Episode #104: Making your Mark on the Digital World with LivBit and Cynthia Merrill

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

Olivia Van Ledtje (“LivBit”) and Cynthia Merrill are a mother-daughter team working together to inspire others to think about the power of citizenship online and student voice. They are co-authors of Spark Change: Make Your Mark on the Digital World. They have a surprise in the podcast about what they will be doing next. 
Olivia Van Ledtje (“LivBit”)
Liv is a reader, thinker, and kids’ voice believer. Using technology to inspire empathy, equity, and activism, Olivia’s mission is to share messages with the world that are hopeful, kind, and true. Olivia is the creator of LivBits—short videos for kids and teachers about reading, thinking, and life. Her work is featured internationally as a model for digital citizenship and kid creation. Liv is a much sought after international keynote speaker and author of Spark Change: Make Your Mark on the Digital World with her mum, Cynthia Merrill.
Liv’s Website: http://www.thelivbits.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/thelivbits 
Twitter: @thelivbits
Liv started her passion for books when she was eight years old. At the time we did this podcast, she is 12. It’s amazing to me that she started creating her website when she was 8 years old. In this episode, Liv shares about her love of sharks. Yes, sharks. She learned how to surf and explains why she has no worries about being eaten by sharks. She made me laugh when she said that “humans are the broccoli of the shark world.”  Liv loves books and shares books about sharks among a long list of books that she shares in videos and keynote addresses. Did I say that she started when she was 8? She also reached out to authors. Peter Reynolds was the first author who connected the dots for her and picked up her spark to blow it into the universe.
We discussed what it is like self-isolating during this pandemic. Liv who is a big hugger said that she is staying home to protect her grandma and her parents. I’m staying home and doing all things digital, digital learning. In fact, they were talking about digital learning way before the pandemic and realized that they can teach others how to do this. Liv also explained that she is connecting more with her teachers and other students more than she did before using zoom and other digital tools. In Liv’s words:
“We’ve been talking about teaching online for a long time. I’ve been doing online learning because of my travels with LivBits. Now, during this pandemic, this is tough self-isolating, but it is also a valuable experience that is bringing in all parts of my thinking. I’m doing more zooming in a good way. I’m communicating with my teachers, classmates, and other people around the world.”
Cynthia Merrill
Cynthia is a consultant, speaker, and author dedicated to strengthening literacy and tech experiences for all students. She works in diverse school communities through the US coaching, training, and encouraging administrators and teachers in their practices. Cynthia is passionate about creating authentic opportunities for students to document their thinking using tech tools. Cynthia’s book Spark Change: Make Your Mark on the Digital World is co-written with her daughter, Olivia Van Ledtje, creator of LivBits.