Digital Smarts Blog

You are here

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.

19
Jun

Economic, Social, and Political Optimism at Record Lows for Young People

Just 26% of millennials and Generation Z across the world believe the economic prospects in their home countries will improve in the next year, a figure that has never before dropped below 40%, Deloitte reports in MediaPost Communications. The study, diving into behaviors, perceptions, and beliefs of the young generations, also reports that these groups are “disillusioned, expressing dissatisfaction with their money situation, jobs, government, the way their data is used — and their lives in general”. Interestingly, about 60% say they’d be happier if they spent less time on social media.

18
Jun

Traditional Schools Still Shown to Outperform Digital Schools

EdSurge reports enrollment in virtual schools continues to grow, but research by the nonprofit National Education Policy Center has reported that these types of programs may be less effective than traditional schools. Michael Barbour, who teaches instructional design at Touro University California, says students in brick-and-mortar schools tend to outperform those in online and blended learning (a combination of online and traditional learning) programs. He finds this biggest issue to be a reliance by online instruction on evaluation by multiple choice questions that don’t promote analysis or deeper learning.

17
Jun

The Pros and Cons of Telehealth Programs at Schools

Some school districts are expanding students' access to health care and are curbing absenteeism through telehealth programs that provide students with virtual access to counselors, social workers, psychologists and other health professionals. About 85% of students who have a virtual health visit while at school return to class, says Amanda Martin, Center for Rural Health Innovation's executive director. But experts report that virtual visits with a medical professional are more effective when school nurses are involved, so many telehealth services offer a dual approach to care.

14
Jun

Usage of Certain Social Media Platforms Down

Facebook and Snapchat users ages 18 and over in the US are spending around 38 and 26 minutes daily, respectively, on the platforms, while Instagram usage is on the upswing, according to eMarketer. The research firm attributes the changes to Facebook's drop in younger users and a move toward discouraging passive content consumption, Snapchat's app redesign and Instagram's increasing engagement through Stories and influencer content. What social media platform do you use the most now?

13
Jun

Parents Say Bullying is Widespread

According to a recent article in Education Week , 47.7% of 6- to 10-year-old children and more than 50% of children older than 11 have reported experiences of being bullied. The survey of parents by Comparitech also found that over 82.8% of bullying takes place at school, and online it's most common for children to be bullied on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. What is your experience? Is there more or less bullying going on despite the abundance of programs aimed at combating it?

12
Jun

The Changing Face of Free Speech in the Digital Age?

The Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether a teenager's tweets are considered free speech. The case stems from tweets sent between two students, in different states that did not know each other, that included threats of violence in the aftermath of the shooting that happened at Arapahoe High School in 2013. One of the students was arrested for harassment, but his conviction was overturned. Traditionally, for something to qualify as a true threat, there is usually a face-to-face confrontation where the harm would potentially be imminent. Experts now say they believe the courts might eventually need to decide whether a person's fear of harm is enough to constitute a true threat.

11
Jun

Districts Revisiting Drone Policies

Is your child interested flying drones? It is important to know if your school or district has a drone policy if your children are going to be taking their drone to school for fun or even a project – whether school is in session or not. The Sentinel reports some school districts are considering adopting policies on the use of drones near schools. One district recently changed its own policy to ban the use of drones on district property unless the drone, and where it will be flying, has been approved by the superintendent.

10
Jun

Is There Gender Bias in the Voices of Digital Assistants?

Neowin reports the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is voicing concerns about the widespread practice of making the voices of digital assistants female, which it says reinforces gender bias. UNESCO is urging corporations and governments to consider a gender-neutral persona for digital assistants and to make software development teams more evenly balanced between genders.

7
Jun

Why Middle School is so Important to the Future of Technology

Paula Grisanti, CEO of the National Stem Cell Foundation, asserts that future space travel, medical cures and other scientific breakthroughs will be made possible by the middle school students of today. In her recent article in The Courier-Journal, she explains why it is vital to attract their interest to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at that critical age, citing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology’s report that “the US needs approximately one million more STEM professionals than it can produce at current graduation rates”.  The National STEM Scholar Program, in which Grisanti's foundation is a partner, gives middle-school teachers training, classroom projects and other resources designed to spark a lifelong interest in STEM subjects and is something worth mentioning to your child’s teacher if your middle school is looking for ways to further integrate STEM into the classroom.

6
Jun

Should Schools Limit Virtual Reality (VR) Time?

Most schools don’t have the budget for elementary students to visit the penguins in Antarctica, but they can do it using virtual reality headsets. Teachers say by exposing students to distant people, cultures and animals, it helps boost vocabulary and content writing, but researchers are cautioning that there in not much known about the effects of this technology on young children. As more schools integrate virtual reality in the classroom, experts advise limiting VR time use to minutes at a time, not hours. Despite these concerns, proponents for the technology argue that immersive media is not just a passive experience for children and allows students to engage with content in new ways.

5
Jun

“Contract Cheating” Becoming a Serious Challenge

“Contract cheating,” the process by which students solicit and compensate others to do their work or take tests for them, is a serious threat to high school and college education, says University Business magazine online. Many schools have invested in content-tracking services, such as Turnitin, that can spot and prevent plagiarism in high school and college. Its tools reveal cheating by comparing one student’s writing with somebody else’s work. The company’s more recently released “Authorship Investigate” platform was also specially designed to identify contract cheating. Experts warn that increasing class sizes and going to more online personalized learning modules can make it difficult for teachers to find the time to give students the level of attention that counteracts academic dishonesty.

4
Jun

Is Social Media Tied to the Happiness of Teens?

In the United Kingdom, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that time spent on social media has only a minor impact on life satisfaction (happiness) among adolescents. The authors of the study caution that although the data shows that time spent on social media may not be harming the emotional well-being of teens in the ways that experts often predict, the study only looked at the amount of time the children had spent online – not what they were doing during that time.  That is an interesting take away for parents (and experts)who seem to focus so much of their concern limiting screen time, rather than considering where their kids are spending that time.

Pages