How Plugged-In Families Can Have a Device-Free(ish) Holiday

“The trick is to downsize — not demolish — your family’s reliance on technology over the holidays. Advice from Common Sense Media editors.”

Just in time for the Winter Break, Common Sense media have created a succinct, useable resource for planning and enjoying the time off together with your family.

One of the things that I always appreciate about CSM is their balanced approach to media and technology and this guide is no exception. There are the predictable, #devicefreedinner-type of suggestions like putting phones in a basket or not checking emails obsessively, but also suggestions for enjoying tech time together in a responsible and fun way:

Have a download derby. Browse the app store together. Look for games and activities that the whole family can enjoy, such as the ones on our our best app lists.

Try some tech togetherness. Unplugging for its own sake isn’t the point. Family time is. Plan a night of video games, movies, or maybe preselected YouTube videos that you can all enjoy together.”

Read more of the suggestions on the Common Sense Media site below.

Source: How Plugged-In Families Can Have a Device-Free(ish) Holiday

Learning Creative Learning

Next week Mitch Resnick and the folks at the MIT Media Lab are kicking off another round of their terrific online course and community: Learning Creative Learning. I have already signed up and am excited to be joining other creative people around the world in this great learning and sharing community.

Read the summary below and click here to register.


“For many years, the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, led byMitch Resnick, has been developing new technologies, activities, and environments (such as Scratch and Computer Clubhouses) to engage all children, from all backgrounds, in creative learning experiences.

Learning Creative Learning (LCL) is our effort to connect and share ideas with people around the world with similar goals, visions, and values. It is an opportunity for like-minded educators and learners to meet one another and share ideas, strategies, and practical tips on how to support creative learning.

LCL is organized as a six-week online course (starting on October 18, 2017), but its real goal is to cultivate an ongoing learning community in support of creative learning around the world.

Each week we will offer online videos, readings, and hands-on activities. You’ll be able go through this material at your own pace. All of our materials will be freely available (including sections from Mitch Resnick’s new Lifelong Kindergarten book). You can spend as much or as little time you like — by watching, reading, making, sharing, reflecting, and discussing.”

Scratch and Friends

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Scratch, the drag-and-drop visual programming language from MIT, continues to grow in popularity among teachers and students. The statistics tracker on the Scratch website shows:

  • 18,688,109 projects shared,
  • 15,314,275 users registered,
  • 97,400,962 comments posted,
  • 3,069,067 studios created

Students are creating, sharing, and remixing Scratch projects…and universities are remixing Scratch itself, building and sharing new flavors of Scratch to further expand the appeal and application of Scratch for programming.

Scratch | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you are looking for the original Scratch (now in v.2) this is the place for you. Create an account and begin coding games, simulations, musical instruments, and more!

Snap | University of California, Berkeley

Snap is for more advanced users who want to add their own blocks to Scratch. Built on Scratch v.1.4, Snap projects are also exportable as stand-alone apps for Windows and Mac.

animated-tree

Scribble | Monash University

Artists will appreciate this customization of Scratch (via Snap) that comes pre-loaded with cool red blocks for shapes, transparency and text.

shapes

No matter your students’ interests or experience levels, there is a Scratch flavor that is just right for them. Try them out and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Can You Tell Fake News From Real? : NPR

"Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there," the researchers wrote. "Our work shows the opposite."

Stanford researchers assessed students from middle school to college and found they struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones and fake accounts from real ones.

This is truly dismaying news given the post-truth world we are apparently living in now. NPR News presents a concise and informative report on Stanford’s recently published “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning” and paints a grim picture of so-called digital natives’ ability to critically assess news and fake news.

The participants in this study were middle and high school students who were asked to evaluate websites, tweets, and images in order to determine whether they were legitimate (from the cited source), factual (presented information that was true or which stood up to basic scrutiny) or unbiased. The Stanford researched used items from across the politial spectrum and discovered that students could not identify advertisements on webpages, could not determine if sources of sources were real or fake, or even if images were what they purported to be.

We in the IT and Library world clearly have our work cut out for ourselves and need to have some serious curricular discussions within our schools. I for one would be very curious to see how our own students would fare in a similar study. Anyone care to join me?

Listen on NPR.org: https://www.npr.org/player/embed/503129818/503141179

Read on NPR.org: Can You Tell Fake News From Real? Study Finds Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability : The Two-Way : NPR

Pencil-Pusher: A Satire

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“I’d really like you to meet with the new hire. She comes highly recommended and we are lucky to have hired her..”

“But?”

“Well, she really needs some help with pencil skills.”

“How can she be an excellent teacher if she can’t use a pencil?”

I already knew the usual responses to this question:

  • She is from a school that didn’t use pencils
  • “Seasoned” teachers like her didn’t learn to use a pencil in their teacher preparation courses at university.
  • She is so busy being an excellent teacher that she just hasn’t had time to learn to worry about “basic stuff” like pencils.

“She comes to us highly recommended by her previous school.”

“Her previous school praised her for her lack of skills?”

“Of course not. That school is not a 1:1 pencil school like ours, so we really cannot blame her for her low pencil skills. She is a seasoned professional who comes to us with lots of qualifications and experience.”

