Summer Camps Cut Back on Technology

gadget-camp1Are your children going to sleep-away camp this summer?

If so, have fun reading this 2011, but still timely  Chicago Tribune article, Welcome to Camp Tur-Ni-Toff, describing the lengths that sleep-away camps are going to preserve “their bucolic bubbles.” It sounds like the luckiest camps are those that do not have cell reception in the area. NOTE: The reporter points out that parents have more difficulty with the gadget prohibitions than do the campers.

My favorite quote:

The essence of camp is to rise and fall on your own … not to call your parents because you’re homesick or having a bad day,

My second favorite quote:

Even letters home are done with actual stamps and paper … a first for many of our campers.

Read the entire Tribune article.

Educate Family Members About Digital Scams With Snopes.com

snopes1

Visit Snopes.com.

A week does not go by without students and parents asking me about an Internet scam, a circulating chain mail, a digital rumor, or a wild web story. And on a fairly regular basis, someone — always a good reliable kid or a terrific and reliable parent — forwards a digital missive that initially seems somewhat innocuous, silly, or sarcastic but then unleashes a virus or malware. Sometimes for children the strange digital content causes social problems.

To learn more about the unusual stories that circulate on the web, I suggest that 21st Century parents introduce Snopes.com to family members as soon as each individual begins using online communication and digital devices. We all need to learn how to consult Snopes resources and navigate around the site for helpful information — the true and reliable info — when strange and unusual content beckons.       Continue reading

Pheed: Combining All Social Media in One Place!

Pheed1

Visit Pheed.

Just when you think your teens (and tweens) have found a social media home — Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, SnapChat, for instance — along comes a competitor that draws users away in droves. In this case it’s Pheed, a website and app that lets users share every type of digital communication — videos, photos, audio, and more — in one convenient place. It’s attracting tweens and teens in droves.

What makes Pheed so popular — it launched in October 2012 and by February 2013 a Forbes article called it the number one app — is that it’s simple and fun to use. But it also expands the capabilities available on other social media sites. Pheed users can send longer messages — 420 characters as opposed to Twitter’s 140 — which in some ways makes it something like the micro-blogging site, Tumblr, and it’s easy to link to a user’s other social media accounts. The comments that users send and receive are called “Pheedback.”

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Digital Footprints — That’s What It’s All About

many footprintsIf you ask a current fifth grader, he or she might say that the only topic I know much about is digital footprints, because I talk to students about these tiny digital trails as often as possible. But here’s the conundrum. I don’t talk about the topic nearly enough.

Despite being a devoted device and technology geek, I remain concerned about the digital footprints that kids (and we adults) leave all over the web. And I worry especially about the apps that kids use — even when they set strong privacy settings. I want students to understand digital footprint issues so well that they become curators of the profiles that they create all over the virtual world — thinking carefully each time they decide to share and forward information.

Last year one of my early posts on this “class-on-a-blog” described how to begin a family digital footprint conversation by exploring Google Dashboard and noting how Google collects information about the tools that we use. To continue the discussion, you can also check out this digital footprint video from Harvard’s Berkman Center.

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Word Clouds: Lots of Options for Homework and Projects

These days multiple word cloud options are available for students and teachers.

Created with Festisite

Created with Festisite

Designing with words is an easy way for learners to create illustrations with spelling or vocabulary words. Some word cloud sites can even evaluate short passages taken from reading material. While word designing is not, strictly speaking, an important 21st Century digital world skill, these websites encourage kids to organize information and create in clever and stylistic ways that were not easily accomplished before web 2.0 arrived on the scene.

Many people are familiar with Wordle – the original word cloud site — that is especially clean, easy-to-use, and without advertising. Yet, as with everything else in the digital world word cloud sites are increasing. Sites building off Wordle’s success offer various options for saving, sharing, copying, and embedding, but no one word cloud site offers everything. Most of the sites below allow users to format with colors, fonts, and typeface sizes.

Check out these sites.     Continue reading