Digital Smarts Blog

You are here

12
Sep

Schools in Australia Test Using Emojis as Part of Classroom Communication

High-school students in Australia are sharing how they are feeling with their teachers using a library of emojis. Students have been using an emoji-based software tool as part of a pilot program aimed at curbing anxiety among students. Since implementing the program, teachers and staff feel the software has helped with gauging how students are coping at school and at home.

11
Sep

Google Feature Now Checks for Plagiarism

Google for Education has introduced a feature called Originality Reports that allows teachers and students to scan their work for plagiarism. As the feature scans work for commonalities among billions of webpages and millions of books, it highlights text that may need additional sourcing. Check it out here.

10
Sep

Harry Potter Wands Teach Math and Coding

Seventh-grade students at one Pennsylvania middle-school are using Harry Potter wands to learn coding and complete puzzles on a tablet. Students use their math skills to program the wands to perform "spells" such as create fireworks on the screen. Parents can buy the same wand on Amazon for about $70.

9
Sep

Kids Find New Ways to Use Tech to Cheat

USA Today is reporting that students are finding new, and increasingly advanced, ways to plagiarize assignments and to cheat on exams using technology. Among the newer trends is the use of auto-summarize features in Word, the use of Apple Watches to send answers to others, and the use of other programs that generate essays to be passed off as students' own work.

How are schools combating these issues? Some teachers are giving shorter exams, instead of one of two big tests, so students feel less pressure to cheat. Howard Gardner, a research professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, says that instead of getting into a technological arm's race with students, instructors and parents should help students understand "why one shouldn't cheat and why it’s destructive to them. It’s easy to say that and be completely ignored, but otherwise, it’s a (game of) cops and robbers." 

6
Sep

Google Expands College Search Function

Google has expanded its year-old college search function to include data on not just four-year colleges, but also two-year programs and institutions as well as certificate programs. The search provides data including graduation rates and tuition as well as location and potential areas of study. Google’s focus on only four-year colleges in the first iteration of its search feature had been criticized as a “blind spot.”

5
Sep

Screen-Time Rules From a Mom and Teacher

A middle school teacher and mom shares her “School Year Screen Time Rules” in a blog post on the Common Sense Media site, recognizing that tech is never going to be a one-size-fits-all thing. She writes that what works for some kids will not work for others and that finding what is best for your family can involve a bit of trial and error. Her three biggest recommendation for parents are: to know what their children are playing and when, to control the WiFi, and when in doubt, remove the temptation. Most of all she recommends balance - especially knowing when it is time to unplug, both for parents and kids.

4
Sep

The Case Against Borrowing Charging Cables and Public Outlets

Charging cables for smartphones, tablets and laptops can expose the devices to cyberattacks and shouldn't be shared, experts warn. The cables, as well as public USB charging stations in places such as airports, can be infected with malware or modified to give hackers access. “Being careful about what you plug into your devices is just good tech hygiene,” says one expert. “Think of it in the same way that you think about opening mail attachments or sharing passwords. In a computing context, sharing cables is like sharing your password, because that's the level of access you're crucially conveying with these types of technology.”

With these risks, it might be time to consider investing in a portable power bank.

3
Sep

New Digital Safety Materials Released

Recently, Common Sense Education, which focuses on teaching students to critically analyze what they see and how they interact online as they navigate that space, released a new curriculum that includes lessons on media literacy. The curriculum is for Kindergarten to 12th grade classrooms and is free to parents, educators and schools. 

2
Sep

Survey: Teens Get Their News From Social Media But Doubt the Facts

More than half of teenagers 13 to 17 say they receive news on YouTube and other social media sites, according to a poll from SurveyMonkey and Common Sense Media. Much of that information comes from social media influencers and celebrities, although less than half of teen respondents said social media and influencers "generally (get) the facts straight."

30
Aug

Tech Tools For Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Youth Programs

Is your child’s school looking for a different and meaningful way to use technology, but also build empathy and a sense of community spirit as well? A report entitled “Reclaiming Digital Futures” aims to help community-based and school organizations incorporate digital tools into their programs that help nurture social and emotional learning skills. Tools, including esports programs and digital maker projects, are good ways to teach collaboration, relationship-building and empathy, says Rafi Santo, a researcher for the report reviewed in Edutopia. Also referenced are some practical case studies on the topic.

29
Aug

Girls More Likely Targets of Cyberbullying

The Associated Press reports cyberbullying in the US is on the rise, and girls are more likely than boys to be targeted, according to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. Perpetrators of cyberbullying against girls are usually other girls, not boys, says Kind Campaign founder Lauren Paul, and both social media companies and school districts alike are continuing to search for ways to address this problem.

28
Aug

American Library Association and LinkedIn Lock Horns

LinkedIn has changed the terms of service for public libraries that use LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com. The move, being strongly criticized by the American Library Association, will “require a library cardholder to create a LinkedIn profile in order to access LinkedIn Learning," ALA said recently in a press release.

