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Law Enforcement Strategy Employed to Curb Bullying

A New Jersey middle school has adopted an alternative to suspensions called Schoolhouse Adjustment, principal Michael Gaskell writes in a commentary in eSchool News.  Basically, instead of suspending a student for bullying, the incident instead is referred to the School Security Officer for a constructive intervention consisting of lessons, chats, and monitoring for recurring incidents.


Study Looks at the Effects of Screen Time On Kid’s Brains

A recent segment of 6o Minutes covered the effects of screen time on kids and reported that children ages 9 and 10 who spent at least seven hours on screens per day actually had thinning of the part of the brain that controls sensory processing. The segment references an ongoing study from the National Institutes of Health, that also finds that those who had more than two hours of daily screen time had lower language and thinking test scores. The study is following over 11,000 children for 10 years to see how prolonged screen time affects the brain. The scientists and doctors working on the study said that no conclusions could be drawn at this point, but noted there are definite changes in brain structure and activity.


Lengthen Your Phone Password

Your phone is incredibly valuable to criminals and spies. Treat it accordingly. Don’t bother with a four-digit passcode, which is easy to guess. Six-digit passcodes are harder to guess. Eight-digit-passcodes are better. Need to change you password? Try How to Bypass and Reset the Password on Every Operating System for advice on how to change your password on most any device.


Security Question Alone Won’t Protect Your Data

Sites will often use common security questions to recover a user’s account if the password is forgotten. These questions are problematic because the Internet has made public record searches simple and the answers are usually easy to guess. In a study, security researchers at Google found that with a single guess, an attacker would have a 19.7 percent chance of duplicating an English-speaking user’s answer to the question “What is your favorite food?” (Pizza) If you're required to answer security questions, some security experts suggest making up a lie and jotting down your fake answers on paper or in the Notes section of your phone. (Q. "Where were you born?" A. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Q. "What was your first pet’s name?" A. Peach.)


Watch What Your Do With Your Email Address

You might think that entering and storing personal data for easier access to online sites is convenient, but generally speaking, it's not a great idea. Breach after breach proves as much. Many sites require entering an email address to register or gain access to full features, but it can also be fodder for spam. If you are visiting a site that doesn’t seem credible or trustworthy but requires entering your email, consider creating a disposable email address.


End of the Year Tasks - Back Up Your Data

Whether you make it an end of the year or a New Year’s resolution, backing up your data is always a good idea. Ransomware -- malicious software that hackers have used to scramble your data until you pay a ransom -- is a common scourge these days. Stay one step ahead of cybercriminals by regularly backing up your data. Wirecutter has a great guide on cloud back ups and hardware backups here.


After the Marriott Breach – Protecting Your Info Online

Marriott has reported that they will begin alerting the 500 million customers believed to have been affected by a breach of its Starwood hotels database. If you stayed at a Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, St. Regis, Four Points, Aloft, Le Méridien, Tribute, Design Hotels, Elements or Luxury Collection hotel in the last four years, you may have been affected. So how should you be protecting your information online?

  • Passwords – Regardless of what company is involved in a breach, it’s always a safe bet to change passwords for sites that contain sensitive information like financial, health or credit card data. Do not use the same password across multiple sites, and do not use your Social Security number as a username or a password. Think about using a password manager. Wirecutter, a New York Times company, provides a helpful explanation of why password managers are so essential. They also maintain an updated guide to what it considers to be the best password managers.
  • Don’t Click - Attacks are often spread through malicious email attachments and links — a practice known as phishing. So make a rule of not clicking on anything when you do not know where it will take you, even if it appears to come from someone you know.
  • Be Vigilant with Your Credit Card- Never allow a retailer or merchant to store your credit card information unnecessarily. If it is offered, use PayPal or Apple Pay for online transactions. Both are safer than most online payment methods.

Cybercrime Escalates in 2018

Because cybercriminals' activities have become increasingly sophisticated, one expert writing in Insurance Business America says that cybercrimes, and especially financial scams, have risen sharply in 2018. "Criminals are no longer just getting the email credentials of a person in a company, they are now monitoring their email and communication style in order to send a phishing email that is hard to detect as being fraudulent," says Jeremy Barnett of NAS Insurance, suggesting that companies put steps in place to prevent phishing scams. While you would think that the increase in cybersecurity issues would make people more vigilant about scams, many businesses and individuals have the feeling that it will never happen to them.


The Beginning of the End of Snow Days

A flurry of recent articles brings home yet one more way that technology is changing education: In districts across the country, snow days are becoming relics of the past. Beginning on December 1, for example, the schools around Camden, Maine, will replace two snow days per year with so-called Remote School Days, when students will complete coursework at home using internet-connected devices.


Given that many employers around the country have been implementing work from home policies in recent years, it was probably inevitable that the idea would spread to schools. And for schools, there’s the logic of the initial investment: If they’ve spent money acquiring devices for every student, as many have done, there’s a strong argument to be made that they should maximize the utility of those devices—part of the rationale for buying them is to expand students’ opportunities for learning.


