Change a Website into a Mac App So It Works Like a Program

If you have a favorite website application (Twitter, Facebook, Google Drive), and you would like it to operate more like a program on your Mac computer, check out FluidApp.com.

How have I used this digital tool?                 Continue reading

Info on Kids’ Video Resources and More

Larry's WorldTwenty-first Century parents are continually on the lookout for resources that help them understand more about the digital lives of their children. Learning more about quality video resources for kids is a priority.

One of my favorite online locations – where parents can find information about technology, digital common sense, and what’s happening in general in the digital world — is Larry’s World, a web site maintained by Larry Magid, who I’ve been following for years. A seasoned journalist who frequently contributes to the New York Times and was, for 18 years, a syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Magid is also the author of a number of books on social media, online safety, and the Internet. His articles and content, always with a strong educational subtext, are also published at CNET, the San Jose Mercury News, and Forbes (among others).

Over dinner recently the parents of a young child spoke about the challenge of moving from the old-fashioned world of a VCR-DVD player and cable into the to the era of streaming video.      Continue reading

Programming (a.k.a. Coding) Resources for Kids

Summer is a perfect time for kids to explore and learn more about basic programming, and it’s possible to do it with game-like fun and style. Weeks-long computer camps or classes are not necessary — they can come later.

Watch Mitchel Resnick, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, deliver a TED Lecture about why coding is important for kids.

scratch image

Scratch!

The truth is, we all need to learn more about digital world building blocks, even if it’s just an itsy-bitsy amount of knowledge about how coding works. Some kids are drawn to programming like magnets. However, many children, girls especially, first get interested in coding when parents or friends initiate the connections and encourage exploration  (and it’s great for kids to see parents ponder or even struggle as they learn new things).

It’s less important to master all sorts of programming minutiae and more important  to help your child learn just how easy it is to create and invent. People code in order to create and invent things — that’s the understanding you want to help your child understand.

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Is Google EDU at Your Child’s School?

Many schools are joining the Google Apps in Education program.

The free program, Google EDU, entitles a school to a small, out of the Google mainstream space where students and faculty can work on teaching and learning activities. After joining googleEDUGoogle EDU a school owns all of its content, and the data from an  institution’s work and searches are not collected by Google. Thus an extra layer of privacy exists for users.

While the entire suite of Google web-based tools is available for school communities to use, an educational institution can limit some of the access for children in younger grade levels. For instance, it’s possible to begin with word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet programs and turn off most of the other applications. The school’s administrator can also turn on additional Google options for students and teachers when a reason arises or organize the community into groups with different access privileges.

If a school likes its e-mail program, it’s not necessary to turn on Gmail at all, though many Google EDU participants are now using Gmail because, they believe, it is more secure and has an exceptional spam filter.

GoogleshareFrom my teacher’s vantage point, the best features of Google EDU apps are the automatic saving, the easy web access, and the multiple opportunities for collaboration.

Google saves as a person writes, so even if the power goes off and everything shuts down, a student has his or her work saved (a big deal for students who move around a lot during the school day).  Moreover, because a student’s work is on the web, it is easy to access from various locations, computers, and devices.

Collaboration is a breeze. By using the share feature students can ensure that a teacher has the access to read and comment.  Likewise, a student can share with others who might be working together on a project by granting rights that allow another individual to view, comment, or edit.

Why Wikipedia? Parents Ask

“Why use Wikipedia?” adults often ask. What they are really asking is, “Should my kids use Wikipedia, and is it a real reference?” For adults who grew up in the age of multiple volumes of well-documented encyclopedic information — of course, you remember those well-used, bookmarked, or even dog-eared pages — it’s hard to wrap our minds around Wikipedia. It’s even harder to understand just how we should use it as a reference.

Twenty-first Century learners, however, consult Wikipedia all the time, and the number of users and the content is increasing. According to a 2006 review in School Library Journal, “The popular online encyclopedia, whose entries are written and edited by any user, may inspire trepidation, even fear, yet the behemoth is impossible to ignore.” So just who is writing for Wikipedia? A March 2010 MSNBC article Who Writes Wikipedia, describes a research project that aimed to develop profiles of writers who contribute content.

Question: So, how does any user — student or adult — cite Wikipedia?

Answer: Give credit just as it’s given for any other reference.

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