Artful Photography From Young Teens On Instagram

At this stage of family life I’m able to observe young teens as they start to join Instagram. My initial concerns about bullying or addiction have been appeased by their thoughtfully considered creative expression through photography. I realize that managing technology in the home is going to be a constant effort, but I’m also grateful that our first foray into social media has been a positive one.

To illustrate my point, I received permission to share these images from a special young teen in my Instagram network. As we become surrounded by messages about technology overriding our lives, I hope this post can provide some confidence that when used responsibly, digital tools can help us explore the world in innovative ways, bridging perspectives across generations.  

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These photographs show me someone who notices a range of life’s details from tiny to grand. As a kid, I don’t think I ever noticed the view my father always talked about. But with tools in hand, young teens now have an opportunity to participate and play in that view. And therefore the view can become much more fun – for everyone.

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo Credit [Flickr | Axel Naud]

Parenting Books For Managing Tech In The Home

The non-fiction reading bug bit me. Over the past month I’ve been curious about the latest parenting books for managing technology in the home. What can I learn from leading educators, psychologists and other parents about best practices for healthy media use? Am I in alignment with their thinking as I set media rules for our family? The publications did not disappoint, and my notes in the margins showed I always have something to learn. Here are the key takeaways I gained about media use from these authors:

Do kids still care about what their parents think?


parenting books - The collapse of parenting

The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD: Author Leonard Sax drives home the point that as peers gain more communication channels with other peers, peer validation becomes more important to kids than parental validation. In other words, kids care more about what other kids think than what parents think. This cultural shift may lead to a culture of disrespect, and it’s more important than ever to keep family members connected and relevant to each other. Having regular days of doing chores together, spending time together, and thinking of each other before ourselves can keep the “me” generation in check and encourage long lasting family ties.

What if families learned alongside one another?

parenting books - Guiding kids in a digital worldNaked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World by Leah DeCesare: Author Leah DeCesare’s balanced and realistic perspective was a pleasure to read. She followed an outline of hot topics such as family communication, online privacy, digital citizenship and media planning. I appreciate that she holds humanity in the highest regard with her statement about undivided parental attention: “Giving kids our full attention sends a powerful message to them that we care.” She also advocates for digital literacy among all family members, encouraging us to learn alongside each other. Vigilance, honesty and respect should provide effective tools for navigating a modern world.

Increase our understanding by learning the facts

parenting books - media moms and digital dads

Media Moms & Digital Dads by Yalda T. Uhls, PhD – Author Yalda Uhls integrates social science research into key segments of the book to balance current perspectives with data. The result is helpful for giving our assumptions about media use more context, and potentially an alternative point of view. The chapters on social media are especially helpful as my girls continue through middle school. I learned about FOMO (fear of missing out) which can be amplified for teens over today’s social media networks. She also covers the rise of selfies and how they are becoming normalized in today’s culture. I will keep this in mind as the kids head out into the new media landscapes, and keep a close eye on their self esteem.

I’m glad all three of these books are in my library, and thank the authors for taking time to create educational materials for parents in a rapidly changing world.

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo Credit Flickr [Sam Greenhalgh]

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Books for Tech in Home

How We Manage Online Homework to Avoid Scope Creep

By seventh grade, 75% of my daughter’s daily homework moved online. Aside from a few math problems and group projects, most essays, quizzes and assignments are constructed and completed through Edmodo or Google Classroom. I noticed the difference about halfway through the year when less paper seemed to clutter the desk. Instead, the Chromebook and charging cord took center stage.

online homework

If you have a teen, it may come as no surprise that they don’t appreciate being micromanaged. My concern with computer-based homework are the inherent distractions present with multiple websites and constant classmate interactions. Those interactions take up time: time that can be better spent completing the actual homework assignment or hanging out with family after it’s done.

How could I encourage a focused approach to homework without being annoying? While it’s tough to solve the annoying part, we are making progress on managing computer-based homework so it does not overtake family life. Here is how:

Eat First

My kids eat before they start homework. An after school meal settles everyone in the household so they are relaxed and recharged for brainwork.

Analog Before Digital

We review the homework that needs to be done for the day, and they choose the discrete analog homework first. This way, online distractions are delayed by starting with paper-based homework.

