Reducing Distractions on Digital Devices

Distractions are as old as time. Think back to high school when perhaps you were doodling on a pencil case or passing notes to friends. What is different is that the very tools that allow us to access such wonderful learning and communication opportunities, can also have the power to distract us.
In the presentation below, you will find ideas and suggestions on helping students develop good work habits, practice self-tracking, and also provide suggestions for parental monitoring – IF it gets to that stage. I hope you find something of value for your family.

We also have a Padlet where we are collecting your great ideas! Please feel free to add a suggestion.

 

Made with Padlet

Cross-posted at GreaTechxpectations

Parenting in the Digital Age

Being the first group of people to parent the iPad generation certainly is an adventure.

On the one hand, we are amazed by their capabilities to navigate between applications, create movies, build websites and FaceTime their grandparents. On the other hand, we may feel anxious about buzzwords like ‘screentime’, ‘game-addiction’, ‘distractions’ and ‘cyber bullying.’

Keep in mind that advances in technology have helped families in numerous ways. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Communication – We can communicate quickly and easily with people around the globe via messages, email, FaceTime, FaceBook and instant messaging. In our international school setting, this is a huge benefit.
  • Efficiency and Organisation – GPS has changed the nature of travel. We can find any address easily, even if we haven’t been there before. We can use apps to organise our shopping list, to sell our used goods, and let’s not forget do our banking.
  • Learning – Now we can teach ourselves anything with the powers of YouTube, Pinterest and Google combined! Lost the rules to your board game? No problem! Need to change a tyre? Can do! Learning can be 24-7.
  • Entertainment – It’s only in the last few years that Netflix came into being! Developments in movie and video distribution, the gaming industry and the explosion of apps means there is a little something for everyone when it comes to entertainment.
  • Medical – At the consumer end of the scale, fitness monitoring is now built into many devices, and made it easier to be aware of the need to keep exercising regularly.
We are, however, realistic about the challenges facing parents too. We have put together a resource that has information, articles, and apps around common pressure points for parents. We have tried to provide a balanced perspective around some of these key issues so that you as parents can find an approach or strategy that best fits your parenting style.
We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with your children. Inspired by the Key Jar, we have put together a list of questions that might help you begin some conversations with your child around some of these issues. Perhaps print them both off and mix them in together?

Common Sense Media has a lot of resources around parent concerns, so that is also a great source of information.

At the end of the day, each family is different, and you need to find the right combination of solutions to challenges that works for you. I hope these resources are a step in the right direction.

(Cross-posted at GreaTechxpectations)

Minecraft – we’re back

Minecraft ECA 2011-2012

Minecraft ECA 2011-2012

Following the excitement of last year’s Minecraft Activity, I knew I wanted to offer it again this year. That said, I battled to keep up with the latest happenings in the Minecraft world, the responsibilities of my day job, occasional stints presenting, and of course seeing my family! Something had to give, and for the first term, unfortunately it was Minecraft.

Last year I had some wonderful Techxperts helping me out to moderate the school server, while I maintained administrative control. Perhaps it was because it was new to me that I wanted to keep a hold of the reins. Well, there are no excuses now.

This year, I want the activity to be student-managed and student moderated. To clarify, the Middle School/High School Techxperts will run the server for the Grade 2-5 Minecraft activity which will begin in the new year. This will give me the opportunity to interact with the students and just play. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

The Techxperts on the Minecraft team decided that running Tekkit would have the most learning potential. They are a very knowledgeable bunch, and informed me that Tekkit meant they could have access to anything that exists in the world – and more. Pascal (G10) took a leading role and helped me set up our RedstoneHost server, update McMyAdmin, install Tekkit (all the behind the scenes jobs that I find such a chore), and generally made my life a lot easier. He is a complete superstar.

We had a few glitches, but there is nothing more satisfying than working through and eventually solving a frustrating tech problem. Our server is now up and running.

I went on last night, to see how things were going. Seriously, I love my job. Three keen students were on, helping to set up the initial spawn points in readiness for the Grade 2-5s. It’s just the beginning, but it’s pretty neat to see what’s happening already.

Photo credit: Pascal Brunner

Photo credit: Pascal Brunner

Multiplayer games like these are tremendous levelers. I am very much a beginner with Minecraft and after a 6 month hiatus, it was all I could do to remember how to fly and move around. The Techxperts were so supportive. When I expressed my need for a refresher course, Pascal suggested I try building myself a spawn point, to (and I quote) “get myself back in the game.” In the world of tech coaching, Pascal modeled perfectly the notion of Positive Presuppositions – assuming the very best of a person, to encourage and support. It blows my mind. I can’t wait for the Grade 2-5s to join in and show the Techxperts how great they are. Because they are. Simply amazing.

