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Entering the Google Doodle Contest

Every year Google holds a special contest for kids in grades K - 12 that invites them to draw what they hope to see in the future- in the form of a doodle. The contest is called the Doodle for Google and the doodles can be about anything that the kids can dream of. The contest has a tagline that states "If you can dream it, you can draw it."


Screen Time Breakdown

Curious about how much time you or your children are spending looking at a phone screen every day? Worried about digital addiction? Google and Apple have tools that can help you manage your screen time on their devices. You can use these features to see how much time you're actually spending on your mobile device and which applications you use most often.

Apple's "Screen Time" feature on its iPhones can be found under "Settings." It breaks down in simple charts how long you spent on your phone that day or over the past week, and tells you which types of apps sucked up most of your time.

Google has built a native "Digital Wellbeing" app into its Pixel phones that provides similar data. It also includes an option to set limitations on usage. For other Android devices, there are a number of apps in the Google Play store that users can download to monitor their mobile device usage.


Digital Photography Helps Kids Visualize Future Success

As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a sixth-grade teacher’s class project has gone viral after he shared digital photographs his students created of themselves graphically imposed onto the covers of books written by influential African-Americans. The project was designed to teach African-American students at the Wisconsin school about representation and success.


What is Digital Citizenship?

How do you or your children’s school define “digital citizenship”?  According to  Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, speaking recently at the South by Southwest Conference, digital citizenship goes beyond the scope of online safety. He says that positive digital citizenship is about making better communities online that include proactive actions to affect public policy, increased civility and the skills need to ferret out valid information.


Colleges Tap Gaming as an Engagement Strategy

According Education Dive, some colleges and universities, and even businesses, are using gamification - the use of game-like features such as point-scoring, earning badges and leaderboards - to help engage members of Generation Z and other digital natives. At California State University at Dominguez Hills, students earn prizes for certain on-campus behaviors, such as joining a student group or accessing mental health services. Colleges are hoping to use these tactics as a way to encourage student success, both in and out of the classroom.


Keeping User Data Private

Apple and Facebook are among a coalition of civic society groups, trade associations and technology companies that are fighting globally to mandate encryption rules and keep user data private. Tech companies are concerned about the misuse of data access for spying or for being exploited by hackers, while governments want data access to track possible threats and solve crimes. Legislation regarding encryption could force tech companies to add a “backdoor” to their devices and sites that would give governments (and potentially hackers) easy access to user information.


New Study: Violent Video Games Not Tied to Violent Behavior

Teenagers who spent more time playing violent video games do not have greater odds of engaging in aggressive behaviors compared with their peers, according to a new study by UK researchers at Oxford University published in Royal Society Open Science and reported in The Independent . The findings were based on data involving 1,000 British youths ages 14 and 15. One of the researchers did comment that games could provoke angry outbursts while playing online, however it doesn’t necessarily translate to real-world aggression. 


Digital Play Benefits Student Learning

Digital play benefits students' learning, according to Jordan Shapiro, an author and senior fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop in an article on Edutopia online. In the piece, Shapiro shares how teachers and parents can embrace game-based learning and digital play and encourage kids to use digital tools as a means of self-expression. He also points out that adults must model the behaviors they expect and not issue mixed messages. For example, many parents harp on their children for constantly being on their phones, but do not manage their own screen time- something their children can clearly pick up on.


Online Students More Prone to Multitasking

College students who are already inclined to multitasking, such as texting and web surfing, are more likely to do it during online courses than in physical classrooms, according to a new study. Researchers recommend online course developers create strategies to increase student focus and discourage multitasking. While this study was done with college students, other similar research on K-12 students often points to the same issues. In a related study in eCampus News, students in Generation Z -- those between ages 14 and 23 -- say they prefer learning via video, while only 26% prefer online classes.


Districts Use Online Program to Replace Teachers

A growing number of school districts are turning to online programs such as Edgenuity as they struggle to recruit enough certified teachers. The programs deliver online lessons while an in-person facilitator (often someone with no expertise in the subject being studied) oversees the classroom, but the lack of a content area teacher who can answer student questions on the topics being studied often leads to student frustration, boredom and cheating. If your district is thinking of offering online instruction provided by outside vendors as a solution for teacher shortages, you may want to research the pros and cons.


A Lesson on Fake News Goes Too Far

A student at a Texas high school near Houston is being accused of taking an assignment on fake news too far by posting on social media an untrue story about an arrest of a school administrator. The post, which went viral, led school district officials to speak out against the story in a letter to parents. "This is a teachable moment for all of us, and it's a conversation we should all be having," according to the statement. "Families can use this to start the conversation about the power of social media -- and the damage fake news can create."


How School Can Protect Networks From Student Hackers

Student hackers are an increasing threat when it comes to infiltrating K-12 school networks, says John Mullen of SonicWall. In a recent article in EdTech online, he writes, “While external cybercriminals seek Social Security numbers and financial information using ransomware, student hackers commit inside jobs with the hope of changing grades, stealing passwords, infecting computers with malware, accessing or hijacking secure school or district websites or even posting inappropriate image”. He also shares several steps that schools can take to help protect their networks from student hackers, including compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act.


Are Textbooks Becoming Obsolete?

Textbooks are becoming obsolete, Bill Gates wrote in his annual letter from his foundation. High School English teacher Peter Greene counters Gates' argument on the Forbes site with five reasons why he says textbooks will continue to be a classroom staple -- at least in the near term -- including a preference, even among digital natives, for printed material. What is your opinion?


Children’s Personal Data at Risk Online

Children's data, including Social Security numbers, is increasingly being sold on the dark web, according to research from Terbium Labs, a Baltimore-based dark web data intelligence company. In her detailed commentary regarding the dark web market, researcher Emily Wilson points out that children's data can be used to commit fraud because most people are not checking their babies and children’s credit reports. Facebook has also been recently charged for their negligence with child data, including the use of a research app to spy on minors and turning a blind eye to so-called “friendly fraud”.


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.


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.


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."


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?”


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.


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.