Microcredentials – New Way to Passion Learn

Microcredentials – New Way to Passion Learn

It’s been heads down, tails up over at Eduro Learning as we put the finishing touches on our new Microcredential Pathways and launching it with some free PDF downloads for you!

So what are microcredentials I hear you say? Our first PDF in the launch tells you all about them and why they are the future of Professional Development (you can still get the PDF free here too). But basically micro-credentials are a new professional development model where we take the best teaching practices we use with students and apply them to professional development opportunities for educators.

We have put together 3 Microcredential Pathways so far (and we’re working on another 2!).  If you’re just starting out in a technology-rich classroom, or you’re going 1:1 or are close to a 1:1 environment then you may be interested in our The 1:1 Teacher microcredential. If you’re like me and really passionate about connecting your classroom both locally (inside in the class) and globally, then take a closer look at The Connected Teacher microcredential.  This micro-credential has all the things I wish I’d had at my fingertips when I was starting to create a window into our classroom and connecting my students with the outside world.  All of the courses in this micro-credential would have been so helpful! (ok, I may be a little biased about this particular microcredential as I’m one of the mentors for the Premium Package and Lissa is the mentor for the Academy Package and she’s awesome sauce too!)   And if you’re a coach, or just starting out as a coach or even thinking seriously about taking on a coaching role then you absolutely must check out The Coach.

Also available now is our new premium extended bundle called Designing a Parent Learning Program – this will help anyone needing help and/or support to put together a programme in their school that helps support the parenting community in the technology-rich environment their children are living and learning in.

So there they are ….. a little introduction to the first of our Microcredentials. We’re still launching and giving away freebies – so like our Facebook page so you can get a notification of when we go live (it’s usually around 9am Perth time on a Friday), or subscribe to our blog posts and get the freebie download links.  Be quick though – they aren’t going to be free for much longer! We do ask for your email each time, not to spam you but to see what people are interested in so that we keep making useful things for you!

 

Are They Really Learning Playing Games Online?

Are They Really Learning Playing Games Online?

You may or may not have heard of some online games like Minecraft, Scratch, FIFA, GTA, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Pokemon Go and other popular online games. There’s two questions I get asked all the time.

  1. Is it bad for my child to game?
  2. What limits do you place on gaming?

First of all, let me just say not all games are equal. Some games are just fun and total time-wasters! And yes, some games are graphically violent and mean. But, some games can be meaningful and purposeful and especially valuable for our kids because they explain concepts and help kids learn, are powerful and pervasive, but most of all they are engaging!

I’m the parent of an avid gamer (aka my 15 year old son) so as you can imagine, there’s a lot of online gaming that happens in our house. Through open and honest conversations with my son and through my own research as an educator, there’s a few conclusions I’ve reached about gaming.

Is my child learning while playing games online?

The short answer is yes. The long answer needs to keep in mind what I said earlier, not all games are equal. Games that encourage problem-solving skills, communication and collaboration skills and reading/writing skills are ones that are meaningful and purposeful.  When we think about Reading and writing skills –  it’s no longer just the traditional skills of reading and writing.

Various research from Learning Designer Jason Engerman (Ph.D) to Tech Entrepreneur and Edtech Pioneer Idit Harel (Ph.D) shows that online games (or gaming) can

  • increase spatial knowledge
  • improve aptitude for math and science
  • improve physical dexterity with keyboards and touch-screens
  • provide opportunities to learn through failure
  • encourage risk-taking in a positive goal-oriented way
  • encourage grit and perseverance
  • value exploration & discovery
  • help develop critical thinking and computational fluency
  • provide opportunities to learn to collaborate & work together to accomplish a task

It’s also worth mentioning that Idit Harel believes playing and making games is fundamental to teaching and learning in a digital world – that through software engineering and coding we can help our kids become critical thinkers and computationally fluent. When thinking about these points, I was reminded of a time that I stopped outside my son’s bedroom door to listen to the conversation he was having with his friends online about their FIFA game and to watch what was happening on the screen. I was surprised by the level of collaboration and communication happening during the game (which is a huge favourite of theirs). This particular game did not result in a win but rather than give up, they deconstructed the game (not that they knew this was what they were essentially doing), strategized their strengths, assigned particular moves and worked together even harder to attain the goal of winning the match. (I really wish I had recorded the conversation!)

