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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Study: Smartphones are a Bigger Concern than TV

January 7, 2015

smartp

Kids are spending way too much time in front of a screen. In my day the warnings about the dangers of television were very prevalent. Now the smartphone and gaming console seem to have overtaken it on the parental danger list:

 

Having a smartphone in a child’s bedroom translates to less sleep, more fatigue, and later bedtimes, according to a new study. Researchers at UC Berkeley found that kids who slept in the same room as a cellphone, smartphone or iPod touch — what they call “small screens” — got almost 21 minutes fewer sleep than those who didn’t. They also went to bed, on average, 37 minutes later than those without phones in their rooms. (Those who slept in the same room as a TV, meanwhile, got only 18 minutes fewer sleep; the TVs were also associated with a 31-minute delay in bedtime.)

In the study of more than 2,000 fourth and seventh graders, published Monday, 54 percent said they slept near a smartphone. “Small screens are especially concerning because they are a portal to social media, videos and other distractions, and they emit notifications that can disrupt sleep,” Dr. Jennifer Falbe, a postdoctoral research fellow at UC Berkely and the lead author of the study, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Parents should keep screen media out of bedrooms, limit screen time, and set a curfew of an hour before bedtime.” 

Falbe says her recommendations are based on the overall literature that excessive screen media can be harmful to children’s health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids spend no more than one to two hours a day on recreational screen time, which Falbe says is a good rule of thumb. 

 

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11 Valuable Digital Media Tips for Students

September 5, 2014

kidsCourtesy of Justin Boyle at teachthought.com:

 

1. Use Privacy Settings

Let’s talk Facebook, shall we? Chances are pretty good that your students can be counted among the 1.3 billion monthly active users of the social media giant, and there’s practically no other website that contains such a breadth and depth of personal information.

Encouraging students to put all of their social media accounts, including Facebook, on a short leash might be the most important step toward helping them manage their digital footprint. Look into Facebook’s proprietary privacy tips or get the works from Lifehacker.com with it’s “Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy,” then inform students about the steps they can take. Better yet, just pass the links along.

Complete privacy on Twitter is simple — you just choose to protect your tweets under “security and privacy” on the account settings page — but encouraging students to do so might do more harm than good. Some teachers have gotten great results using Twitter in education, and a class full of students with protected tweets might interfere with that.

2. Keep A List Of Accounts

Then delete the ones you no longer use. That myspace page you signed up for? Don’t just forget about it–find it and delete it.

3. Don’t Overshare 

Perhaps the best tip for helping students maintain privacy on Twitter is one that can be applied across the whole spectrum of social networking tools: Don’t overshare. As much of an alien concept as it may be to students these days, the only sure-fire way to avoid digital footprint trouble is for them to keep quiet about anything they wouldn’t want to share with everyone in town.

This includes usernames, aliases, passwords, last names, full-names-as-usernames, pictures, addresses, and other important information.

4. Use A Password Keeper

This is more of a security thing, but the worst kind of footprint is the one you didn’t make that contains all of your sensitive information. It’s too much work to remember 50 different passwords, and every site has their own unique rules. Until someone solves this problem, the best solution is likely a password keeper

5. Google Yourself

You may be surprised what you find.

6. Monitor Linking Accounts

When you link your facebook or twitter account to that new site (whatever site that might be), you may not realize–or care at the moment–what you’re giving it access to. It’s usually safest to use a secondary email address to sign-up for new sites rather than granting this kind of access.

7. Use A Secondary Email

Whether you’re communicating with someone new, or signing up for a new social media platform, it can be useful to have a secondary email address.

8. You Don’t Need 12 Email Addresses

That said, you don’t need 12. Keep it manageable.

9. Sending Is Like Publishing–Forever

Every time you send a message, post, or picture, you’re publishing it the same way CNN does a news story. And the internet never forgets.

10. Understand That Searches Are Social

There’s another side to your digital footprint, too — it’s not always information that you choose to make public. Remember: Privacy controls or no privacy controls, Facebook still records and uses every scrap of information it gets to better determine its users’ marketing demographics.

Google pulls the same trick with search and browsing habits. If a student is logged into their Google account, the service tracks every keyword they search, every Web page they visit and every time they visit Youtube.

There are ways, however, to control the bits of deep data that we leave strewn around. First of all, even though Google is practically an official synonym for “Web search,” it isn’t actually the only game in town. Less profit-motivated search engines like DuckDuckGo.com and Ixquick.com may take a little getting used to, but they do make explicit policy of protecting users’ browsing privacy.

11. Use Digital Tools To Manage Your Footprint

A host of browser extensions and app add-ons can also limit the surreptitious capture of personal information. Disconnect (Disconnect.me), DoNotTrackMe (Abine.com) and Ghostery (Ghostery.com) are examples of cross-platform extensions that block tracking cookies and give users control over site scripts.

