Digital Smarts Blog

You are here

28
Nov

Digital Natives May Not Be Digitally Literate After All

On a scale from 100 to 700, the average score on a computer and information literacy exam given to students in 12 countries was 496, according to the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. US students' average score was 519, but data shows that although students grow up as digital natives they may lack sophisticated digital literacy. U.S. 8th graders can use computers to gather basic information and make simple edits. They also have some awareness of security risks in the digital world, but they are less likely to understand the purpose of sponsored content on a website, use generic mapping software or know how to control color and text when creating a presentation. 

27
Nov

Twitter Releases a Handbook for Parents and Teachers on Media Literacy

Twitter recently released a handbook to help educators and parents teach media literacy, help adults and teens analyze information they see online, deal with cyberbullying, control one’s digital footprint, and more. The Teaching and Learning With Twitter handbook also includes tips to help teachers use the social media platform in lessons and assignments.

26
Nov

New Study Says Angst Over Teen Social Media Overblown

Anxiety about the effects of social media on young people has risen to such an extreme that giving children smartphones is sometimes equated to handing them hard drugs. The reality is much less alarming, according to research discussed in Scientific American, showing that moderate use is fine. Some recent analyses are even showing that these early studies full of dire warnings were flawed, and researchers are finding new methods for leading research into social media and its effect on teens.

25
Nov

Young People Now Spend Twice as Much Time Watching Videos

According to an article in USA Today, young people in the US between ages 8 and 18 spend about one hour a day watching online videos, about twice as long as four years ago, according to a new survey by Common Sense Media. The average amount of screen time consumed each day -- for activities not related to schoolwork -- is about five hours for children ages 8 to 12 and about seven hours for teenagers.

22
Nov

Twitter to Ban Political Ads Worldwide

Twitter will stop accepting political advertising globally, a policy that applies to messages related to a specific campaign and those that address a political issue, CEO Jack Dorsey says. The company will unveil details Nov. 15, and the ban will take effect Nov. 22. This is in contrast to Facebook’s decision to not fact-check claims made by politicians in ads placed on the platform.

Twitter has had some policies in place to keep politicians from making false statements on its platform, but has yet to use them. Earlier this summer, Twitter said that it would gray out tweets from public figures, including Trump, that violated its rules and even restrict users’ abilities to share them, but hasn’t implemented it on any tweets so far.

21
Nov

Facebook Says It is Not Fact Checking Political Ads: Some Ideas For What to Do

It has recently come out that Facebook is exempting political ads from its fact checking processes and rules, with a statement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg noting, "We don’t fact-check political ads. We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. And if content is newsworthy, we also won’t take it down even if it would otherwise conflict with many of our standards."

His stance on stepping away from holding that power overlooks the fact that Facebook already has that kind of power for other ads, raising the question of why in regular ads, Facebook can be okay with using outside fact-checkers, and banning false claims outright, yet in political ads it can't do the same. It is an interesting topic to discuss with your children relating to misinformation online. Also keep in mind you can edit your Facebook Ad Preferences, and remove anything that you don't agree with or doesn't look right. You can also check out Facebook’s Ad Library, which now includes a new tracker of Facebook ad spending by major political candidates. It is a bit of an eye opener. Interesting enough, on the flip side, Twitter has banned all political ads.

20
Nov

IBM Recruiting for “New Collar” Jobs

A critical skills gap in the tech industry has prompted IBM to develop digital badge portfolios, add apprenticeship programs and strengthen partnerships with community colleges to fill "new-collar" jobs in cloud computing, cybersecurity and other areas where college degrees aren't required. In an interview for Inside Higher Ed, Kelli Jordan, director of IBM career and skills, says it's important that tech companies focus on hiring people with valuable skills, not just people with college degrees.

19
Nov

Time to Ditch Algebra?

When was the last time you divided a polynomial? If you were asked to do so today, would you remember how? Stanford University professor Jo Boaler and University of Chicago professor Steven Levitt say that instead of learning algebra, high-school students should be taught how to analyze data to boost critical-thinking skills and provide them with practical tools for grappling with real-world problems. Such a change would enable students to use math to analyze real-world issues such as the environment, social media or space travel, they insist. Boaler and Levitt point out that the closest most people get to Algebra in their daily lives is working with basic analytical software like Microsoft Excel, so why not teach them how to really use it for something that is relevant to their own lives.

18
Nov

Apps Used in Schools Cause Some Debate

School use of technology and applications that track student data, such as electronic hall passes and education software, has been raising privacy concerns from parents and other education experts . While privacy has been improving in some of these programs and applications, anonymous information may still be sold. Heather Kelly, counsel and director of privacy review at Common Sense Media in The Washington Post says that it is important parents are aware of the policies that deal with their childrens’ data.

