Digital Grandparents

I recently came across a link at Mashable that is advertising the upcoming launch of, which is promising to be

…a meeting ground for “modern-day grandparents” and their grandchildren, and will feature information about activities to do with the youngsters, some travel and gift ideas, connect with grandchildren with the site’s interactive tools.

What jumped out at me is the “gift ideas” and that this is a site trying to make the most of grandparents’ spending power. But it also occurs to me that there could be something valuable here, depending on exactly what kind of interactivity is offered. I am thinking along the lines of digital storytelling. How wonderful if grandparents, especially those who live a distance from their grandkids, could upload photos from earlier years of their lives and record a message about them for their grandchildren. How important it is that those stories be preserved! It always seems to be something that we intend to do, but today gets in the way, and we have little time to retell “yesterday” for our kids and grandkids.

I must admit that I am guilty of this myself. I know full well how to record someone’s story digitally, and I really would like to pass on stories that my mother told to my children and their children. Have I recorded her voice or scanned her pictures? No, I am sorry to say I have not. When we introduce the personal narrative project for our eighth grade students, grandparents are always suggested, encouraged, as a story to be told, and yet few students have ever told their grandparents’ stories or shared their own memories with them. It is not something that I feel I can mandate, so I think I need to work more on my motivational skills.
Other info shared on the site: (no source given for these statistics or size of survey)

  • Among grandparents who are online, 91% e-mail, 70% shop and over 40% book travel. More than 80% do these activities via broadband connections. (How many grandparents are online? Any statistics on that?)
  • 87% of grandparents report that passing family values and history to grandkids are among their top priorities. (How can we help children who do not have “digital grandparents” and may be separated by distance or for other reasons? And who are the grandparents who don’t feel passing on family values to grandchildren is important?)

There is the possibility of Bubbleshare, but I believe the audio clip per picture can be only 30 seconds. Maybe that is enough. Photostory seems like a better option, but we need to get the senior citizens connected with the students. I think I really want to look into this for this coming school year’s digital story projects. I am sure that by going back to the edtech community I will find many who have already done this successfully and I will attempt to learn from their efforts.

We have to do our best to prepare students for the future, but they also need to be grounded with a sense of who they are and where they come from, and treasure their connection to the past as well. It’s the circle of life.

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