 

Click on the link to read The 10 Best Educational Apps for Children

Click on the link to read The Must Have iPad Apps for the Classroom

Click on the link to read Using Videogames in the Classroom

Click on the link to read Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

The Must Have iPad Apps for the Classroom

July 6, 2014

apps

Known as the periodic table of iPad apps, these are all extremely useful for the classroom.

 

 

Click on the link to read Using Videogames in the Classroom

Click on the link to read Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Smartphones and Tablets Blamed for Stunting Our Kids’ Speech

June 23, 2014

 

tablet

I find it ironic that some of the best speech pathologists use smartphone and tablet apps as a central plank of their clinical treatment. It seems that these devises are also blamed for creating the problem in the first place.

My view is that the best way to enhance a child’s vocabulary is to speak to them regularly. Unfortunately, many parents don’t have the same time with their kids that previous generations have had. The modern working family often relies on child care, which is not always the best place for kids to get regular conversations.

MORE children are starting school with serious speech problems because parents relying on smartphones and iPads as “babysitting” tools are allowing excessive use, education leaders have warned.

Up to one in eight children in some preschool and Reception classes need speech therapy because they have been starved of conversation and not read to enough at home.

School leaders want more access to speech pathologists to tackle growing numbers of students struggling to make basic phonetic sounds.

Some parents are resorting to private therapy even before their children begin kindergarten.

SA Primary Principals Association president Pam Kent said digital devices were “a fantastic tool” but “they should not be a babysitting device”.

“It’s not that we’re sledging parents but all these (electronic) activities need to be monitored in moderation. They are quite addictive and children can become quite obsessive about them,” she said.

I would like to see teachers modify their expectation of preschool language standards and instead of farming under performing children to speech pathologists, show a greater preparedness to fast track them from within the classroom.

Let’s just assume that children have less than ideal skills in areas such as speech and build a curriculum that meets these challenges rather than sticks up the white flag and reaches for the nearest specialist.

 

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Apps for Controlling Your Child’s Smartphone and Tablet Use

June 16, 2014

smartphone

Parents may well consider getting these apps if they have exhausted all other methods of monitoring and reducing their kids’ phone and tablet usage:

 

Parents struggling to get their children away from smartphones and tablets for meals, homework, exercise and other activities can arm themselves with new apps to remotely block access to the devices.

Usage of smartphones and tablets among children has tripled since 2011, according to Common Sense Media, a San Francisco based non-profit that studies the effects of media and technology on young users.

A new app called DinnerTime Parental Control, for iPhone or Android smartphones, enables parents to restrict when children can use their smartphones and tablets.

With the free app, parents can pause activity on a child’s Android smartphone or tablet so that they can focus on things like homework, exercise and family time. Once a device has been paused, all functions on their device are blocked, including the ability to text and play with apps.

To use the app, parents install it on the child’s device and enter in their phone number to link the two devices. Parents can then set specific break times, ranging from 30 minutes to three hours, when the device will be locked. A countdown screen displayed on the child’s device shows when they can use it again.

 

Click on the link to read Hilarious Video Showing the Reaction of Children to Old Computers

Click on the link to read New App Encourages Kids to Flush their Teacher Down the Toilet

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Hilarious Video Showing the Reaction of Children to Old Computers

May 26, 2014

 

 

How times have changed! My 2 year-old knows how to navigate an iPad without any problem, whilst our family didn’t even invest in a home computer until I was in 12th grade. Imagine if a child of today were told that they can have their first computer or smart phone when they turn 17?

The technology itself has changed markedly in that time as highlighted by this video.

 

Click on the link to read New App Encourages Kids to Flush their Teacher Down the Toilet

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Using Videogames in the Classroom

May 13, 2014

 

video

A very interesting article by Michael Kasumovic:

 

Although videogames are seen by many as a waste of time, one thing they do undeniably well is teach. The problem is that educational games are about as much a game as low-fat ice cream is delicious. Both leave a bad taste in your mouth and are generally unfulfilling.

That’s because there’s a fundamental difference between games made to teach and games where you learn. In the former, you know you’re being lectured to, while in the latter, you’re having fun and just happen to learn.

If you have children in school, you’ve likely come across Mathletics, the educational “game” that schools use to teach maths.

Contrast a maths question from the Mathletics site where students are rewarded with points with a level in Wuzzit Trouble where students need to turn cogs that differ in the number of teeth to reach the right position of a dial to free a wuzzit.

Both games teach maths, but one is a game rather than being a gamified version of a maths equations. By ignoring traditional symbolism, Wuzzit Trouble teaches through a fun intuitive mechanism where players can’t help but learn if they play long enough. The important lesson here is that students are learning through a familiar framework that minimises the costs of mistakes and allows the opportunity for discovery.