Time Estimate

I ask for a time estimate on the total amount of homework before they begin. Do they have an hour or three hours of homework? Then we calculate what time they should be finished. Now, they are accountable for finishing on time.

Check In

Whatever the time estimate, I make a note to check in a couple of times to see if the end time needs to be adjusted. These check-ins can be bothersome if it disrupts their focus or stresses them out, so I try to keep check-ins to no more than once per hour.


I used to think a regular bedtime was especially important for toddlers and young children. Now I feel it’s even more important for teens in a modern world to take bedtime seriously. We have a consistent bedtime every night, and the goal is to keep homework from interfering with sleep.

By next year my girls will be older and no doubt we’ll need to adjust as technology changes. But for now, this plan is working so we’re sticking to it. If you have any experience to share, especially as kids get into high school, I would be interested in your thoughts.

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo credit [Flickr]

How One Mother Ended The Battle Over Screen Time

This guest post is written by Carisa Kluver, founder of the popular website Digital Storytime, and writer at Digital Media Diet. Carisa combines her background in research, education, parenting and mobile apps to create a home-based solution for balancing media in family life. 

Do you have a media-obsessed child? It can be a kiddo who loves to play video games, watch YouTube or even movies. These kids often beg for tablet time, screen time or media (as we call it in our home). These kids also talk obsessively about their online experiences when asked about their day, their interests or sometimes any question at all.

My confession is that I’m parenting a child just like this, right now, in real time (IRL). I don’t have the luxury of studies and expert advice to guide me. But being a researcher, I looked into every solution that might not only bring balance to my child’s life today but more importantly, teach him how to manage this media himself as he grows older.

Over five years ago I started a website reviewing children’s digital books with my husband and son helping along the way. This family ‘business’ was a labor of love, but sometimes kept me busy for 12-18 hours a day. The fact that my young son could preview books, give his expert opinions as the target audiences while enjoying time together was a huge plus. The process also helped me hone my writing skills, bringing several opportunities to be published. I even helped design & implement a training for librarians about digital storytimes that has been used nationally in the U.S.

My son is nine, but his obsession with screens began before he could even talk. Initially, his father was building an app for preschoolers and our child became the best beta tester ever born. He helped with my app reviews. But he also watched his parents. But what were we modeling? A lot of screen time for sure, even if it was for ‘work’ purposes.

These work opportunities were transformative for me, personally, but what was I modeling with all this media obsession showing up in my young child? The experience gave me pause. I was a former social worker with lots of training in how to set up systems to ease family tension and reduce child misbehavior. Perhaps I should try my own medicine?

Among the best systems I recommended for families with parent-child power-struggles, were star-charts and positive reward systems. At school my child was exposed to systems where teachers give students behavioral points (bucks, dollars, etc.) to cash in for prizes, which gave me an inspiration. What if we set up a ‘buck’ system at home? It could teach balance for media and good habits for managing money in general.

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This was the start of my search. First I wondered if I wanted the tracking system to include more than just screen time balance with other activities. Then I had to decide if I wanted to track our system with physical bucks to exchange or a digital alternative. And should my child get an allowance of media time, mirroring the recommendation for no more than two hours a day? These were big questions and I was literally guessing all along the way.

Ultimately I decided to make our system all-encompassing for chores, homework, reading, targeted educational apps and other positive behaviors we wanted to instill in our child. The rewards would also be broad, including trips to get ice cream, toys and other favorite activities, but the main focus would be on screen time. Our buck system includes a lot of interesting ‘prizes’ but by far the most frequently chosen reward is to have ‘media’ time. My child gets an allowance each week equal to 30 min. screen time a day with the option to earn more ‘bucks’ by doing homework, reading books and chores. This amounts to an average of screen time that is under 2 hours a day on average, the recommendation by the AAP (

Before implementing this system, we had daily power struggles over how much media our child consumed. He wanted unlimited amounts, creating a constant tension in our home. A year into this ‘buck’ experiment I can truly say we have peace in our home and a more mature child who plans his screen time around other healthy activities like playing outside, reading for pleasure, play dates with friends and more.

