Tech talk at a homeschool conference ~ I need your help

I've been asked to speak again this year at our local homeschool conference. Last year I had to work through my anxiety and reluctance about Christian homeschool conferences, and face my feelings of inadequacy and insecurity when I agreed to present on Project Based Learning. I shared all those feelings on the blog. (Writing is part of how I work through "my stuff".)

This year I don't need to work through quite so much angst about the whole thing. Been there, done that. I have one presentation under my belt so I know what to expect (removing the unknown is huge for me). I also feel pretty clear about my message and mission within the homeschool community.

The double-heartbeat of homeschooling for me has always been freedom and courage. Because that's the path I've needed to walk for my own growth, the values I've needed to live and learn.

This year's message about freedom and courage is around technology, specifically the potential of technology tools in the homeschool environment for connection, creation, and collaboration.

Here's my workshop description:

Preparing our kids for a productive adult life in a modern society is our job as parents and homeschoolers. We live in a world with increasing opportunity, access, and dependency on computers and internet technologies. Sometimes this is a reality we fear but it can also be a reality we maximize.

As homeschoolers, we are in the unique position to create a curriculum and learning environment best suited to our individual students and our family goals and values. The vast world of computer technology is at our disposal; to access, use, and leverage for the benefit of our students, families, and our communities.

Beyond the realm of computer-delivered curriculum, online classes, and other education-specific programs is an expansive set of tools to help you create meaningful, real-world learning experiences within your homeschool.

Join Renee in this workshop as she encourages us to think beyond computer delivered curriculum and shares personal stories, experience, and practical ideas for using technology as a tool in your homeschool.

The key point of that description is this: "Beyond the realm of computer-delivered curriculum, online classes, and other education-specific programs is an expansive set of tools to help you create meaningful, real-world learning experiences within your homeschool."

My kids have been using these tools for years to connect, create, and collaborate. I know your kids have been doing the same.

There can be a lot of fear that accompanies the idea of kids and computers - online safety, addictive behaviors, loss of outdoor play, etc. But kids are on computers and devices, this is the world we live in. We need to be aware of risks certainly, but fear and ignorance should not limit the amazing opportunities available to home-learners, or any learners for that matter!

I want to prepare a presentation that showcases the amazing opportunities and unique and innovative ways of using computer and internet technologies to support, enhance and create real-world learning.

I'm not talking about using Khan Academy for math, or all the myriad of websites, apps, and software that supports the delivery of graded, subject-based schooling. Math, language arts, science, history, etc you can find all those subjects taught in ready-made lessons and programs. That's not the focus of this presentation.

I want to talk about how learners are using the non-schooly websites, apps, and software that are real-world tools to connect, create, and collaborate with other people, using this as either the backbone of their homeschool learning or to enhance their other homeschool curriculum.

I want to know how tech is being used to do student-initiated, project-orientated, real-world stuff.

Calling all kids/families using tech to create meaningful, real-world learning experiences within your homeschool.

I want to talk to you. I want to hear about your experience. I want to know what your kids do on the computer/devices in this way and how it enriches their lives. I want to know what they are learning about the world and themselves. I want to know what they are creating and how they are collaborating with people around the world.

I know it's happening because it happens in my own home. I will share my own family's experiences in my presentation but I want to share from a richer, deeper well than just my own.

How do your kids...

  • Use software to make stuff, digital or hard-copy? What software are your kids using? What are they making with it? What problems are they solving? What needs are they meeting?
  • Use forums and social media to connect with people around subjects of interest? What cool opportunities come out of these interactions? Where do your kids gather online, what projects, collaborations, connections, and spin off interests have come out of those interactions?
  • Use platforms to create and publish writing, music, art, video etc? What content are your kids creating? Where do they share it? What opportunities have come out of that process?

I know your kids are collaborating, connecting, and creating. They are earning money from it, they are making friends, they are making connections, they are finding out about career and study options. They are engaged in the world; growing, discovering, learning.

I'm not a researcher but I am a story person. Personal stories and experiences fascinate me. I always learn something I didn't before when hearing a person's story. I want to hear yours.

A few details:

  • If you're interested in participating please leave a comment, reply to this in email (if you're subscribed), or send me a message here stating your interest. I'll follow-up from there.
  • Your identity will remain anonymous unless you are ok sharing links to your children's online projects (they are out there in the real world after all!). Nothing will be revealed about your family that you are not comfortable sharing.
  • You don't have to be a homeschooler. If your schooled children are using computer technology in ways listed above I want to hear about it.

I can't wait to hear from you. It would mean the world to me if you could help me out in my research so I can pull together a really good presentation.

Thanks so much!

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