Category Archives: Technology

“Luxury…”

pythonThere is an old Monty Python skit called “The Four Yorkshiremen” and during high school, a friend and I had it memorized line for line. For those who haven’t heard it, the members of the comedy troupe are sitting in a lounge with glasses of champagne and expensive cigars talking about how “we had it rough when we were young”. Following the Paul Davis seminar on Tuesday evening and learning about all the challenges that parents and their children face regarding online safety, I mused with a similarly-aged (eg: old) colleague about whether or not life was easier when we were kids.

I think every generation changes its mind about this. I lived in the country and complained that our TV antenna only got three channels but I remember my parents reminding me that they never had a TV when they were my age. I am sure that when they whined to their parents that they didn’t have a TV they were reminded that when THEY were kids they didn’t even have a radio. I am sure I could go back even further and hear my ancestors as teenagers complain that they didn’t have a car, electricity, indoor plumbing, etc..

When Davis informed our Grade 5/6 students that they were not legally able to have Facebook, Instagram or Musical.ly accounts (and 30% of them do!), I thought about what I did at that age to keep myself busy at home. My parents ensured that I had lots of household chores and my Mom had a rule that we had to play outside for one hour (with or without our friends) after coming home from school. If I had ever become an NHL star, my Dad could have sold our dented garage door on eBay! My version of “tech” was making graphs of my hockey card collection (sorted by team, which player represented most, etc.). Exciting stuff, right?

I am not sure when the argument “they should be teaching this in the schools” came up but I know that when it came to safety, we blazed down snowy hills on our crazy carpets and skated around the outdoor ice rinks without wearing helmets whether we were at home or at school. When it comes to online safety today, the school can control the internet access of its students while studying but once the school day is over, this responsibility falls to us as parents.

Paul Davis believes that most of us are failing our kids because we are too trusting as parents. He pointed out that 90% of all cyber-bullying and age-inappropriate internet activity takes place when kids are using technology in their bedroom (and has not had any of the police groups who have heard him speak tell him otherwise). He also noted that whenever schools learn that there are online problems between students, it started with kids being able to say and do things online in the privacy of their room and with little or no restriction to the internet.

Is growing up today better than we were kids? Mr. Davis would probably say that it depends on the parents; if you are giving similar rules and freedoms to your kids as your parents gave to you, then they probably have it better.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Getting Aligned Online

paul-davis-mentor-oct25We are really looking forward to tomorrow¬†with the three presentations from social media expert Paul Davis. Our Grades 5/6 students and our Grades 7/8 students will each receive an age-appropriate presentation about both the wonders and the pitfalls of social media. I have not seen a Paul Davis presentation before but I imagine the students go into the auditorium thinking they know everything there is to know about social media and come out realizing (but perhaps not admitting) that there was lots they did not know (and that they didn’t think anyone over the age of 21 knew more than they did on the topic!).

For the evening seminar at 7:00, I imagine that Mr. Davis frequently sees the exact opposite set of emotions. I am sure there will be parents come into the talk with a combination of fear and ignorance and leave at the end with more comfort and confidence in their knowledge about online activity. Parents, I imagine many of you are like me. You have pretty much mastered emailing (even adding attachments!), you consider yourself quite proficient at looking up stuff on Google and YouTube videos and get Magnum P.I.-type satisfaction in finding old school friends on Facebook.

I also guess that, like me, you do not have much interest in Instagramming, Tweeting, Tumbling or Snapping, but this is where our kids are now. And if your kids haven’t hit their tweens yet, I have no idea what you will be dealing with in a few years but I do know that you need to educate yourself NOW. There is a delicate balance between letting your kids be independent and keeping them safe and with online activity, that balance can shift even quicker. This is why we are inviting ALL parents to the evening presentation.

One parent asked me if he should come to the presentation and my answer was “only if your kids know more about the internet than you do!” Based on that, I expect a full house!

Tickets are available in each campus office and the presentation starts at 7:00 at the Main Campus.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Device Advice

takeiOn Monday, Mr. Philbrook (the co-founder and Executive Director of our schools) directed the principals to an opinion piece from last Saturday’s Globe and Mail. It was written by two University of Toronto political science professors who decided this year that they were banning all electronic devices from both lectures and discussion labs.

Their reasons were varied. First, they had observed that many of their students were using their devices for non-educational purposes like watching TV shows, using social media, playing solitaire or even taking part in online betting. Not only were they not able to grasp the material but they were a distraction to those around them. The second reason was from their experience in speaking with alumni who took the course prior to the advent (or to be more correct, the permitted use) of electronic devices. Comprehension of the course material, discussions with fellow students, asking questions of the prof and putting the material into coherent essays and examinations came only from paying full attention during the lectures. From this, the professors note that “like many innovations, ours is a rediscovery.”

Mentor College/TEAM School students would do well in their course. Upon leaving us, our graduates have been exposed to an appropriate use of technology in the classroom. We continue to believe that students learn and retain more information when they take the notes themselves (even with an internet-disabled laptop) and we value the give-and-take of opinions expressed in class from fully listening and participating. What the professors do not mention is the students who take the opportunity to disengage from the lesson by jumping on the internet are at the same time showing the instructor that he or she is not worthy of the respect of their position. How does it work in the “real world” during a staff meeting if employees are checking their text messages or seeing how they are doing in the hockey pool? I would be interested to hear from both employees and employers about that so feel free to send me a message. Email is (ironically) fine but if you want to be new-fashioned, I will even take your phone call. Just don’t expect to leave a voicemail; we have been “rediscovering” for over 30 years that people would much rather speak to a human being when they call our school!

Note: Here is the piece in its entirety.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Coming Soon: Edsby!

edsby-horizontal (1)Mentor College and TEAM School have made a change in our online portal for students and parents. We are pleased to present Edsby to our students and parents and will provide login information in the next few weeks.

Students will receive their login code at school, and parents will receive their login to Edsby using the email addresses we have on file. Edsby provides course, class, and school information. By the end of September, everyone will have access to Edsby as a replacement to our previous service, Edline.

Both teachers and administrators have been enthusiastic about the many possibilities available in Edsby and we know you will enjoy the information that is available to you as you access information about everything from course work, club and sport activities, to current news and events happening at Mentor College and TEAM School.

Chuck Macdonald
Director
Mentor College/TEAM School

Not That I’m Old Or Anything

WEBSITE1I didn’t realize how old I am getting until I went to a seminar on “marketing in a world of social media” this week. Upon arrival, I guessed that the average age in the room was about 10 years below mine and prior to the presentation, I had proudly identified two people in my immediate vicinity who were definitely older than I.

About 10 minutes into the first presentation, I bumped down the average age another 5 years because, while I had turned off my phone and was listening intently, at least half of the audience was typing, texting, tweeting, emailing and checking their various social media outlets. The real kicker for me was the two persons I knew were older than I. Person #1’s cell phone began ringing and I could hear the “kids” in the room saying to themselves “do you want me to show you how you can use ‘silent’ as a ringtone?”. Showing an even more Jurassic look on life was Person #2 who was taking notes with (I am not making this up) a pencil and paper.

I found that I was in the minority in understanding most of the acronyms being used (SEO, ROI, LTV, etc.) by the presenters, but my face definitely started to glaze over once the discussions moved into things like Twitter, Pinterest, vines and blogs. I am still trying to understand why people find all this interesting and how they find the time looking for “infotainment” but we now have a very active Facebook page, a growing Twitter following and (very soon) a blog so I guess I just need to embrace it and go with wherever the future takes us with social media.

I realize now that I was once one of those 20-somethings who was pushing the old guys at the school to “get into the 21st century”. The same look I give when someone suggests we have a Twitter account is the look Mr. Philbrook gave me when I boldly declared that Mentor needed a website about 20 years ago. When I get excited about the fact that we can send video/photo and news information instantaneously to our parents today via Facebook and Twitter, I remember how Mr. Philbrook was just as giddy when I showed him what I had designed for the home page of our first website (pictured…and you do NOT need the current version of Flash to view it!). It makes me feel like a dinosaur but even they had a great run for millions of years.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School