Site offers free digital citizenship tools
Today’s kids may be growing up in an interconnected world, but they need to be taught how to be good cyber citizens and use technology wisely. To help create an online source on digital citizenship, CarrotNewYork, Cable in the Classroom (CIC) and O’Keefe Communications teamed up to create InCtrl.
The online resource is a collection of seven, free standards-based, inquiry-led, and student-centered lessons covering key digital citizenship topics.
Designed to equip and empower 4th-8th grade students to be smart, safe, and effective in today’s digital world, topics include everything from privacy to cyberbullying.
“InCtrl was designed to make digital citizenship teachable for educators by breaking the topic down into seven turnkey, easy-to-digest topics that include conversation starters, activities, teaching tips and resources. Interdisciplinary lessons are aligned with national standards, including Common Core, American Association of School Librarians, National Education Technology Standards (NETS), by ISTE, and Partnership for 21st Century Skills,” said Filiz Soyak, education director of CarrotNewYork.
“Digital Citizenship is a holistic and positive approach to helping students learn how to be safe and secure, as well as smart and effective participants in a digital world," said Kat Stewart, senior director of public affairs for Cable in the Classroom. That means helping them understand their rights and responsibilities, recognize the benefits and risks, and realize the personal and ethical implications of their actions. Helping a student become a good digital citizen cuts across all curricular disciplines.”
The full curriculum can be downloaded at www.CIConline.org/InCtrl.
International ed tech: Portugal’s success story
As the U.S. struggles with stagnant performance on international assessments, it could learn from other countries' successful ed-tech initiatives.
During the Consortium for School Networking's (CoSN) 2013 senior-level delegation visit to Portugal, ed-tech advocates explored the country's successful technology initiative and identified key takeaways for U.S. education leaders policymakers.
Portugal's initiative grew out of economic decline, poor student performance on international tests, and sparse home internet access. In response, the government launched the National Technology Plan for Education, with an overall goal of creating a "knowledge-based society" and using technology and internet access to make the country's education system not just current, but top-notch.
The ed-tech plan's three-year implementation first equipped elementary and secondary school students with computers and internet access. The Magellan Initiative put 500,000 Magellan PCs, outfitted with educational content and software, in the hands of students ages 6-11. The eEscola program gave notebook computers to students in grades 7-12.
Students own their devices and their at-home use promotes digital literacy in families, particularly low-income families that previous did not have device access. Device purchase prices were based on family income, and approximately 25 percent of families received a student device for free. Between 2008-2012, 1.7 million elementary and secondary school students, adults in training programs, and teachers received laptops and broadband internet access.
Portuguese companies create digital content and learning platforms for students, including skoool.pt for grades 1-4, and Escola.pt for older students. This effort has resulted in job growth and opportunities.
Teachers participate in an ed-tech training network to ensure proper and consistent use of the devices and digital content. A network of master teachers--850 in all--trains and then offers training to the country's 30,000 teachers.
Portuguese students showed an increase of about 20 points on each of the PISA math, reading, and science assessments--making Portugal the only country to improve in all three areas in a certain testing span. Students also topped those in other countries when it came to computer literacy.
Like any tool, iPads can be used…and misused
Beckley, W.Va. mom Kym Cox says her son won’t stop playing MineCraft, a popular online game, and the problem has gotten worse since he was given an iPad through the iRaleigh Initiative.
Her son, an eighth-grade student at Park Middle School, has seen lower grades as a result, she said, because he and other students routinely play games like Minecraft and Flappy Birds during school hours.
“If Architectural Minecraft was a grade, my kid would be rocking it,” said Cox, 44. “He’s an architectural genius when it comes to Minecraft, but the rest of his grades. ... I blame a lot of it on the iPad.”
And Cox says that students playing games instead of paying attention during classtime isn’t the only problem.
Cox reported that her son has received some “very unique” images of other students via SnapChat and that students access SnapChat with their iPads to send embarrassing images of others.
“There’s a lot more problems than just gaming,” added Cox. “There’s a problem with bullying with them, pictures, sexual things.”
In the past, kids in school also suffered from teasing and name-calling while in school. But in today’s high-tech world, “cyberbullies” logging in from home are using Facebook or SnapChat to up the ante when it comes to harassing classmates, Cox said.
Insults that are shouted in the halls by classmates are also posted on social media sites, reaching deeply into the target’s life.
Other misuses of school iPads have been reported. Officials in the Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office reported that incidents of minors sending sexual images of other minors or themselves has risen in connection with iPad deployment, and Independence Middle School teacher Marie Hamrick brought an inappropriate drawing that was confiscated from a sixth-grade boy’s iPad to the attention of central office administrators on March 25.
One startling fact about flipped learning
Flipped learning has been on education’s radar for the last two years, with many schools experimenting with a teaching and learning style well-suited for 21st Century learning. But new results from a national survey reveal just how popular flipped learning has become.
According to the recently released 2013 Speak Up National Research Project findings, flipped learning—defined in the survey has using lecture videos as homework while using class time for more in-depth learning such as discussions, projects, experiments, and to provide personalized coaching to individual students—is surpassing all other digital trends in K-12 schools.
Amongst district administrators, 25 percent identify flipped learning as already having a significant impact on transforming teaching and learning in their district, surpassing other trends such as educational games and mobile apps (21 percent), and even online professional learning communities for teachers and administrators (19 percent).
An additional 40 percent of administrators said they were interested in their teachers “trying flipped learning” this year (2014).
The survey also revealed significant growth in just one year in interest and implementation of flipped classrooms and a drop in concerns about student online access.
Teacher interest in professional development on making quality instructional videos and on how to best use class time in a flipped classroom remained high, but this concern among administrators has declined while some are beginning to provide this training.
“We know from other research that teachers who are flipping their classrooms report higher student achievement, increased student engagement and better attitudes toward learning and school,” said Kari Arfstrom, executive director of the Flipped Learning Network. “Many flipped teachers report that their job satisfaction has improved and they are feeling re-energized, so we are excited to see more teachers and administrators looking to implement this model in their schools.”
(Next page: More revealing statistics on flipped learning)
Speak Up 2013 flipped learning findings include:
• One out of six math and science teachers are implementing a flipped learning model using videos that they have created or sourced online.
14 Tech Supplies That Made School Tolerable in the ’90s
Seat belts everyone! Time for an educational field trip on The Magic School Bus back to the 1990s, Mashable reports. The clunky technology of the '90s paved the way for innovations in today's classrooms, and growing up in that time period was an adventure. Children today would scratch their heads at a floppy disk. And who would know what to do with Microsoft Encarta when a quick Google search is so much easier?