I’m working on a presentation for parents about the benefits of gaming (together with Sean McHugh & Louise Phinney). I have so much to tell them. I hope they are ready to listen with an open mind.

The Best Parent Workshop I’ve Ever Done

This little gem of an idea, came to the Digital Literacy Team at UWCSEA via Robyn Treyvaud, who had been visiting our school to work on the initiation of our generation safe project. Robyn’s idea – so obvious I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before – was to include students in the evening presentation to parents about social networking.

We created a sign up sheet for our workshop, and asked parents to outline the sort of things they were concerned about and/or what they wanted to focus on. Below is a Wordle of parent concerns.

My colleague Jeff Plaman asked which students in the class he was teaching would be interested in sharing how they use social networking with parents. He got at least 10 students who were keen to help out. I must stress that students were not pre-selected – we only asked for interested individuals, and we didn’t prep them as to what to say. Rather, we provided them with talking points to which they responded.

We scheduled a meeting at lunchtime where we shared a wordle of parent concerns, and they talked about their responses to the concerns, and explained to us the different ways they use social networking. It was fascinating just listening to them. At one point during the discussion, I thought, “We should be videoing this!” so turned on PhotoBooth (all that I had available at the time!) and listened.

Here are some short segments from that video which show the sort of things they were saying.

The following day, we had a huge turnout from parents. We sat one or two students at each table with parents, and did a brief presentation from the school’s perspective.

We encouraged parents to ask the students about their concerns and turned it over to the kids. It was amazing to see the positive body language of the parents, and see how engaged both groups were in listening and talking with the other.

We asked for some verbal parent feedback at the conclusion of the session, and received some very lovely comments from the parents. One parent said from his discussions with the student at his table, he learned he needs to trust his children more, and involve himself in what they’re doing. Others spoke very highly of the students involved, and said it was much easier to talk to someone else’s child about these sort of issues than have conversations with their own children. That said, they now felt more comfortable about initiating the discussions with their own children.

One of the most touching things I saw was one of our Grade 10 students giving the parents at her table her email address, with the words, “If you have any more questions, just send me an email.” How great are our students?!

Have you tried having students at your parent meetings? Do you have suggestions to share?

The Best Parent Workshop I’ve Ever Done

This little gem of an idea, came to the Digital Literacy Team at UWCSEA via Robyn Treyvaud, who had been visiting our school to work on the initiation of our generation safe project. Robyn’s idea – so obvious I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before – was to include students in the evening presentation to parents about social networking.

We created a sign up sheet for our workshop, and asked parents to outline the sort of things they were concerned about and/or what they wanted to focus on. Below is a Wordle of parent concerns.

My colleague Jeff Plaman asked which students in the class he was teaching would be interested in sharing how they use social networking with parents. He got at least 10 students who were keen to help out. I must stress that students were not pre-selected – we only asked for interested individuals, and we didn’t prep them as to what to say. Rather, we provided them with talking points to which they responded.

We scheduled a meeting at lunchtime where we shared a wordle of parent concerns, and they talked about their responses to the concerns, and explained to us the different ways they use social networking. It was fascinating just listening to them. At one point during the discussion, I thought, “We should be videoing this!” so turned on PhotoBooth (all that I had available at the time!) and listened.

Here are some short segments from that video which show the sort of things they were saying.

The following day, we had a huge turnout from parents. We sat one or two students at each table with parents, and did a brief presentation from the school’s perspective.

We encouraged parents to ask the students about their concerns and turned it over to the kids. It was amazing to see the positive body language of the parents, and see how engaged both groups were in listening and talking with the other.

We asked for some verbal parent feedback at the conclusion of the session, and received some very lovely comments from the parents. One parent said from his discussions with the student at his table, he learned he needs to trust his children more, and involve himself in what they’re doing. Others spoke very highly of the students involved, and said it was much easier to talk to someone else’s child about these sort of issues than have conversations with their own children. That said, they now felt more comfortable about initiating the discussions with their own children.

One of the most touching things I saw was one of our Grade 10 students giving the parents at her table her email address, with the words, “If you have any more questions, just send me an email.” How great are our students?!

Have you tried having students at your parent meetings? Do you have suggestions to share?