Collaborative, technology-led kids

Our CEO, Fiona Hewitt recently published an article about working parents and the leadership skills they possess that make great leaders.

To extend on that, I’d like to share the sites and apps that I use to support my role as full time working ninja mum and marketing manager. 

I have worked in the music and media industries and have experienced first-hand the disruption that technology had on both industries. The thing is, with disruption comes opportunity – people haven’t stopped listening and paying for music, nor have they stopped wanting to pay for relevant news and information.  

The enablers have changed, not the outcomes – and in both instances the arrival of the internet has fragmented the market and changed how audiences consume and access information.

I love technology, have always embraced new advancements and have accrued 16 years in digital marketing so have seen a lot of technology trends come, go and stay.

I’d like to share some of the apps and websites that support my children’s learning and make my life flow as a working parent:

 The technology our children are growing up with has made the connectivity of people and ideas
easier to access than ever. 

My children go to Freemans Bay Primary school – which is an inner city school in Auckland educating children from more than 40 different countries. 

As well as being the United Nations of students our school is at the centre of a 21st Century learning environment. And again, the outputs for our children’s learning hasn’t changed – my goal for my children is to become confident, caring and respectful learners – and the technology we’re using every day to support that has been amazing to witness.

Our school is also a founding member of the Global Schools Alliance which was formed in 2012 by progressive schools worldwide wanting to encourage more relevant ways of teaching and learning internationally.

A few weeks ago, while at the after-school programme at our school my children were able to be part of a Google hangout with their principal and connect with schools from Australia, India and Denmark and explore different ways that they can collaborate. 

They were amazed it was 5am in Denmark while being 4pm here. My son has recently written two white papers (via Google docs and in collaboration with his teacher and me) which he has presented to the principal. 

What impresses me about this is the ability he has to recognise something he’d like to change, articulate it, collaborate and build a case, then present it. 

Today his concerns might be about reinstating the school pool, and allowing rugby to be played at lunchtimes. In the future, this collaborative, technology-led approach could lead to just about anything.

I also love how technology is playing a big part in building aspirations across both our boys and our girls and encouraging STEM-based learning – which is what needs to happen to have our engineering, computer science and technology industries more equally represented in the workforce of our future. 

My children have been exposed to some wonderful technology-led learning and the resources at our fingertips are just amazing. As an aside I’m not hot-housing my kids, nor am I the tiger mother of tech. It is my absolute goal for my kids to continue to be enthusiastic learners, and here are a few of the websites we use and love:

Learning

  • www.sparkventures.co.nz  Kids code club: This is a great initiative from Spark  where they run code clubs for students after school. It’s free and building great curiosity, thanks Spark Ventures.
  • https://code.org/mc:  Code.org is dedicated to expanding access to computer science, with the vision that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, in particular women and under-represented minorities. There’s a great introduction which teaches coding through building a Minecraft world – both my kids loved it.
  • https://hourofcode.com/nz is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. One-hour tutorials are available in over 45 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104. Code that captures both my and my children’s ages, just.
  • https://scratch.mit.edu/: Scratch is a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations.
  • http://nz.mathletics.com/: Mathletics supports 140,000+ kiwi students to love learning maths. My kids have ‘math-races’ with children from all over the world.
  • http://readingeggs.co.nz: Reading Eggs is the online reading programme that helps children learn to read. It’s great and has age appropriate games that encourage reading and literacy – even for reluctant readers.
  • https://www.youtube.com: One of the most commonly searched phrases in YouTube is ‘how to’ and YouTube has been a great learning tool for my children who, when stuck with something, will search on how to solve the particular challenge they are facing and learn the tools to approach their particular challenge.

School

  • http://www.yq.co.nz: A fantastic lunch ordering app.
  • http://www.allteams.co.nz: We are able to organise payments for school fees, activities etc. It’s much easier for me to manage versus the white slips that are found (generally soggy) at the bottom of the school bag an hour before it’s due.
  • https://www.google.com: I love being able to see what my kids are working on – it’s such a treat to have such transparency with their learning.

Shopping

  • https://www.countdown.co.nz: Food supply is crucial. Order and deliver same day, and now seven days a week. And getting supermarket over takeaways is better for the budget, and waistline. 

Adventuring

  • https://www.geocaching.com/play:
    This is basically the world’s largest treasure hunt.
  • http://www.pokemongo.com: Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality mobile game that was released in most regions of the world in July 2016. It’s the future of gaming, and while we’re not playing it (yet) I suspect we’re one of a minority. In three months we will be hearing Pokemon Go weight-loss stories.

I also use apps for banking, weather, health, utilities and entertainment and it would be great to learn from other parents what website and apps support the busy life of a working parent.  

 

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