Digital Smarts Blog

You are here

18
Jul

Using Technology to Create Connections

Despite having more technology than ever, people are feeling increasingly disconnected, says Mandy Manning, 2018 National Teacher of the Year. Education Dive recapped the International Society for Technology in Education conference where Manning spoke recently. Manning remarked that an updated Gallup poll that found only 43% of U.S. students feel hopeful about their future, a 4% decrease from 2017, and 36% said they feel stuck. She also added that 23% reported feeling actively disengaged and 21% feel discouraged. Lack of hope leads to a lack of resilience, and when students are not resilient, they cannot learn or connect to one another, Manning added. She feels that parents and teachers should help students use technology to connect and develop compassion and empathy.

17
Jul

YouTube Moving All Kids Content to YouTube Kids

Here is a move you may want to keep an eye on. Bloomberg reports YouTube is contemplating moving all children's content to its stand-alone YouTube Kids app to shield young viewers from distasteful videos. This report comes in the wake of a Federal Trade Commission investigation regarding objectionable content and data collection practices. Executives created YouTube Kids to address these ongoing issues in 2015, but employees and outside watchdogs say the platform has come up short and research says that most children use the YouTube app rather than the YouTube Kids app on digital devices.

16
Jul

Facebook Wants To Be Regulated

In the wake of the revelations about the foreign infiltration of Facebook during the 2016 US election, Facebook itself is calling for government regulation. Of course we should not be surprised that they would also like to be part of making up the rules. Or at least that is what Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told an audience recently in Europe, where new laws govern companies that collect, store or process large amounts of information on residents of the European Union, requiring more openness about what data they have and who they share it with.

15
Jul

Teachers and Students Too Distracted by Mobile Devices

Ever hear of "Nomophobia" (the fear of being without a mobile phone) or Textaphrenia (the fear of being disconnected)? Many teachers believe that their students could be suffering from these and some were even honest enough in a recent survey to say that they have a touch of both as well.  The survey also reported that 80 percent of teachers say their students "multi-task" during instructional time, using their devices while they are supposed to be paying attention to a lesson. 61 percent believe that "multi-tasking" has affected students' ability to learn.

12
Jul

Influencers: Time to Be Realistic About Body Image on Social Media

Social media is skewing the way children view life, according to Damian Hinds, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Education, in an article in the Metro (UK). Hinds makes this statement following the Mental Health Foundation’s finding that 40 percent of teenagers reported being worried about their body image due to comments by friends. He is calling on influencers and others to help support body positivity, in part by being more transparent about how photos they post online are edited.

11
Jul

Google Adding a Media Literacy Component

TechCrunch reports Google is adding a media-literacy component to its digital citizenship and safety curriculum for children, called "Be Internet Awesome." The updated program will include six activities designed to help young Internet users identify fake URLs, interpret clickbait headlines and evaluate sources. Not a bad thing for parents to brush up on either!

10
Jul

Snapchat Publishes New Report on the Influence of Technology on Gen Z

While written primarily for marketing companies on how brands can connect with Generation Z, a new report compiled by Snapchat offers a fascinating look into the influence of technology on this age group. One of the key takeaways from the 70-page "Into Z Future" report is that 55% say social apps and digital content provide a more creative experience than the physical world. The report also found that 56% use social media to express themselves creatively and 49% seek inspiration from social media.

 

9
Jul

Kids Take the Lead in Designing Educational Technology

Most of the classroom technology designed for kids is created by adults who think they know what kids want, but kids across the country involved in the Conrad Challenge (a global STEM and entrepreneurship contest for students in middle and high school) argue they know more about what they need in the classroom. These student education-technology entrepreneurs are using their own experiences to design classroom tech that can help support learning. One group of high schoolers in Texas is designing a mobile app that will provide students with real-time feedback to help them prepare for class presentations. Others are designing platforms to increase student engagement by emphasizing the “how” and “why” of what they learn, help girls master programming, create virtual reality learning opportunities, and embed SmartBoard technology in students’ desks.

8
Jul

A New Alliance of Media Giants to Fight Misinformation and Hate Speech

A new coalition, Global Alliance for Responsible Media, has been formed to address brand safety issues and combat online hate speech and fake content. The coalition includes numerous industry heavyweights and social media standouts such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Unilever, General Mills, Procter & Gamble and Adidas, plus various marketing agencies and other industry associations. “When industry challenges spill into society, creating division and putting our children at risk, it’s on all of us to act,” writes Luis Di Como, EVP of global media at the giant consumer brands company Unilever, in an article on the Reuters site. “Founding this alliance is a great step toward rebuilding trust in our industry and society.”

5
Jul

Research Shows Mixed Results on Using Technology in Lower Grades

Research on how technology affects student achievement continues to show mixed results. A recent report by the Reboot Foundation shows a negative connection between a nation’s performance on international assessments and 15-year-olds’ self-reported use of technology in school. The more students used technology in schools, the lower the nation ranked in educational achievement.

In the United States, the results were more complicated. For younger school children, the study found a negative tie between the use of tablets in school and fourth-grade reading scores. Fourth-grade students who reported using tablets in “all or almost all” classes scored 14 points lower on the reading portion of a test administered by the federal government than students who reported “never” using classroom tablets. That’s the equivalent of a year of education or an entire grade level. Meanwhile, some types of computer usage among older students could be beneficial. Eighth graders who reported using computers to conduct research for projects had higher reading test scores than those who didn’t use computers for research.