"In addition to providing their library card number and PIN, users will have to disclose their full name and email address to create a new LinkedIn profile or connect to their existing profile," the organization added. "New users will have their LinkedIn profile set to public by default, allowing their full name to be searched on Google and LinkedIn." The organization argues that this is a gross intrusion of library-goers privacy, and an unnecessary step on LinkedIn's part.

27
Aug

New Legislation Aimed at Misinformation

The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act, introduced recently in the Senate, would allocate funds for teaching Americans how to identify fake information on social media, especially that coming from foreign actors trying to disrupt elections. The bill, according to The Hill, would also create a grant program for media literacy efforts in grades K-12.

26
Aug

Can A Fitbit Predict Loneliness?

MobiHealthNews reports that a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows data from Fitbit and smartphone devices can be used to predict loneliness among college students. Students with high levels of loneliness were in fewer social places during weekdays and spent less time outside of campus at night and on weekends, the research found.

23
Aug

Toddlers Learn Best in No Screen Settings

Little ones can easily be mesmerized by digital screens. A cartoon character on TV  asking questions and pausing for a response can bring them to a complete halt. But science shows that children under the age of 30 months rarely learn from such encounters. A study of 176 toddlers aged 24 and 30 months gauged four different conditions under which children would best learn the name of a new object: directly from a person with the child, a responsive video chat, an unresponsive video, or an unresponsive live person. None of the toddlers learned under the video conditions, which Vanderbilt University researcher Georgene Troseth says is “because to toddlers, a flat image of a person on a screen isn't ‘real’, so their brains tell them what they are seeing isn't personally relevant and not something they can learn from.” This study is further proof that toddlers need face-to-face interactions with living breathing humans in order to learn new information.

22
Aug

Teacher Finds Students Focus Without Phones

Frustrated that smartphones were competing for students' attention in the classroom, Nevada Spanish teacher Debbie Simon started asking students to lock their phones in a magnetically sealed pouch before class began. Despite some initial backlash, Simon says in an interview in the The Epoch Times, after just a few days the students said that they felt more focused and engaged in lessons. This solution has been implemented by many schools and even concert venues. What will your school’s policy on cellphones be this coming school year?

21
Aug

LEGO Conducts Survey of Children About Space

An interesting statistic was revealed after a survey conducted by LEGO found that children in the United States and the United Kingdom are 3x more likely to want to be a YouTube Influencer than an astronaut when they grow up.  Respondents in China, however, said that astronaut was the most desirable job, with 56% of kids responding that’s what they wanted to be later in life, while “YouTuber” was the least popular choice in China at just 16%. The children were asked to choose from a list of 5 professions including Astronaut, Teacher, Musician, Athlete and YouTuber/Vlogger. The study came in light of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and polled 3,000 children in the US, UK and China about their attitudes towards and knowledge of space.

20
Aug

Pew Study Looks at YouTube’s Most Popular Content

A recent Pew Research Center report looked at the most watched videos on YouTube and found that videos featuring kids and those targeted to kids are highly popular, clocking in at nearly three times as many views on average as other types of videos. Also revealed is that videos with the keywords "Fortnite," "prank" or "worst" in their title garnered more than five times as many views as those without these search terms.  Content about video games also remains hugely popular on YouTube, with about 18% of English-language videos posted by popular channels during the study period related to video games or gaming. 

19
Aug

A Perspective on the Social Media Use of Generation Z

A recent article from CNBC takes a look at Generation Z (8 to 22 year-olds) and their feelings on social media. The article revealed that in an interview with a group of 17-year-olds, almost all said that they rarely watch regular TV and hardly ever use Facebook. It was also found that members of Gen Z are typically more conscious of privacy concerns when using social media apps than older generations, however they can have difficulty distinguishing between what is paid content from advertisers.

The teenagers spoke to CNBC after a week at London ad agency Isobel, which runs a summer school program for students. Two teams were tasked with creating an ad campaign to warn younger teens of the dangers of social media, before presenting them to a judging panel. One team cautioned children not to share their location on social media with the tagline “Your World is Theirs,” while the second group encouraged youngsters to “Pull the Plug on Online Hate.”

16
Aug

Useful Chrome Extensions for School

Does your child use Chrome as their browser for school? In a recent article from Edutopia, special education teacher Kathryn Nieves shares a list of 10 free extensions for Google Chrome browsers that her students use most often at school. The list includes extensions such as Noisli, which provides customizable mixes of ambient sounds to aid concentration, and AlphaText, which lets users customize their browsers for accessibility. Others on the list are VoiceIn Voice Typing, which provides speech-to-text functions for dictating notes, and Dualless which gives the capability to split the screen so you can work in two tabs simultaneously. Nieves suggests trying these extensions out in the summer before the school year starts and schedules get hectic.

Pages