I haven't had much time to blog lately, due in no small part to all the exciting things that have been happening with the Kids DIY Media and Playing at Making projects. Last month, we held our first workshop, which in my humble opinion was a smashing success - a fantastic group of people participated, and shared with us their invaluable insight and thoughts on our preliminary findings, next steps and a number of the broader ethical/social issues involved when kids make and share content online. We've just released a Communique about the workshop, which I've reproduced below. Stay tuned for additional updates, as well as exciting news about an upcoming Playing at Making event soon!!!
10 March, 2014: The Kids DIY Media Partnership, a SSHRC-funded initiative housed at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information, is pleased to note that on February 4th, 2014, they hosted the first in a series of cross-sector workshops aimed at exploring emerging issues, opportunities and challenges associated with children’s increased participation in creating online content. We greatly appreciate the participation and feedback of all of our project partners and invited attendees for making this a deeply insightful and extremely valuable event.
The recent influx of online, do-it-yourself (DIY) media tools aimed at kids have allowed them to produce and share their ideas with the world and also develop many of the skills needed to be participants, innovators and leaders in the digital economy. Despite children’s growing participation as producers of online media, however, these activities have not yet been extensively researched or well understood. The Kids’ DIY Media Project, a cross-sector, cross-national research venture funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant program, addresses this gap through a multi-sited project led by Dr. Sara M. Grimes (Faculty of Information, University of Toronto) and Dr. Deborah A. Fields (Utah State University). Project partners include media producers, not-for-profit organizations and child advocacy groups from both Canada and the United States: Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, Common Sense Media, Toronto International Film Festival Inc., MediaSmarts, Gamercamp Jr., Storybird Inc., foundry10, Untold Entertainment Inc., and Zinc Roe Inc., as well as academic researchers from Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, Utah State University and the kidsmediacenter at Centennial College.
Last month’s workshop featured a preview of the findings from Stage 1 of the Kids’ DIY Media project research, which includes an in-depth content analysis of online tools used by children to make and share drawings, stories, games and other creations online. Workshop participants discussed the issues and questions these activities raise, including the ethical, legal and policy implications of children’s online production, as well as opportunities for literacy development and children’s cultural rights. Stakeholders discussed potential solutions and best practices to ensure inclusivity, and support children’s creativity, freedom of speech, and privacy online. The day-long workshop, which included presentations by the research team and break-out discussions, was designed to solicit feedback from project partners and other participants to guide and support the ongoing collection and analysis of data as the project unfolds over the next two years. Through research and additional workshops, the project aims to produce a set of best practices for developing kids’ DIY media tools and supporting kids’ DIY media practices.
“From the outset, our major goal for this project was to produce cutting edge research in a context that fostered dialogue and input from the various sectors and groups most directly involved in supporting the kids’ DIY media movement,” said Dr. Sara Grimes, professor at the Faculty of Information and Principal Investigator of the Kids DIY Media Project. “This first workshop got us off to a fantastic start. The discussions and feedback from the different participants provided invaluable insight into the present and future of kids’ media-making, and the special challenges that kids face in finding accessible tools and supportive venues for sharing their creations online.”
Over 30 stakeholders participated in the event, including project partners and other experts in children’s media production, broadcasting, advocacy and research. In addition to the project partners, other invited participants included: MakerKids, Mozilla Foundation, PlayCollective, GamingEdus, TVO Kids, PBS Kids Interactive, and researchers from York University, University of Pennsylvania, University of New Hampshire, Rutgers University, and University of Toronto.
Materials from the workshop, including presentations and summaries of discussions, will be available in the coming weeks on the project website at http://semaphore.utoronto.ca/diymedia/ . The findings from Stage 1 of the Kids DIY Media project research will be published later this year.