The problem is, however, that games such as Wuzzit Trouble and Dragon Box take a substantial amount of time to create and we can’t expect educators to invest such time.

But what if using games to teach wasn’t either difficult or time consuming? What if current games could be hijacked for education? What if there were easy ways to manipulate code? And what if the creation of games could be part of the lesson?

Gaming in the classroom

The value of Portal 2 and Minecraft as teaching tools is due to more than their popularity. It’s because they allow students to create worlds and manipulate the rules that govern them to explore scientific phenomena in fun and intuitive ways.

A quick search for lesson plans for either game provides numerous examples, often on blogs that provide insight into individual successes and failures.

Physics With Portals is one such blog, where high school teacher Cameron Pittman explains how he teaches Netwon’s Laws.

In a similar way, Minecraft can be used to teach simple mathematical concepts such as perimeter and area, to more complex ideas such as probabilities and reaction times.

It’s not only sciences that benefit from a technological perspective. Remixing College English is a website by English professor Tanya Sasser that explores ways to use technology to teach writing, editing, and revision. One of my favourite posts is the idea of having students explore writing through creating text adventures reminiscent of the Choose Your Own Adventure novels.

Imagine asking students to create games instead of handing in written reports. It’s clear the creators of Cuddlefish and Benthic love researched and understood their topics. Instead of marking dozens of papers, students could play and help grade each other’s games.

Groups at Wisconsin and MIT have also been working on a new way to engage students by using augmented reality. Game editors such as Aris and TaleBlazer allow you to create a virtual world where students use GPS enabled smart-phones to visit map locations to interact with virtual characters.

I’ve used Aris to create augmented reality games to teach evolutionary concepts such as sexual conflict and life-history trade-offs. In such games, I’ve created worlds where students take the role of male spiders searching for mates while avoiding predators.

By working in teams and competing against classmates, students learn how different mating strategies evolve, why others fail, and do so in a social setting familiar to them.

 

Read more of the article by clicking this link

 

Click on the link to read Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Click on the link to read 50 Ways To Use Skype In Your Classroom

New App Encourages Kids to Flush their Teacher Down the Toilet

March 31, 2014

 

flush the teacher

Whilst I think that an app allowing users to flush teachers down the toilet is in poor taste, I don’t have a major issue with it. As important as it is to advocate the respect of teachers, let’s not pretend that we didn’t all have teachers we absolutely detested.

As much as teacher respect is vital and teacher harassment is repulsive, we must be able to see the humor of such games and learn not to take ourselves too seriously. What I take exception to is the violent options featured in the game such as the use of a slingshot. A bit of adolescent humor is fine, but violence crosses the line.

A TEACHER who developed a controversial phone app in which students can flush a teacher down the toilet or shoot them with a slingshot is being investigated by the Department of Education.

Ross McGuigan has taught in private and public schools for almost 40 years and currently teaches at Kincumber High School on the Central Coast.

He claims his app helps children vent their frustration at disliked teachers without taking action in the “real” world.

His “Flush the Teacher” iPhone and Android game encourages users to upload a photo of their teacher, which is then superimposed on an animated character and flushed down the toilet or harassed with slingshots. The department has taken the matter seriously enough to investigate Mr McGuigan’s role in developing it.

“The department does not support any activity that might encourage disrespect to staff or other students,” a spokesman said.

Mr McGuigan said he had been cleared of any “inappropriate actions”.

 

app

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Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

February 20, 2014

technology in the classroom

 

Courtesy of English teacher, Sarah Findlater:

 

Google Drive

Google Drive is a free online storage cloud that has Google’s version of Word, Powerpoint and Excel built into it. It allows students to create documents for free on the go. They can access and edit these documents on a tablet device or computer from various locations with their Google account login. They can share the documents they are working on with other students and can even work in one document at the same time to co-create pieces of work. They can also share the document with their teachers while they work or once they’ve finished to get instant feedback.

Teachers can help students with the creative writing process by getting them to share their stories as they write so you can feedback live without stopping their creative flow. You can give them quick and easy targets through the chat facility or highlight specific sections and create a comment – they have to respond to these otherwise the comment alert won’t disappear. You could also get students to co-create a presentation with one another on an element of the social or historical context of a text you’re studying, for example. Once finished, they can share the document with you, close down their computers and come up one at a time and simply click on their presentation now housed in your drive for instant feedback.

