Digital Devices

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It’s Epic!

For less than the price of a Netflix monthly subscription, you can get access to Epic!, a digital library for children 12 and younger. They offer 25,000 premium books (some including audio), educational videos and quizzes. Epic! is a great place to let kids look for books based on their needs and interests. Better yet, Epic! is free to elementary school teachers and librarians and you can try for a month for free.

Use of Recording Devices By Students in Schools in Question

The 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston is expected to take up a case regarding a Maine student's right to carry an audio-recording device in school. The student in question has autism and a neurological syndrome that affects his speech and he cannot talk to his parents about his school day so the family is fighting for the right for him to carry an “always on” recording device to ensure he is being properly treated during the school day. In other states, parents of special education students have secretly placed audio recorders on their children to expose abuse, which have led to firings or settlements. Opponents say though that this raises serious privacy concerns for other students and that it would actually be “disruptive and detrimental” to his education.

 

Especially now that every cell phone has a recording option, you may be wondering is it legal for a student to record a teacher? That may depend on whether you live in a one party or two party consent state. While federal law allows for recordings as long as one party to the conversation consents (known as "one-party consent"), several states have stricter recording laws. California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington all require every party to a conversation to consent to recording (known as "two-party consent"). Most states make illegal recordings a felony. For instance Florida's wiretap law makes illegal recordings a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If you live in a one-party consent state, you (or your children) are probably OK recording a teacher or professor as long as you are present in the class, since you're a party to the conversation and by your action have given your consent to be recording. If you're in a two-party consent state, or are placing a secret recorder on your child, things may get a little trickier. Of course the easiest way to get around the issue may be to let everyone know you are recording, but as these parents in Maine are finding out even that may not satisfy everyone. If you or your children are thinking of doing any kind of recording at school or at college, be sure to check with the institution first.

The Greener Choice: An eReader

If you are on the fence about whether to stop buying paper books and go with digital versions instead, one of your considerations might be the environmental impact of buying paper. While many publishers are moving towards sustainably sourced paper, there are two greener directions you might decide to go. Joining a library or getting an eReader can both help the environment and unclutter your life. Some advantages of eReaders include being able to read in the dark, no storage room needed, and access to independent authors you may have never heard about before.

Helping Kids Learn to Read Deeply on Digital Devices

Children are doing more and more reading and assignments on digital devices, but day-to-day interactions with digital devices have instilled bad habits in many kids, including breaking away to text or check social media. These habits make it difficult for them to delve deeply into digital texts the way they would do with materials printed on paper. Teachers are developing methods to counteract these diversions and to teach students how to read for content and context. Interested in trying some of these methods with your own children? Check out Strategies to Help Students ‘Go Deep’ When Reading Digitally on the KQED news site.

Tricks for Making You iPhone or iPad More Useful for Home (and School)

Kim Komodo recently posted a column sharing 7 useful tips for your iPhone and iPad. Did you know that your device will charge faster if you put it into Airplane Mode before you plug it into the wall? What about turning on captioning if your kids are asleep and you still want to watch a movie on your device? These are just two of the tips she discusses on her list.