Mar 30

Kids Version of Facebook

It’s nearly Easter! That means school holidays, bunnies and chocolate. What will your kids get up to during the break? Hopefully there will be some outdoor fun and maybe some playdates. Looking at the weather here in Melbourne, there’s going to need to be some indoor times too. Rain, for days on end!

Once they have exhausted all their playing, making and doing and you hear the ‘I’m bored’ call, I’ve got a suggestion to keep them happy online, using a safe website that let’s them chat with their friends – but you can keep an eye on them as they do it!

First though, they need to be 13 or older. 13 is the age that most online resources set as the entry age. Just because our kids are 13, though, doesn’t mean we should let them go without supervision. You can, of course, lie and sign up if you areunder 13 but there are a number of good reasons not to.

The tool I’m talking about here is called Edmododownload

It’s a kind of Facebook-type website that uses a password to keep it safe (er).

You, as the adult, sign up and create a ‘virtual classroom’.  Then you give that private classroom code to the children you want to invite and they sign up. One good feature is that they don’t need to provide an email address or their full name, so it’s a way for our kids to practice their cyber-safety skills too.

I suggest they just use their first name and initial of their last name, just to be safe.

I use Edmodo all the time and I like it best because it keeps all the posts on one big page – like one giant Facebook feed.

That means our kids can’t go to an individual page and post something they shouldn’t. It also means that you only need to keep an eye on one page of posts. You won’t need to check a dozen different pages to keep on top of what they are doing!

edmodo

Your kids can share images, links, text, files – whatever they like. So that cat video that makes them giggle can be shared amongst them as a link, meaning they won’t necessarily spend hours on other sites – hopefully they will be encouraged to spend more time on Edmodo than on a hundred other sites that we don’t know about!

A few families I know have used Edmodo as a way to keep their kids happy (they get to go online) and to make sure they are well-supported and kept safe too.

You can set up a ‘classroom’ really quickly and let your kids chat and share – but know that you can check on them anytime using the website or app. I love the app because it’s easy to use and gives you notifications when anything is posted. A quick check and then you move on. Easy and not too time-consuming!

 

Do you let you kids go online? Use social media? Let us know what you think about using online social media at home??

 

 

Mar 27

Tech-Tip Friday – How to shop safely online…

Do you shop online? Or use social media? If so, you need to know how to check if a website is secure. There are lots of computer hackers that attempt to access your information as it get’s transmitted online so it pays to know how to check if you, and your credit card, are safe online.

First of all, check the URL (the website address). Does it begin with ‘https‘ – that ‘s‘ stands for secure. You’ll usually see this on a website that requires a username or password or if it offers items for purchase. For example, on Facebook, once you’ve logged in, you’ll see that the website address (URL) is https://www.facebook.com/

Checking the url isn’t foolproof but it is a good place to start in checking if a website is using some security.

I use a Mac computer, so here’s what that looks like on my computer:

secure website identification

See that padlock? If I click on it, I will find more information about what security this website is using.

HTTPS means that the information you put into the website will be encrypted (turned into code) when it is transmitted. This is to stop ‘middle men’ intercepting your personal information or credit card details as it travels through the Internet to the website’s servers.

Secure websites have to have a ‘certificate’ to make this work. This is a bit of computer code that they set up that then encrypts all the data, and makes it readable again at the other end. It’s usually managed by a third party company that we can find more about by clicking on the padlock.

This is the same process on a Windows computer – the padlock is in the web address bar, but on the other end, towards the right side.

IE security on a website

Here’s what you might see on a Mac when you click on the padlock:

certificate details maccertificate details mac

You can read about the kind of encryption they use and check that the certificate (the security coding) is still current- and if you want to know more about the certificate you can also Google the terms to get an idea of how

My advice is to check the URL and the certificate before you put any personal details into a website.  If you can, you might like to use PayPal, which is a good alternative to typing in your credit card details into every website you come across – the more times you enter your data online, obviously increases the chances for problems to arise. PayPal is a third party company that stores your details on very secure website and then pass your payment on to whichever commercial website you’d like them to.

