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Quiz Platforms – Pros and Cons

More teachers are using Kahoot, an online formative assessment platform, to determine in real time what students have learned. However, some teachers have reported that students are hacking the platform not only to get the answer key, but to play pranks on the teacher and other users. While many would argue it is a relatively harmless way for students to show off their coding skills, a Kahoot vice president says the issue is being addressed by the company.

Parents Sign A Pledge to Restrict Social Media Access of Kids Under 13

A Monmouth county New Jersey school district has asked parents to sign a pledge barring students' access to social media until they are 13 years old because they are not "emotionally mature enough to handle it," says Superintendent John Marciante. The district's request comes after an incident occurred between students in a chat room using the app House Party that led to a threat of a school shooting. Some feel that such a ban could never be enforceable, but it still brings up the question about the age appropriateness of social media platforms.

Some Thoughts on Teachers Hawking Technology Products on Social Media

More teachers are using their social media presence to act as paid brand ambassadors for education-technology products, writes Kipp Bentley of the Center for Digital Education. In a commentary, he asserts that these individuals should take steps to preserve their objectivity as educators and that school districts should adopt clear policies governing this practice especially when those products are being offered to students and parents. Is there an ethics policy in your district to cover this kind of interaction between teachers and families?

School Issued Devices a Plus Survey Shows

A recent study shows that students who are issued devices from their schools are more likely to use them for school-related tasks such as e-mailing questions to teachers, taking notes in class and collaborating with classmates, according the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. Speak Up CEO Julie Evans cites research showing that for many students, emailing teachers with questions helps alleviate anxiety,. “It isn’t as if they need the teacher to respond to them in that moment,” Evans says. “It’s more that they want to share the problem with someone.” Of the students surveyed, 60% of those with school-issued devices reported e-mailing questions to teachers, whereas for students not assigned devices, only 42% reported e-mailing with their teachers.

Teacher- Student Texting: Growing Trend, Growing Concern

Texting is often the communication method of choice for teens when communicating with peers and adults alike. But what about texting between teachers and students? In a recent article on the topic, Laura Zieger of the Department of Education Technology at New Jersey City University suggests schools should exercise caution about letting educators text with students, but should not prohibit the practice. Meghan DeCarlo, a high-school teacher and track coach who texts with student athletes, suggests the texts be for information purposes and always sent to a group. Is there a policy at your school for texting between teachers and students? Should there be?

Home-School Communication – The Digital Route

According to a 2016 report, there’s been a steep drop in the number of parents who believe that more intimate forms of communication—face-to-face meetings with teachers, for example—are the most effective means to convey important information about students. The study in fact found a growing acceptance of digital methods. Enter simple communication apps like ClassDojo, Spotlight, Remind, and Seesaw that allow teachers to send mobile texts, video summaries, and other alerts to parents about important school activities or their child’s recent academic or behavioral progress.

Taken together, these new ways to communicate are giving parents a deeper look into their childrens' performance and experience in the classroom, while forging tighter relationships between schools and families. Educational apps have even played a vital role in updating parents about snow days and disasters, while advanced features translate report cards into languages from Arabic to Vietnamese. Is your school using one of these apps? What has been your experience?

Should Schools Sell Ad Space in Emails?

Response has been mixed to a Florida school district's plan to sell ad space in emails that go to students, parents and teachers. The school board approved the program, aimed at raising funds for student travel, but some teachers were not happy to learn that school emails would be used for solicitation purposes. How would you feel if your district instituted such a policy?

STOPit App Fights Cyberbullying

While schools shouldn't rely solely on an app to fight cyberbullying and create a positive, supportive culture among their students, the STOPit app is a new tool being used by some districts this fall. A simple design and setup make it easy to get help quickly, especially for cyberbullying issues. On the app, students can anonymously report any bullying, self-harm, or violence concerns. A school administrator on the receiving end can then respond to address the issue. As some administrators point out, kids are often more comfortable reporting issues using technology rather than face-to-face.

The Myth of Multitasking

Ask any kid while they are using their cell phone if they are listening to you, chances are they will reply in the affirmative even though they will have trouble recounting what has been said. That’s what Arnold Glass, a psychology professor at Rutgers University at New Brunswick thought, but his students told him that using various digital devices in his class had no negative effect on their performance, so he decided to test it out. His study shows that digital multitasking can adversely affect students' long-term retention of material, a study you might want to tell your kids about.

Wear this Device or Face a Fine

Here is one sure to get a conversation started with your kids. Students at a private school in France are being asked to wear Bluetooth-enabled tracking devices that will allow teachers to instantly take attendance and find students if they are not in class. Students who do not wear the device or forget it at home could be subject to a fine.