Educational Psychology & Technology
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Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections - A Course for K-12 Teachers // Annenberg

Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections - A Course for K-12 Teachers // Annenberg | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"Insights drawn from neuroscience not only provide educators with a scientific basis for understanding some of the best practices in teaching, but also offer a new lens through which to look at the problems teachers grapple with every day. By gaining insights into how the brain works—and how students actually learn—teachers will be able to create their own solutions to the classroom challenges they face and improve their practice." 



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Educational Psychology & Technology
This curated collection includes news, resources, and research related to Educational Psychology and/or Technology. The page also serves as a research tool to organize online content. The grey funnel shaped icon at the top allows for searching by keyword. For research more specific to tech and screen time, please see: For additional Educator Resources, please visit [Links to an external site].
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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us // Dan Pink, RSA Animate

"This lively RSAnimate, adapted from Dan Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace."

Mark Venters's comment, November 24, 2012 7:58 AM
A true paradigm shift in motivating people.
Sonia Thomas's curator insight, March 29, 2015 12:30 PM

Reducing control over employee work can lead to better outcomes

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How Google Took Over the Classroom // New York Times 

How Google Took Over the Classroom // New York Times  | Educational Psychology & Technology |
The tech giant is transforming public education with low-cost laptops and free apps. But schools may be giving Google more than they are getting.


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Pay for Success – Also Known as Social Impact Bonds, Senator Orrin Hatch & The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) // Seattle Education Blog

Pay for Success – Also Known as Social Impact Bonds, Senator Orrin Hatch & The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) // Seattle Education Blog | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Carolyn Leith

"Back in the early 2000's Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy described the pending merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq as "the sound of two garbage trucks colliding". Whenever I read through the 449 page abomination that is the 2016 re-write of the 1965 ESEA - later rebranded as the ESSA - I can't help thinking of that phrase."...


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Mastering Formative Assessment Moves: 7 High-Leverage Practices to Advance Student Learning // By Brent Duckor and Carrie Holmberg [ASCD Book]

Mastering Formative Assessment Moves: 7 High-Leverage Practices to Advance Student Learning // By Brent Duckor and Carrie Holmberg [ASCD Book] | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"How do you know if students are with you at the beginning, middle, and end of a lesson? Can formative assessment offer a key to better teaching and learning during instruction? What if you could blend different formative assessment moves in your classroom, with intention and care for all students, to help make better instructional decisions on the fly and enjoy more teachable moments?

Educators Brent Duckor and Carrie Holmberg invite you on the journey to becoming a formative assessor. They encourage you to focus on these seven research-based, high-leverage formative assessment moves:

  • Priming—building on background knowledge and creating a formative assessment–rich, equitable classroom culture
  • Posing—asking questions in relation to learning targets across the curriculum that elicit Habits of Mind
  • Pausing—waiting after powerful questions and rich tasks to encourage more student responses by supporting them to think aloud and use speaking and listening skills related to academic language
  • Probing—deepening discussions, asking for elaborations, and making connections using sentence frames and starters
  • Bouncing—sampling student responses systematically to broaden participation, manage flow of conversation, and gather more “soft data” for instructional use
  • Tagging—describing and recording student responses without judgment and making public how students with different styles and needs approach learning in real-time
  • Binning—interpreting student responses with a wide range of tools, categorizing misconceptions and “p-prims,” and using classroom generated data to make more valid and reliable instructional decisions on next steps in the lesson and unit

Each chapter explores a classroom-tested move, including foundational research, explaining how and when to best use it, and describing what it looks like in practice. Highlights include case studies, try-now tasks and tips, and advice from beginning and seasoned teachers who use these formative assessment moves in their classrooms. As teachers use these moves to develop formative assessment skills, they learn how to uncover students’ misconceptions—as well as their own sense of deeper learning in the classroom."  (ASCD book, 2017) 8” x 10”, 360 pages                          

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Advocates Release Parent Toolkit for #StudentPrivacy // EduResearcher

Advocates Release Parent Toolkit for #StudentPrivacy // EduResearcher | Educational Psychology & Technology |

[From Parent Coalition for Student Privacy Press Release May 16, 2017]   

“Amid growing concerns about data privacy and surveillance, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy (PCSP) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) have created an important resource for parents to understand and safeguard students’ personal information.

The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy: A Practical Guide for Protecting Your Child’s Sensitive School Data from Snoops, Hackers, and Marketers is a vital resource in an age where nearly all school records are stored digitally, and where learning, homework, and administrative tasks are increasingly conducted online. Available free to parents on CCFC and PCSP’s websites, the Toolkit offers clear guidance about federal laws that do—and don’t—protect students’ privacy, helps parents ask the right questions about their schools’ data policies, and offers simple steps parents can take to advocate for better privacy policies and practices in their children’s schools.

Rachael Stickland, Co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, explained that many parents are under the false impression that sensitive student records are stored securely in a paper file under lock and key in the principal’s office.

‘As a parent of two school-aged children, I know first-hand how difficult it is to comprehend the sheer amount of digital data students generate during the course of a normal school day and what that means for our children’s future. With districts outsourcing operations like bus, cafeteria, and instructional services to vendors who store student personal data in the ‘cloud’ and share it with third parties, including state and federal agencies, it’s more important than ever for parents to take some control over their children’s information. It’s not too late to take action when it comes to protecting our children’s privacy.’

