Are You Thinking Enough About Phone Apps & Personal Privacy?

childing-typing1It seems so simple when we install apps. Download, click agree and OK a few times, and use. But it’s not as simple as it seems because we may be unintentionally giving free access to lots of our data. When is the last time you read the user agreement before clicking “agree?” When was the last tune you made sure your 21st Century digital kid to read the agreement?  The app install process is not that simple a process after all, because your data is valuable, and not just for you.

To learn more about what apps are inclined to do when you install them, check out a terrific privacy video (below) produced by Silentcircle.com, a company that makes secure communication products.                                                                                     Continue reading

Post-Election Resources that Support Learning, Dialogue, and Understanding

unnamedAs an educator, parent, and grandparent, I’m heartbroken about the increase in hateful and offensive activities that so many children have witnessed, front and center, during the long months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Just how do we talk to kids when they’ve observed and heard so much?

I ask this question because we parents and educators know the actions to take (where to help and support others, places to volunteer, etc.), the values we want to model (kindness, respect, honoring differences, integrity), and the civics concepts that we need to be certain our students understand — but our task will far more difficult in the 2016 post-election world.

Below is a list or election response and media literacy resources that I’ve found especially useful this past week, materials that I selected because they offer ideas that we can use long-term, not just in the days following the election. Please be in touch if you find other resources that might be added to this list.                   Continue reading

Starting Out With Digital Devices Is Just Like Learning to Swim

swim-meetThe minute a child gets that first web-connected mobile device, the adults in the family commit themselves to extended digital life “swimming lessons.”

Young swimmers become increasingly competent and skilled while at the same time needing adult support, supervision, and occasional intervention. Twenty-first Century digital natives require the same parental attention and guidance as they learn to operate safety and adroitly in the connected world waters. Swimming and connected-world activities, though they require long-term adult oversight, help children explore the world around them and gain confidence, learn new things and grow their abilities, learn to make good decisions and yes, avoid making bad ones. The key to their success is adult support.

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Digital Communication Disrupts the Rules of Civility, Privacy, & Integrity

Click to read the article.

Click to read the Washington Post article.

After spending years teaching digital citizenship and civility in the K-12 world, I’ve now come to the conclusion that we parents and teachers should, in the midst of teaching children, stress that there is never privacy online. Yes, I know that we already teach this — or try to — in most schools and homes, but election 2016, accompanied by the theft and sharing of emails and other connected world materials, is scary. It has proven that everyone can be hurt by what they say online — even when what is said is not intended to generate hurtfulness.

To learn much more about the lack of privacy in private communication read Deborah Tannen’s October 28, 2016 Washington Post column, Why What You Say In Private Looks Bad in Public, Even if It Isn’t. Tannen is a professor at Georgetown University and the author of the best seller, You Just Don’t Understand.

Our confidential comments may differ from what we say in public. When our candid thoughts become widely available — yes, through hacking, but with kids it’s through intentional sharing, gossip, or the unintentional  mistakes that kids make — words can often be interpreted negatively. Moreover, at least for the time being, we live in a world where stealing a public figure’s private communications and making them public appears to be OK.

Good Quotes from Deborah Tannen’s Article  (Read the entire article for much more)           Continue reading

Farewell Dr. Papert: May Your Technology & Learning Vision Live Forever!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Professor Seymour Papert passed away recently.

A picture I took onside the MIT Media Lab.

A picture I took inside the MIT Media Lab.

While he had been fragile for some time following an accident, his extraordinary influence on teaching and learning, including how he really created the maker movement more than 25 years ago, will continue for many years to come.

Without his wisdom and vision, many educators in the school technology fields, where I spent most of my career,  would not have been fortunate enough to pursue exciting and deeply meaningful vocations. Every school, every teacher, every educational technology specialist, and every K-12 technology director can trace their professional activities back to Dr. Papert’s deep understanding of the power of learning with computers and digital devices. The Media Lab remembrance page notes that:

Papert’s career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. Based on his insights into children’s thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves.

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Civility Is Now Devalued — So What Will Adults Do About It?

If there is ever a time to emphasize ideas on civility, commenting, fact-checking, and media literacy, it’s during an election. Children, preadolescents, and teens will learn much during the 2016 presidential campaign just from all the watching. (Read my post The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and Hearing.)

Our traditional expectations for civility and ethical behavior are cracking apart right before our eyes.

On the basis of what’s happened at recent political conventions and the beginning of the election season, young people will be witnessing name calling, stereotyping, hateful comments, online hate, and in some cases veiled bodily threats. Kids will hear things on TV at home and on the televisions that are broadcasting in lounges, waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and everywhere else. They will hear radios broadcasting the news at home and in other peoples’ homes. And, of course, there’s social media.

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Teaching Kids to Code With Robots: Great New Yorker Article

Visit the Sphero website.

Visit the Sphero website.

Check out the May 16, 2016 New Yorker for the article A Whole New Ball Game: The Rolling Robot That Teaches Kids to Code. Author D.T. Max, describes how Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson invented the Sphero robot, and he explains how the ideas were conceived, how Sphero was designed, and the long process of promotion and sales. The article also includes explanations about how Sphero and other coding toys aim to help children develop 21st Century skills.

The comments from Sphero creators and from Paul Barberian, who became the first Sphero CEO, provide first-hand descriptions about working with and expanding ideas, connecting with a business incubator, and eventually starting a viable business. Max reminds readers about the Silicon Valley process — empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test — and how this process is crucial to the success of new inventions and in the schools where students  use robot toys to solve problems. The article also includes thoughts from Barberian about how the business is considering expansion ideas, especially thinking about robots that develop personal attachments with their owners — what’s called adaptive personality.              Continue reading