Make a note to check out the websites you use as you shop online. Found any bargains lately? Do share!

 

Mar 25

Humour for Hump day – with a tech flavour of course!

A bit of fun for you today. Love me some silly comics to get through a Wednesday.

 

Remember when…
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Even the pets want better wifi…

 

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Hmmm….an obsession gone too far!!

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Cookie Monster faces a new world where cookies are bits of computer programming and panics….

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Poor dinosaurs – all they want is a good selfie to post to Facebook…

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Sometimes I am explaining the cloud to people and I think this is what they believe…

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And this is what I feel like saying sometimes…. :0)

funny tech

 

Is this how the world will end… ? :0)

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Have a great Wednesday!

*all image sources via my Pinterest board – give it a look if you need more funnies for your Wednesday*

 

Mar 23

Note to self…don’t forget the kid

How was your weekend? I know mine was seriously busy – but so great! My nephew turned 18 and had a lovely party (complete with party food and  and my step-son had his second 21st party, this one was at our house with about 37 of our family. So great! But man I’m tired now, luckily we are off out for dinner so no cooking and good company are in my near future.

Today’s post is really a simple one. It’s actually more of a reminder to me than a post actually, but I thought I’d share it here anyway. You never know what is useful to other people :0)

So, the thing is sometimes we teachers can get caught up in all the stuff that’s going on at school. Get this done, make sure I remember this form, send that note home, check the homework, get to yard duty, find that paperwork, make that meeting… And in amongst all of it we (I) can forget that there are 20+ individual little people in front of me.

All they want is an interesting day with their friends in a calm environment. And I’m guilty of sometimes forgetting that.

I do love all the tech stuff – working with other teachers, playing with the hardware and exploring new software.

But I think I need to not forget the kids- whole reason of doing any of this!

So here’s my thinking as I begin another week –

Kids and their learning needs come first.

Everything else is window-dressing really.

What about you? Do you agree?

 

 

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Mar 20

Tech-Tip Friday – How to speed up your iPad

Is your iPad slowing down? Mine does occasionally. And it’s really, really frustrating! All I want is to open my email and I’m sat watching the wheel of death spin instead.  (I realise this is very much a #firstworldproblem)

So here’s what to try when your iPad (or iPhone) isn’t doing what it should. Like maybe apps won’t open or keeping closing of their own accord…or it just gets really slow.

You know how to turn off your iPad – you hold the top button down until you see the screen saying ‘swipe to shut down’. Easy.

This tip is the next level. It’s like hitting control+alt+delete on a computer if that means anything to you!

Here’s what you do –

Hold down the top button AND hold the home button as well. Keep holding! Now wait for the Apple to show up. (your screen will go black and then the white apple will appear!)

Give it a moment or two and the iPad will turn back on. Totally refreshed, like it’s had a mini-break to the snow a-la Bridget Jones.

resetting your ipad

iPads and iPhones are just computers that have working memories just like us (!) and like any other computer. So this ‘hard reset’ is a way to wipe that memory clean and let the iPad begin with a clean slate.

So that’s it, just turn it off and on again – the age old technicians magic trick!

Any other tips or tricks you’d like to share? Spread the love in the comments section below.

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Mar 06

Tech-Tip Friday – How to find your lost iPad

So we are halfway through Term 1 (in Oz at least). And there are thousands of new iPad users in our schools, hopefully they are all learning lots with it and loving how they get to make choices about their learning.

Hopefully, they are also looking after their new toys/learning tools ;0)

But what about when they don’t?

And they don’t always, just like they loose their bags and footy boots and lunch boxes. And some kids are more prone to that than others – and I can hear some mums nodding as I type that!

Some kids just lose focus and move on (in my experience it’s usually footy/cricket playing that distracts them!) and leave behind whatever they were just playing with…

I have found that with tech they don’t leave iPads or netbooks lying around that much, no really. They don’t. But occasionally I’ll find an iPad lying in a hallway, or a lonely netbook in the library.

So here’s a quick way to set up your (or your kid’s) iPad so you can track where it has wandered off to.

If it gets misplaced, you can open an website online or an app on your iPhone and GPS locate it easily.

  • Search for the Find My iPhone App in the app store
  • Install it on your iPad and on another idevice if you have one (if not you can also log in on any computer to iCloud)
  • Open up the app on your iPhone (or online) and log in with the same account that you use on the iPad your trying to track down.

What can you do once you set up Find My iPhone?

You’ll be able to set it to LOST MODE. This means you can lock the iPad with a passcode and display a message on the iPad, maybe saying who it belongs to and then Apple begin tracking your iPad.

  • If your iPad isn’t on wifi when you do this, it will do all these things the next time it does connect – stopping a thief using it.

You can also make the iPad beep – so it makes a sound. This is useful for finding it when you know it’s at home somewhere but you can’t remember quite where…

Finally, you can also erase everything on your iPad, so if you can’t find it (if its been stolen perhaps) you can be sure no one else has access to your iPad’s contents.

It’s a good idea to set this up now, before you have any trouble with lost or missing iPads. You can’t set this up after the fact – so take 10 mins tonight and download the app :0)

Maybe show your kids how it works and how you can track it when it’s lost too – saves their panic when they realise they’ve left their precious iPad on the bus…

Any tricks to share about getting your kids to NOT lose things? I’d love to hear them, really, give me advice people! :0)

 
 
 
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Mar 02

What if…we had free wifi everywhere?

How is your Monday going? I’m at my new workplace and enjoying the peace and quiet! I’m working in the city this year. Right in the heart of Melbourne in the head office which is great, get to see the more corporate side of public service :0). Bit of an eye-opener really!

Anyway, I was talking to some teachers the other day who were lamenting the lack of Internet at the homes of some of their kids. Some schools don’t have that problem of course. Their demographic at their schools means that parents have prioritised wifi at home. And that usually comes with devices – tablets, phones, laptops, gaming systems. These kids are connected all the time. Hopefully they learn to balance their real world and their virtual worlds though – and add in some fresh air too.

But some families don’t have wifi – choose not to or can’t afford it.

It got me to wondering….what if we had wifi everywhere, supplied to everyone, just like water (in the Western world at least) is provided to every home. We pay for it but the supply chain is a national service, overseen by the government.

But what if there was Internet in every public space and in our homes ?

What would it mean if we could be online all the time,everywhere, at home and out and about.

We could keep in touch with friends at any time. We could sing happy birthday to aunties overseas from at work or the park.

Friends could join in parties and celebrations as they go about their overseas workday.

Everyone would have access to all the information that’s online  – meaning more equality. Everyone would have more equal access to the best information about jobs, career advancement and politics.

Would it mean a more engaged public? At all levels of society?

Everyone would have the opportunity to interact with global leaders and follow global politics. Would that mean more people would actually act to change things for others around the world?

The answer to all these things is – maybe.

Maybe we’d be more compassionate to others, maybe we would take more time with friends and families who don’t live nearby, maybe we would connect with our community more.

Maybe.

But we have pretty wide-spread Internet access right now in Australia. In our cities most cafes and restaurants offer free wifi. Libraries also offer access, as do some train stations and art galleries.

And nothing has changed just yet. But is that because it’s only certain demographics that get to be online – costs and access limit how much some people get online. And they then don’t have the opportunities to engage online. They might use Facebook at work or read the news online but when they go home they leave their online lives behind.

But we’d have to think about the problems too –

If we had wifi everywhere there would be more opportunities to make mistakes too.

We’d all need to learn cyber-safety – even those of us who think the online world isn’t for us, or are ‘too old’ to learn. And the rate of bad choices would likely go up for a while as we all learned how to behave.

So I don’t know that we are ready for the online world to take over in the real-world just yet.

But that kind of equality would be nice…wouldn’t it?

 

 

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