Here at the Cooney Center, we have seen the need to provide research-based guidance to help sift through the mountains of kids’ media that is out there (see our reports Always Connected and D Is for Digital) — so we are thrilled that Common Sense Media (CSM), the almost 10-year-old organization known for smart guidance and reviews of kids’ media, has beta-launched a new “ratings” system that deepens the appeal of their already appealing website. The ratings are intended to advise CSM’s audience of parents and educators on the learning potential of websites, video games, and mobile apps. Products are rated on a 4-point scale: Not for Learning, Fair for Learning, Good for Learning, and Best for Learning. In addition, rich content is provided under headings such as What Kids Can Learn, What It’s About, and How Parents Can Help.
This last heading is especially useful for parents like me, hungry to engage with my digitally native children on their turf. Nice to see a) whether there is any learning potential to the addiction du jour (Draw Something, anyone?), and b) what skills might be developing during all those hours of play.
The CSM reviewers also analyze digital media products for core academic content like reading, math, and science, as well as deeper learning and social skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Media producers striving to create engaging products with learning potential should take a look at the new CSM ratings system, and those with products already on the market can check out how they’ve been assessed (and yes, there is a comments feature should you want to take issue).
The beta launched with ratings of about 150 products, with more than 800 expected by the end of 2012. CSM says that all new products will now be reviewed for learning potential as they enter the market, while their earlier digital media reviews will be updated on an ongoing basis.
The new CSM rating system was made possible through a partnership with SCE, a foundation created by Susan Crown, and based on a comprehensive research and evaluation framework. The framework was developed after conducting interviews with academic experts, a literature review of key 21st-century learning skills, and research with national samples of parents and teachers. (Full disclosure: I served as an advisory board member for this initiative.)
Check it out! http://www.commonsensemedia.org/learning-ratings