Using Useful and Safe Technology to Homeschool
Curious Children, YouTube and How Babies Are Made
I am expecting a baby, and my daughter is, understandably, curious about everything related to the genesis of a child. Also she thinks that YouTube is The Source of All Knowledge, since whenever she has a question, like “What is a volcano?” I respond with “Let’s find a YouTube video about that!”
She has been asking for YouTube videos about making babies, which is a somewhat more complicated search than “Volcanoes” or even “Kangaroos giving birth.”
My response? “No, darling, I am cooking dinner. After dinner, we can watch those together.” I then pull the computer onto the counter (and out of her sight) to “find that new cabbage recipe” and hope that my computer doesn’t catch some sort of an STD. I find a few developmentally appropriate videos about conception, gestation and birth, and we watch them after dinner.
So glad that she is familiar with “No”
I am so relieved that I have never, ever, let her touch my computer, and she is very used to hearing me say “No” when she wants to watch a cartoon or video. In most areas, I am a “Yes” sort of mom. With technology, though, the “No’s” are surely in the lead. With the internet, there will be a lot of “No,” from now until she is an adult. I hope that, by then, with lots of careful conversations, she will know how to keep herself safe.
Nonetheless, Technology rocks!
In controlled moderation, however, technology is rocking our world! It has allowed me to work from home teaching courses for homeschoolers. Furthermore, whatever she is interested in is at our fingertips.
As you know, all of the information can overwhelm (or terrify) instead of educate and inspire. How can we best utilize technology to help our children to learn, without accidentally exposing them to a cascade of porn? That, dear reader, is where careful choices are essential.
I can’t help you with the No, other than to tell you that it is a really good idea. I can help you, though, to find some of the best ways to use educational technology (or ed tech) to enhance your homeschool. This post will highlight some of the best ed tech blogs to help you to incorporate technology into your homeschooling life. The goal of these ed tech blogs is to bring ease, order and community into the world of at-home education.
1. The Wired Homeschool
The Wired Homeschool is a great blog with instructional articles and podcasts about how parents can use technology to teach their children at home, by John Wilkerson. His blog offers a continual stream of technological tools to engage homeschoolers. For example, his latest post is “Connect motivated children via Instagram,” which offers ideas of how to use Instagram to cultivate a learning community. John Wilkerson loves gadgets and other geeky things (like Star Wars, Doctor Who, and bacon).
2. The Innovative Educator
The Innovative Educator is Lisa Nielsen. Her blog shares “ideas and resources with teachers, parents, and young people.” She wants to engage the students of “Generation Text.” Her blog focuses on the best use of tools that are already well integrated into the technological landscape, such as Facebook. Some of her posts include, “8 Ways to use Social Media to Connect and Coordinate with Parents,” “5 Best Practices to Consider When Using FaceBook with Students,” and “10 Reasons Students Say they Prefer Learning Online.” Each of these articles would be useful for homeschooling parents. Even though her entire career has been built in public schools, she is a big fan of “unschooling” and homeschooling. She has even written a guide to getting started with unschooling.
Lisa Nielsen has this list of Facebook Groups that are perfect for engaged and smart homeschoolers and their parents. She also runs her own Facebook Group which is a discussion forum for anyone seeking to integrate technology into an educational program.
3. Get Me Geeky
Get Me Geeky is written by a Mom named Lauren. While not specifically for homeschoolers, it is written for “non-geeky” moms, by a joyfully quirky and self-proclaimed “Geek.” She hopes to help people like you, who are “just trying to figure out how these computers, iPhones, iPads, Apps and more actually make things easier.” She wants you to know how to learn technology to truly simplify your life. Her posts include, “Control the Life Tornado with Calendars + To Do Lists + Reminders,” and “5 ways Evernote Can Keep The Stress Out of the Holidays.”
Lauren is a mom of four, Army Wife, and daughter of baby boomers. Her blog is visually appealing, simple and entertaining.
4. Free Technology for Teachers
Free Technology for Teachers is the work of Richard Byrne. The blog has won the best “Resource Sharing Blog” many times since its inception in 2008. It is primarily an annotated list of great free resources that can be used to enhance any educational curriculum. I have been a subscriber for years and often use his suggestions in my classes. His information is for both elementary and secondary learners. His latest post is titled “How Kids Can Create Alphabet Books with Alphabet Organizer“, which is for young children. He also has tools for more sophisticated learners, such as posts about how to create websites and blogs with kids, and tools for teaching Geometry .
Byrne is a former high school social studies teacher who is best known for developing this blog. He also offers workshops, consulting and e-guides.
5. WizIQ Teach Blog
WizIQ (who hosts this blog and who I am writing for) is an untapped and wonderful resource in the homeschool world. WizIQ is an online platform that gives people everything that they need to teach and learn online, including live 6-way audio and voice stream. With WizIQ, you can run a book group with 6 of your children’s friends without anyone ever having to leave their living room. You can see them and talk to them, just as if you were all in the room together. I use WizIQ to teach online classes for homeschoolers.
I am one of the WizIQ bloggers, and I continually highlight ways that WizIQ and technology can enhance your life as a homeschooling parent. Some of my posts include suggestions of inspirational blogs, a collection of useful resources for teaching vocabulary, and many other posts that are intended to help facilitate life for families who homeschool. I focus on the needs of homeschoolers, while the other WizIQ bloggers focus on ESL (Sylvia Guinan), and higher ed and research (Dr. Nellie Deutsch). We all work together to help educators, including educating parents, embrace the digital age.
Technology should make your life easier!
These blogs will help you use technology to increase your joy and lessen your workload. Feel free to share your experience, feedback, queries or concerns about homeschooling with me in comments below. Enjoy!