Bridging the Digital Generation Gap
The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap.www.ConnectedFamily.com
"In the learning environment of the family, we are all learning from one another, all the time." Seymour Papert (October, 1996)
During October 1996, MIT Professor Seymour Papert toured the country talking with people about his new book, The Connected Family. The inspiration for the Connected Family concept and book came from the countless meetings Seymour had with parents during the 80's and early 90's, who questioned whether or not they should buy a computer for their young children and what the children should do with it at what ages, if at all. He then realized that what parents needed to know about computers is not really about computers, but about LEARNING. For the first time in the industry, a popular book with a companion Website about learning was developed and launched.
Papert's colleague, Dr. Harel, with her production team from MaMaMedia, designed and developed the comprehensive website (which was quite a challenge back then, to make it run on Netscape browser v.1.0). It was designed to explain in greater depth the book's key ideas, learning theory, suggested resources, activities, and bibliography. The website team also toured with Papert, who gave interactive demos of many of the ideas and learning projects that are featured in the book, using the www.ConnectedFamily.com
For Papert, the best part was having a chance to meet and speak with people from around the country, and find out what they're thinking about -- in the early days of the Internet. It was inspiring for him to see what people were already doing to explore new technologies with their kids, and the ways in which computers were changing learning at home. The book-website team documented his presentations and conversations on video, and within 24 hours featured selected clips on the website, using streaming video technology and integrated links. Based on feedback from readers - the website was developed even further. It was "Learning by Doing" in real timeâ€¦
The connectedfamily.com was a groundbreaking model. It explained Seymour's ideas to non-academics, and guided (techno-phobic) families through the maze of computer-related terms and resources. Parents were invited to think creatively, join an online community, exchange their ideas with Papert and other concerned parents and teachers, read learning stories, and submit their own.
The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap (Longstreet Press, 1996) is available through www.BarnesandNoble.com. More information about Papert and his work is also available through www.Papert.org