Even Digital Publications are in Trouble

It is not just print newspapers in both small towns and big cities that are shutting down. Online teen publications and Millennial magazines are struggling to survive, too. Vice Media, Vox Media, Mic, and more have been beset by “layoffs, sales, and revenue misses.” Why isn’t digital publishing working? To start, many publishers primarily post on other platforms (some even skipped building a site altogether), because it allows their content to scale, but doing so loses the formation of a community base and built up advertising revenue stream. Additionally, by posting on one social media site rather than across platforms, their content is seen as the content of that site, not a distinct and separate publication. This brings up the question, where will content come from in the future, and will anyone be vetting it?


Quality of Screen Time Matters

A recent article from EdSurge states that several education-technology experts have found efforts to limit the amount of students' screen time may be less effective than focusing on how they are using their screens.  Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology Education, says screen time is best used to collaborate and problem solve instead of clicking through a digital textbook or filling in digital worksheets.


Educational Technology Uses Varies Greatly Worldwide

While education technology is becoming more commonplace in classrooms worldwide, individual countries have unique practices, according to a report in the Cambridge International Global Education Census, which includes responses from 10,209 teachers and 9,397 students. Data show, for example, that 74% of US students use a smartphone for schoolwork -- compared with 16% of students in India.


Fewer College Recruiters Use Facebook

A survey finds that 45% of college admissions professionals believe Facebook is the top social media site for engaging prospective students, down from 62% in 2017. The data show that recruiters increasingly are turning to Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, with 45% reporting that their teams dedicated to web and digital marketing have grown since last year.


Five Year STEM Plan announced

President Donald Trump's administration recently released a five-year plan to expand science, technology, engineering and math education. The plan calls for more basic education about STEM concepts and an increase in STEM access and support for students who want to pursue careers in STEM fields. The plan also urges educators to make STEM "more meaningful and inspiring" through project-based learning, science fairs, robotics clubs, invention challenges and gaming workshops – anything that pushes students to identify and solve problems using knowledge from various disciplines. The biggest obstacle to more STEM education? The lack of STEM teachers in K-12 education.


Coded Literature

Have a kid who loves science, coding or math, but thinks that literature is a waste of time? Researcher Shuchi Grover writes in EdSurge that applying computational thinking to analyze novels, history and society can give students new insights while also helping them learn about data analysis and coding. In his commentary, Grover describes how the method has been used to examine Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and the "Harry Potter" book series, and provides examples of the kinds of diagrams used in the analysis. It seems literature analysis is all a matter of perspective.


College Admissions Officers Not Bothering with Student’s Posts

Adweek shares that only a quarter of college and university admissions officers visited the social media sites of prospective students this year, down from 40% in 2015, according to a survey from Kaplan Test Prep. More than half of officers told researchers they don't bother to check social media because more students are using sites such as Snapchat where content is posted only for a limited time and therefore make it impossible for admissions officers to search through past posts. Notably though, students agree that social media searches are acceptable: a separate Kaplan survey of over 900 high school students finds that 70 percent consider social media profiles “fair game” for admissions officers evaluating applicants — an increase from 58 percent in 2014.


Using Technology to Get Together With Friends and Family

How can you use technology to coordinate meetings of friends and family this holiday season (and all year long) when people with widely varying levels of digital literacy all rely on the same tech to get together? Brian Chen has some ideas for gathering a group, group chatting options, and even how to share pictures after your gatherings, in an article entitled Make Your Friends and Family Less Irksome This Holiday Season.


Sexual Harassment Via AirDrop

In 2014, Apple unveiled AirDrop for iPhone and iPad, a feature that lets you quickly share files wirelessly with other iPhone users near you. It wasn’t long after its release that reports began popping up of people using the feature to send strangers crude photos. Lately it has become a frequent issue on the NY Subway system and other places where people are stuck in close quarters. If you are concerned, you can turn AirDrop off or make your phone available only to those on your contacts list. Here’s How to Turn off AirDrop. If your children have their own iPhone or iPad, it is something to consider doing for their device.


Smart Thermometers Used to Track Illnesses at School

A national program called Fluency uses smart thermometers to track the spread of diseases in schools. The devices record student temperatures and symptoms and link to an app so the information can be shared anonymously with school nurses and parents. The Fluency program and smart thermometer technology were developed by Kinsa Health to detect illness in real-time, helping individuals and communities respond before it spreads.


Apple’s Tim Cook : Tech Regulation Inevitable

According to The Hill, Apple CEO Tim Cook says he believes regulations in the tech industry are inevitable, after previously stating his support for stricter laws in October. "I'm a big believer in the free market, but we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn't worked here," Cook said. In October Apple began allowing customers to download copies of all the data it holds on them.  Want to find out what data Apple is keeping on you and how to delete it or manage it? Try this article on the Cnet site as a guide.