Edmodo

Edmodo is a free social learning platform for students, teachers and parents. It looks a little bit like Facebook so it is a familiar format for students to use. But before you run for the hills, it is very different to Facebook in that it’s completely controlled by the teacher and specifically designed for educational purposes – one of my classes has affectionately named it “Fakebook”. It has a shared timeline as a homepage where you and your students can interact and you can allow students to interact with one another, if you wish. Both teachers and students have a library where they can store documents and share them with others if they want to. The teacher can set assignments, students hand in assignments and teachers feedback on the work all within Edmodo. Two particularly useful functions are the quizzes and polls, and there’s also a built-in grade book that houses your teacher-assessed grades and quiz results for each student.

It really is a very useful all-round tool. You could consider saving essential documents – such as mark schemes, poems being studied and teaching presentations – in the class library to give students easy access to these at any time. You could also post photos of classwork completed by groups of students or individuals so all the students can see it for best practice. You could schedule weekly spelling tests – set as multiple choice quizzes – through Edmondo which will automatically collate the results so you can easily see trends within the class’s performance.

Screen casting

There a loads of tools out there that capture your computer or device screen and allow you to record your voice while you do so. Two that are often used are ScreenR which is free and Explain Everything, which is quite cheap. The idea is that you can take a picture of your computer or device screen and then set your voice against the website or pre-prepared powerpoint. If you collate these in one place, you have a bank of instructional videos.

A simple way to use this tool is to create short instructional videos to help your students study independently or revise a topic. For instance, you might create clips outlining different writing styles or perhaps your team can work together to create clips on themes you all think are important. You could get students involved and ask them to prepare a short videos explaining poems that you have been studying as a revision tool.

YouTube

One way to collate the videos created by a screencast tool is to start a YouTube channel and upload them all there. This is simply your own YouTube home page – you can style the background, upload profile information and follow other channels of interest. You can also create playlists within your channel to organise videos into topics and allow students to find them easily. If creating your own videos is not for you then you can create playlists of videos that are already out there that relate to the topics you are studying.

What about creating a channel for your department? Create a playlist for each topic on your curriculum map from myths and legends to war poetry and creative writing. All you would need to do is to drop in videos of your choice. The videos could be created by your students, staff or just found from educational sources around the web. The clips could help students get more from the topic or encourage them to read and research around the subject – a wonderful resource for years to come that you can regularly update.

Blogging

There are many blogging platforms around but the two that are most popular are WordPress and Blogger. If you’re looking for the easier of the two then Blogger from Google is the one. If you want a more sophisticated platform then WordPress is probably a better choice. A basic blog allows you to have a rolling front page of updating posts and static pages accessed via tabs, often along the top of the page. It is a great record of the year for the students to look back over.

Get your students to create their own blogs and use them as digital portfolios for the year, posting up their best work. Getting feedback from a real audience as well as peers, parents and teachers is a great opportunity for development. How about creating a blog for your class? You could update the main page with homework tasks, recommended reading and updates from your classroom. Try creating a post with a task or question based on the topic you’re studying and get the students to use the comments facility to respond. They could even extend their answers by responding to one another’s comments. You could use the blog as a record of lessons by uploading presentations and photos. If a student is ever absent, this is an invaluable tool to enable them to keep up.

 

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Click on the link to read 50 Ways To Use Skype In Your Classroom

Are Violent Video Games Worse for Children than Violent Movies?

February 13, 2014

 

grand theft

Growing up, one of the more popular video games around was a shooting game where you were a soldier charged with the responsibility of locating and killing Nazis. The fact that the villains were Nazis was a clear stunt by the game’s makers to disguise the mindless violence of their game.

Even as a youngster, I found the game very troubling. Whilst I have always hated Nazism, I didn’t feel comfortable with pointing a gun, pulling the trigger and killing. It might not be real, but the video game designers are fully aware that the person playing their game is meant to feel as if they are actually on a killing rampage.

Nothing I ever experienced from watching violent movies compared with the emotions of going on a video game shooting spree.

It’s even worse today. Nowadays, video games designers don’t bother with Nazi’s – they provide children with police and innocent bystanders as their targets instead:

Primary school pupils as young as six are re-enacting drug and rape scenes from Grand Theft Auto in the playground, a headteacher has warned.

Young children have been initiating games involving ‘simulating rape and sexual intercourse’ as well as having playground chats about ‘drug use’, according to Coed-y-Brain Primary School head Morian Morgan.

Staff at the school in Llanbradach, Caerphilly, blame the behaviour on the 18-rated and violent computer game series Grand Theft Auto, which sees players take on the role of criminals in America.

Latest instalment GTA V is thought to be one of the best-selling video games of all time, having sold more than 32 million copies worldwide.

A letter sent to parents said children were ‘acting out scenes from the game which include the strongest of sexual swear words’, ‘having conversations’ about sexual acts and ‘play acting extremely violent games that sometimes result in actual injury’.

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