These days I hear many people talking about the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but as they talk I often wonder how much they really understand about the document? Can they describe the five freedoms and how those freedoms affect people’s lives in the United States? Children and adults probably need to learn lots more.
An excellent NewseumEd activity, designed for students in grades three through eight, introduces the First Amendment using materials, discussion, and scenario examinations that explore how the First Amendment works in real-life situations. Similar resources are available at the website for high school and college learners.
We all need to learn more about the religions of the world. Even people who are not especially religious need to become respectfully informed. Now a Harvard online MOOC course on the world’s religions is enrolling and welcoming participants — for free. A lot more about the course by reading a Huffington Post article.
If you have not discovered The News User Manual as a media and news literacy resource for 21st Century digital kids and yes, even for their parents, do check out the website.
Started by two seasoned broadcast journalists, Jim Kane and Rich Nagle, The News User Manual features ongoing podcast conversations (sometimes we call them casts) that encourage individuals to ask questions, think about, evaluate, gain an understanding of, and develop personal news curating skills. The News User Manual’s mission encourages listeners to ask lots of questions about the news. In one cast they comment:
The thing to remember is to neither believe nor disbelieve what you’re reading, hearing or watching online. Rather, ask yourself how, when, why and where it was reaching you.
How, when, why, and where — media literacy at it’s best!
Will new devices, robots and other items that connect to the Internet with your wifi be arriving in your home during this 2016 holiday season? If so, check out this post about maintaining digital wellness in your family.
These days everyone talks about personal wellness — those steps that people need to take to remain physically and mentally healthy and strong. But what about digital wellness? Poor digital health affects not only our connected lives, but also our physical and mental well-being.
Digital wellness is about fine-tuning the 21st Century skills that we use to work and play in a connected world, and it also involves understanding number of common myths about the nature of online life. Helping family members take steps to develop digital wellness habits can challenge parents, mainly because many children, pre-adolescents, and teens appear to be far more advanced online consumers than their parents. Underneath the veneer of digital native expertise, however, are a fair number of information gaps.
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.
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.
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.
How can we ensure that young people, who enthusiastically embrace innovation, creating, and coding, also associate their work with the fundamental concepts of empathy, humility, and conscience?
As we adults thrill to help children learn, imagine, ideate, explore, and make things, we also need to define a compelling mission for each of our innovation and maker spaces — a mission that emphasizes the significant values that young people should apply to the problems they identify and try to solve. An innovation mission provides a foundation for children, illuminating important issues and providing benchmarks that help them to consider and choose problems. It should also help young learners differentiate between the significant problems that need to be solved from those that are insignificant.