The underlined words in “extreme
heatwaves” (line 13), “current pledges” (lines 14-
15), “polluting countries” (line 32) function
Clifford the Big Red Dog looks fabulous on an iPad. He sounds good, too — tap the screen and hear him pant as a blue truck roars into the frame. “Go, truck, go!” cheers the narrator. But does this count as story time? Or is it just screen time for babies? It is a question that parents, pediatricians and researchers are struggling to answer as children’s books, just like all the other ones, migrate to digital media.
For years, child development experts have advised parents to read to their children early and often, citing studies showing its linguistic, verbal and social benefits. In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised doctors to remind parents at every visit that they should read to their children from birth, prescribing books as enthusiastically as vaccines and vegetables.
On the other hand, the academy strongly recommends no screen time for children under 2, and less than two hours a day for older children.
At a time when reading increasingly means swiping pages on a device, and app stores are bursting with reading programs and learning games aimed at infants and preschoolers, which bit of guidance should parents heed?
The answer, researchers say, is not yet entirely clear. “We know how children learn to read,” said Kyle Snow, the applied research director at the National Association for the Education of Young Children. “But we don’t know how that process will be affected by digital technology.”
Part of the problem is the newness of the devices. Tablets and e-readers have not been in widespread use long enough for the sorts of extended studies that will reveal their effects on learning.
Dr. Pamela High, the pediatrician who wrote
the June policy for the pediatrics group, said
electronic books were intentionally not addressed.
“We tried to do a strongly evidence-based policy
statement on the issue of reading starting at a very
young age,” she said. “And there isn’t any data,
really, on e-books.”
But a handful of new studies suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development. “There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a book with your child,” Dr. High said. “You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an e-book.”
In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of the reason, they said, was that parents and children using an electronic device spent more time focusing on the device itself than on the story (a conclusion shared by at least two other studies).
“Parents were literally putting their hands over the kids’ hands and saying, ‘Wait, don’t press the button yet. Finish this up first,’ ” said Dr. Julia Parish-Morris, a developmental psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the lead author of the 2013 study that was conducted at Temple University. Parents who used conventional books were more likely to engage in what education researchers call “dialogic reading,” the sort of back-and-forth discussion of the story and its relation to the child’s life that research has shown are key to a child’s linguistic development.
Complicating matters is that fewer and fewer children’s e-books can strictly be described as books, say researchers. As technology evolves, publishers are adding bells and whistles that encourage detours. “What we’re really after in reading to our children is behavior that sparks a conversation,” said Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple and co-author of the 2013 study. “But if that book has things that disrupt the conversation, like a game plopped right in the middle of the story, then it’s not offering you the same advantages as an old-fashioned book.”
Of course, e-book publishers and app developers point to interactivity as an educational advantage, not a distraction. Many of those bells and whistles — Clifford’s bark, the sleepy narration of “Goodnight Moon,” the appearance of the word “ham” when a child taps the ham in the Green Eggs and Ham app — help the child pick up language, they say.
There is some evidence to bear out those claims, at least in relation to other technologies. A study by the University of Wisconsin in 2013 found that 2-year-olds learned words faster with an interactive app as opposed to one that required no action.
But when it comes to learning language, researchers say, no piece of technology can substitute for a live instructor — even if the child appears to be paying close attention.
Patricia K. Kuhl, a director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, led a study in 2003 that compared a group of 9-month-old babies who were addressed in Mandarin by a live instructor with a group addressed in Mandarin by an instructor on a DVD. Children in a third group were exposed only to English.
“The way the kids were staring at the screen, it seemed obvious they would learn better from the DVDs,” she said. But brain scans and language testing revealed that the DVD group “learned absolutely nothing,” Dr. Kuhl said. “Their brain measures looked just like the control group that had just been exposed to English.
The only group that learned was the live social interaction group.” In other words, “it’s being talked with, not being talked at,” that teaches children language, Dr. Hirsh-Pasek said.
Similarly, perhaps the biggest threat posed
by e-books that read themselves to children, or
engage them with games, is that they could lull
parents into abdicating their educational
responsibilities, said Mr. Snow of the National
Association for the Education of Young Children.
“There’s the possibility for e-books to become the TV babysitters of this generation,” he said. “We don’t want parents to say, ‘There’s no reason for me to sit here and turn pages and tell my child how to read the word, because my iPad can do it.’ ”
But parents may find it difficult to avoid resorting to tablets. Even literacy advocates say the guidelines can be hard to follow, and that allowing limited screen time is not high on the list of parental missteps. “You might have an infant and think you’re down with the A.A.P. guidelines, and you don’t want your baby in front of a screen, but then you have a grandparent on Skype,” Mr. Snow said. “Should you really be tearing yourself apart? Maybe it’s not the world’s worst thing.”
“The issue is when you’re in the other room and Skyping with the baby cause he likes it,” he said. Even if screen time is here to stay as a part of American childhood, good old-fashioned books seem unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Parents note that there is an emotional component to paper-andink storybooks that, so far, does not seem to extend to their electronic counterparts, however engaging.