A new report issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation found that students’ activities and information are being monitored by tech companies through devices and software used in classrooms. The data collected by schools and technology vendors often include kids’ names, birth dates, browsing histories, grades, test scores, disabilities, disciplinary records, and more, without adequate privacy and security protections or the consent of parents. Yet few guides exist to help parents navigate the confusing patchwork of laws and regulations that govern student privacy, or help them promote stronger protections.

Other currently available resources are overly technical, filled with jargon, or skewed to the interests of educational technology companies rather than parents and students. CCFC and PCSCP’s new Toolkit, designed with input from experts in education, data privacy, and federal law, is designed to put the needs of families first.”

The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy can be downloaded at
You may also download individual sections of the toolkit below:



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ClassDojo Poses Data Protection Concerns For Parents // London School of Economics and Political Science

ClassDojo Poses Data Protection Concerns For Parents // London School of Economics and Political Science | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"Ben Williamson and Alasdair Rutherford raise a series of concerns about the globally popular classroom management app ClassDojo. They argue that as ClassDojo has grown into a new social media site for schools, it poses a number of risks in relation to data protection and child privacy, and to how children, teachers and parents interact. Ben and Alasdair are both based in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling, UK. Ben is a Lecturer in Education, and led the ESRC funded project Code Acts in Education to explore the implications of digital data technologies in education. Alasdair is a Senior Lecturer in Social Statistics. [Header image credit: ClassDojo]

"Millions of parents will be familiar with the free mobile app, ClassDojo. It allows teachers to award or deduct points to children for their classroom behaviour, and has become a worldwide educational success story, with claims it is being used by over 3 million teachers and 35 million children from 180 countries globally.


Despite its popularity, ClassDojo raises significant concerns many parents may not have considered. As our ongoing research shows, in 2016 its Silicon Valley team received over US$20 million to extend into a ‘school-wide’ platform, quickly making it into an indispensable tool for connecting schools with parents, enabling a constant flow of dojo points, classroom pictures, messages, videos and digital portfolios of children’s work to be sent from schools to homes.

Meanwhile, teachers are involved in producing a huge database about children’s behaviour. It’s no longer just a cute app for promoting positive behaviour; it’s becoming more like a social media site.


Cause for concern

ClassDojo’s rapid spread is running ahead of teachers and parents’ awareness of its risks. We raise a number of concerns here to ignite a constructive conversation between parents and schools, particularly about what ClassDojo is doing with children’s sensitive behavioural information, and any risks associated with its service.


Informed consent

Not all schools seek ‘informed consent’ from parents to enter their children’s data into the ClassDojo system. Although parents are not forced to participate, this doesn’t mean their child is automatically removed, which places a massive responsibility on parents, and assumes their expertise to make sense of lengthy privacy documents. It is also not clear whether schools and local authorities are issuing consistent guidance or risk assessments on the use of ClassDojo.


Persistent behavioural records

ClassDojo’s new school-wide and class-linking features mean it can be used to create a persistent behavioural record of each individual child across the duration of their schooling, and school leaders can use these records to identify children by their behavioural profile. Vast collections of records are likely to be very attractive to a variety of organisations, for research or otherwise. ClassDojo is already in partnership with Stanford University, which is using ClassDojo data to evaluate how well its content promotes children’s psychological development.


Teacher-pupil contact

The use of ClassDojo in classrooms impacts on teacher-pupil contact time – with points awarded by clicking on the mobile app, teachers become responsible for data entry rather than interacting with pupils. Even 10 minutes of ClassDojo use a day could add up to over a week per school year of teaching time. Many parents may welcome how ClassDojo opens up a communication channel with teachers, but for teachers, this ‘digital work’ fills important classroom time.


Individualising the problem

At a time when children’s mental health has become the subject of serious concern, ClassDojo reinforces the idea that it is the behavioural mindset of the individual that needs to be addressed. Many ClassDojo resources refer to ideas such as ‘character development’ and ‘growth mindset’ that emphasise developing individuals’ resilience in the face of difficulties, but this doesn’t address the social causes of many difficulties children encounter, such as stress about tests. Competitive ranking of children, according to their accumulated dojo points, could easily become a further source of stress and anxiety.


Purchasing the data

ClassDojo is proposing ‘premium features’ for parents and school districts, and one way it is seeking to ‘monetise’ its service is by selling video content to schools, although its vast databank also has potential for monetisation. Parents, for example, could purchase ClassDojo reports to make inferences about their children and their peer groups. School leaders might purchase ready-made reports to single out children for specific classes or special behaviour programmes. Local government departments could buy the data to compare schools’ performance, much as schools are already judged in terms of test scores. In this business model, ClassDojo treats teachers as unpaid data entry clerks contributing to a huge database that can be analysed from far away to generate insights that parents, school leaders and local authorities might then purchase.


Return on investment

ClassDojo’s business model leaves it open to a potential ‘change of control’ that could see millions of children’s behavioural data transferred to a different organisation. As a free service, it has so far made no revenue, funded entirely by entrepreneurial investors from Silicon Valley. One way of securing a return on investment might be to sell the company, which would mean all ClassDojo data coming under its new owner’s privacy policy, with worried parents responsible for deleting their child’s data within 30 days. With other global technology companies already performing unsanctioned data mining on children’s personal information without seeking consent from either children or their parents, due to its extensive global reach into schools and homes, and its potential for monetisation, ClassDojo would make an attractive acquisition.


