Digital Smarts Blog

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7
Mar

Hearing Better At School

Do you know what services your child’s school offers for kids that have hearing impairments? A school district in California is using technology solutions to help students with hearing issues, according to Michelle Zavaleta, coordinator of psychological services in special education for the Tulare City School District. In a blog post, she shares several tips and findings about adopting such solutions, including finding a tool that all students can use, not only those with hearing difficulties.

6
Mar

Cell Phone Bans Don’t Curb Cyberbullying

T.H.E. Journal reports that schools that allow students to access cellphones have lower rates of cyberbullying than those that ban the devices, according to data from the US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. The survey also shows that there is an uptick in incidents of cyberbullying in schools since 2010.

5
Mar

UNICEF Pleads For Action Against Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying victims are at greater risk of drug and alcohol use, poor school attendance and performance, low self-esteem, and suicide, UNICEF warns as it marked Safer Internet Day recently. A new UNESCO report confirms that violence and school bullying remain a global problem. The UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a press release “"We've heard from children and young people from around the globe and what they are saying is clear: the Internet has become a kindness desert."

4
Mar

Cyberattacks On Schools Are On The Rise

Nearly once every three days, a US school district is victimized by a cyberattack (ransomware, phishing, denial of service and unauthorized disclosures or data breaches), states a report released recently by Doug Levin, president of EdTech Strategies and discussed in EdSurge . Levin predicts that such incidents could become more common, adding that they disrupt teaching and learning and cost districts as much as $100,000 to address. Levin predicts this will continue because “There’s no easy solution. It’s not just that we need more money, different policies or more training. The nature of these threats is going to keep changing. And if major companies—Equifax, Apple, Cisco, Facebook—can’t keep a handle on their stuff, what chance do little school districts have?”

1
Mar

Laptop or Longhand?

A paper entitled How Much Mightier Is the Pen Than the Keyboard for Note-Taking? A Replication and Extension of Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014), discussed in the The Chronicle of Higher Education shows that students who take notes by hand score better on factual questions compared to those taking notes on laptops. Researchers say their conclusions do not favor one method over the other and instead say note-taking methods are different and should be left up to student discretion. The  original study referenced was conducted in 2014 and showed students who took notes on a laptop may have taken more notes but had less retention of material. If this a topic of discussion at your school, you might want to see what the new research has to say.

28
Feb

Instagram More Relevant than Facebook for Gen Z

Generation Z (roughly those born between 1995 and 2015) connects much more with Instagram than Facebook, some of them even having multiple Instagram accounts, Taylor Lorenz says in an article in Digiday . "Influencers are here to stay," she says, and points to the powerful engagement influencers have with followers, making  Gen-Z the latest object of marketer fascination. Teens use digital media in a very different way than other generations, even having their own language, and there are clear differences across generations when it comes to the Internet and social media consumption.

27
Feb

Thinking of Giving Up Facebook?

Thinking about giving up Facebook? A new study that evaluated users deactivating their accounts says that giving it up could give you more in-person time with friends and family, but less political knowledge. A small bump in one’s daily moods and life satisfaction was also observed and, for the average Facebook user, an extra hour a day of downtime. Critics say the effects may be different for different age groups, particularly teens.

26
Feb

Now You Retract that Message

Wish you hadn’t sent that? Facebook has finally made good on its promise to let users unsend chats after TechCrunch discovered Mark Zuckerberg had secretly retracted some of his Facebook Messages from recipients. Recently Facebook Messenger globally rolled out “Remove for everyone” to help you pull back typos, poor choices, embarrassing thoughts or any other message. For up to 10 minutes after sending a Facebook Message, the sender can tap on it and they’ll find the delete button has been replaced by “Remove for you,” but there’s now also a “Remove for everyone” option that pulls the message from recipients’ inboxes. They’ll see an alert that you removed a message in its place, and can still flag the message to Facebook, which will retain the content briefly to see if it’s reported. The feature could make people more comfortable having honest conversations or using Messenger for flirting since they can second-guess what they send, but it won’t let people change ancient history.

25
Feb

‘SAFR,’ Not ‘SAFE’

Should schools install facial recognition tech? As schools plan to spend billions on security equipment and services, EdSurge’s Emily Tate says that improvements like facial recognition systems such as SAFR (Secure, Accurate Facial Recognition) tend to make school staff feel safer, but she questions the effectiveness. In her article, she reports that experts say having a high tech system often leads to people letting their guard down and putting their faith in a system that needs constant updating, and input is not going to prevent the worst case scenarios that all too common.

22
Feb

Pilot Project Uses Nintendo Projects to Foster Tech Skills

A recent EdSurge article reports that teachers in 100 schools are using Nintendo Switch and Labo kit products in lessons as part of a pilot program launched by the nonprofit Institute of Play. The program is intended to help cultivate collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The kits include cardboard materials for five different “toy-construction” creations—a RC( Radio Control) car, a fishing rod, a house, a motorbike and a piano—so each student in the class can get a chance to build one using both digital and real world construction techniques. Many of these kits are also available for separate purchase for home projects as well

21
Feb

An App For School Projects

Looking for something to add a fun digital component to your children’s school projects and have them learn some new tech skills? Book Creator is an iPad app (there’s also a version for Chrome) that allows users to create ebooks that can be easily shared. Kids are able to use text, images, audio and video in their ebooks, making this a tool that can be used in many contexts or homework projects.

