In the late 1980s, early in my educational technology career, I attended a one-day conference about technology in schools. Held in a hotel in the Washington, DC area — I don’t remember which one — the conference convened a small number of teachers, identified as early adopters, people from that National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, what seemed hundreds of technology consultants from places like Cambridge, Palo Alto, and various state universities, and one older, somewhat fragile woman far ahead in the front of the room, who attended for a short time.
That was my first encounter with the life of retired Admiral Grace Hopper. She lived for only a few more years after that, passing away at the age of 85, but I remember her face, her eagle-eyed attention, and the reverence with which others in the room regarded her.
So maybe, other than discovering that Wikipedia wasn’t working very well, you did not really get into all of the brouhaha about SOPA.
Fine, but if you read blogs or write for blogs or just do a lot on the web, you need to learn a lot about this issue. Below is a basic reading list, culled reliable press sources, to help you understand more.
What stands out in many of the articles, is how many of our representatives in Congress do not know or even understand enough about the digital world to be making policy about it. I wonder how many representatives and senators based a decision on a single staff memo or an index card with important (but perhaps poorly explained) bullet points? Right now the bill is not going anywhere, but this issue will come back.
What if our children had instant access to a library with thousands of books from countries all over the world — a place that invited them to drop by, read, and learn about one another (and without driving)? Imagine what they could find out about the world’s cultures, celebrations, languages, differences, and also about what they have in common.
The beginning of a school year is a good time for families to set limits, explain rules, and in general, clarify expectations about technology use. Getting started in the fall, when everyone is off to a new grade and a fresh beginning, encourages healthy tech habits.
Depending on the age of your children, you may want to accomplish some or even all of the tasks on this list, encouraging everyone to think responsibly and become committed digital citizens.
Nine Back-to-School Technology Tasks
1. Place computers in central, well-traveled locations — away from bedrooms and private spaces.
Are you searching for reliable tutorials to help you learn more about managing digital-age parenting topics? Check out the short book Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online. Simple, straightforward, and easy to read, this publication covers most of the relevant digital topics, and its comprehensive table of contents is a ready-to-use outline that can help to guide virtual world family conversations. Net Cetera, published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is also available as a PDF download.Moreover, the booklet can be ordered in quantity for a PTA, book club, church activity or other parent group.
The FTC website, OnGuard Online, which features Net Cetera, is also a repository of information that can help parents to address concerns with their digital children. Each subject is covered with three sections, starting with a review of the “Quick Facts.” A more detailed explanation follows with a section of links that connect to additional online resources.
This site, and especially the Net Cetera booklet, is useful for everyone in a family, including grandparents or other seniors. The type can be adjusted so that it is larger, and many of the topics covered provide information that is critical for aging family members to understand, and perhaps grandchildren can help do some of the teachings.