Transparent aims

As a globally successful social media site for schools, ClassDojo is becoming as integral to the relationships between children, teachers and parents as mainstream social media is to the everyday lives of millions around the world. It is making teachers into data collectors and data entry clerks, encouraging children to see themselves in terms of their behavioural points, and inviting parents to become users of ClassDojo’s services. School leaders can now use ClassDojo data and local government authorities may also be able to access it in future, potentially making it into a key tool of whole-school management and performance measurement.


It is time to support parents and teachers to ask critical questions about ClassDojo. As the owners and controllers of a vast global database of children’s behavioural information and a global social media site for schools, its entrepreneurial founders need to be more transparent about what they intend to do with that data, how they intend to generate income from it, and how they want ClassDojo to play a part in interactions between children."


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Your Brain Does Not Process Information and It Is Not a Computer // Robert Epstein, Aeon Essays

Your Brain Does Not Process Information and It Is Not a Computer // Robert Epstein, Aeon Essays | Educational Psychology & Technology |

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.


Our shoddy thinking about the brain has deep historical roots, but the invention of computers in the 1940s got us especially confused. For more than half a century now, psychologists, linguists, neuroscientists and other experts on human behaviour have been asserting that the human brain works like a computer.


To see how vacuous this idea is, consider the brains of babies. Thanks to evolution, human neonates, like the newborns of all other mammalian species, enter the world prepared to interact with it effectively. A baby’s vision is blurry, but it pays special attention to faces, and is quickly able to identify its mother’s. It prefers the sound of voices to non-speech sounds, and can distinguish one basic speech sound from another. We are, without doubt, built to make social connections.


A healthy newborn is also equipped with more than a dozen reflexes – ready-made reactions to certain stimuli that are important for its survival. It turns its head in the direction of something that brushes its cheek and then sucks whatever enters its mouth. It holds its breath when submerged in water. It grasps things placed in its hands so strongly it can nearly support its own weight. Perhaps most important, newborns come equipped with powerful learning mechanisms that allow them to change rapidly so they can interact increasingly effectively with their world, even if that world is unlike the one their distant ancestors faced.


Senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms – this is what we start with, and it is quite a lot, when you think about it. If we lacked any of these capabilities at birth, we would probably have trouble surviving.


But here is what we are not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, algorithms, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers – design elements that allow digital computers to behave somewhat intelligently. Not only are we not born with such things, we also don’t develop them – ever.


We don’t store words or the rules that tell us how to manipulate them. We don’t create representations of visual stimuli, store them in a short-term memory buffer, and then transfer the representation into a long-term memory device. We don’t retrieve information or images or words from memory registers. Computers do all of these things, but organisms do not."...


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The Shoddy Science Behind Fidget Spinners // Time 

The Shoddy Science Behind Fidget Spinners // Time  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Sean Gregory

"Jenn Jarmula, an elementary- and middle-school teacher in Chicago, recently hung a sign outside her classroom. This Is A Fidget Spinner Free Zone, it read. Fidget spinners — which dominate Amazon's top-selling toys and games list — are nothing more than gadgets with three weighted prongs that spin, spin, spin on the fingers of sixth-graders like tiny ceiling fans. They've existed in some form since 1993, but lately they've grown so popular that retailers can barely keep them in stock. In order to keep up with demand, Toys "R" Us has chartered jets to ship spinners to its stores.

Jarmula says they've become disruptive in the classroom. She recently confiscated four spinners from a single student in one class period, stuffing them into the pockets of her pants, which she now favors wearing over skirts for their ample fidget-spinner storage space. She's just one of many teachers who are opting to ban spinners from classrooms, even as some manufacturers are touting their therapeutic benefits for students with autism, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).



The alleged mental benefits of the toys have helped fuel their sales, but even a cursory look at the nonexistent science — and the history — of the spinners makes it clear that these claims are specious at best. Fidget spinners weren't created by behavioral scientists with a deep knowledge of intellectual disability nor were they created by experts in a lab; they were first patented by an inventor from Florida named Catherine Hettinger who wanted to promote world peace. She began imagining the spinner while visiting her sister in Israel. What if the young boys throwing rocks at police officers played with something calming instead? she thought. Hettinger's spinner never took off: Hasbro passed on it, her patent expired in 2005, and the spinner toiled in obscurity until earlier this year, when a series of YouTube videos featuring teenagers doing tricks with them went viral.

Soon, anecdotal reports emerged of special-needs kids benefiting from them. Cat Bowen, a lifestyle writer at, a website for millennial mothers, says that since her 9-year-old son, who's on the autism spectrum, started using a spinner, he's been more focused. Math homework that used to take him an hour to get through now takes just 40 minutes, she says.

But anecdotal evidence from an individual child isn't the same as the scientific evidence required to support marketing claims like "Perfect for ADD, ADHD, Anxiety and Autism," as one fidget-spinner ad does. At least 10 other companies listed on Amazon market the product as a medical intervention.

Some scientific studies have found that fidgeting can, indeed, benefit young students with ADHD. Researchers suspect that movement helps kids maintain alertness during cognitive tasks. In her work, Julie Schweitzer, director of the attention, impulsivity and regulation laboratory at the University of California, Davis, has found that children with ADHD scored higher on an attention test while squirming in their seats and moving their legs, compared with when they sat still. Another study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, found that the more kids with ADHD fidgeted, the better their working memory. Such movement probably stimulates underactive regions of the brain, like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in attention, planning and impulse control.

