Posted in 21st Century Learning, collaboration, digital learning, online research, parents and technology

Now This Is What You Want Connected Kids to Do!

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Pixabay Public Domain Images

Sometimes when I sit quietly in a computer lab at school and observe my students, I overhear the most wonderful conversations about learning. Today, as I sat in a corner working quietly, several fifth-grade students came in and sat down to work on essays. Focused on work, they took little note of me.

A delightful conversation ensued when one student asked the other student for help with the name of a country. As soon as I realized that an interesting 21st Century learning conversation was happening, I started typing their dialogue rather than my parent letter.

The two children went online together, searched, made all sorts of comments and decisions about what they saw, discovered a few things that they were not looking for, and finally located the information that they needed. But their searching led to additional questions.

The entire conversation lasted less than two minutes, but they learned a great deal.

Student #1: I am trying to write about the country that broke off from India when India became independent. Do you know its name?

Student #2: I’m not sure. I know it’s right next door.

Student #1: Hummm. Maybe it’s Pakistan?  But I’m not sure.

Student #2: Maybe. Let’s go online and find a world map.

Student #1: OK. Are you going to Google it?

Student #2: Yes and look. If we go into Images there are lots of maps.

At this point the two students are both looking at dozens of world maps on Google Images and pointing at some of them. They talk about which map to look at. They choose one, but when the enlarge it, it doesn’t work.                  Continue reading “Now This Is What You Want Connected Kids to Do!”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital learning, digital parenting, evaluating web site resources, online research, parents and technology, research on the web

10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information

goodwebsitebadwebsiteAlthough I am a big fan of encouraging students to begin any research project with curated resources such as the online databases at a school or public library, I know that many learners head straight for Google.

When students make garden-variety searches on Google, teach them to investigate and ask questions about what they find, especially if they are planning to use a website to learn more about a topic. The strongest 21st Century learners will make the process of asking evaluative questions second nature — examining each and every site before deciding whether or not to use the information.

Questions to Ask About Any Digital Resource          Continue reading “10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital learning, digital parenting, evaluating web site resources, family conversations, online research, parents and technology, teaching digital kids

Help Students Evaluate Digital Sources-Howard Rheingold Video

Rheingold’s vision of a person’s personal trust network copied from the video.

Teaching children to evaluate resources and determine credibility is the biggest challenge of our 21st Century world. Until now authoritative textbooks have dominated the world of education, but not anymore.

In the video below, Howard Rheingold, the digital thinker, professor (Stanford and UC Berkeley), and personal learning network advocate, describes how parents and educators should help students develop the ability to ask questions when they discover digital information, thereby evaluating the quality or lack of it. Rheingold calls this “crap detection,” a term originally coined by Ernest Hemmingway.

We need to teach kids, Rheingold points out, “how to search and how to find” and how to be sure that what is found is of good quality. The long-range goal is for each individual to develop what Rheingold calls a “personal trust network.”

Continue reading “Help Students Evaluate Digital Sources-Howard Rheingold Video”

Posted in collaboration, digital learning, libraries, online research, parents and technology

Collaboration, Learning, and Libraries!!

Libraries have always been amazing places, but today, look no further than a college, university, or public library to observe an institution that has figured out how to support access to information and 21st Century learning.  Libraries are especially adept at encouraging patrons to collaborate.

I am sitting in the James Branch Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Officially I am here to search through the archives on the fourth floor, learning more about Virginia’s Massive Resistance era, but now it’s lunchtime and I am taking a break, walking around, and exploring a bit.

Libraries are very different from the time when I went to college or even a 10 years ago when I took  my last graduate course. Today every library that I visit is collaborative — welcoming interaction among patrons, connecting information from everywhere, and inviting people inside, even first time visitors like me.

If we are not willing to collaborate today, we are not learning especially well.

A Few Observations

Continue reading “Collaboration, Learning, and Libraries!!”

Posted in electronic communication, family conversations, interesting research, online research, parents and technology

The Global Economy, My New iPhone 4s, and Grandpa’s Voyage to America

If I had any doubt about the efficiency of the global economy, it was put to rest these past three days as I watched my new iPhone 4s traverse the world via Fed Ex, from Shenzhen, China to my front porch in northern Virginia, USA.

The iPhone began its journey on November 2nd, though allowing for time zones and the international date line, it was probably still November 1st where I live. Nevertheless, after it left China the package made intermediate stops in Hong Kong, Anchorage, Alaska, Memphis, Tennessee, and Dulles, VA, before being loaded onto the Fed Ex delivery truck in Alexandria, VA and arriving on my front porch in the early afternoon of November 4th. The package spent the most time standing still at the Fed Ex hub in Memphis, where packages accumulate all day and then fly out at night to destinations around the United States. Continue reading “The Global Economy, My New iPhone 4s, and Grandpa’s Voyage to America”

Posted in digital learning, digital parenting, online research, parents and technology

Common Sense Media — Research for Kids

Common Sense Media recently published a solid piece aimed at helping parents and kids refine and strengthen digital research skills.

Teach Your Kids the Secrets of Smart Web Searching focuses on good research practices, with tips on how to search effectively and and explanations about why it matters. This piece can help parents stay front and center, guiding their kids (and themselves) on the road to becoming stronger digital information consumers.

Also included are a few Google tips  — ideas that can help Google work for the learner rather than the other way around.

Also check out a post from this blog, How Much Does Your Child Search Links?

Posted in Back-to-school digital reading, digital learning, Evaluating Web Resources, online research, parents and technology, supervising kids

Websites: Reliable or Bogus?

When we adults were students, we learned to write content-filled essays and reports, introducing the important facts about a subject. We discovered these facts by using quality reference materials, often at a library.

With today’s digitized resources and websites, a student follows roughly the same routine, but resource reliability is a significant issue. While it’s easy to find sites with information about a topic, identifying reliable and significant information is more of a challenge. The trick is to discover whether or not a site is a reliable resource.

Help your child determine the quality and reliability of a site before using it as a digital resource. The University of Maryland posts this short handout that explains how to go about evaluating a website.

Many sites appear to be real as well as reliable, but they are bogusAn entertaining website for you and your child to explore features bogus websites designed to look accurate and authoritative. Except that they aren’t. Take a few minutes to explore these bogus sites.

Better yet, explore them with your children.