Tag Archives: education

12 Durable Tips for Better Distance Learning

Girl doing math on laptop

After a crushing disappointment, it became almost a miracle.

The broadcast journalism grad students from Syracuse University were supposed to spend the summer of 2020 in Washington, D.C. With media credentials dangling from their necks, they’d chase down interviews and comingle in our pop-up newsroom like network correspondents. Then, as for countless other students, their dreams were dashed. Because of the pandemic, the program would be all online.

But they rose to the challenge. Students pitched stories on Slack, did interviews on Zoom, and wrote scripts in Google Docs. We on the faculty fine-tuned the video and audio of their news reports with the powerful Frame.IO. We got the job done.  

Although I’ve been wary of digital fixes in the past, I’m the first to admit: our program was saved by technology.

As the world heads into the first full school year of the pandemic, digital teaching tools will be crucial, especially since more than half of U.S. K through 12 schools expect not to return to a physical classroom. “We have to demand that the internet is a public utility and that it is installed for families that don’t have access,” says Merrie Najimy, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Yet, last spring’s quick switch to online learning has largely been deemed a failure—and kids are still feeling the pain. Pediatricians across the U.S. report an unprecedented number of patients with anxiety and depression borne by disrupted school and home routines.  

So what’s a parent to do?

Luckily, we’ve learned from our mistakes. Based on the hard won experience served up on Zoom by boots-on-the-ground parents and education experts, here are 12 ways parents can help their kids do school better:

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Gabb Wireless Phone Answers Parents’ Prayers

black touch-screen wireless phone for kids

At last, a sleek touch-screen starter phone made just for kids. The big difference: it can’t access to the Internet. “It’s not that it’s blocked. It really doesn’t exist on the phone,” says Stephen Dalby, founder of Gabb Wireless. “On our cellular network, the only thing you will find will be safe phones for kids.”

Being a dad launched Dalby on his design journey. “I had to get a phone for my son and I just didn’t feel comfortable with the options that were out there.”

As a first step toward a full-fledged smartphone, Gabb Basic has plenty for kids to learn. They can call, text, and use the calendar, alarm and calculator apps. What they can’t do is play video games, use social media, shop in app stores, send picture messages, or group text.

The price is lighter, too.

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Of Talking Sticks and Digital-Age Redemption

The following is the first of several posts based on the new book, How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

One of the beautiful things about kids is that they’re unencumbered. Their minds are tabulae rasae—fertile, open fields. The job of parents, teachers, and other caring adults is to direct their exposure to seeds of knowledge and experience, and to help tend what takes root.

The idea, says Dr. Michael Rich—a pediatrician and founder of Children’s Hospital Boston Center on Media and Child Health—is to:

Build a menu of diversity which makes them a richer, fuller person.

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