Many children with autism also have elevated symptoms of ADHD, so it stands to reason that fidgeting could aid them too — in theory, anyway. But experts say that playing with a fidget spinner, which does not require much physical activity, might not garner the same results as actual fidgeting. With fidget spinners, kids essentially outsource the action. "The spinner does the movement for them," says Mark Rapport, head of the Children's Learning Clinic at the University of Central Florida. "I imagine it would distract the heck out of kids."


Experts say that promising relief for a child through a $5 spinning ball bearing can have pernicious effects. "Many parents are desperate," says Rapport. "They're looking for magic. These claims raise their hopes, only for them to get dashed."...


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Delayed Kindergarten Enrollment Dramatically Reduces ADHD In Children, Study Shows // Inquisitr

Delayed Kindergarten Enrollment Dramatically Reduces ADHD In Children, Study Shows // Inquisitr | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"Delaying kindergarten enrollment for one year shows significant mental health benefits for children, according to a recent study. Researchers found that a one-year delay in enrolling a child in kindergarten dramatically reduces inattention and hyperactivity at age seven.

Researchers found that children who were held back from kindergarten for as little as one year showed a 73 percent reduction in inattentiveness and hyperactivity compared to children sent the year earlier, according to this new study on kindergarten and mental health.

Stanford’s Graduate School of Education offered a news release about the new study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research titled, The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health.

Findings from the study, which Professor Thomas S. Dee co-authored with Hans Henrik Sievertsen of the Danish National Center for Social Research, could help parents in viewing the pros and cons of postponing enrolling their child in kindergarten up to a year later.


Professor Dee commented on what their study found in delaying kindergarten for a year.

“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11, and it virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal,’ or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure.”

Sievertsen and Dee’s research offers new evidence on mental health aspects that are instrumental in predicting educational outcomes for children.

The mental health traits behind Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are determined by measuring an individual’s hyperactivity and inattention, which can effectively reveal how well he or she is capable of managing self-control or self-regulation. A higher level of self-regulation describes a person’s ability to control impulses and adjust his or her behavior in attaining goals — normally linked to a student’s achievement.

The generally accepted theory is that young children and teenagers who are able to stay focused, sit still, and pay attention longer, are prone to do much better in school.


Dee’s study found a similar link when comparing seven-year-old children attending the same schools. These children showed that the students who had lower inattention-hyperactivity ratings had higher school assessment scores.

Additional findings of this recent study on delaying kindergarten found a significant improvement of mental health with regard to hyperactivity and inattention for both boys and girls.

Professor Dee says the improvement is added evidence in delaying entry into kindergarten.


“This is some of the most convincing evidence we’ve seen to support what parents and policymakers have already been doing – choosing to delay kindergarten entry.”


In addition to improved mental health of children who are not enrolled in kindergarten until age six, instead of age five, emotional and social skills show improvement, as well."


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Do Reading Logs Ruin Reading? // The Atlantic

Do Reading Logs Ruin Reading? // The Atlantic | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"...Rather than creating a new generation of pleasure-readers, forcing kids to keep track of their reading time can turn it into a chore."...

By Erica Reischer

"Children who read regularly for pleasure, who are avid and self-directed readers, are the holy grail for parents and educators. Reading for pleasure has considerable current and future benefits: Recreational readers tend to have higher academic achievement and greater economic success, and even display more civic-mindedness.


But recreational reading is on the decline. According to a National Endowment for the Arts report based on longitudinal data from a series of large, national surveys, the rate at which teens voluntarily read for pleasure has declined by 50 percent over the last 20 years. Reading now competes for children’s time with many other alluring activities, including television, social media, and video games. Most leisure time is now spent in front of a screen.


To ensure that kids are spending at least some time every day reading, classrooms across the country have instituted student reading logs, which typically require kids to read for a certain amount of time—about 20 minutes—each night at home and then record the book title and number of pages read. In some cases, parents must also sign this log before their child turns it in to the teacher."...



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Reviewing the U.S. Department of Education FAFSA #DataBreach // Committee on Oversight & Government Reform 

By Cheri Keisecker (originally posted on Missouri Ed Watchdog blog)

"It hasn’t made the news much, maybe because the US Department of Education never told anyone, including Congress, and still refuses to call it a breach. But officials agree, there has been a data breach, possibly affecting 100,000 taxpayers. The breach stems from the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which imported tax information for the Free Application Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the US Department of Education’s website.  The IRS knew about this vulnerability in October 2016 but left the tool online and operational. *Important to note that some citizens who have recently received notification in the mail that their data was compromised in this breach, have not even used this FAFSA tool.


"Today, the Chief Information Officers of both USDoE and IRS were grilled for over 4 hours by legislators from the House Oversight Committee. According to a published report in The Hill,


"Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said that the IRS only notified Congress of the breach in the public testimony in April, more than a month after confirming that there was suspicious activity on the tool.


Jordan and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) indicated that the lack of notification could constitute a violation of the Federal Information Security Modernization Act.


“The breach at the Department of Education is something that we’ve been warning about on this committee for quite some time,” Connolly said. “The Department of Education holds data on 139 million individuals.”


