Learning in a Digital Age

keyboard-886462_640By now, your child has probably brought home reams of paper with announcements and notifications galore. Among those papers was probably a notice (or three) about digital learning policies and platforms.

This is the one you want to hang onto, read, and put up somewhere.

Almost every single school in America now has some guidelines about how often students are using technology devices at school, and what the expectations are for at home use. My last school was tech friendly, and expected students to use it in school and at home. This policy applied from second to twelfth grade, with higher usage expected in the higher grades. Some teachers in my fourth grade team even went paperless!

Going paperless or just having less paper coming home is a win for the environment. Many teachers, myself included, post almost everything online or send class updates in emails.

This is awesome news for parents.

My school used Schoology, essentially Facebook for schools with added educational capabilities. I loved it! I was able to organize my “class” by subject, or any other way I wanted. I posted homework almost nightly, as allowed by the original source material.

That meant that there was no longer any excuse for children to NOT get their homework done at night. With smartphones, the homework is accessible anywhere, anytime. Even if a child doesn’t have a printer, they should still be able to look at the screen and write the answers on a piece of paper to turn in the next day.

child-148150_640For parents, it is helpful.

You now have an inside track on what is happening in the classroom. I used to post instructional videos to accompany units of study, especially in math. I know that the new Common Core math, or at least the way the textbook companies have interpreted the math, is confusing and complicated. There are tons of YouTube videos that help to break it down, as well as Khan Academy lessons, that are so helpful. So I inserted them into my online course for the kids (and parents) to watch at home.

I also posted updates about tests, field trips, and assignments, as well as newsletters, to the online course. That meant that parents were in the loop all of the time.

But user beware

With increased technology use requirements, there is also more room for monkey business. Kids are curious creatures. They like to test the boundaries and see what they can find out and get away with.

As parents, you need to be aware of this and take preventative measures. Install security settings or parental locks on your computers and any device to which your child has access. Check the search history and internet history frequently. You should also have access to their usernames and password to all accounts, especially accounts for school. Check everything frequently.

If your child is accused of misbehaving using technology resources, know that the accusations are probably correct. Google Drive tracks all changes to all documents and files, including who made the changes and when they were made. Many schools, and teachers, assign one computer to each child. I used a number system. I also had to check computers out to my class using an online calendar. So if computer 1 was used incorrectly during the time that my class had that set of laptops, I can tell exactly who committed the offense.

adult-education-572269_640Lay down the law

Be clear about what is allowed in your home in terms of internet and technology usage outside of school assignments. Set time limits and be firm about them. Also check in with the teacher for expectations and guidelines set by the school, if she has not already communicated these to your family. If there is a weekly online quiz that is mandatory, as well as a research paper and math assignments, you want to make sure that your child has time to complete all of her work.

You will also need to set clear consequences for technology infractions. While most children now know that they online lives are traceable, you might be surprised how often they think they will not get caught. Let them know that you keep tabs on their activity, and follow through. If they mess up at school, follow the school’s guidance and direction in terms of punishment. Chances are, your child will be barred from technology use at school. Maintain this at home, as well. Don’t fight it. The school likely has pretty firm evidence of the wrongdoing. And they will not take your child’s actions lightly.

Bottom line: technology is here to stay, and it is a huge part of how our children are being educated today. Embrace it, with limits and clear rules. And use it to your advantage. Learn along with your child.

How do you use technology with your child?

~Meg

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