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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

05-27-08

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Iowa State educational leadership and policy studies professor Scott McLeod says there are ways parents can plug into their kids technology to facilitate summer learning. Photo by Bob Elbert

Contacts:

Scott McLeod, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, (515) 294-4871, (515) 450-0738 (c), mcleod@iastate.edu

Cathy Curtis, College of Human Sciences, (515) 294-8175, ccurtis@iastate.edu

Mike Ferlazzo, News Service, (515) 294-8986, ferlazzo@iastate.edu

ISU education technology professor offers ways to plug kids into summer learning

AMES, Iowa -- For some kids, the words "school's out for summer" mean they plug into digital entertainment and tune out their brains for the next three months. But an Iowa State University education professor says there are ways parents can tune in to their kids' technological frequency to help them keep learning over the summer.

Scott McLeod, an ISU associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies and director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, agrees that kids need some time off after the school year. But they may soon be ready to exercise both their bodies and minds again -- if properly coaxed by their parents.

"I think there are a couple of things that parents can do to try and tap into pre-existing interests that their kids already have," said McLeod, who is profiled in "The Tech Evangelist" cover story in the June issue of "Cable in the Classroom" magazine (http://www.ciconline.org/cicmagazine-jun08). "For example, if your kid's an avid reader, try to extend that reading in ways that would be interesting or actually benefit other people. And if they like goofing around with the digital camera or are into YouTube, there are creative ways to utilize those talents.

"Like anything else, I think it also helps if the parent does it with the student," he said. "So a joint project where the parent shows enthusiasm, is involved and works on that project with the student is better than just saying, 'Hey, stop playing video games and go do this instead.'"

Through his award-winning blog, "Dangerously Irrelevant," (http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/), McLeod asked K-12 educators to suggest ways that parents could use technology to facilitate active learning for their kids this summer. The following are the top 10 ideas, with the author listed after each:

  1. Use a digital camcorder and YouTube (www.youtube.com) to make a commercial for their city. [Scott McLeod]
  2. Create a summer fun blog at www.blogger.com -- uploading photos and videos of their family's summer adventures. [Annelise Woitulewicz]
  3. Use Google Sketchup to recreate a city from the past, build the town of today, or create a vision for the future -- all in 3-D. [Meg Ormiston]
  4. Plan an evening to view the nighttime sky and use the WorldWide Telescope (http://worldwidetelescope.org) or Stellarium (www.stellarium.org) to find the view from home before they go. [Scott McLeod]
  5. Use old photos to initiate stories by parents, grandparents and other family members, and then capture the oral storytelling at www.voicethread.com. [Bill Chamberlain]
  6. Pair great literature with geography to create a Google Lit Trip (www.googlelittrips.org) for a book they're reading over the summer. [Sean Williams]
  7. Take action in their local or global communities with a project at www.TakingITGlobal.org or http://ymex.org. [Scott McLeod]
  8. Discover the fun of geocaching at www.geocaching.com. Once they found a few caches, gather the coordinates to various landmarks in their hometown and submit them to Google Earth or elsewhere for others to find. [Darren Draper]
  9. Check out the pictures of their hometown on www.flickr.com and use a digital camera to add local landmarks that are missing, or just contribute to Flickr's letter collection (www.flickr.com/photos/tags/oneletter). [Carolyn Foote]
  10. Use Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net), gcast (www.gcast.com) and iTunes (http://apple.com/itunes) to create a podcast of their summer adventures, or reviews of books, movies, or video games. [Laurie Fowler]

All of the suggested online tools are free. A complete list of all of the summer ideas can be found at http://snipurl.com/summerideas.

While a summer educational project may seem like the farthest thing from a child's mind, McLeod says that the summer may afford a greater learning opportunity than the school year itself.

"Summer's a golden opportunity for self-directed learning, or for longer learning projects that arise out of student interest," he said. "If you look at what happens in schools on a day-to-day basis, students rarely have the opportunity to pursue a topic that they're interested in -- at least in-depth, over time. And even when they do have a choice in what they learn, they rarely get much choice in how they learn it, or how they get to report out what they found. The summer provides opportunities for all that to occur."

And while having fun with a summer project, the child will also benefit from an important educational by-product -- greater technological comprehension.

"I think it's increasingly clear that we're living in a world of multimedia," McLeod said. "We can bemoan the decline in text, or we can teach kids how to master this new information environment -- and I think there's a role for that, both in school and at home."

Last summer, McLeod was one of four educators to receive Cable's Leaders in Learning General Excellence Award. His two primary blogs -- both "Dangerously Irrelevant" and "LeaderTalk" (http://www.leadertalk.org/) -- also were recognized by the George Lucas Education Foundation's Edutopia Magazine as two of the top 10 education blogs in 2007.

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Click on picture below to link to magazine online.

CableinClassroom

McLeod is featured in the cover story of this month's Cable in the Classroom magazine.

Quick look

Through his award-winning blog, "Dangerously Irrelevant," ISU Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Scott McLeod asked K-12 educators to suggest ways that parents could use technology to facilitate active learning for their kids this summer. He has ranked what he considers to be the top 10 ideas, although a complete list of all of the summer ideas can be found here.

Quote

"Summer's a golden opportunity for self-directed learning, or for longer learning projects that arise out of student interest. If you look at what happens in schools on a day-to-day basis, students rarely have the opportunity to pursue a topic that they're interested in -- at least in-depth, over time. And even when they do have a choice in what they learn, they rarely get much choice in how they learn it, or how they get to report out what they found. The summer provides opportunities for all that to occur."

Scott McLeod