What does my child think of this system? I asked him to sum it up and he was rather articulate, saying “It’s more efficient to give me bucks and let me decide myself how to spend my time.” He added that “it also is more enjoyable to play my video games because I know I’ve earned them.”

As parents we see a huge change using this system, too. For me, the battles over screen time are essentially over. I still decide when it’s appropriate to ‘cash in’ bucks for media time, so sometimes I do still have to say no. Most of the time, however, the question isn’t for me but for my son’s wallet. Can he afford to spend his last few bucks or is he saving up for something? If media has been ‘out of balance’ I also have a great way to limit it by letting my child run out of bucks. He can earn more by reading, chores, homework or educational apps (right now we’re emphasizing multiplication and keyboarding skills) but even that has a ceiling. Screen time was never unlimited in our house, but now it’s beautifully self-limited in a natural equilibrium with other activities.

Ultimately I never worry anymore about too much screen time. Since implementing the system, my child is not only happier with his media time but also getting significantly less of it. I also don’t have to battle over media when I’m in a bad mood or possibly a good mood that can be taken advantage of easily by an only-child. Eliminating these parent-child struggles is one of the goals of a positive reward system that any social worker might help a family implement, and I can testify that it makes for a much more peaceful home environment!

You can follow Carisa on Twitter at @iPad_storytime.

Five Cell-Free Zones To Keep Family Life Centered

I’ve been happy with the balance we’ve found so far with kids, technology and family life. In analyzing our family’s habits, I noticed five daily routines that keep conversations flowing and cell phones in their place. Do you notice similar habits? Let’s drill down:

School pick ups

I like having my phone off or in my purse during school pick ups. When I’m focused solely on the kids after their long day at school, it’s easy for me to pick up on important details like mood and energy level. After school can be a critical time of day for my kids. How we wind down from the afternoon determines how well we boot up for the evening’s responsibilities.

Sporting events

I like watching my kids play, dance and sing — whatever they happen to be immersed in throughout the seasons. If they see me watching, I simply want them to see a parent who is fully engaged. If I use the phone to snap a photo or answer a text, I try to make sure any digital interaction is quick and not immersive, keeping my attention on the game and players. The details I soak up from watching are helpful for family conversation starters about who played what, and how the event progressed.

Car rides

Car rides to school or errands around town are opportunities to ask about life’s little details. How is the school project going? What are you planning to wear to the next school dance? What shall we do this weekend? If my kids are studying their phones instead of chilling out, they would have no time or interest in a conversation. Conversations can be key to keeping relationships on track. The more, the better — and car rides can be an awesome medium to keep them rolling.


This is old news because everywhere we turn we’re being told to have family dinner with no devices in sight. But the sentiment is overplayed for a reason. Shared meals are precious. With everyone in the family at the same table, common ground and lively conversations can overcome age divisions. Rings, dings, chimes are vibrations are interruptions that are best put aside until later.


Have you ever studied which nights you get the best sleep? Are they the nights you’ve burned the midnight oil in front of a screen? Or are they the nights you’ve gotten into PJs early with a book or a magazine to doze off peacefully? I’ll make a bet which situation works best for the ultimate zzzzzs.

That’s five? Oh boy. I have one more. Here is a bonus…

Bonus: Time with friends!

When friends get together, magic sometimes happens. Over the years we’ve hosted playdates involving all kinds of activities like dress-up, water balloons, and treasure hunts. These activities might have been overshadowed if phones got in the way. Sometimes I notice (even if a phone is just being used to play music) that it’s way too easy for a kid to take it and get consumed by something else. Playing together without distractions keeps everyone connected to each other and on the same page.

What side-benefits have you noticed from keeping cell phones out of the mainstream path? I’d love to hear your strategies, and add them to the list.

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

 Photo credit Flickr [Lon Martin]

Build Family Slideshows with iPhone and Apple TV

Our family was busy making memories over winter break. Many of these memories were captured on iPhone Camera Rolls in a blend of colorful photos and whimsical videos. Wouldn’t it be a shame for another year to go by without a soul enjoying the footage?

