Code Girls: Top Secret American Brainpower During World War II

97803163525501Today we often hear that children must learn how to code as the only way to be prepared for the technical challenges they will encounter as adults. I used to teach coding to children at my school, but after reading Code Girls, I am reminded that we should not lose sight of the importance of a broad education that emphasizes languages, math, science, music, and all the other subjects that make up the liberal arts. This type of education serves people well, because it ensures that students possess thinking skills and develop the wherewithal to learn, when necessary, new types of technical skills, such as coding and programming.

in Code Girls author Liza Mundy tells the story of how young women, many of whom were academically prepared in the liberal arts to become teachers, came to work for the Army and Navy in Washington, D.C. during World War II. They mastered extraordinary technical skills, learning how to decipher complicated and perplexing coded wartime communications.

The book describes how thousands of these young women — recruited with no idea of what they would be doing — learned how figure out cyphers and break codes, thereby ensuring that the United States military knew what its enemies were planning or doing. The women poured over intercepted messages from enemy countries and by breaking open these messages helped to save lives, sink ships, down airplanes, and fool enemies. Their work helped to change the course for the United States in World War II.   Continue reading

Senior Family Members Expand Social Media Access – With Kids’ Help

Those of us with seniors and elders in our families know how important it is, in this digital age, to ensure that children communicate with grandparents, older relatives, and even elder family friends.

In many families, grandparents and other senior relatives benefit and gain more technology skill with the help of their digital-age grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Once a family senior gets immersed in intergenerational digital communication, he or she often wants even more connections — at first more contact with younger family members and then with … the world.

pew-internet-aging-social-networkingInterestingly, only a few years ago most seniors were satisfied with e-mail communication or the occasional video to watch. Not anymore. Today a growing number of people over 65 are enthusiastically latching on to social networking sites and using them on a fairly regular basis, and these numbers are growing.

This amazing graph depicts the percentage of adults at various ages who used social media sites over seven years, and it demonstrates how fast the use of these sites is increasing for all age groups, but especially for seniors.

Published in the Pew Internet’s July 2012 report on Older Adults and Internet Use, the information in the image comes from a Pew survey that collected data between March 2005 and February 2012.

Note the growth for the 50-64 age group and the over 65 age group (data that could hardly be detected back in 2005) over the years of the survey. Moreover, the social networking adoption percentage numbers for people 50 and older picked up a lot of steam, between July and November 2008.

Bottom line? Many more older adults are signing up and using social media sites, and their numbers are continuing to increase. One way that young family members can be especially helpful is to be on the lookout for seniors relatives who can use extra support as they learn more about living lives in the digital world.

The French essayist Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) wrote, “To teach is to learn twice.” Children relearn and review their own digital world lessons when they teach senior family members about learning and communicating in today’s always connected world. It doesn’t matter whether they are helping with privacy issues, teaching a senior to understand a cell phone, or demonstrating the many other virtual world tasks that a grandparent or elder relative might need to know. In helping that older family member learn something new, the child refocuses on the lesson.

That’s pretty cool for everyone involved.

Best Coverage of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show – My Annual Reading List

Each year the parents of digital age children need to pay at least a bit of attention to the highlights of the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show (CES).

Although 2013 CES in Las Vegas just ended, take some time to explore these posts about the gadgets, wireless devices, new trends, and the like — technology that your children may well be coveting in the near future.

Below are the blogs and other media reports that I enjoyed. At many of the sites you can find other CES articles in addition to the my link.

Growing Connections and Leaders — Technology and Beyond

A view from the convention center.

As an educational technology faculty member attending the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference, I enjoy the opportunity to meet with lots of colleagues and friends. More interestingly, at these events I always come face-to-face, for the first time, with a number of people with whom I’ve previously connected via personal learning networks, LinkedInTwitter, blogs, and even via old-fashioned listservs.

While it’s always a joy to meet and greet these people, I am always aware that dozens more connected friends and colleagues are probably attending any given conference — I just haven’t met them yet. Today, in fact, I sat down at a table to eat lunch, looked at the woman across the table, noticed how familiar she looked, and realized that she and I are  Twitter followers.

It wasn’t always like this! More than 20 years ago, when I received my first email account, I desperately wanted to meet other teachers who were online.

Continue reading

Why Social Media? Especially Why in My Child’s Classroom??

Read this thought-provoking post, Why Social Media Tools Have a Place in the Classroom, over at the GigaOM blog. Writer Ryan Kim goes into considerable detail describing reactions to a recent New York Times article, Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using Social Media. Kim’s blog post then goes on to offer some compelling reasons why teachers (and probably parents, too) should examine social media more thoughtfully before rushing to judgement.

Learn a bit more about the GigaOM blog.

Video – How Social Networking is Changing Our World

Watch this interesting video that shares a lot about how fast social networking has moved into our world and how rapidly it’s changing the way people interact, work, and play.

Go to the Socialnomics website to see sources of the information, statistics, and data.

You may need to turn down the music.

CES – Consumer Electronics Show

What’s a parent to do when an unrelenting parade of electronics gadgets and devices appears on the scene and especially on kids’ radars? How can we keep up, let alone be prepared and figure out a few things? To learn a bit, pay attention to the articles and blog posts coming out of the 2011 Consumer’s Electronic Show, occurring now and ending on January 9, 2010 — but the content will be timely for months. A good number of products, some on the cutting edges, debut at the show, though some are not available for purchase  right this minute, and more than a few others may not even be in production yet. Most of the items, however, will be at your local or online vendor quite soon.

For instance… Need a gadget to help you take better pictures because yours are always blurry or bothered by too much light? Check out the Kodak easy-share camera at left, due out soon, a product that is supposed to figure out how to take a good picture even when you have no idea how to do it.

Continue reading