LearnLog: 30 Million Word Gap and Why You Should Talk to Your Kids a Lot

From Support children’s learning by talking with them over a book

Almost two decades ago, in 1995, Hart & Risley published the results of a landmark study [1] that linked success in school at age nine to the amount of talk they hear from birth to age three.  The actual difference in the amount of words children hear is astonishing; successful children heard on average 8 million more words per year than their struggling peers, leading to what was termed the “30 million word gap” by the time they turn four.

I was just lucky to chance upon an SVForum Event in Santa Clara. A friend who runs the Digital SIG invited me. The talk was given by the founder of Kindoma. It was fascinating to listen to his journey.  Here are some highlights:

  • Kindoma is made up of two words German words-  Kind and Oma. Kind in German means “the kid” and Oma stands for grandma. Kindoma’s mission is to connects kids and their grandparents to benefit both.
  • One stat Tico (the founder of Kindoma) showed was that grand parents spend over 16B dollars for their grand kids.
  • Kindoma was a research project in Nokia and later became an independent company.
  • Tico explained how they went through research prototypes (two of them) and how they learned the behavior of families – kids, parents, grandparents and how they used their knowledge to build their products.
  • In US on an average grand parents are more than 200 miles away from their grand kids (and several thousands for many immigrant families).
  • The current mode of connection is phone or skype. Tico showed videos of actual interactions using each mode and discussed the issues with each one of them

Other Related Posts

Kindoma – a few slides

Games for Learning

From the Institute of Play On Games for Learning

Education in the early part of the twentieth century tended to focus on the acquisition of basic skills and content knowledge, like reading, writing, calculation, history or science. Many experts believe that success in the twenty-first century depends on education that treats higher order skills, like the ability to think, solve complex problems or interact critically through language and media.

Institute of Play makes a compelling case for games in education to build these higher order skills. It is an experiment worth trying in schools and colleges.

LinkLog: A for Apps

This is a learning trend to watch. Here is an article from Fast Company titled A for Apps.

When the Singer sisters were just 6 months old, they already preferred cell phones to almost any other toy, recalls their mom, Fiona Aboud Singer: “They loved to push the buttons and see it light up.” The girls knew most of the alphabet by 18 months and are now starting to read, partly thanks to an iPhone app called First Words, which lets them move tiles along the screen to spell c-o-w and d-o-g. They sing along with the Old MacDonald app too, where they can move a bug-eyed cartoon sheep or rooster inside a corral, and they borrow Mom’s tablet computer and photo-editing software for a 21st-century version of finger painting. “They just don’t have that barrier that technology is hard or that they can’t figure it out,” Singer says.

Gemma and Eliana belong to a generation that has never known a world without ubiquitous handheld and networked technology. American children now spend 7.5 hours a day absorbing and creating media — as much time as they spend in school.

LinkLog: Semantic Technologies in Higher Education

This is such an information rich podcast. I need to go back and listen to it again and enhance my notes. There are several parallel threads of thought that run through my mind as I listen. Here are a few.

1. How to approach an area for gradual, incremental improvement using Semantic technologies. Thanassis takes us step by step into how they started with research and went about understanding how to apply semantic technologies to Higher Ed.

2. A note about special semantic tools for higher ed and how they can come from existing tools like wikis, search, repositories, collaboration tools and infrastructure.

3. What are the challenges facing Higher Educatioin? Thanassis points out to a few. This report may contain more.

LinkLog: Japanese Envy India’s Schools

I was surprised to see this article in today’s New York Times.

Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine, the standard for young elementary students in Japan.

I do recall even about 40 years ago, we were encouraged to memorize multiplication tables up to 20 times 20 (though I never got beyond 12 by 12 and learned to mentally multiply to cope up with the rest).

Most annoying for many Japanese is that the aspects of Indian education they now praise are similar to those that once made Japan famous for its work ethic and discipline: learning more at an earlier age, an emphasis on memorization and cramming, and a focus on the basics, particularly in math and science.

It is strange that many Indians still think that the emphasis on memorization and cramming is not all that great.

India’s more demanding education standards are apparent at the Little Angels Kindergarten, and are its main selling point. Its 2-year-old pupils are taught to count to 20, 3-year-olds are introduced to computers, and 5-year-olds learn to multiply, solve math word problems and write one-page essays in English, tasks most Japanese schools do not teach until at least second grade.

In Tokyo, the two largest Indian schools, which teach kindergarten through junior high, mainly to Indian expatriates, received a sudden increase in inquiries from Japanese parents starting last year.

I do think that Indian children do a lot more earlier than American counterparts. I recall about 18 years ago when we moved to NY from Chennai, our kids having an easy time with English, Math and Science for the first couple of years.

It is a bit funny. I was enamored by the more practical approach of American schools vs the approach in Indian schools (my entire formal education took place in India). Now it looks as if Americans are trying to emulate Japanese style education and Japan is looking at the Indian style education model.