Thanks to tech tips from our tweens and the latest Apple technologies, we have modern tools to build slideshows in a flash. Here are five simple suggestions for creating and displaying your family’s content:

Snap photos while taking a video

Sometimes when I’m taking a video, I need to interrupt and switch to photo mode for a still picture. While I was fiddling, a young family friend showed me how to shoot a still while taking a video. From the iPhone Camera, go to video mode and start recording. Once you are recording, click the white button to the left of the red record button. This automatically saves a photo to the iPhone Camera Roll. What I like about this integration is that it encourages short video clips without missing “the shot”, and slideshows come alive with both types of media.

Beam content with Airdrop

When a groups snap photos together, the snapper may get left out of their own photos. For example, as photographer, I have many more photos of my husband and kids versus me and the kids. Airdrop is a great way to collect photos from each iPhoner without having to “email or text them later”, which rarely happens. “Hey, Airdrop that to me” lets you beam it right away to round out the photo album. To Airdrop, swipe up on your iphone, make yourself discoverable, choose a photo, click the share icon, and select Airdrop. Besides, Airdrop literacy may be important to know if you have older kids. I hear teens are using it for all sorts of things. Knowing how privacy settings work in advance could be very helpful to avoid future snafus.

Favorite your best shots

With hundreds or thousands of digital images on a single phone, editing into albums could be a laborious task. But favoriting them by clicking a heart is very simple, and populates an album of top choices at your fingertips. With your favorites identified, ordering prints or playing a slideshow requires less sorting. To favorite, go to Camera Roll, select a photo, and click the heart. To view, go to Camera Roll, view Albums, and select Favorites.

Mirror on Apple TV with Airplay

Why keep awesome holiday images locked up in the confines of your personal device? Apple TV makes it possible to view them on the big screen. To view, turn on Apple TV, swipe up on your iPhone, click AirPlay, click Apple TV, and toggle Mirroring to ON. Make sure wifi is enabled in your Settings. If so, you should be able to see your iPhone screen on the TV.

Select Slideshow for all to see

If you followed steps 1 through 4, you should have a fun album of favorited content in your Camera Roll. Assuming this is true, go to Photos, Albums, Favorites, and select the first picture. Click the share icon, and choose Slideshow as an option from the bottom menu (choices should be Copy, Print, Slideshow, AirPlay, etc.). A dynamic collage of photos and videos will display through Apple TV to preset music. Slideshow options let you choose music, themes and pace. Voila!

The only problem with family slideshow night is that it’s too much fun. Everyone wants to share photos on the big screen. Before you know it, people can’t stop TALKING. Kids retell highlights from their latest trip. Relatives ask questions about the details. Parents gawk at the scenery. All ages, young and old, begin to connect over common multimedia magic, which is refreshing after being glued to individual mini universes for so long.

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

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3 Lessons I Learned About Online Privacy When My Teen Googled Her Name

When my daughter Googled her name following a conversation with friends about who is on the Internet, I turned out to be her biggest online privacy problem. The results of the name search displayed several photos from my personal blog that we thought were labeled anonymously. Uh oh.

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“Mom, why is my sports photo showing up on an Internet search?”, she asked.

Good question, I thought. I should know better.

And so began a series of steps to understand our digital footprint before she enters the world of social media on her own terms. I learned more from this experience than any privacy workshop, and would like to share how we are addressing and correcting the problem.

Lesson 1: Evolving as a parent

As a parent, I needed to realize that my daughter is not a toddler anymore. She has opinions about how she is (or is not) presented online, and my job is to completely respect those opinions. My old default was to be proud of some milestone and shout it out, just like I did when they started walking, talking or playing. My new default is to chill out. If they have something to share, they will soon be able to share it themselves. For the past two years, my Facebook feed dropped off from family sharing, specifically for this reason.

Lesson 2: Even if I think I’m sharing anonymously, Google still has a way of figuring things out!

I never shared their first and last name combinations on a post, but Google still linked the last name from my profile with her first name, displaying her data on a name search. In instances where I thought she was totally anonymous, Google Plus circumvented the anonymity by linking text from a friend’s comment. Ugh! Should I have been using code names from day one? Or, should I have opted out completely from the online sharing universe?

Lesson 3: Third parties that seem innocuous, like sports leagues, have their own set of issues.