“It seems like it was incumbent on the Department of Education to inform us in a timely fashion,” Connolly said. “I think it’s in violation of the law. I know we’re going to pursue that more.” 

Reviewing the FAFSA Data Breach

The House Oversight Committee hearing can be seen here, and highlights, witness testimony posted by the Committee are below.


Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Hearing Date: May 3, 2017 9:30 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Building



  • The Department of Education (the Department) refuses to recognize this as a “data breach” and has not implemented solutions to fix the vulnerabilities.
  • The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration witness testified that individuals involved in prior criminal activity against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) were also involved in this exploitation of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
  • In September of 2016, the IRS identified vulnerabilities with its DRT and did not take immediate action to encrypt and secure sensitive data.
  • FISMA requires that agencies notify Congress of a “major incident” within seven days of detection. The Department and the IRS failed to meet this legal obligation and notified Congress 38 days after the incident.


  • To examine operational and cybersecurity decisions made by the Department and the IRS regarding the security breach of the DRT.


  • In March 2017, the Department and the IRS shut down the DRT on and when hackers gained access to taxpayers’ adjusted gross incomes, which criminals can use to file fraudulent tax returns.
  • IRS warned the Department about this security vulnerability as early as October 2016; they continued to discuss the problem for several months until suspicious use had risen to the level that a shutdown was required.
  • Initial estimates show 120,000 taxpayers’ information impacted, and the administration of financial aid processing has been disrupted.
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Detailed Medical Records of 61 Million Italian Citizens To Be Given to IBM for Its "Cognitive Computing" System Watson // Privacy Online News

Detailed Medical Records of 61 Million Italian Citizens To Be Given to IBM for Its "Cognitive Computing" System Watson // Privacy Online News | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Glyn Moody
"Last year, Italy’s prime minister at the time, Matteo Renzi, announced that IBM would invest $150 million dollars building a new research center in Milan for its Watson Health division, which applies “cognitive computing” techniques to healthcare. As usual, much was made of what was presented as a big win for Italy and its citizens, before rapidly disappearing from the public view. A year later, the Italian journalist Gianni Barbacetto obtained the relevant memorandum of understanding signed by IBM and the Italian government, which revealed the high price the latter would pay.


In return for that $150 million investment, IBM will receive the medical records of 61 million Italians in what seems to be their entirety. According to Barbacetto (original in Italian), the information provided will include: demographic data; all medical conditions, diagnoses, and their treatment; emergency and other hospital visits, including dates and times; prescriptions and their costs; genomic data and information about about any cancers; and much else besides.


This information will be supplied in a supposedly anonymous form, with obvious personal indicators removed. However, it has been known for decades that detailed medical records can never be considered truly anonymous. Here’s what Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, wrote in 1998 on the topic of de-identifying medical data:

"although it is not too difficult to de-identify data that provide only a time-limited snapshot of a population’s health – such as the data which health services use to compile monthly management statistics of numbers of operations, consumption of drugs and the like – it is effectively impossible to de-identify longitudinal records, that is, records which link together all (or even many) of the health care encounters in a patient’s life."

You only need a few reasonably specific medical facts about someone – for example when and where they broke their arm in a fall, or the dates they gave birth to their children – to find a health record that matches. At that point, you will then know the complete medical history of that person. In any case, according to the memorandum obtained by Barbacetto, IBM will have access to identifiable data too, although it’s not clear exactly how, or on what scale:

"IBM…expects to be able to gain access – in ways to be defined – for processing the health data of roughly 61 million Italian citizens (understood as historical, present and future health data) both in an anonymous and an identifiable form"

A couple of days after revealing the existence of the memorandum of understanding, Barbacetto obtained the related “Industrial Development Contract Proposal” for the deal. Here are some of the benefits that IBM hopes to obtain, in the translation by Walter Vannini, an Italian data and privacy expert:

“To generate strategies for appropriate, coordinated care”; “to improve the management of high-risk-, high-need-patient clusters, lowering service costs and improving patient results”; “to give citizens and businesses easier access the data patrimony owned by the public administration”; and even “develop research projects on big data, infectious diseases, elder care, predictive precision oncology”."

The same document underlines that IBM alone will retain rights to the results of its research and any of the new solutions and tools that are developed using the medical data of 61 million Italians, and that it can license these to third parties. What’s remarkable is that not only is the Italian government giving IBM access to this extremely valuable data for free, it is also providing the US company with an additional €60 million (around $66 million) funding, according to Barbacetto. Half of that will come from the central government, and the other half from the regional government of Lombardy, which has Milan as its local capital.


Not surprisingly, perhaps, Italy’s data protection agency is investigating this massive transfer of extremely sensitive data, which is taking place without any kind of consent from the people most directly affected. But IBM isn’t the only tech giant to be hitting legal problems with accessing health data on a large scale. Over in the UK, Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind signed a data-sharing agreement with the National Health Service (NHS) there. As New Scientist reported at the time:

"The agreement gives DeepMind access to a wide range of healthcare data on the 1.6 million patients who pass through three London hospitals run by the Royal Free NHS Trust – Barnet, Chase Farm and the Royal Free – each year. This will include information about people who are HIV-positive, for instance, as well as details of drug overdoses and abortions. The agreement also includes access to patient data from the last five years."

