Author: Craig Moore, SMGS IT Manager and School of Code teacher
For many students, technology is now an integral part of everyday school life. The popularity of “Bring Your Own Device” programs and the availability of cloud-based or internet-enabled education tools has seen an explosion in the number of students who rely on their device for the majority of their day-to-day learning.
What we tend to forget is that, unlike many of us, they don’t have the experience of using technology in a workplace. Many of us assume that because these children are members of the digital generation, they will automatically know how to manage their devices.
In reality, beyond the internet and social media apps, most school-aged children don’t have a basic understanding of how to manage their own device. Children of “the Digital Age” have grown up with technology that does everything for them. Companies like Apple have been very successful in building hardware and software that simplifies even the most complex tasks into a couple of swipes. As a user, you have no idea what the device is doing, it just works!
And this is where the problem lies. Our children assume that everything will just work. That is, until it stops working and they lose a year’s worth of school work in a single night. And if technology breaks, it generally breaks for good. In the days of pen and paper, spilling a cup of water on your books would make them look messy but the work would still be there. Spill that same cup of water on your device and it could be gone in an instant.
It’s not all bad news, though. By teaching your child a few simple concepts, they’ll be well on their way to surviving the digital school-ground.
- Never lose another file – there are so many free and easy-to-use cloud-based back-up solutions that there shouldn’t be any excuse for losing files. Apps like Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud or DropBox are free, provide generous storage allowances and can be installed in a matter of minutes. Teaching your child to save all their files into their “sync” folder will ensure that they never lose another file.
- Consolidate your notes – similar to the back-up, there are a number of really good, free, cloud-based notebooks such as Microsoft’s OneNote and Evernote. These electronic notebooks are automatically synchronised to any device, allowing your child to save notes any time, anywhere, on any of their devices. Effective electronic note-taking can become a very valuable study reference come exam time.
- Manage distractions – one of the downsides of using a device is the number of distractions that it puts at your fingertips. Personally, I love listening to music while I work. It helps me block out the world and focus my thoughts but you need to know when to use it. Listening to music or glancing at your social media feed can often help when you are “producing” work. If you are consuming information, such as listening to a teacher speak, external information will only restrict the amount of information that you are able to consume. You brain can’t effectively process multiple information streams at the same time without losing something.
- Effective communication – there is always a person at the other end of that email, text, message, etc. Address the person in the same way that you would address them in person. And, most importantly, if you wouldn’t say it to them in person, don’t say it to them through the computer!
- Turn it off and on again! – the number one fix for anything. If it isn’t working properly or it’s slow or it’s doing something weird, re-start it. Turn it off and turn it on again. Computing devices degrade the longer you run them so 9 out 10 issues can be solved with a simple re-start. It’s also good to get into the habit of re-starting your device every week or so to make sure it continues to perform at its best.
Take the time to teach your child how to survive the digital school-ground. 30 minutes now will save hours of heartache during the year.