conversation and build a relationship. They might also learn how to format their text and send email attachments.
- Home pages – They can build their own home pages about their interests – music, books, fashion, sport, TV, films, pets or school subjects. They try to write interesting stuff that other children will want to read. They learn how to use html codes, create and upload images, sounds and videos.
- Creative Writing – They could write articles and submit them to the editors for inclusion in the community magazines or clubs. They can even run their own online clubs, groups or online magazines on something that interests them and get other children to send them articles.
- Discussions – Take part in discussion forums on fun and important stuff, like daily news forums on what’s happening in the world, or perhaps a media forum about the latest books and films, or an animals forum about threatened wildlife.
- Competitions – They can enter competitions like Home Page of the Week or the Best Animal Photo competition.
- Awards – They can do online courses like How to Be Safe Online or How to use Multimedia on your Home Page and they can win awards to celebrate their achievements.
2. What can my children learn?
The most important thing children need to learn in any online community is how to be safe and in good Social Learning Networks this is a strong focus.
- How to be safe online – They learn how to look after their passwords, what they should or shouldn’t say in emails, what personal information it’s safe to give out and what to hold back.
- How to behave – They learn how to behave respectfully online, for example: no swearing, no bulling and no sex talk. Good online communities like good schools or clubs, create a friendly atmosphere and a positive, mutually respectful ethos and they have mediators who look after the children and make sure they all behave.
- How to understand others – Children make friends and work with others from all religious, cultural and economic backgrounds and every one is equal online!
- How to communicate – Communication is a really important skill for adult life and children learn how to communicate in different ways – in emails, in forums and on their home pages. They learn to communicate with different audiences of people.
- How to do – Children learn best by doing and in online communities they learn a host of useful IT skills like creating images, formatting text, using html codes on their home pages and a whole lot more.
- Every subject under the sun – In the forums, magazines and clubs children can learn about every school subject as well as making sense of what’s happening in the everyday world.
3. How can I help to keep my children safe?
In a good Social Learning Network your children will be safe, but you need to help them select a safe network. Before they join, you can ask a few important questions:
Who runs this community? Make sure the organization running the community is one you can trust and has a good reputation for child safety. Ask these questions:
- Do they publish their telephone number and address?
- Do they have a good track record of running online learning communities?
- Do they have any awards for child safety?
- Are they endorsed by people you trust – the government, child safety organizations
- Are they approved by your child’s school or other parents?
How are members validated? If just anyone can join a children’s community, then unauthorized adults could join and try to harm your children. So there must be a validation system to make sure applicants are real children of the right age. If pupils join through school the teacher can confirm they are genuine. If children join from home they should have their parents permission and the parent should be asked for full contact information that should be checked by the community organizers to make sure it’s reliable.
How is communication monitored? – All communications between all members of the community should be automatically scanned to stop people using bad language and to alert the mediator to anyone trying to insult, bully or find out personal information that could make a child vulnerable. Every word of every message should be recorded and saved so the mediators can check back on anything suspicious.
How are members looked after? – There should be trained human mediators online during the times when the children can communicate live - to keep them safe, to make sure they are behaving well and to help them with any questions. Make sure there is an emergency button your children can click if they see anything that worries them – it should send an urgent alert so the mediators pay attention to your child straight away.
How are parents and teachers informed? – The mediators should be able to contact teachers or parents if they have any concerns about a member, so make sure they ask for full contact details. Make sure there is a telephone helpline number and an email address you can contact if you have any worries.
After your children join – here are a few things you can do to keep them safe.
- Be on call - Make sure your contact details, like email address or phone number, are up to date so the mediators can call you if there is a problem.
- Be on hand - Encourage your children to use the computer in a room where you can keep an eye on them to make sure they are behaving well, keeping safe and they can turn to you for help.
- Be on guard - Don’t let other family members use your children’s passwords, because if they do anything outside the community rules – your child could be kicked out. So make sure others respect your children’s privacy, encourage your children to keep passwords safe (not lying around on a scrap of paper) and make sure they “log out” every time they leave the computer.
- Get help - If you have any worries – call the community helpline or email the mediators.
If your kids or teens use social networks, multi-user gaming sites, chat rooms. or instant messenger services you need to know they are behaving safely. That means not giving away any information that predators or bullies could use to hurt them.
I've been involved in running safe social learning networks for kids aged 6 to 16 for over 10 years. So I thought you might like to benefit from what we've learned from that.