Jason Engerman’s dissertation research Call of Duty for Adolescent Boys revealed that learning outcomes may include communication skills, strategic thinking, identity formation and leadership development through teamwork. It’s a worthwhile read if you’re interested. Whilst my son does play Call of Duty every now and then, we have had many open and honest conversations about the graphic nature of this particular game. As a parent, I informed myself (through observation, google and questions) about the content and purpose of the game and decided that it was acceptable for my son. Call of Duty was definitely not appropriate for him at 10, but at 14, I felt that he was mature enough to understand the graphic nature and to recognise the difference between fantasy and reality.  You know your own kids, and you also have your own family values so ultimately you can decide what games are appropriate or not for your children.

Advice from a “Gamer” Parent (aka me)

From my own experiences as the parent of a teenage boy “gamer”, here’s my top tips

  • Strive for Balance.  We used to have a time-limit for Ben’s gaming but now that he’s older we know that he has an active life both online and offline. As parents, it’s also our job to guard against addictive behaviours in any of our life’s activities.
  • Value the gaming that our kids are involved in.  In this TEDTalk video, Ali Carr-Chellman highlights that valuing their gaming activities amounts to respecting them and their culture.  Jane McGonigal believes that gaming can make the world a better place and that competitive, violent fantasy games contribute to the development of strong future leaders and citizens.
  • Invest the time to sit down, watch AND play the game with your child(ren).  A bonus part of this week’s free PDF is a link to a 20 minute video conversation with my amazing friend Tara and her equally amazing daughter Sojo – an avid minecrafter!  This is a must-watch especially when Tara shares her thoughts and advice on being a parent of a “10 year-old gamer” and what she learned when she did this exact thing.
  • Have regular, open and honest conversations with your child(ren). We always say it, and we’re saying it again. This is our key piece of advice for all parents. These conversations will help you to understand what is so appealing about certain games, what your child is learning and how, and will also help you to decide if a game is appropriate or not for your child.

This week at Eduro Learning we’re wrapping up our Parenting in the Digital Age series launch with another freebie PDF – Parent’s Guide to Minecraft (get it here!). This PDF contains a handy quick start guide to Minecraft, some things to be aware of AND some tips, strategies and conversation starters you can have with your children.  You could easily substitute minecraft for any other online game, so the tips, strategies and conversation starters will be just as helpful, no matter what the game.

Staying Safe Online: Helping Your Child Build Good Digital Habits

Staying Safe Online: Helping Your Child Build Good Digital Habits

I know we say it all the time, but it is true.  Having open, honest (and regular) conversations with your kids is THE best way to help them build good digital habits when it comes to staying safe online.  Technology in today’s world allows for 24/7 access anytime, anywhere so we need to make sure our children have some good, but basic digital habits to not only keep themselves, but others, safe online.

Next week is  Wk 3 of Eduro Learning’s official Parenting in the Digital Age Series Launch and this week I’m sharing the good digital habits I think are really important for myself and my children to have in their life skills toolbox.


				

Staying Safe Online: 3 Good Digital Habits to Build

#1 Always Be S.M.A.R.T

  • Safe – Giving out personal information like our address, phone number, date of birth or passwords without having parental/guardian permission first is not smart.
  • Meet – Meeting someone you only know from online is not smart, and you should never agree to do it without parent/guardian’s permission.
  • Accept – Clicking on messages, emails, texts, pictures etc from people we don’t know or trust is not smart. It can open us up to problems like viruses and unwanted/nasty messages.
  • Reliable – We need to understand that not everything out there is true, or reliable – checking information before you believe it is now a vital skill. It helps to talk about what we’re reading/finding online with an adult.
  • Tell – Our children need to know that they can tell us, or another trusted adult when something happens online that makes us feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 

#2 Always THINK B4 U POST, CHAT or UPLOAD

  • T – is it True?
  • H – is it Helpful?
  • I – is it Inspiring?
  • N – is it Necessary?
  • K – is it Kind?

