Monday, January 25, 2016

Five Ways to Raise Digitally Balanced JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) Kids in a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) World

This weekend I took one of my daughters to an exciting high school girls' basketball game, watched three of my kids play in their own basketball games, went both rollerskating and ice skating with my family, went for a run with a neighbor, went to church, took a couple long hikes in the woods with the dog, and more. I took a few pictures and some videos, but didn't post anything on social media. Had I not written about it here, no one would outside my family would have known. I'm OK with that. And I hope to help my kids understand that this is OK, too.

My surprising personal results from the FOMO quiz, despite
answering most questions with "Not at All" or "Slightly True"
Over the past few years I have been decreasing the frequency of both my own posts as well as how often I look at the post of others. During that time, I've read more articles about both FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and more recently learned about JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) which have helped me think about how I spend my time and what I share with whom. Recently in another intriguing and thought-provoking Note to Self podcast, Manoush Zomorodi interviewed the creator Caterina Fake, originator of the term FOMO along with Anil Dash, the creator of the term JOMO. I found the conversation fascinating, and could relate personally to much of what they were saying about how and why people use social media, as well as the joy that can be found in not being distracted by trivial information and news. 

Last year as part of my New Year's resolutions, I set a goal to decrease digital distractions, nocializing and FOMO by turning off as many notifications as possible on my devices. I wanted to take control of how often I checked social media tools like Facebook and Twitter as well as email, weather alerts, sport scores, and more. It has been great. A year later, I am certainly not "cured" but definitely less addicted. Making the effort to decide when to open these apps versus allowing them to interrupt and push alerts at me has made a huge difference. I would encourage you to do the same if you haven't already.

I have also been reflecting on how I can help my own children. I think there is a need for us as adults who remember life before social media to help our children understand that not everything needs to be documented and posted. We can help them learn that it is OK not knowing and seeing what others are doing, and you can find freedom, meaning, and even joy in living life without posting about the experience. So, what can we do to help raise digitally balanced JOMO kids in today's FOMO world?  
Source: Bizarro Comics
  1. Model healthy, balanced use. Closely examine our own habits and lives to make sure that we are modeling for children what a healthy balance and use of technology is. In the past I have used the word techcognition to describe a one's self awareness of how technology is used. We need to pay attention to how often we are on our own devices, especially around our own children who are watching us and learning from the model we set. Decrease digital distractions, nocializing and FOMO by turning off as many notifications as possible on your devices.
  2. Be where your feet are, as one of my colleagues says. Don't look at your screen when you're with your kids, spouse, or family. Try it. When you do something together, don't post about it. Experience and enjoy life together with them without needing to post that you did this, modeling that a post (boast?) isn't necessary.
  3. Limit entertainment screen time, whether it is Netflix, video games, or social media. At our house, we have set up entertainment screen time limits of about 30-60 minutes a day. We don't have screens on during meals, don't leave the TV on, and don't have the latest video game systems. When our kids have had their entertainment screen time for the day, we encourage other activities (a board game, LEGOS, ping pong, outdoors). We also use Curbi to filter our children's smartphones and keep tabs on usage, sparking conversations (next tip).
  4. Have frequent conversations about FOMO and JOMO with our children. If we don't discuss this with them, I'm not sure they will ever learn about it. If we had grown up in this socially connected world, would it be possible to even realize the effects of FOMO? Can you even realize something can be different unless you are prompted by someone or experience another way of doing something? As parents, we can be this prompt for our children. Question them about what they post, what their friends post, how they feel about it, how much time the spend looking at posts, who they are connected with in their networks, and so on.
  5. Don't rush into social media. The official legal age to begin using social media tools like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even Snapchat is 13. There is no need to rush into this. In our family, we have held to this and actually not allowed our children to begin using social media until they are in high school. At school we have some great tools that help prepare students to use public social media tools appropriately, such as Schoology, our private social learning management system. I do not see any reason to have kids begin using public social networks earlier than 13. Even at age 15, the only social media tool my daughter uses right now is Instagram. Sure, there were requests from her to begin earlier, but we knew she would have plenty of time in her life to use social media. We believe starting off slowly and forming good habits is important and will benefit her in the long run. 
Do you have other tips or ideas about this? Please let me know. 