Although the conditions imposed on Google appear more stringent than those on IBM – Google cannot use the data elsewhere in its business, and DeepMind must delete its copy of the data once the agreement expires later this year – it now seems that the deal may be on shaky ground. Sky News has obtained a copy of a letter sent to the NHS about the Google agreement:

It reveals that the UK’s most respected authority on the protection of NHS patients’ data believes the legal basis for the transfer of information from Royal Free to DeepMind was “inappropriate”.

Irrespective of that specific development, there’s another, more general issue here. It was raised in the 2016 New Scientist article:

"For [Professor] Anderson, the more important question is whether Google – already one of the world’s most powerful companies – should have so much control over health analytics. “If Google gets a monopoly on providing some kind of service to the NHS it will burn the NHS,”
says Anderson.

The same applies to Italy’s deal with IBM, which will be uniquely well-placed to provide health analytics to Italian hospitals and healthcare professionals. Given that huge potential, was it really necessary to give away the health records of 61 million Italians for nothing – and then to throw in €60 million on top as well? Would it not have been better to invite bids for this unique resource?

Perhaps even more important than financial considerations are the privacy and ethical concerns. Was it really wise to make the most sensitive information imaginable, relating to tens of millions of people, freely available to a company, with so few protections to guard against unbridled exploitation? And as Watson’s “cognitive computing” makes discoveries among that huge treasury of data – about health, medicine, and Italian society – who should have the right to know, or not to know?

Featured image by Clockready.

About Glyn Moody

Glyn Moody is a freelance journalist who writes and speaks about privacy, surveillance, digital rights, open source, copyright, patents and general policy issues involving digital technology. He started covering the business use of the Internet in 1994, and wrote the first mainstream feature about Linux, which appeared in Wired in August 1997. His book, "Rebel Code," is the first and only detailed history of the rise of open source, while his subsequent work, "The Digital Code of Life," explores bioinformatics - the intersection of computing with genomics.


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How Facebook's Tentacles Reach Further Than You Think // BBC News

How Facebook's Tentacles Reach Further Than You Think // BBC News | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Joe Miller

"Facebook's collection of data makes it one of the most influential organizations in the world. Share Lab wanted to look "under the bonnet" at the tech giant's algorithms and connections to better understand the social structure and power relations within the company.


A couple of years ago, Vladan Joler and his brainy friends in Belgrade began investigating the inner workings of one of the world's most powerful corporations.


The team, which includes experts in cyber-forensic analysis and data visualization, had already looked into what he calls "different forms of invisible infrastructures" behind Serbia's internet service providers.


But Mr Joler and his friends, now working under a project called Share Lab, had their sights set on a bigger target.


"If Facebook were a country, it would be bigger than China," says Mr Joler, whose day job is as a professor at Serbia's Novi Sad University.


He reels off the familiar, but still staggering, numbers: the barely teenage Silicon Valley firm stores some 300 petabytes of data, boasts almost two billion users, and raked in almost $28bn (£22bn) in revenues in 2016 alone.


And yet, Mr Joler argues, we know next to nothing about what goes on under the bonnet - despite the fact that we, as users, are providing most of the fuel - for free.


"All of us, when we are uploading something, when we are tagging people, when we are commenting, we are basically working for Facebook," he says."...


For full post, see here: 


For more on the Share Lab, see: 


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The Promise and Realities of Pay for Success/Social Impact Bonds // Kenneth J. Saltman, Education Policy Analysis Archives


"This article considers proponents’ arguments for Pay for Success also known as Social Impact Bonds. Pay for Success allows banks to finance public services with potential profits tied to metrics. Pay for Success has received federal support through the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016 and is predicted by 2020 to expand in the US to a trillion dollars. As school districts, cities, and states face debt and budget crises, Pay for Success has been advocated by philanthropists, corporate consulting firms, politicians, and investment banks on the grounds of improving accountability, cost savings, risk transfer, and market discipline. With its trailblazing history in neoliberal education, Chicago did an early experiment in Pay for Success. This article provides a conceptual analysis of the key underlying assumptions and ideologies of Pay for Success. It examines the claims of proponents and critics and sheds light on the financial and ideological motivations animating Pay for Success. The article contends that Pay for Success primarily financially benefits banks without providing the benefits that proponents promise. It concludes by considering Pay for Success in relation to broader structural economic considerations and the recent uses of public schooling to produce short-term profit for capitalists." [Emphasis added]

Pay for Success; Social Impact Bonds; Chicago School Reform; Neoliberal Education; Corporate School Reform; Venture Philanthropy

For full text, click title above or here: PDF

Related Articles:

Saltman, K. (2007) Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools. New York: Routledge.


Saltman, K. (2012) The Failure of Corporate School Reform. New York: Routledge 2012.


Saltman, K. (2010) The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 

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No Effect of Commercial Cognitive Training on Neural Activity During Decision-Making // Journal of Neuroscience

No Effect of Commercial Cognitive Training on Neural Activity During Decision-Making // Journal of Neuroscience | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"Increased preference for immediate over delayed and for risky over certain rewards has been associated with unhealthy behavioral choices. Motivated by evidence that enhanced cognitive control can shift choice behavior away from immediate and risky rewards, we tested whether training executive cognitive function could influence choice behavior and brain responses. In this randomized controlled trial, 128 young adults (71 male, 57 female) participated in 10 weeks of training with either a commercial web-based cognitive training program or web-based video games that do not specifically target executive function or adapt the level of difficulty throughout training. Pre- and post-training, participants completed cognitive assessments and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of validated decision-making tasks: delay discounting (choices between smaller rewards now vs. larger rewards in the future) and risk sensitivity (choices between larger riskier rewards vs. smaller certain rewards).


