The resources Over the course of the last two years, the schools in my district have become increasingly "techie." There have always been a lot of teachers in our schools who have been cutting edge and have been leaders at integrating technology in their classrooms, but we have been adopting more and more district-wide tech tools and platforms that are getting greater attention and exposure because they're being used across the board instead of just in certain "techie-teachers'" classrooms. As a result, we are constantly fielding tons of parent questions about technology. Whenever we come across a resource, research, or tool we believe parents would find useful, we add it to a page on the website with a huge list of "stuff." The "Family Guides" and "Parent Concerns" areas within Common Sense Media are brilliantly organized, thorough, and so very parent friendly! In addition, the Parent Blog provides so much timely and practical advice for 21st Century parents. These resources will surely benefit parents and community members as they attempt to make sense of new technologies in their community schools and in their children's classrooms, and the seemingly endless list of ideas, insights, resources, etc., would be comforting and informative for parents, grandparents, and community folks with questions. LOVE it!
Another concern I have heard on numerous occasions over the last couple years is related to technology and creativity...or, more specifically, how "technology kills students' creativity." Whenever I see a gaggle of teenage girls glued to Facebook on their smartphones, I get it; I know where these concerns originate. On the other hand, I also know that creativity can help those who would otherwise consider themselves to lack creativity to suddenly become "artsy" (Instagram and the ease of making a photo snapped with a phone look like a work of art is case-in-point). I was thrilled to find an entire section on Common Sense Media devoted to "Modern Kids' Guide to Crafting, Coding, Composing, and More." The way the section is organized by creative type (coder, writer, musician, artist, or director) and then by age is both exciting, encouraging, and motivating for learners of all ages. And how truly wonderful that technology is able to put certain experiences in a child's hands that he or she might not ever get to experience: For example, a student who is interested in music but doesn't own a guitar or a piano can learn the basic of how to play on an iPad. A child who is fascinated by the art of story telling can become a film maker or "professionally" publish a book via a number of easy-to-use apps. And the beauty of the way Common Sense has constructed its resources is that it both provides parents and educators with the tools themselves (or recommendations related to the tools), and then it provides research, recommendations, and best practices to ensure they are used responsibly.
The digital world and the "real" world have become one; we can't ignore the role new media plays in students' lives. Schools must become better at ensuring there is a systematic approach to teaching digital citizenship, just as we intentionally and systematically teach students to read and do math. Learning to be a responsible, respectful, and productive digital citizen cannot be left to chance.
Common Sense Advocacy. (2015). Retrieved 15 Mar 2015 from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/advocacy
Common Sense Education. (2015). Retrieved 15 Mar 2015 from
Common Sense Media. (2015). Retrieved 15 Mar 2015 from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/