Here's some simple tips for your kids on how to protect their identity and prevent bad people getting to them and causing them harm. These are things they should or shouldn't publish on their profile pages, or say in forums or emails to people they don't know in physical life.
Print the section below and discuss it with your kids. Do let me know if you find it helpful, and write to me to suggest how we improve it to help others keep their kids safe.
DO TELL or DON'T TELL?
The Internet is an amazing place to have fun and learn.But unfortunately there are some bad people on the Internet who want to hurt kids. So you need to PROTECT YOURSELF.
Think for yourself about what is OK to show or tell people on your profile, your home page, in forums and in emails. And think about what you should keep private.
What is OK to show or tell?
- Your first name only (never give your last name).
- Your age (but not your date of birth)
- The town or city where you live (but not your address)
- The number of people in your family (but not their full names)
- Your hobbies, favourite bands
- List your other friends in the network
- Pictures of your pets, places you go etc.
What is NOT SAFE to show or tell?
- Your passwords
- Your personal description (E.g: I have blue eyes, brown hair)
- Your surname or any middle names
- Names of people in your family
- Your street name, home address
- Your private email address
- Your mobile, cell phone or telephone number
- The places you go (E.g.: clubs or classes, or where you play)
- Your routes to or from school
- Any photos of you, your family or friends
- Any descriptions or pictures of your home
- Any descriptions or pictures of your belongings or valuables
- Too much information about what your parents do
THINK ABOUT WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF...
- If you show a picture of yourself, a bad person could recognise you and find you in the real world - at your school or in your street.
- If you say where you go swimming or play out, a bad person might follow you.
- If you give your name and address a bad person could find you and hurt you.
- If you give your phone or mobile number you might get calls from bad people!
- If you give your personal email address you could get junk emails and bad messages.
- If you told anone your password, they could get into your account nd find out all about you.
- They could spoil your profile or home pages.
- They could break the rules and get you thrown out, or they could pretend to be you and do nasty things to others.
- AND YOU WOULD GET THE BLAME!
- People you have met online only might not be who they say they are.
- Someone who says she is a 12 year old girl might be a 50 year old man!
- So NEVER arrange any face-to-face meetings with anyone you have met on-line unless your parents go with you.
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Here's another big breakthrough for translation.
WordLens is a new iPhone app that looks through the phone's camera at text, signs, shopfronts, menus and it translates instantly.
Get the free app from the iTunes Store and it shows what it can do by turning text backwards.
That's not too useful really, but if you pay, you can instantly translate text from Spanish to English. Now that would certainly help on your city break to Barcelona or Acapulco.
Quest Visual, the developers promise more European languages and then they'll tackle the rest of the world.
Does this mean that our grandchildren won't need to learn foreign languages? Possibly, but since most communication is through speech, we'd need an app that instantly translates spoken language.
Monday, 20 December 2010
You could travel across the 50 states of the United States of America and providing you could speak English and Spanish, you could converse with almost everyone in their native language.
If you tried to do the same in Europe, however, you would have to learn at least 23 official languages. While many Europeans use English as a common language for business, the variety of European languages has always been a barrier to inter-cultural understanding.
Now Google helps us to leap over the barrier with Google Translate.
It's simple. Copy a website address or even a chapter of a book, in say, English and drop it into the Google Translate box. Select from a drop down menu, the language of the original text and the language to want it translated to. Click the Translate button. In a couple of seconds your English is translated into pretty good Norwegian, Dutch, Spanish, German…
Take this English passage for example:
There is only one way for parents to keep up with children's use of technology. We have to be ready to learn from our children.
It translated accurately into Norwegian:
Det er bare én måte for foreldre å holde tritt med barns bruk av teknologi. Vi må være klar til å lære av våre barn.
Er is maar een manier voor ouders om gelijke tred te houden met kinderen het gebruik vantechnologie. We moeten bereid zijn te leren van onze kinderen.
Sólo hay una manera para que los padres mantenerse al día con el uso de los niños de la tecnología. Tenemos que estar dispuestos a aprender de nuestros hijos.
It was lost in translation in Japanese:
Parents, you have only one child to keep up with technology use. We are ready to learn from children.
And the meaning was reversed in Danish:
Der er kun en måde for forældrene at holde op med børns brug af teknologi. Vi skal være parate til at lære af vores børn.
There is only one way for parents to stop children's use of technology. We must be prepared to learn from our children.
It's not perfect, but we translated the KidsandMedia 50-page book Digital Barndom (Digital Childhood) from Danish to English in no time at all and although there were a few errors, We could understand it completely. We could also press the Listen button and Google would read it out for us!