Contrary to our hypothesis, we found no evidence that cognitive training influences neural activity during decision-making, nor did we find effects of cognitive training on measures of delay discounting or risk sensitivity. Participants in the commercial training condition improved with practice on the specific tasks they performed during training, but participants in both conditions showed similar improvement on standardized cognitive measures over time. Moreover, the degree of improvement was comparable to that observed in individuals who were reassessed without any training whatsoever. Commercial adaptive cognitive training appears to have no benefits in healthy young adults above those of standard video games for measures of brain activity, choice behavior, or cognitive performance. Registry: NCT01252966,



Engagement of neural regions and circuits important in executive cognitive function can bias behavioral choices away from immediate rewards. Activity in these regions may be enhanced through adaptive cognitive training. Commercial brain training programs claim to improve a broad range of mental processes; however, evidence for transfer beyond trained tasks is mixed. We undertook the first randomized controlled trial of the effects of commercial adaptive cognitive training (Lumosity®) on neural activity and decision-making in young adults (N = 128), compared to an active control (playing online video games). We found no evidence for relative benefits of cognitive training with respect to changes in decision-making behavior or brain response, or for cognitive task performance beyond those specifically trained."


For original abstract and link to research study:  


For writeup of study on Arstechnica, see: 


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iPads For 7th-Graders At Sweetwater School District MIA, Missing In Action //

iPads For 7th-Graders At Sweetwater School District MIA, Missing In Action // | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Leo Castaneda and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

"Five years after the Sweetwater Union High School District board spent $4.5 million to put iPads in the hands of seventh-graders, nearly all of the Apple tablets are classified as out of inventory, lost or stolen.

The district purchased 7,952 Apple devices in 2012 for students and teachers, promising the iPads would “help the students prosper in a technology driven society.”

Today, just 704 of those iPads remain active, according to data requested by inewsource. The district says it has no way to quantify whether the devices helped improve students grades, test scores or academic outcomes.

“I would like to see the analysis. What did the students get out of it? How did it really help them?” said Edgar Guerrero, a retired Navy helicopter pilot and homeowner in the district. “Did the students advance because of this technology that they received? Or was it just a failed experiment?”

The Sweetwater board approved the iPads as part of the 1-1 Initiative, a multi-year program intended to distribute electronic devices to all students in the district. Buying iPads was controversial from the start, as it has been in other parts of the country.

Nick Marinovich, chair of the district’s citizen bond oversight committee, said that group raised questions early on about the initiative. Marinovich sent a letter to the board in 2012 questioning how the iPads would be funded and how the district “planned to measure their success.”

“It was a real push of whether these iPads were going to last the minimum of five years,” he told inewsource.

The time matters because of the source of money for the tablets. A bulk of the funding was to come from two sources: Proposition O bonds and Mello-Roos taxes, both typically used for projects with a lifespan of five years or more.

Prop. O
was passed by voters in November 2006, providing general obligation bond funds to improve the school campuses in the district. Mello-Roos taxes are extra property taxes paid by property owners in relatively new developments. Most Mello-Roos money in Sweetwater comes from homeowners living east of Interstate 805.

Of the $4.5 million total for the first year, $1 million came from Mello-Roos. An additional $1.8 million came from Prop. O bond interest earnings.

Manuel Rubio, a spokesperson with the district, said that at the time, the district’s board believed that Prop. O and Mello-Roos funding was appropriate. But because of the clamor from the community, the district changed the funding source for the initiative after 2012.

There were signs early on that the 2012 iPads would not last five years.

Rubio estimated that about around 5 percent of the iPads were lost the first few years of the program. However, district records analyzed by inewsource indicate much higher loss rates.

Of the nearly 8,000 iPads purchased in 2012, about 19 percent were reported lost, stolen and out of inventory by the end of 2014.

Today, 90 percent of those are lost, stolen or damaged.

“That just seems really, really high to me because if that was the case, we were losing 90 percent of devices at schools, I think our trustees would have a lot of issue with continuing with something like this,” Rubio said, adding that he wasn’t familiar with the data provided by the district. “I think I would have issue justifying a program like this.”

inewsource provided Rubio with the data on May 31, seeking additional explanation for the 90 percent loss from the 2012 iPads. As of the publishing of this story, Rubio didn’t provide further clarification.

Of the 2012 iPads reported out of commission, 76 percent – 5,503 – were classified as “out of inventory-damaged” on a single day, March 16, 2017. That was a month and a half after inewsource requested records about the district’s 2012 iPads. The district did not answer questions as to why so many 5-year-old devices were reported out of inventory on the same day.

Similar loss rates can be seen for iPads purchased the following years.


Sweetwater purchased 9,338 iPads in 2013. Of those, close to 18 percent were out of commission by the end of 2015. The district bought 12,652 more iPads in 2014. Of those, about 29 percent were out of commission by the end of 2016.

Rubio said the district has since switched to a leasing model for all new iPads. That lease estimates a useful life of two to three years for new devices."...


