On Wednesday, April 22nd I hosted the first-ever Spark Starter networking happy hour at The Sprout Fund’s office in Garfield.

During the two hour event, media literacy specialist Teresa Foley gave a presentation on her work connecting technology to education and everyday media experiences. Teresa’s work centers on the use of accessible, affordable commercial technologies – digital cameras or camcorders, for example – to promote learning and creative expression among kids and adults. In one particularly interesting project, she used video recording as a mirroring tool for pre-school children. She recorded various classroom literacy activities, like story-time or name writing, and then playing them back to children on a television in the pre-school. Watching themselves on the TV reinforced the children’s literacy activities and reinforced other positive classroom behaviors. She also gave a preview of a current project she is beginning in conjunction with local technology firm deepLocal, an easy-to-use system for individuals to record and create their own cell phone ring tones.

Check out a video from Teresa’s work with preschoolers here.

After Teresa’s presentation, guests shared their professional and personal experiences with technology and education and discussed the challenges and opportunities associated with bringing technology into the lives of young children. They also learned more about how to get involved with Spark.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, don’t worry – this was onlythe first of many! Spark Starters will take place every other month at venues around Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. For specific dates and locations, just look at the Spark Calendar.

If you are interested in hosting or attending a Spark Starter, please email me at spark@nullsproutfund.org.