Of course, as has been true since the beginning of educational technology, the presence of technology in the classroom completely depends on how teachers are directing students to use it. It is important to make sure that technology is not being used as a substitute for books, worksheets, and other passive presentations of educational material. As the article points out, the study also wasn’t able to see what happened to student test scores before and after the introduction of technology and compare those with similar students who continued to toil with pencil and paper. 

3
Jul

Social Media Alerts Stress Young People

Keeping up with a constant stream of social media notifications on their phones is one of the main drivers of stress among students, reports The Associated Press. Some schools are taking steps to help reduce students' stress and anxiety, such as  engaging students in mindfulness activities, hiring outside firms to scan social media for signs that students might need additional support, and encouraging “unplugging” from devices. One teacher says he has seen a profound shift toward constant self-evaluation in the past 30 years that he’s been teaching, and he associates that with social media. He sees students constantly checking their Instagram, SnapChat, and even school grade portals – all outside forces students have never before had to manage.

2
Jul

How Lack of Tech at Home Affects Learning Gaps

About 17% of students lack access to home computers and 18% do not have broadband Internet at home -- contributing to a so-called "homework gap" -- according to an analysis of census data by The Associated Press. Data show students with access to the Internet at home are more likely to have higher scores in math, science and reading.

 

1
Jul

What Happens at School to the Data Collected on Students?

Are you curious at all about what happens to the data collected about your children at school? Leadership coach Andrew Knips says in a recent article of Edutopia online that two things schools should factor in is students' culture and identity. In his blog post, he shares six strategies to help support more equitable data analysis, including steps schools should take to address implicit bias not only about culture and identity, but gender and disabilities as well. This is a very interesting take on how to use data to make our schools more equitable.

28
Jun

Advertisers Spending A Billion on Digital Kid-Centric Advertising

According to Adweek, advertisers will be putting more than $1 billion in the global market for child-centric ads. Privacy concerns have been voiced because of the data collected on the youngest users, even with laws on the books against such collection. Video-on-demand platforms like YouTube Kids and social media are big draws for media buyers targeting digitally-savvy children.

27
Jun

YouTube Using a Questionable “Work Around” For Their Algorithm Problem

What is YouTube doing about the recently revealed research that found that YouTube’s algorithms could potentially be jeopardizing the safety of children? To avoid limiting the volume of content uploaded to YouTube (which would happen if every video was manually reviewed), they’re opting instead to tighten parental controls on YouTube Kids—the only place under-13-year-olds are ever supposed to be. Their solution is to hand parents the reins, letting them go so far as disabling search and only displaying videos they’ve personally approved, which essentially means is all they have done is put the onus back on parents to protect the postings of their children.

26
Jun

Is Fortnite The New Facebook for Teens?

Do your children play Fortnite? They may be using it for more than gaming. National Research Group (NRG) recently released a study that found that “Fortnite uniquely combines benefits from gaming, social media and streaming platforms,” with young consumers telling them “it’s the best place to ‘be my authentic self’ and ‘connect to what everyone is talking about, making me feel like I’m not alone.’” While the top social platforms still have more users, Fortnite’s user base volume is catching up to the likes of Twitter.

25
Jun

Researchers Find Concern with YouTube’s Algorithms

Imagine your 10 year-old posts a video on YouTube of her and a girlfriend playing innocently in the backyard pool, but weeks later you find the video has gotten thousands of unsolicited views. Should you be concerned? Yes, say experts who have recently revealed new research that found that YouTube’s algorithms (the mathematics that drives their search feature) has been connecting people who have been watching sexually explicit material to innocuous videos of prepubescent children at play.

This recent research should serve as a reminder to parents that there is the option to privately share videos on YouTube, to watch carefully what you let your children post online (if you let them post at all), and to restrict what you post to things that you would not mind the whole world viewing. This new development is also sure to add to the pressure on Silicon Valley by lawmakers in Washington to pay more attention to privacy concerns.

24
Jun

What’s Your Cyberhygiene Quotient?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lacks insight into how many state and local governments are faring with cybersecurity, says DHS official Rick Driggers in a recent interview covered in the online publication StateScoop. “We need to make sure state and local employees, federal employees and, quite frankly, the nation at large understands basic, simple cyber hygiene," Driggers says. Cyber Hygiene is the actions you take to monitor your cybersecurity or digital safety on a regular or routine basis. Norton Antivirus provides 9 great steps you can take to ensure your cyber hygiene is the best it can be.

 
21
Jun

Questions Raised About ‘Personalized Learning’

T.H.E. Journal has reviewed a recent report from the National Education Policy Center about the expansion of Personalized Learning in classrooms around the country. This practice of implementing a digital curriculum that students work through (typically on their own) has been pushed by education-technology vendors and philanthropies, among others. The report questions the efficacy of these initiatives, recommending schools establish independent entities that can supervise the programs to ensure students are actually mastering the material they are studying and that their data is being kept private. Is your district involved in the personalized learning movement?

 
20
Jun

Should You Cover Your Computer’s Web Cam?

Should you cover your webcam with a piece of tape? Some say it is a sign of paranoia, but many cybersecurity experts say it couldn’t hurt (Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook actually puts a piece of tape on his webcam, so take that for what you will!). There are plenty of valid reasons to take this precaution. It is not unfathomable that one day a hacker might find some way to hijack your front-facing cameras and watch your children play online games, do their homework, or worse.

If you decide to cover the lens, tape is not your only option. There are commercial alternatives, such as this five-pack of webcam covers. They look a littler nicer than a piece of tape and are easy to use: line up the hole with your camera lens, and when you want to hide the camera, the cover slides right over it; when you want to use the camera, just slide the cover open This is a good safety measure to make your children aware of as well.

Pages