Just because kids are out of the classroom for the next three months, doesn’t mean they should quit learning. An associate professor at Iowa State University is advising parents to use technological resources to find ways to engage their children. Scott McLeod is director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education.

"We have these ‘digital natives’ that we’re raising and they look to technology for so many things, so we have the ability to tap into kid’s natural interests," McLeod said. He agrees that kids need some time off after the school year, but says parents can find fun ways for children to exercise their minds over the summer. For instance, McLeod says kids who enjoy digital cameras and YouTube can create and learn at the same time.

"Video has a lot of emotional power and we can teach kids how to harness that," McLeod said. "We’re raising them to live in a multimedia world, they might as well master the tools." McLeod has asked K-12 educators to submit ideas for parents to use technology to facilitate active learning for their kids this summer. He’s posted many of the suggestions to his blog at www.DangerouslyIrrelevant.org. Many of the ideas involve chronicling a family trip or researching family or community history.

McLeod says children can use old photographs and various computer programs to capture historical events or relay stories of relatives and neighbors. "There are lots of opportunities for kids to get engaged in productive ways in their local communities, in their families or in the larger global stage using these technology tools," McLeod said.