US education department, PBS to co-host media summit

MUMBAI: How does the US media impact on American children's literacy skills? That is the question the US Department of Education and US public broadcaster PBS seek to answer when they co-host a summit A Child's Life: Learning, Literacy and the Role of the Media,

It will be held from 3-4 February 2005 in Baltimore.

The event will offer participants an opportunity to learn about and exchange information on current research, insights and future projections as well as lay a foundation to forge new partnerships among the public broadcasting, reading research, technology and entertainment fields.

Summit attendees will hear from American education experts who will consider how media -- television, video games, computers and the Internet -- shape and influence children's abilities to process and retain information in their preschool and early elementary years.

The keynote speaker Dr. Reid Lyon, chief of the child development and behaviour branch at the National Institutes of Health, will specifically outline about how children learn and the impact of using scientific evidence to influence the development of education-oriented television shows.

Other panelists will address the complexities of today's media, such as its contributions, current role and position, trends and potential obligation in facilitating language and literacy development for young children.

The US education department has noted that American children are continually bombarded with different media influences that may shape the way they learn and perceive the world around them. The seminar is being looked upon as an opportunity to pull together the best and the brightest in the early learning, media and technology fields to address important questions facing educators, parents and caregivers.

The summit will be moderated by education researcher Dr. Michael Cohen. He will present market and public opinion research to help identify potential solutions. PBS president and CEO Pat Mitchell said, "Knowing that children spend more time watching television than anything else, it is critical to understand media's impact on children's learning. Studies have shown that the media can be a powerful teaching tool, specifically that carefully constructed, educational programs improve pre-reading skills. By bringing together the best minds studying media and education, as well as representatives of organisations engaged in children's media, we hope to build on that learning and work together with the US Department of Education to ensure that parents and children have choices in media that will strengthen children's learning skills and enrich their minds."

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