20
Feb

Will Social Networks Become A Thing Of The Past?

Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and even Twitter have one thing in common. They are all looking for users. Snapchat, once the darling of teens everywhere, lost 3 million daily active users in the second quarter of 2018. That’s the first time that the company has reported a decline since it went public. And what accounts for these losses? Security issues, charges of misinformation, foreign hacking and misuse of user data, all issues that teens sometimes seem to be more aware of then adults. And what does that mean for parents? Still unknown, but it may mean that teens will be changing “favorite” apps more quickly, so stay on your toes and keep your ears and eyes open for what’s next.

19
Feb

Video Game Treatment May Be Beneficial For ASD, ADHD

Children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and concurrent ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) symptoms who were treated with a new video game tool called Project: EVO saw improvements to their attention spans, according to a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Children using the treatment scored better on the TOVA API test, and parents reported that the game helped mitigate ADHD symptoms and helped to improve attention spans according to researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

18
Feb

Exergaming Tied To Increased Physical Activity Among Preschoolers

A study in the Journal of Sport and Health Science showed that preschoolers who engaged in exergaming, or played video games with a physical activity component, had increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at school after eight weeks compared with those who played outside during recess. The findings also showed increased but not significantly different motor skills and confidence among those in the exergaming group, and exergaming activity was higher among boys than girls. Definitely not a substitute for getting out and playing, but might be a way to keep kids busy in the cold weather.

15
Feb

Social Media Seeks Content Advice from Conservative Groups

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are seeking input from conservative-leaning groups to determine the types of posts that should be identified as unacceptable and eliminated from their platforms, write Kirsten Grind and John McKinnon in The Wall Street Journal. The move is partly a response to allegations that the social platforms have a liberal bias and indicates an effort on the part of the social media giants to counter that criticism.

15
Feb

Is It Time to Get Rid of the Term “Bullying?”

“Let’s retire the word “bullying,” says educator Jim Dillon, because the word, especially in schools is getting in the way of productive discussions on how to help students. There are so many shades to the acts of bullying and hence the overuse of the term. This means, Dillion points out, that “our well-intentioned efforts to prevent and reduce bullying has inadvertently created confusion and misdirection for educators; too much time and energy has been devoted to defining students' words and actions after they have done something wrong and less on actually helping students navigate their social world.”

Dillon goes on to support his case with a variety of well reasoned arguments including that using a one standard fits all approach to bullying adds an element of fear to the school environment that tends to make people more self-centered. Students who get accused of bullying are more likely to deny it to avoid punishment or being labeled. Parents will be more likely to defend their child for the same reasons and teachers can be more reluctant to intervene in possible bullying incidents because they are viewed as high stakes discipline problems. Dillon proposes that conversations about bullying should start with the question “How should we treat each other at school?”

14
Feb

Report Grades States on Student Data Protection

Not one state earned a perfect score for their student-data privacy protections on a new report card released by The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and the Network for Public Education. The highest grade awarded, a B, went to Colorado, while three states—New Hampshire, New York, and Tennessee—received the second-highest average grade of "B-." Eleven states received an "F." These states include Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin. Each state was graded on seven categories, which include transparency, parental and student rights, limits on commercial use of data, and enforcement. Do you know how your children’s educational data is stored and shared?

13
Feb

The New Apps Your Teens Know About That You Should Know

While old apps like Snapchat and Instagram are still among teen favorites, there are new apps for social media, video-sharing and homework help that becoming hot with teens and tweens. Check out these new titles listed in an article entitled Apps you've never heard of that your teen is already using , complete with a description of the app and what parents need to know about it.

12
Feb

Want More Engineers? Start Early

More schools are introducing engineering lessons in early grades to help nurture interest in science, technology, engineering and math, Lillian Mongeau writes in The Hechinger Report. Camille Jones, an elementary-school teacher, says shortly after introducing the Engineering is Elementary curriculum, she discovered that a student who struggled in other subjects excelled in STEM and worked to enroll him in advanced classes in these areas. Looking for materials to help your school get started? The Museum of Science in Boston provides an engineering curricula for elementary school students. The Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, offers Amplify Science, which incorporates engineering principles of problem solving. Various other like TryEngineering.org, PBS Kids and NASA organizations offer engineering resources for K-12 classrooms.

11
Feb

Facebook Users Unaware of Trait Tracking

A Pew Research Center survey has found that while 74% of US adult Facebook users didn't know that Facebook kept track of their interests and traits for ads, just over half were uncomfortable with the practice. Facebook knows your age, gender and location, along with what you post, the pages you like and the businesses you check into on the social network. All that information helps the company determine what ads to show its 2.3 billion users. "Americans, being Americans, say that it matters, but they behave in a way that doesn't indicate that it matters," said Pew's Lee Rainie.

What can you do about it if you are concerned? Facebook users can view their "ad preferences" page to see what the social network thinks their interests are and why they're seeing a given ad. This list can include users' political leanings, hobbies and even the type of smartphone they use. Facebook users can also remove an interest from that list to change the type of ads they see on the social network.

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