Hackathon Participants Figure a Way to Identify Fake News

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

A week or so ago four college students at a Princeton University hackathon  came up with a way to identify fake news on Facebook. You can read about the specific fake news solution at a Business Insider article, Students Solve Facebook’s Fake News Problem in 36 Hours.

A hackathon is an event attended by students who gather for a few days to focus on solving problems by using their programming skills. Collaboration is key. According to Zachary Liu, a manager for the Princeton event, about 600 students attended from over 80 universities.

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

Photo used with permission of Hack Princeton Team

A hackathon is 21st Century learning at its best. The aim of each event is to identify problems that need solving and encourage students to work collaboratively, using their programming (coding) skills, to figure out potential solutions.

At the Princeton event, and at many other hackathons around the country, there is no charge for room and board, and in some cases buses pick up participants at different schools. Travel costs can be reimbursed.      Continue reading

Are You Thinking Enough About Phone Apps & Personal Privacy?

childing-typing1It seems so simple when we install apps. Download, click agree and OK a few times, and use. But it’s not as simple as it seems because we may be unintentionally giving free access to lots of our data. When is the last time you read the user agreement before clicking “agree?” When was the last tune you made sure your 21st Century digital kid to read the agreement?  The app install process is not that simple a process after all, because your data is valuable, and not just for you.

To learn more about what apps are inclined to do when you install them, check out a terrific privacy video (below) produced by Silentcircle.com, a company that makes secure communication products.                                                                                     Continue reading

Conversations About Commenting

Are we surprised that people and their comments know few limits in the 21st Century online world? We keep hearing about awful language, trollers, at least some of whom are real humans, and increasing numbers of hateful comments. This post about teaching children to comment was written several years ago and is still relevant in 2016

Media! Tech! Parenting!

If you have ever written a comment at the end of an article or blog posting, you have surely read more than a few inappropriate and sometimes distasteful remarks. Sometimes people leave these comments anonymously. Posted by folks who do not understand why websites invite visitors to share thoughts and ideas, many unfiltered remarks are permanently attached to websites — indiscretions waiting for the whole world to discover.

Read a short post and watch a video on newspaper comments, uploaded by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. Some newspapers sites, such as the Boston Globe, post a short and succinct comment policy.

Helping your child avoid public website blunders is one reason to discuss commenting etiquette. Often children don’t know or forget that their comments leave a digital footprint trail that will last much longer than their per-adolescent and even teenage years.  Often confusion arises because many children first encounter commenting…

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So What’s Media Literacy?

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Media and news literacy skills are critical for people who seek to become strong citizens. The above definition aptly describes the meaning of media literacy. Unfortunately the Media Literacy Project, where this graphic came from, closed its doors in 2015.

Three organizations and websites that actively focus on media literacy issues are the Center for Media Literacy and the National Association for Media Literacy Education in the United States and Media Smarts in Canada. You can also follow the top ten news literacy Twitter accounts.described in a blog post by Samantha Stanley.

Consider reading these media literacy posts from MediaTechParenting.

How Parents Confront Digital Life Challenges

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-8-57-06-pmTake a few minutes to read When Tech is a Problem Child,  appearing in the New York Times on November 19, 2016.

Written by Bruce Feiler, the article describes how families go about addressing and solving the day-to-day digital challenges that occur in 21st Century life. Feller spent six weeks asking parents, via social media, to share their rules and strategies related to raising children in the digital world. He describes in some detail the parents’ ideas, including thoughts about mobile phones, homework, digital devices and bedtime, social media use, consequences, and how families go about setting up phone-free family time.

While soliciting answers to 20 questions, as Feller did, is not scientific research, he did gather some interesting information about the challenges of raising children and the conversations that occur between children and their parents in the 21st Century digital world. Moreover, the article begins and ends with delightful references to the well-known musical, The Music Man, and its song, Trouble in River City.

My favorite digital parenting idea, relayed by Feller, came from a family that adopted a strategy for keeping children focused during device-free activities. They told their children that if a device was picked up, the parents would get to see texts on that phone and read them aloud. Clever idea.

Other Posts that Relate to this Topic

Post-Election Resources that Support Learning, Dialogue, and Understanding

unnamedAs an educator, parent, and grandparent, I’m heartbroken about the increase in hateful and offensive activities that so many children have witnessed, front and center, during the long months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Just how do we talk to kids when they’ve observed and heard so much?

I ask this question because we parents and educators know the actions to take (where to help and support others, places to volunteer, etc.), the values we want to model (kindness, respect, honoring differences, integrity), and the civics concepts that we need to be certain our students understand — but our task will far more difficult in the 2016 post-election world.

Below is a list or election response and media literacy resources that I’ve found especially useful this past week, materials that I selected because they offer ideas that we can use long-term, not just in the days following the election. Please be in touch if you find other resources that might be added to this list.                   Continue reading

Starting Out With Digital Devices Is Just Like Learning to Swim

swim-meetThe minute a child gets that first web-connected mobile device, the adults in the family commit themselves to extended digital life “swimming lessons.”

Young swimmers become increasingly competent and skilled while at the same time needing adult support, supervision, and occasional intervention. Twenty-first Century digital natives require the same parental attention and guidance as they learn to operate safety and adroitly in the connected world waters. Swimming and connected-world activities, though they require long-term adult oversight, help children explore the world around them and gain confidence, learn new things and grow their abilities, learn to make good decisions and yes, avoid making bad ones. The key to their success is adult support.

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