From: www.nytimes.com, OCT. 11, 2014
The Future Of Work: 5 Important Ways Jobs
Will Change In The 4th Industrial Revolution
In questions, sentences from the text may have been modified/adapted to fit certain grammatical structures.
In the text, the function of the words
retooling, turning, training, consulting, and
stemming is respectively
The need to constantly adapt is the new reality for many workers, well beyond the information technology business. Car mechanics, librarians, doctors, Hollywood special effects designers — virtually everyone whose job is touched by computing — are being forced to find new, more efficient ways to learn as retooling becomes increasingly important not just to change careers, but simply to stay competitive on their chosen path.
Going back to school for months or years is not realistic for many workers, who are often left to figure out for themselves what new skills will make them more valuable, or just keep them from obsolescence. In their quest to occupy a useful niche, they are turning to bite-size instructional videos, peer-to-peer forums and virtual college courses.
Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at the London Business School, has coined a term for this necessity: “serial mastery.”
“You can’t expect that what you’ve become a master in will keep you valuable throughout the whole of your career, and you want to add to that the fact that most people are now going to be working into their 70s,” she said, adding that workers must try to choose specialties that cannot be outsourced or automated. “Being a generalist is, in my view, very unwise. Your major competitor is Wikipedia or Google.”
Businesses have responded by pouring more money into training, even in the current economic doldrums, according to several measures. They have experimented by paying employees to share their expertise in internal social networks, creating video games that teach and, human resources consultants say, enticing employees with tuition help even if they leave the company.
Individuals have also shouldered a lot of responsibility for their own upgrades. Lynda.com, which charges $25 a month for access to training videos on topics like the latest version of Photoshop, says its base of individual customers has been growing 42 percent a year since 2008. Online universities like Udacity and Coursera are on pace to double in size in a year, according to Josh Bersin of Bersin & Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in learning and talent management. The number of doctors participating in continuing education programs has more than doubled in the last decade, with the vast majority of the growth stemming from the increased popularity of Internet-based activities, according to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education in Chicago.
The struggle is not just to keep up, but to anticipate a future of rapid change. When the AshevilleBuncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina wanted to start a program for developing smartphone and tablet apps, the faculty had to consider the name carefully. “We had this title Mobile Applications, and then we realized that it may not be apps in two years, it may be something else,” said Pamela Silvers, the chairwoman of the business computer technologies department. “So we changed it to Mobile Development.”
As the metadata and digital archivist at Emory University, Elizabeth Russey Roke, 35, has had to keep up with evolving standards that help different databases share information, learn how to archive “born digital” materials, and use computers to bring literary and social connections among different collections to life. The bulk of her learning has been on the job, supplemented by the occasional course or videos on Lynda.com.
“For me, it’s easier to learn something in the classroom than it is on my own,” she said. “But I can’t exactly afford another three years of library school.”
Rapid change is a challenge for traditional universities; textbooks and even journals often lag too far behind the curve to be of help, said Kunal Mehta, a Ph.D. student in bioengineering at Stanford University. His field is so new, and changing so rapidly, he said, that there is little consensus on established practices or necessary skills. “It’s more difficult to know what we should learn,” he said. “We have advisers that we work with, but a lot of times they don’t know any better than us what’s going to happen in the future.”
Instead, Mr. Mehta, 26, spends a lot of time comparing notes with others in his field, just as many professionals turn to their peers to help them stay current. The International Automotive Technicians Network, where mechanics pay $15 a month to trade tips on repairs, has more than 75,000 active users today, up from 48,000 in 2006, said Scott Brown, the president.
In an economy where new, specialized knowledge is worth so much, it may seem anticompetitive to share expertise. But many professionals say they don’t see it that way.
“We’re scattered all over the country, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., so it never really bothered us that we were sharing the secrets of what we do,” said Bill Moss, whose repair shop in Warrenton, Va., specializes in European cars, and who is a frequent user of peer-to-peer forums.
Mr. Moss, 55, said technological advances and proprietary diagnostic tools had forced many garages to specialize. Ten years ago, if his business had hit a slow patch, he said, he would have been quicker to broaden his repertory. “I might have looked at other brands and said, ‘These cars aren’t so bad.’ That’s much harder to do now, based on technology and equipment requirements.” His training budget is about $4,000 a year for each repair technician.
Learning curves are not always driven by technology. Managers have to deal with different cultures, different time zones and different generations as well as changing attitudes. As medical director of the Reproductive Science Center of New England, Dr. Samuel C. Pang has used patient focus groups and sensitivity training to help the staff adjust to treating lesbian couples, gay male couples, and transgendered couples who want to have children. This has given the clinic a competitive advantage.
“We have had several male couples and lesbian couples come to our program from our competitors’ program because they said they didn’t feel comfortable there,” Dr. Pang said.
On top of that, he has to master constantly evolving technology. “The amount of information that I learned in medical school is minuscule,” he said, “compared to what is out there now.”