15
Nov

LEGOS Empower Students to Try STEM

Many teachers use Legos in the classroom for hands-on STEM exercises, particularly as an enticement to get students who are less confident about their engineering aptitude to give it a try. Middle-school robotics teacher Ian Chow-Miller says he likes using Legos -- from the basic blocks to the higher-end robotics kits -- because his students learn something from every possible outcome. A Marketplace story from National Public Radio highlights some of the projects the class has tried, including videos.

14
Nov

Schools Join Into The TikTok Craze with Clubs

TikTok, a social media app where users post short funny videos, is enjoying a surge in popularity among teenagers around the world and has been downloaded 1.4 billion times, according to SensorTower. Now high schools are joining the TikTok trend with clubs to dance, sing and perform skits for the app — essentially drama clubs for the digital age, but with the potential to reach huge audiences. And unlike other social media networks, TikTok is winning over some educators, like Michael Callahan, a teacher and drama club advisor at West Orange High School in New Jersey, who had never heard of TikTok before his students told him about it. He loves how the app brings students from different friend groups together. “You see a lot more teamwork and camaraderie,” he said, “and less — I don’t want to say bullying — but focus on individuals.”

13
Nov

Asking The Vendors Your School Uses About Student Privacy

Do you know what kind of student data management system your child’s school uses or what evaluations took place to select it? Securing student data should be a leading consideration of any school or district adopting a student data management system, as with almost every week comes another data breach story. What kinds of questions should you as a parent be asking about data privacy? Edscoop recently covered some best practices of education technology polices, which provides some good insight for parents or educators who want to evaluate the technologies their school has in place.

12
Nov

Can Social And Emotional Learning Help Curb Cyberbullying?

Integrating a social-emotional learning in school curricula could help to encourage digital civility and curb cyberbullying, according to Mandy Manning, who was National Teacher of the Year in 2018. Now back in the classroom, Manning says she is focused in part on helping students make human connections and learn to have positive, healthy relationships -- online and in real life.

11
Nov

Some Schools Are Using AI To Grade Student’s Work – What You Should Know

Did you know that some schools are using artificial intelligence to grade student essays? An article in Vox reports that schools across the country are using algorithms to grade essays by making predictions about how a teacher would grade them. Experts say, however, that the technology can get those predictions wrong and it's possible a particular data set could be biased about certain speech and language patterns. One of the other flaws that is noted is that the grading system rewards those who use big words, yet easily be fooled by nonsensical gibberish of sophisticated words strung together.

8
Nov

Quick List of Digital Resources for Bullying Prevention and Cybersecurity

Looking for parent, teacher or school resources on bullying prevention and cybersecurity? Take a look at this list from Tech & Learning online. The resources includes links on how to obtain posters, tip sheets and brochures about bullying for your school, information on Cyber Security Careers, and even a short guide to cryptology that helps students understand the importance of a strong password.

7
Nov

Closing the STEM Gender Gap

Educators and parents can help to close the gender gap in STEM by examining possible gender biases that are integrated into their language. Meagan Pollock, executive director of the nonprofit Design Connect Create, also asserts that girls typically tend to go into helping careers, so showing how STEM makes a positive difference in people's lives could be beneficial in exposing them to other options, she writes.

6
Nov

“Grandkids on Demand”

A number of tech startup companies are using social media to foster face-to-face connections and combat loneliness and social isolation among seniors. One example is Papa, a Miami-based health care firm that connects aging seniors with college students through a mobile app and other digital tools. Papa has partnered with health insurers such as Aetna, Alignment Healthcare and Priority Health to offer its "grandkids on demand" service to some Medicare Advantage members. “Papa Pals,” as the 3,500 college, nursing and pre-med students who have become part of the program are called, pair up with older adults who need assistance with transportation, house chores, technology lessons, and other services. Papa Pals have to submit to a stringent background check, a personality test, a virtual interview, a motor vehicle inspection and even a test of the tonality of their voice to ensure they have the kind of personality the service is looking for with a Papa Pal. With the strict guidelines, only 15% of applicants actually make it into the program.

5
Nov

What Country Has the Most Tech Addicted Teens?

About half of teenagers and parents in Mexico say they believe they are addicted to their cellphones -- the highest of any nation surveyed by Common Sense Media. In the US, 39% of teenagers report feeling addicted to their mobile devices, which happens to be fewer than both the United Kingdom and Japan.

4
Nov

Consumers Lack Digital Media Literacy

A recent Pew Research Center study of US adults revealed that consumers generally lack social media literacy regarding issues such who owns what apps, how social platforms make money, familiarity with private browsing, and how cookies work. The survey did find that younger tech users were savvier about terms and issues, but even that was not universal. What was clear is that consumers need to be better informed about the more technical aspects of their digital presence – it will only become more important over time.  

1
Nov

There’s A New Tablet for Kids

Amazon now has a version of its Kindle e-reader designed specifically for kids. The device includes educational tools such as a built-in dictionary for defining complex words, achievement badges for meeting reading goals, enhanced search features, and a vocabulary builder with flash cards.

Pages