Posted in 21st Century life, 21st Century parenting, citizenship, civics, parents and technology, video games

iCivics: Sandra Day O’Connor is a Video Game Entrepreneur

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Click to visit iCivics!

When she retired as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor could have headed to the golf course or just relaxed. But she did not. Instead, she started an educational organization, iCivics, and she has been instrumental in the release and promotion of that group’s free video games — 19 of them!

iCivics is a non-profit founded by Justice O’Connor, and its goal is to “empower teachers and prepare the next generation of 21st Century students to become knowledgeable and engaged citizens.” Read the iCivics story.        

The organization has also created video games along with lesson plans and resource materials that aim to fill in the gaps in students’ civics education. Unfortunately, the subject has often fallen by the wayside in many schools, so the focus of the games is to help kids learn about the different branches of government and about their responsibilities as citizens. The games encourage figuring out and solving problems rather than simply memorizing information.                     Continue reading “iCivics: Sandra Day O’Connor is a Video Game Entrepreneur”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, Bookmark It!, digital learning resources, online learning, parents and technology

National Library of Medicine Learning Resources for Young Learners

Amazing resources for young learners at The National Library of Medicine!
Amazing resources for young K-12 learners at The National Library of Medicine!

Check out The National Library of Medicine (NLM) resources for K-12 education, including a number of games. The library is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and also has an excellent weekly podcast on a wide range of topics.

Posted in 21st Century Learning, connected learning, online learning, online tracking, privacy

Is Privacy Protected When a Student Learns Online?

Image made with Wordfoto with a picture taken at the Library of Congress.
Image made with Wordfoto with a picture taken at the Library of Congress.

If you think that the digital world may be getting it together on the privacy front, at least when it comes to children, think again.

A disturbing article, Data Mining Your Children, published in Politico, describes how for-profit online learning companies provide digital textbooks, connected learning programs, and record keeping options while collecting an enormous amount of information on individual students. The question is, what will they do with this personal data? Politico is a Washington newspaper that covers national government policy and politics.           Continue reading “Is Privacy Protected When a Student Learns Online?”

Posted in cultural changes, digital learning, digital parenting, online learning, parents and technology, privatization

Good Ed for Kids? Then Don’t Expect Online to Replace Teachers!

One of my students summed it up perfectly with this poster.

Check out the article, Why Online Learning Should Not Mean Replacing Teachers With Computers, at the MacArthur Foundation website. The post describes an article in the Nation Magazine that examines how online learning companies are manipulating the futures of our children.

I am peripherally involved with a new middle school Khan Academy project. As I’ve watched the program get started and observed the teacher combining her experienced teaching skills with the online opportunities that Khan presents, I am impressed. This dynamic classroom environment combines the best of face-to-face interaction with online learning tools, but the teacher-student connection continues, just as it always has. It’s a joy to watch children work in this setting.

What makes my colleague’s classroom so amazing is how she blends learning resources together — the activities that have always been in her classroom are now expanded with the online Khan materials. And with these additional digital materials she can more easily analyze the needs of her students, reinforce skills, and expand assignments. It’s this blend of rich teaching together with a unique online educational resource, that creates a strong educational environment in her classroom
How sad it will be if some children only have an opportunity to learn online, because the human interaction — and by this I mean the face-to-face moment-by-moment connections and not the digital communications between teacher and student — will never be completely replaced. As one of my colleagues commented recently, blended instruction (a combination of online and connections to real people) will always the easiest way to learn.

We are all living in a time of transformative cultural change. These days teaching — and learning for that matter — seem to be under fire everywhere we look — even in districts with the highest achievement levels in their states. Good digital resources present us with lots of opportunity and the potential to expand and improve the traditional classroom in infinite and exciting directions. Run-of-the-mill digital resources do very little and may, in fact, create more problems.

The bottom line?   Continue reading “Good Ed for Kids? Then Don’t Expect Online to Replace Teachers!”