And if it’s not, then don’t post it, chat it or upload it!


				

#3 Always Be A Good Digital Citizen

Not just sometimes, not just some days, not just online but offline too! This is the foundation of being safe, kind, and smart. How we behave online is no different to how we behave offline. How we treat others online is no different to the expectation of how to treat others face to face.  If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, then don’t share it with the rest of the world.  This is the best habit your child(ren) could ever have.  

One More Important Thing

Regular, honest and open conversations with our kids are so important. Habits aren’t made overnight and mistakes are going to happen. Having those difficult conversations that as parents we sometimes don’t like to do, must be had. Talking openly and honestly about our worries and our expectations really does help. Having something like a Family Media Agreement – which believe it or not starts with a conversation – can help too.

If you’re not sure where to start or what to include in a family media agreement, sign up to Eduro Learning’s Parent Mailing List by clicking the button below and get this FREE digital download:

Managing Devices at Home: Conversation Starters + Family Media Agreements

It’s the perfect resource for you!

What do you think?

Are these digital habits good ones?  Are there some more that we can add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts and what habits you think we can help our children (or students) build to help them stay safe online. Teacher friends, if parents are asking for ways to help keep their children safe online please feel free to share and/or add your thoughts in the comments too.

Oh and one more thing ….. Check out Eduro Learning’s other resources for parenting in the digital age. You won’t be disappointed!

Images used are either purchased or own images unless otherwise stated.
3 Habits for Managing Digital Devices

3 Habits for Managing Digital Devices

We know that our kids spend a lot of time online and often from multiple devices. From homework and listening to music to instant messaging friends and checking out the latest on social media, the reality is they’re probably using a screen every day. Also, sometimes digital devices can also be an easy option to keep our younger ones occupied in our busy lives. Even more challenging is the 24/7 access, the amount of screen time and the balance (or lack of) between online and offline. I know we say this all the time – the best thing we can do to help our kids is to have regular conversations that help build good habits and careful decision making when it comes to realities of having access to so much technology today.

When I think about managing digital devices and developing good habits I think about three things; Balance; Screen Time and Being a Role Model.

Balance

It’s important to help our children (and ourselves!) maintain a healthy balance between online and offline activities.  Some ways to do this:

Have a “no screen” day
We had no screen Tuesday. No special reason it was Tuesday, that’s just the day we all agreed to and that included no TV on Tuesdays too!

Provide alternatives to screens
Having fun crafts, games, books, puzzles, puppets, and art supplies available with easy access lets kids see that they really do have other options other than digital devices. Outdoor activities can become a regular feature of weekends and something that every family member can enjoy and benefit from.

Manage Screen Time

How much screen time is too much? Ah, the question we get asked the most! There is no “right” answer because this one is personal – personal to you and your family and values.  A few ideas that may help:

Time Trade
My 15 year old son earns screen time by practising his basketball skills. Every half hour of physical activity earns him an hour on his xBox. If I’d been on-to-it, I would have connected his screen time to the amount of vacuuming he did for me!

Choose the better kind of screen time
Look for educational content which develops a range of skills: cognitive skills, early maths skills, early reading and writing skills, fine motor skills, creativity, imagination, language even understand more about the world.
CommonSenseMedia makes it easy to find great media (age-appropriate apps, games, websites, movies etc) for kids.

Be a Role Model

Remember that saying, “Monkey see, monkey do?”  

No devices at the dinner table
This has to be the best rule we ever made. Even our visitors comply! This works when we’re out too! Try The Phone Stack! It’s hilarious!

Be present
When your child is trying to show you something, or have a conversation with you, put your device down and they will be more likely to as well.

Final Thoughts

These were just three things that immediately sprung to my mind when thinking about building good habits for managing the many digital devices in our lives and our children’s live today . What do you think? Is there something critical that I missed? If you’re a parent, what do you struggle with? What habits are you helping your children build?