Another photo that popped up was from an old team roster. This sports league required photo IDs for every player, and getting the IDs printed required uploading the photo to their database. Did their database have a delete function for players? No. Were these rosters searchable over the internet? Yes. Do I wish I would have known that in advance? Yes! Lesson learned.

Attempted Fixes

After running a name search on my personal blog, I substituted every first name reference to a generic “my daughter” or “my oldest” or “my youngest”. I did the same thing on Facebook by searching for my daughters’ names and adjusting or deleting any named posts. This seemed to fix the search listings on both platforms. Unfortunately, Google Plus is less cooperative. Even after deleting a post, the search results are still displaying the image. Next, I contacted the sports league director to request player privacy. They responded right away, but it’s taking awhile for the new privacy settings to take effect.

Moving Forward

If I had to repeat the last decade, what would I do differently? Blogging is an incredibly satisfying part of my life. I enjoy sharing stories, forming opinions, and connecting with others online. I also enjoy parenting. Luckily, I have great kids who learn along with me. I asked if they wanted to make the blog private or take anything down, and they said no. They enjoy looking back on our journeys and experiences together, even moreso now that they are becoming digital citizens themselves.

Today, I try to use more discretion before posting, keeping photos generally scenic or symbolic. When a photo is identifiable to mark a special moment, I ask permission first. What started as my personal blog is becoming a shared family archive that we enjoy. As new social platforms emerge, like Instagram, I show them my account and let them scroll through, so we experience (and learn) together how it works.

This strategy seems to be working just fine, for now…until the next episode comes along!

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

The Importance of Family Time in an Era of Skyrocketing Media Use

Did you see the latest report from Common Sense Media? This 2015 national survey shows an average daily media use of 6 hours for tweens and 9 hours for teens. This does not include time spent on computers for homework. Given the ubiquity of smartphones, the results are not surprising. Given the need to keep life in balance, family bonds could be an antidote to a device’s magnetic pull.

As my tweens grow (they are now 10 and 12), we continue to prioritize time spent together over time spent apart. This lifestyle is building family bonds while keeping media in a healthy place. Here are examples of our simple daily choices to keep family first in life’s list of growing priorities:

Car rides with conversations

Rides to and from school do not include devices. They do include conversations about upcoming activities, homework load, and social life on the playground. Sometimes they include random questions about life, or just listening to music together.

Family dinner

Family dinner happens most nights, except one or two nights a week when my husband and I want a private conversation or when an activity conflicts. This involves joint planning in the morning about what’s for dinner, so ingredients can be arranged for the evening’s meal.

Neighborhood walks

Walking is one of my favorite activities. The girls are old enough to join us when homework and activity schedules permit. Like car rides, neighborhood walks provide uninterrupted time to discuss mutual topics of interest between parent and child.

Watching sports as a family

After a long day, we love to put on a baseball or basketball game. Our favorite teams are the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors. Watching a game together spurs conversations about game rules, great plays, and favorite athletes. “Wow, did you see that? Watch the replay!” are phrases that keep us in synch and relaxed.

Games on the living room carpet

Alphabet Dice Game, in addition to Sorry, have been recent family favorites to play once homework is done or on the weekends. We also have Mastermind, Connect 4, and Yahtzee in the RV for day-trips and camping trips.

Reading and visiting the library together

Having a stack of books to fuel our next read is essential for everyone in the family. In chapter 14 of the new book Tap, Click, Read by Michael Levine and Lisa Guernsey, they note a common refrain of modern society — “kids today have such a short attention span, they just won’t sit and read a book.” By having plenty of book choices around, and enough time on our hands to sit around and read, we hope reading will continue to be a number-one leisure activity for our children.

Quiet homes, focused time

To encourage reading, and just the plain ability to focus quietly, our home is often quiet. TVs are off by default, and turned on only for a specific purpose. Our routine is usually school, homework, play/activity/read, dinner, family time, bed. After school and during homework time, the house is quiet. The quieter the house, the better everyone can focus and get their work done.

My goal is to keep media in check through the high school years. This is why I read reports, learn how to use social media networks, and try my best to uphold a family-first lifestyle. I don’t know if we’ll be able to pull it off, but the more bonds we forge now, the better our chances may be.

@LorraineAkemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Apps for Kids Launch on Apple TV

Apple continues to push forward on new interactive platforms for consumers. Beyond the iPhone and iPad, there is now Apple Watch and Apple TV. Not to be left out, kids app makers are tailoring their content to flourish in these new environments. Remote control is no longer just for changing channels, but for moving elements to complete puzzles, solve math equations, or explore enchanted worlds. Congratulations to the developers who lead this technological innovation with educational and family-friendly inventions. Let’s recap what’s new today, in apps for kids, on Apple TV:

Wee Puzzles by Wee Taps Apps


From the App Store description: 50 fun puzzles for toddlers! Keep your kids entertained with a wide variety of drag & drop puzzles. Whether they’re into pirates, dinosaurs, trains, gardening, rockets, submarines or farm animals there will be something for them in Wee Puzzles. [The TV version uses the Apple Remote to drag pieces into position.]

Oh No Fractions! by Curious Hat*


From the App Store description: Visually compare, add, subtract, multiply and divide two fractions with a unique and simple interface. [The TV version plays more like a game with a “race against time” option.]

Sago Mini Fairy Tales by Sago Sago

From the App Store description: Explore an enchanted forest with Jinja the cat. Invite Jinja out to play and discover a magical world filled with familiar fairy tale characters. Laugh as you encounter gnomes, dragons and even a frog prince. Make new friends, play dress up and unearth silly surprises. This open-ended play experience is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

Do you know of more apps to share for Apple TV? Reach out, and I’ll add them to the list.

*Member of Know What’s Inside, a program committed to best practices in children’s online privacy.

@LorraineAkemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Do Computers Aid Learning?

This guest post is written by Garry Froehlich of Jellybean Tunes who publishes the weekly App Friday App Report. Garry addresses the latest findings from an international study analyzing the effects of technology in the classroom, and provides commentary about the results. Garry is also a long standing member of the Know What’s Inside program. 

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released more results from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), finding that more use of information and communication technology (ICT – they do love their acronyms) in schools does not improve reading or math scores on the PISA test for 15 year olds. The actual report runs 204 pages and has a lot of information, which the media is already spinning, but what are the actual results? From the report itself:

“Overall, the evidence from PISA, as well as from more rigorously designed evaluations, suggests that solely increasing access to computers for students, at home or at school, is unlikely to result in significant improvements in education outcomes.”

In many ways, “Do computers aid learning?” is the wrong question to ask. Technology is a tool like any other, so we shouldn’t expect that more computers equals better grades. The more important question is how to make effective use of the tools (technology) we have.

“The report leaves many questions unanswered. The impact of technology on education delivery remains sub-optimal, because we may overestimate the digital skills of both teachers and students, because of naïve policy design and implementation strategies, because of a poor understanding of pedagogy, or because of the generally poor quality of educational software and courseware. In fact, how many children would choose to play a computer game of the same quality as the software that finds its way into many classrooms around the world? Results suggest that the connections among students, computers and learning are neither simple nor hard-wired; and the real contributions ICT can make to teaching and learning have yet to be fully realised and exploited.”

“Last but not least, it is vital that teachers become active agents for change, not just in implementing technological innovations, but in designing them too.”

The OECD concludes that a new approach is needed for the use of technology in schools.

Fortunately, these results are from 2012 and the changes are already happening. Teachers, companies, developers, and parents are all involved in the creation of new models and new ideas. Technology (or any new tool) is best used when it allows us to do things that were difficult or impossible to do before. They require us to take a step back and see what we are trying to accomplish, and then to decide how, or even if, to use the tools at our disposal (see also the SAMR Model ).

With computers, and especially mobile computers like phones and tablets, the benefits are going to come from the ability to easily communicate and collaborate, access information, monitor and provide feedback, and interact with problems in new ways. Ideas like the Global Read Aloud Project, collaboration and creation of a digital book with different grade levels and classes in different parts of the country, giving kids access to iPads to monitor and improve their reading, interacting with the forces that shape the earth, continually updated textbooks, learning math skills through games with immediate personalized feedback, and of course the numerous apps we feature every week are all enabled or improved in the right ways by technology.

It’s an exciting time.