By Guest Author John Sowash
It’s pretty easy to notice the negative impact technology has on society. You may be inclined to minimize the amount of technology you allow in your home, and I wouldn’t argue with you if you were. After all, aimless use of technology causes all kinds of issues.
However, purposeful use of technology is beneficial, and frankly, essential to raising kids that are equipped to be salt and light in the world. My wife and I homeschool our five kids so that they can communicate effectively, contribute to society, and follow God’s path for their life. In order to accomplish this goal, we need to teach our kids how to communicate using the methods of their generation. Let’s unpack this idea…
What Are 21st Century Communication Skills?
Critical thinking and problem solving never go out of style. What does change, is HOW we communicate with one another. To be successful in life you must be able to communicate ideas and complex topics in a unique and engaging way. When I was in school, I learned public speaking, letter writing, and flip-books.
Let me be honest for a moment.
Not once in my professional career have I ever been asked to design a flip-book (sorry, mom!). Creating a flip-book is not a super useful skill.
But hold on … we’re not done yet….
The ability to take a complex topic, summarize the essential elements, and display them in an attractive visual format is a VERY useful skill. What do we call that in 2021?
As I said, I want my kids to be able to communicate effectively, contribute to society, and follow God’s path for their life. This means I need to teach them how to use technology to share their ideas and story with the world.
That brings us to the question at hand: how do you incorporate technology into your homeschool curriculum? And with that question comes a slew of other questions that can be confusing. Should we buy Chromebooks … or iPads … what about phones? Should we use Google Drive or Microsoft Office? What video editing app [i.e. like Adobe Express] should they master? As you navigate these questions, don’t forget that attempting to predict which products or companies will be important in 10 years is a foolish task (remember AOL, Myspace, and Napster?) 😉
Instead, when it comes to using technology, focus on working with audio, video, and images.
The tools and devices you use are less important than having experience with these three forms of communication.
How to Add Technology Projects to Your Existing Routine
Homeschoolers are already doing so much, and the thought of adding something else to your day is probably tough to imagine.
The good news is you can easily add tech projects to your existing routine.
Here are three quick ideas to help you get started:
- Turn memory work into an audio experience
- Each month we memorize a verse from Scripture as a family. Each of my kids records themselves reading the verse so that we can listen to it every day. Older students can add background music and sound effects to enhance the mood and theme of the verse. Listening to these home-made recordings is a fun way to memorize our monthly passage. 123apps.com is a free site you can use to record and edit audio.
- Turn research projects into websites
- This year we have been using the Gather ‘Round Homeschool curriculum. The monthly studies supplied by this curriculum allow us to dive deep into a topic. At the end of the month we simply collect all of this learning into a website. We use Google Sites because it’s easy to use and allows us to share writing samples, presentations, videos, and images. Below is a sample webpage we have designed.
- Turn biographies into videos
- Biography reports make great videos! We had each of our kids research a US President. They collected images and wrote a paragraph about their life. Then, they turned this information into a short video using Adobe Spark. The hard work was collecting the images and polishing the writing. The video was the fun part! Tip: grandparents are always impressed by these videos! You can see an example of one of the reports below.
Communication skills are just as important as ever, but the methods we use to communicate have evolved. You are already teaching your students how to research, speak, and write. Now, with a few simple tweaks to your routine, you can show them how to spread these ideas using video, audio, and images. I hope to share more with you on incorporating technology into your homeschool routine at the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference!