During our current period of eLearning, it’s a great time for parents to have conversations with their children about how, when and why we use our devices for learning, work and entertainment.
Below are different prompts for every day of March, in English, Chinese (Simplified) and Korean. Where possible, there are also links to help parents find resources to help support those conversations or activities. You can download and print out the monthly calendar, or scroll through the slideshow for a prompt a day. Either way, we’d love to hear about the conversations that you’ve had with your child and how they’ve helped you become a Media Mentor for them!
Thanks to Keri-Lee Beasley at WAB for starting this 2 years ago, and thanks to Sandra Chow at Keystone Academy for collaborating with us to share this with as many families as possible.
Click for a downloadable/printable version
Click for a downloadable/printable version
Click for downloadable/printable version
If you’ve spent any long period of time sitting at a desk, you know that it can get uncomfortable. If you add the fact that you are using a device like a laptop or a tablet, it can get even more uncomfortable the longer you stick with it.
Ergonomics is the study and design of efficient working environments and is even more important than ever in this period of online learning. Here are 4 top tips for thinking about ergonomics in your online learning space:
- Establish a good working space! According to the University of Illinois, this includes creating a specific space for learning, minimizing distractions, and ensuring you have all the tools that you might need ahead of time.
- Good posture is important! Believe it or not, there have been numerous studies around the appropriate posture when using a computer or tablet. The University of Michigan’s Department of Health has compiled a list of things to remember when it comes to using your computer for long periods of time.
- If you feel yourself getting sore, move! At school, students are almost never sitting, without moving, for very long. Whether it’s getting up to change activities or just getting up to borrow a pencil, students are constantly moving. Make sure your online learning environment is similar. Take brain breaks or get up to do some simple stretches. It will help your body and mind!
- Don’t forget about your eyes! The State University of New York College of Opthalmology states that the short-term effects of digital eye strain are tired and dry eyes. Some users might also experience headaches. To help fight this, the 20-20-20 rule can help: every 20 minutes (or so) take a break and look at something 20 feet away (or so) for 20 seconds (or so). This is also a good time to stretch your neck and shoulders. They also state that no long-term effects of digital eye strain have been identified so far.
Please make sure to look after yourselves!
While we are in the middle of online learning, helping students to be aware of and to manage their screentime is as important as ever. It’s also important that families have agreements around the use of screens for learning and for entertainment.
It’s hard to make informed decisions on screentime without some data to consider. Many times, this data will make the discussion easier since it can be used as a point of reference for both students and parents when it comes to how and why screens are being used (and if they are being used appropriately).
A powerful tool to use on your school laptop is RescueTime. This is a third-party app that, when installed, runs in the background and helps keep track of how and when the computer is being used. For students in Grade 6, you can log in to Cisco AnyConnect and then install RescueTime from Self Service. Users in Grade 7 and above can just download the application from the website.
A sample RescueTime Report
In addition to installing the app, you will also need to create an account. We recommend using your school email address. You can use this post to help you with the sign up and setup process. For most cases, using the
For those of you that are using iOS devices like iPhones and iPads, you can use the built-in Screentime app to help you monitor your usage. You can also use the Screentime app to limit your access to your device, either by time period (downtime) or by time limits per app.
Managing Screens and Technology
In all of our parent education sessions, we suggest these same important rules:
- Set family technology agreements around how and when screens will be used. (You can also use the Common Sense Media version as a starting point.) If you’ve already created them as a family, it may be worth revisiting them and making sure they still work for you. During this period of online learning, this is more important than ever!
- We recommend that devices are used in public spaces of the house, like the kitchen table or in a dedicated study space, so that it encourages students to stay on task. It’s easy to get sidetracked online so use others to help you stay on track!
- We also recommend that devices are not charged and stored overnight in the student’s bedroom. We all need a break from our screens, and the constant dinging of notifications can have an effect on the quality of our sleep.
- Identify some screen-free times for your family and stick to them. For many, screen-free dinners give everybody a time to connect as a family and share what has happened during their day.
During a normal school day, students use their devices on and off throughout the day. In the classroom, they are changing activities, working in small groups, focusing on the teacher at the front of the class, working on their own individual device, working offline, and getting up to go to recess or different classrooms. All of this leads to a variety of experiences throughout the day: online and offline; individual and group ; active and seated; independent and teacher-directed. The list can go on and on!
These breaks and changes of scenery give our students a chance to recharge, refocus and keep learning. As students and parents, how are you incorporating these mini-breaks into your daily routines?
One great option is taking a brain break. A brain break is a short activity designed to get students up and out of their sets, to help the blood flow through their body, and to keep them from staying sedentary for too long. There are websites dedicated to listing out all manner of Brain Breaks for students, but many students already know some from their classroom teachers. One popular brain break is a quick Just Dance video that you can find on YouTube. Have a quick dance and some fun before starting your next task!
Another option is timing your snack and drink breaks to get you up and out of your chair. Take a few minutes to grab some fruit or another healthy snack, or pour yourself a glass of water on a regular basis so that you keep your body fueled and moving!
Video is an important element for continuing the learning through an online environment. At ISB there are several options available to teachers and students for uploading and sharing video content and responses. Unfortunately, there is no perfect option that will fit everybody’s needs, so it is important that you look at all the options available, weigh the pros and cons, and make the decision that is best for you. This flowchart can help you decide the best way to handle video content that you have created. Use the links at the bottom to learn how to do any of the options in the flowchart.
If you have any questions about what is best, contact EdTech or ICT and they can help you decide.
Dragons’ Tube (http://isbtube.isb.bj.edu.cn) is our self-hosted video server. The videos uploaded here are accessible to anyone in the world without VPN. ICT is working with our internet service providers in China to improve external access to Dragons’ Tube for uploading and viewing videos.
You can find a tutorial on how to upload to Dragons’ Tube here.
In Middle and High School, you can upload a video directly to DX using the “File Upload” option. Technically, there is no file size limit but the smaller the video (compressed), the faster it will upload and the faster it will transcode for students to watch. If you’ve uploaded your video to Stream or Dragons’ Tube, you can also just paste the link to the video in the post.
In the Elementary School, you and your students can record a video directly into Seesaw, with a limit of 10 minutes recording time.
You can also upload a video that you have created and compressed to Seesaw using the “Upload” option. Or, if you have saved your video in OneDrive or ES 365 for others to use, you can paste the link into your message. If you use the “Insert Link” option, the link will work but it will create a preview image that is not very attractive!
Using the “Upload” option to a video saved on my computer
Using the “Link” option to a video shared on ES 365.
Pasting the shared link to a video on ES 365 into a note. If you want to make this a bit nicer, you could use a link shortener like tinyurl. Do not use bit.ly since it does not work without a VPN
For ES and Parent videos, you can upload your compressed videos to OneDrive or ES 365 and can share them so that they are viewable by anybody with the link. You can then share this link in Seesaw or an email.
Upload the video to OneDrive by dragging it into the folder you want to store it in. Once it is there, you will need to create a sharing link for the video.
Once your video is uploaded to OneDrive or ES365, click the three dots and choose “Copy link”
Select “Anyone with link” and make sure “Allow editing” is NOT selected. Then apply the changes.
You need to copy the link that is created and share this with students and parents. You must always use this process to share a link. You cannot just send the URL of the video (unfortunately).
Microsoft Stream (https://web.microsoftstream.com/) is a new feature of Office 365 that allows us to upload videos and share them with anybody in our organization. This means that in order to view a video shared on Stream, you must have an ISB email and password. This is not a suitable option for videos that are to be viewed by parents or by students in Grade 3 or below.
Some interesting features of Stream include automatic searchable transcript of the audio and the ability to link a form to the video for feedback and interactivity.
First, log in to Stream from any Office 365 tool (like Outlook Online, Word Online, etc.)
Upload your video under the “Create” menu. You can also create a Channel for your course (Grade 6 Humanities; Grade 10 Math; etc.) to group all the videos related to your course.
Once your video is uploaded, you can go to the viewing page. Grab the URL to share in a DX thought, or use the Share button to embed the video into your blog or into a DX Lesson.
Here’s an example of a video embedded from Stream. If you aren’t logged in to 365, it will not show properly. Click on the video and login to see it!
To make working with video easier, it often helps to compress the final video before you try to upload it anywhere. This is especially important if your video is large and/or if you are working on a slower internet connection. All ISB computers came with Handbrake installed. It is designed specifically to compress video. If you don’t have it on your computer, you can download it at https://handbrake.fr/.
Once you’ve checked that you have the newest version of Handbrake (version 1.3.1), select your video as the source file and choose preset VeryFast720p30. This will ensure a high quality output without taking too much time. I encoded a 5 minute video (700MB to start with) in about 2 minutes (26MB when it was done).
Please note, if you are downloading a video from YouTube or another service, these videos are usually already optimized and will not always benefit from being run through Handbrake.