Digital Opportunities That Make Life Better — Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving GratitudeIt’s Thanksgiving 2015 and time for my annual list celebrating what’s good about our digital world.

As a parent, teacher, and 21st Century learning advocate with a digital parenting focus, I spend lots of time suggesting ways that families, educators, and children, can strategize, enrich, and improve their digitally connected lives. And, of course, I am always encouraging people — kids and parents —  to learn and understand enough about digital life to avoid potential problems.

This year I am especially grateful for a young new family member and for the digital tools that allow me to continually stay in touch. The ability to see, chat, laugh, watch reactions, and almost touch family members who live at a distance enriches life in countless ways.

My 2015 Thanksgiving List 

I am thankful that digital life allows me to:       Continue reading

In Video Kids Speak Out to Parents About Sharenting

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Check out a terrific digital parenting video — a teaching tool.

At the same time that many parents worry about their children and what they are doing on-line, these same adults enjoy sharing pictures and funny information about their kids (funny to the parents, not to the kids). Many children, especially as they head into late elementary and middle school, are not at all happy about what their parents post.

Recently I read a thoughtful article, Too Much Sharing: Students Ask Parents to Think Twice Before Posting, in the Bloomington Pantagraph (Illinois). The article described a class at the Bloomington Junior High School that studied personal digital privacy. Their teacher, Karen Kelly, found that students expressed frustration with their parents and the things that they shared about their children online, and that many had tried to have a conversation with a parent, asking that less be shared. Some even ask Ms. Kelly if she would speak with parents.            Continue reading

Building Ethical Thinking Skills – Thoughts on Disconnected: Youth, New Media & the Ethics Gap

In an always connected world how can we help our students and our children become better, more thoughtful problems solvers when they encounter challenging dilemmas? What can adults do to encourage young people to grow into citizens who understand how to examine issues and problems from a range of perspectives — theirs, of course, but also the possible ramifications of theirs in the context of a community where they live, with others, or even the world. Each parent and every teacher ask these reflective questions again and again as they observe young people navigating through their online lives.

The questions change a bit in the midst of a digital problem or public embarrassment, caused by misuse or misunderstandings on the Internet. In those situations it’s not uncommon to hear people, and young people especially, exclaim, “Why did I do that?” or “What was I thinking?”  Or even more often an adult asks a child, “What were you thinking?” These questions come up when there is little to reflect

In her book, Disconnected: Youth New Media and the Ethics Gap, Carrie James (read author’s bio) suggests some answers to these questions as she shares the results of her qualitative research with young people ages 10 – 25 and also with parents of digital natives. James examines the decisions that young people make and how they respond to digital life ethical problems. In her research the author documents how participants think about and solve privacy, participation, speech, and intellectual property dilemmas, finding that the most of the young people tended to examine issues and respond to problems with a self-focused perspective or a friend-focused moral perspective. Only rarely did the young subjects in her interviews engage in more complex ethical thinking by considering perspectives from the viewpoint of a larger community, a group, or even society as a whole.    Continue reading

My New KarmaGo — It’s Here So Watch for My Reports #1

I’ve been waiting and waiting. I realized that the KarmaGo was a new device, but I had no idea how popular it would be or how long I’d have to wait for it (like nearly two months). So about two weeks ago I wrote to ask EXACTLY WHEN I might expect it. And the customer service folks got right back to me, explaining that more people had ordered than expected, and that I should have it in hand within two weeks. Also they offered me another gigabyte of memory to use with this mini (and cute) wifi router.


The KarmaGo comes with a handy felt storage pocket. It won’t turn on unless I turn it on.

It’s been two weeks and now I have it in my hand, so check out the photo of my new KarmaGo and the handy little felt bag to use when I carry it around in my purse. The felt container ensures that I don’t turn it on by accident. What a nifty little 21st Century gadget!

For those of your who don’t know, the KarmaGo is a mini router with portable wifi that I’ll carry around. I can turn it on whenever I need wifi and keep if off when I’m not using  it. I buy the wifi access that I require. as I need it and I’ll be learning a lot in the next few days!

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Women Mathematicians Who Helped Save Lives During WW II

MV5BNDU2NzEyNjI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODcwNjI2MjE@-1._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_If you want to help your kids or grandkids learn more history about interesting ways that women contributed to saving lives during World War II, look no farther than Top Secret Rosies, a PBS video that tells the story of the women who were a part of a secret project to figure our mathematically various trajectories of weapons during the war. Called female computers — that is people who compute —  these women were recruited from all over the country to go to Philadelphia and work in secrecy at a special lab set up just for them.

With so many STEM-in-the-curriculum (STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and math) discussions and the urgency to encourage 21st Century girls and young women to take more interest in science, math, and technology, it’s exciting to discover a resource that shares a story about women and their amazing mathematical achievements. Top Secret Rosies is a one-hour documentary, produced by LeAnn Erickson, a professor at Temple University tells the story.

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The Enormous School Cell Phone Conundrum

Last week I read a great article describing how teachers and students might use mobile phones in the classroom.

All sorts of apps promote student learning, but it takes time an patience to identify the good ones.

All sorts of apps promote student learning, but it takes time and patience to identify the good ones.

Will Ferriter, the proprietor of The Tempered Radical blog, posted an article Interview on Cell Phones in the Classroom, that explains his personal views — based on years of teaching experience — about using student mobiles should be used in the classroom.

“Our goal,” he writes, “shouldn’t be to ban access to powerful tools for learning. Instead, our goal should be to show the students in our classrooms how to take full advantage of the learning potential sitting inside their purses and their back pockets”.

Read the entire blog post which addresses — broadly — the opportunities for learning that digital devices offer  21st Century students. Lots of educators may disagree with Ferriter’s view, but the fact is we fight a loosing mobile device battle. Students own these devices, and while they are always close at hand and the kids know how to use them to connect with others, most have no understanding for the true learning power of these devices offer. We could help them learn a lot more and become more thoughtful about using their mobiles.

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