More Resources for Parenting in the Digital Age

Parenting in a technology-rich world is not easy! At Eduro Learning one of the new things we’re most excited about is our new series of online classes and resources designed specifically for parents. To give you a taste of what our Parenting in the Digital Age online course is like, check out some of our FREE resources for parents and our videos where we share some of our thoughts, ideas, tips and strategies for parenting in the digital age.

Kim kicks us off with this video, How is Learning Different Today? plus she shares some more tips here.  And I chat about Technology Never Sleeps: Managing our Many Digital Devices which goes along with this post.

Teacher friends, you might find these resources and videos helpful for those times when you’re having conversations with parents about these topics too. So go ahead and grab the freebies and watch our videos (even better, subscribe to our playlist)!  We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and strategies too!

7 Things All Parents Need to Know about Kids and Tech

In this FREE digital download from Eduro Learning, you find 7 things all parents need to know about kids and technology; practical suggestions & strategies for starting conversations with your kids about the topics covered; and further reading/additional resources to help support you to parent in the digital age.

Part 2: Building Good Digital Habits

Part 2: Building Good Digital Habits

Inspired by Staying Safe Online: Helping Build Good Digital Habits & 3 Habits for Managing Digital Devices

If you haven’t already checked it out, over at Eduro Learning (sorry, shameless plug!) we’ve been putting together some quality content to help parents. There’s a range of resources and even some courses that you can take if you’re in need of some support, ideas and advice all around the challenges of this ever-changing, fast developing, 24/7 digital age we are living in.

Our current launch for the Parenting in the Digital Age courses  has had me thinking and reflecting over the last week or so about what are good digital habits.  I’ve shared a few blog posts already (see the bold links at the top) but I thought I’d share some more of what I’ve been thinking more about.

5 More Good Digital Habits

Encourage Single-Tasking

Teenagers love to multi-task but it’s a myth!  Research shows that it’s not really good for getting things done! It’s so easy to lose your train of thought when you have multiple windows, tabs or documents open! The risk of mishaps (like FBLive-ing on the wrong page) increase or sometimes too many tabs open can freeze your device! More importantly, the distractions of multi-tasking can make homework tasks take much longer than necessary. There are so great apps out there to help minimise distractions like

Foster Good Physical Habits with Devices

Help your kids develop good physical habits to protect their eyes, posture, hands, and overall physical well-being by taking breaks, walking around, stretching etc.   And if they have a very busy day, there may be no time to use technology for fun that day.  Have you tried shimmy and shake during ad-breaks?  Or what about having a competition in the ad-breaks to see who can do 20 star jumps the fastest!

Make Digital Detox-ing a Regular Thing

Whatever suits your family. It might be once a week, it might be every second week or even once a month – but make it a regular occurrence. Unplug, disconnect, put down all devices for a given amount of time.

Make Bedrooms Technology-Free Zones

Try Overnight-Baskets for all Devices or Tech-Mats where all devices rest for the night. Create a charging station where everyone’s devices get charged overnight.

Research recommends switching off from screens at least 45 to 60 minutes before going to bed to ensure a healthy, restful sleep ensues. Even with night-time screen backing, it’s still over-stimulating to be connected to your device before enjoys those zzzzz’s.

Most health experts agree that switching off the screen a least an hour before bedtime encourages a better night’s sleep for everyone! Consider having a charging station for everyone’s device in the kitchen/lounge overnight. You might also want to consider switching off your router/modem for the night. Some routers/modems allow you to program certain times when they can’t access the internet. Check out this awesome infographic from the National Sleep Foundation: Electronics and Sleep in the Modern Family

Avoid Checking Phones Upon Waking

This one’s more for our older teenagers than our younger kiddos. I’m currently working on building this particular habit myself. Reaching for my phone as soon as I woke up wasn’t always setting the tone for my day in a positive way! I was answering emails, tweeting, and getting stressed out before I even got up!  Now, I’m resisting the urge to check my phone before I do an early morning yoga stretch, breathe combination to help set the tone for the day. And I have to say it’s working! It’s definitely a better way to start my day and I feel more relaxed and ready to manage whatever the universe throws at me!

So how about you?

What good digital habits do you have?