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Minnetonka Students Create Green Screen Videos with Do Ink

Image Source: Do Ink 

Green Screen by Do Ink
Starting this month, students in Minnetonka Public Schools are beginning to use the Green Screen app by Do Ink on their iPads in our 1:1 iPad program. Do Ink is an application that allows students to easily record, edit, and produce green screen video. Green screening itself is the technique of filming in front of a green background and then using a program with a chroma key filter to replace anything green in the image with another photo or video. Think of a weather forecaster on television standing in front of a map. Do Ink's Green Screen app is a wonderful program that makes this process easy. 

We have looked at a number of green screen apps over the years and tried to find something that was free, but not had success. We really wanted to give our student the opportunity to create projects with a green screen, so we decided to move forward and purchase Do Ink. As a general rule, we try to find apps that are free to keep program costs low. You can read more about our app selection process here.

Minnetonka West Middle School teachers using the
Do Ink app last week. Photo source: Sara Hunt
Last week our middle school instructional technology coaches Sara Hunt and Carson Hoeft began showing our teachers this app for the first time. Sara purchased some inexpensive green tablecloths which they simply taped on the wall for a background. Teachers tried it out and loved it. They are excited to have their students begin using it. Students can make a news show, narrate over a historical video or photo, do a book talk, and so much more. During one of the training sessions, a teacher said he could have his students take a screen shot of a difficult math problem they solved and then use Do Ink to record an explanation of how they solved it. Teachers talked about having shy students use it to give a presentation that the class can watch. There are so many possibilities with this tool, it will be fun to see what our students create! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Highlights for Education from CES 2016

[Update: videos from each TransformingEDU session are now posted online]

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the TransformingEdu and Kids@Play-and-FamilyTech-Summits held during the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is huge- over 170,000 attendees in three difference convention centers, which makes it over eight times as big as ISTE, the largest conference I had even been to prior to this. I did a lot of walking, totaling more steps per day than the days when I run go for a long run.

I saw a lot of amazing new technologies. At the opening CES keynote Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, summarized the themes of this year's convention: 3D printing, drones, fitness activity trackers, voice and facial recognition software, robotics, and big data analysis. The Internet of Things (IoT) was a big theme and presence, with sensors and switches connected to everything from baby diapers to dog collars to cars. As an educator and parent, it was interesting to hear Gary's statements about how industry needs to continue to push the limits despite some "entrenched incumbents" who resist these changes due to privacy concerns, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Ideally, I think it would be better to be able to balance business interests in innovation and profits while being cognizant of privacy concerns.

During the opening keynote of the TransformingEdu and Kids@Play-and-FamilyTech-Summits, David Kleeman, SVP, Global Trends of Dubit, a company that does research and strategy for kids' entertainment brands, gave an interesting overview of the Five Things We're Keeping an Eye On (his slides here). These were virtual reality, tablet saturation, smart tech and artificial intelligence, YouTube as "KidGoogle", and the rise of horror, sci fi, and fantasy themes for kids' entertainment. One point I found especially interesting was a graph of tech skills of toddlers on tablets detailing on average when 0-5 year olds were able to pinch and drag, swipe, install an app, take photos, and more. He mentioned that these skills could be a sign of school readiness or even future struggles. Perhaps this skills may find their they way into early childhood screening in the future? There probably an existing/future app for this.

There were many other speakers I was able to hear, including the CEO of IBM, Ginni-Rometty. She explained how IBM's supercomputer, Watson, was being used to make big data small and stated that the future of iOT will be cognitive: everything that is connected to the Internet will produce data which in turn can be analyzed, whether it is sport stats, air travel, weather, auto safety, or video as some of the examples. She was joined by the CEOs of Under Armour, who is using Watson to find patterns and trends in fitness data to help coach millions of athletes, Medtronic, who is using Watson to predict diabetic attacks hours ahead of time, and SoftBank, who is using Watson to help its human-like robots to learn. Watson was also mentioned at the TransformingEdu conference, both for artificial intelligence capabilities for tutoring and teaching and because some schools and universities are beginning to use it to help with teachers' lesson plans and content (using IBM Bluemix for free).