“Did you explain to her that we are a 1:1 pencil school? That every student and teacher on our campus is expected to use the pencils we provide them to improve teaching and learning?”

It felt weird saying that. I know that pencils alone don’t change behavior and attitudes, don’t suddenly provide us with knowledge and insights. It’s what we can learn to do with pencils, slowly and through consistent, deliberate application that will allow us to truly excel at what we do.

“She says that she saw that on our website when she applied for the position. We told her that she will be issued a Dixon-Ticonderoga pencil when she arrives here in August but she told us that all of previous pencil experience is with Faber-Castell pencils. We reassured her that these days pencils have many common features and that her skills should be transferable.”

“That’s true, but you cannot transfer skills that you do not have.”

“This is where you come in: We told her that we have excellent support here at our school. We told her that you provide hands-on training for individuals and small groups, that you are available for one-to-one help, that you can even visit her classes to see how she teaches and where she might be able to integrate pencils into her lessons.”

All of these things we true, of course, but something was bothering me.

“Didn’t her previous school also provide training and support for pencil integration?”

“Of course, why?”

10 places where anyone can learn to code

Mitch Resnick says what everyone is thinking: The so-called “digital natives” are good users of technology when it comes to text, chat, and games…”but that doesn’t make you fluent.”

TED Blog

blog_learn_to_code_art_revTeens, tweens and kids are often referred to as “digital natives.” Having grown up with the Internet, smartphones and tablets, they’re often extraordinarily adept at interacting with digital technology. But Mitch Resnick, who spoke at TEDxBeaconStreet in November, is skeptical of this descriptor. Sure, young people can text and chat and play games, he says, “but that doesn’t really make you fluent.”

[ted_talkteaser id=1657]Fluency, Resnick proposes in today’s talk, comes not through interacting with new technologies, but through creating them. The former is like reading, while the latter is like writing. He means this figuratively — that creating new technologies, like writing a book, requires creative expression — but also literally: to make new computer programs, you actually must write the code.

The point isn’t to create a generation of programmers, Resnick argues. Rather, it’s that coding is a gateway to broader learning.“When you learn to read, you…

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Empowered Use Policy from Scott McLeod

Instead of an AUP, how about an EUP (Empowered Use Policy)?

I have long struggled with the existence of lengthy, prohibitive Acceptable Use Policies which serve only to provide the illusion of CYA for schools/teachers while having a chilling effect on teaching and learning with the tools we are putting into teacher and student hands.

In my own work with a 1:1 laptop program I have been able to create a highly simplified set of rule: Three Rules for Laptops. These three simple rules (inspired by Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics) have allowed us to shift the responsibility for how laptops are used from the teacher and a laundry list of forbidden activities to the student and an internalized set of general parameters.

Scott McLead has created a similar set of parameters for general access to and use of school technology resources. Instead of an AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) he posits an EUP (Empowered Use Policy) which is fully described in his blog post below:

Instead of an AUP, how about an EUP (Empowered Use Policy)?

In short:

  1. Be empowered. Do awesome things. Share with us your ideas and what you can do. Amaze us.
  2. Be nice. Help foster a school community that is respectful and kind.
  3. Be smart and be safe. If you are uncertain, talk with us.
  4. Be careful and gentle. Our resources are limited. Help us take care of our devices and networks.

I love this list and will be posting it in my classroom Monday. I would also love to start a discussion at our school about an EUP rather than an AUP. I think the change would do us good!

Incidentally, Scott McLeod’s ideas are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International copyright license as are mine. Please reshare!

25 Tips for Successful Online Course Facilitation

As I gear up for a new series of Moodle workshops (Moodle Basics for 2.7 and Moodle Admin) these are great reminders for me. I will be using the completion tracking and conditional release features of Moodle to make the most of Tip 10 (“Monitor learner progress, participation in activities and completion of assessment tasks and follow-up as required.”).

Learning Snippets

Concept of Hand with Electronic Fingerprints

Teaching in the online environment is quite different from teaching in the classroom and as such has a number of unique characteristics and limitations. The following guide (based on my experience as an online facilitator and learner) is designed to help you before, during and after an online teaching event.

Before the Online Course Starts:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the course delivery structure and the site/platform
  2. Develop an online delivery plan/schedule
  3. Check that all resources, activities and links work (i.e. they open in a new window), are current and relevant to the learning experience
  4. Update your contact information
  5. Contact learners, welcome them to the course and provide clear log-in instructions

At the Beginning of the Online Course:

  1. Check that learners can log-in and provide support and troubleshoot as needed
  2. Facilitate introductions and community-building activities at beginning of the course e.g. have everyone introduce themselves in a café style forum
  3. Set clear…

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Google Docs, Sheets And Slides Get New Home Screens With A Taste Of Material Design

So I read through Google’s Material Design site this summer and was wondering what these guidelines were for. Now we can see the first stages of a re-thinking of the Google Apps suite using several of these ideas. (https://www.google.com/design/)

The New Information Age

Web 3.0 is already here and it looks pretty great!