There were many other speakers which may be a future blog post. Of the 200 photos and videos I took during the conference, here are a few to give you a brief idea of just some of the technologies I saw in the exhibit halls:

Whirlpool's stove/kitchen of the future with projected recipe and more.
Imagine the possibilities for future FACs classes, even science labs.
One of at least two different companies offering Bluetooth toothbrushes with an app for kids.
If there was a hand washing app, we'd be set!
Drones were everywhere, many for hobbies and commercial uses.
Some offered coding options for students, such as Parrot.
I saw one company that helped you buy drone parts and build/market your own,
which seems like a great maker space project.
A working example of a Strand Beast robot with 3D printed parts designed by a student
and powered by a Sphero, which we use in our coding programs. More on that here.
One of many human-like robots on the exhibit hall floor interacting with attendees,
perhaps the 
future line leaders at elementary schools,
lunchroom monitors, or even future teacher aides.
The eating area of Sony's home of the future.
Small projectors were everywhere.
Coming to students' bedrooms and classrooms soon.
Simple switches to add to any(IoT):
a lot of possibilities for classroom supplies, furniture, and more. 
Easton's trainer measuring batting swings.
Data for physical education, math, and science classrooms.
Edible, 3D printed food. School lunch might start to look better.
3D printed cadavers for study.
Probably not the best thing to look at right after lunch.
The IoT includes pet GPS and activity trackers.
Probably soon in kids' backpacks and band instruments... endless possibilities.
Virtual Reality gaming while in a harness on a slippery running surface.
This guy really worked up a sweat and was motivated.
Perhaps a less-violent version of this game will take PE classes to the next level.
Kids' science kits that now will come with VR goggles to extend the learning.
Beds and bidets that measure your health status.
Maybe they will call the school nurse automatically in the future when you're sick?
That would make it difficult for students like Ferris.
A mirror that super-imposes the makeup/hairstyle on your reflection.
Future clothing design and more possibilities for sure.
The much anticipated Faraday Future car.
Getting closer to the Jetsons, but not big enough to replace the school bus... 

And so much more...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Minnetonka Elementary School Fifth Graders Bring Home iPads

iPad Parent Showcase 2 min. video
Thanks Andrea Hoffmann for some of the video and
Jake @Capture Video for the editing!
Back in September when school began, fifth graders in Minnetonka Schools were each given their own iPad for the first time as part of our 1:1 program for 6,250 grade 5-12 students. Over the past four months, these fifth grade students and their teachers have been integrating their iPads into their learning, using it as a tool to enhance instruction. They quickly mastered the apps and use their iPads to create projects, show others what they know, as well as document their learning (see past posts on Book Creators in Minnetonka Schools and Students Explain Everything and Increase Test Scores). Prior to the start of school, fifth grade teachers spent a half day in training. They also have had additional staff development this fall when they met with colleagues and teacher instructional technology coaches for three hours about the implementation of a 1:1 device for learning. They will have two more staff development meetings yet this school year to continue this learning.

Grade 5 students show their parents how they use iPads
Not long after students received their iPads, questions began about when the students could start bringing them home. Teachers, students, and parents wanted to be able to continue and extend learning with the iPad. (Grade 6-12 secondary students in our 1:1 program bring their iPads home daily, but our fifth grade students began the year keeping their devices at school. Students in pre-K through grade four have access to iPads on carts to use during the school day, but not a dedicated 1:1 device.) So after meeting with staff at one of the elementary schools eager and ready to have students bring iPads home, we decided to have an iPad Parent Showcase (Watch a 2 minute video overview) to show parents how their children were using their iPads in school and the types of things that kids would do with an iPad once they brought it home. A date was set and invitations were emailed home from the classroom teachers.

Tic-Tac-Toe Activity Sheet
A few weeks later, both Deephaven and Groveland Elementary Schools held their iPad Parent Showcases. Parents were invited to school for an hour to see things firsthand. They sat with their child in her/his classroom and saw how iPads were being used. Fifth grade teacher Karl Boberg created an iPad Tic-Tac-Toe activity (pictured) which students downloaded from Schoology and opened in Notability. They used digital ink to cross off each square as they completed it while their parents watched and learned how they used the iPad in school. Activities included showing their parents Book Creator, Explain Everything, Notability, Schoology, eBooks, math activities, and more. After visiting the classrooms, parents met with the principal and media specialist in the media center to hear more about the take home program, get tips for management of the device at home, and ask questions. All of our 1:1 iPads are filtered on and off campus. We offer optional insurance for families that covers accidental damage.

Starting on December 21, fifth grade students at Groveland Elementary began bringing their iPads home. Today, fifth graders at both Deephaven and Scenic Heights Elementary Schools bring their iPads home. Minnewashta Elementary School has scheduled its iPad Parent Showcase for February 5, and students at the other two elementary schools are selecting dates. We purposely wanted to let this decision and timeframe be set by each school as they are ready to do so. Over the past four years, the iPad has proven to be an invaluable tool to enhance learning in our 1:1 program in grades 6-12. It will be exciting to see this same growth as grade five students take home their device.

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