For full post, see: 


Image Credit: Brandon Quester, inewsource [ Caption: Sweetwater Union High School District spokesman Manuel Rubio shows one of the iPads purchased by the district. In 2012 the district bought almost 8,000 iPads for all seventh graders. May 26, 2017.]


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The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools // New York Times

The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools // New York Times | Educational Psychology & Technology | 

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Who Will Teach Our Machines Right From Wrong? // Doug Rose 

Who Will Teach Our Machines Right From Wrong? // Doug Rose  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Doug Rose
"All the current focus on artificial intelligence is about capability. That makes sense because AI is currently seen as an engineering problem. Large AI companies such as Google, Apple, IBM and Microsoft are heavily steeped in an engineering culture. It's all about what can be done. You need to, "move fast and break things."


As we struggle with these AI technologies we need to keep a seat at the table for those with a background in humanities. There needs to be a seat for our anthropologists, communication specialists, philosophers and cultural experts.

There are already some dangers with a one-sided engineering approach. When Microsoft's AI chatbot was exposed to the world she quickly picked up bad habits. Within an hour she tweeted troubling ideas about race and gender. Within 16 hours she was a full-on Nazi.

The computer engineers were caught off guard and started to intervene on her behalf. Later they said that users had found an "exploit in the system."

This AI chat bot wasn't exploited. She was working exactly how she was designed. She was using machine learning to pick up trends on Twitter. Then she remixed what she heard and repeated the ideas as her own. Anyone who's been to grade school can recognize this behavior. She was trying to be cool by repeating what she heard from the popular kids.


The difference between this AI chatbot and a grade school student came down to qualitative data. Grade school students have several years to observe human behavior. They were given a short period of time to study the humanities.

Microsoft's chatbot never studied the humanities. She spouted out hateful tweets the same way that any machine would report traffic conditions. There was no one in the room that could help her understand right from wrong. Everyone was focused on creating her and no one was there to give her a shadow of humanity.

It's not because she was built by sociopaths. It's because she was built by an engineering team that was unqualified to mimic humanity. Any cultural anthropologist would've been able to predict the first wave of response from her twitter followers. A specialist in rhetoric would've been able to categorize words that are hateful or had a strong connection to larger ideas. A philosopher would've been able to give her some framework for ethics and her larger responsibilities to society. Yet these seats were empty. In their place was just another data cruncher with dual monitor"...


For Doug Rose's full post on LinkedIn, please see: 



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American Academy of Pediatrics Issues New Recommendations On #ScreenTime and Exposure to Cell Phones // EduResearcher

American Academy of Pediatrics Issues New Recommendations On #ScreenTime and Exposure to Cell Phones // EduResearcher | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently issued two new sets of recommendations on media use for children.  At first glance, popular news headlines suggest elimination of the previous “no screens before age two” recommendations (see NPR’s American Academy of Pediatrics Lifts ‘No Screens Under 2’ Rule and KQED’s American Academy of Pediatrics Says Some Screen Time is Okay for Kids Under Two). However, close examination of the new guidelines reveal nuanced suggestions that maintain a primary focus on limiting tech usage. What appear to be obscured in public discussions are the same AAP organization’s recommendations issued just months earlier, specifically encouraging parents to reduce children’s exposures to cell phone radiation.

For ease of access, both sets of recommendations are provided in this post. American Academy of Pediatrics Issues New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use

“Healthy Digital Media Use Habits for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers
Media in all forms, including TV, computers, and smartphones can affect how children feel, learn, think, and behave. However, parents (you) are still the most important influence.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages you to help your children develop healthy media use habits early on. Read on to learn more.”…

“What About Apps and Digital Books?

Most apps advertised as “educational” aren’t proven to be effective and they don’t encourage co-viewing or co-play that help young children learn. Also, most educational apps target rote skills, such as ABCs and shapes. These skills are only one part of school readiness. The skills young children need to learn for success in school (and life) such as impulse control, managing emotions, and creative, flexible thinking, are best learned through unstructured and social play with family and friends in the real world.

Digital books (“eBooks”) that have lots of sound and visual effects can sometimes distract children, who then “miss the story” and don’t learn as well as they would from a print book.

If you plan to read e-books to your children:

  • Choose e-books that don’t have too many “bells and whistles.”
  • Read e-books with your children (parent-child interaction around books is one of the most important factors to a child’s success at reading and literacy).

Why Limit Media Use?
Overuse of digital media may place your child at risk of:

  • Not enough sleep. Young children with more media exposure or who have a TV,computer, or mobile device in their bedrooms sleep less and fall asleep later at night. Even babies can be overstimulated by screens and miss the sleep they need to grow.
  • Delays in learning and social skills. Children who watch too much TV in infancy and preschool years can show delays in attention, thinking, language, and social skills. One of the reasons for the delays could be because they interact less with parents and family. Parents who keep the TV on or focus on their own digital media miss precious opportunities to interact with their children and help them learn. See Parents of Young Children: Put Down Your Smartphones.
  • Obesity. Heavy media use during preschool years is linked to weight gain and risk of childhood obesity. Food advertising and snacking while watching TV can promote obesity. Also, children who overuse media are less apt to be active with healthy, physical play.
  • Behavior problems. Violent content on TV and screens can contribute to behavior problems in children, either because they are scared and confused by what they see, or they try to mimic on-screen characters.

Other Tips for Parents, Families, and Caregivers

  • Do not feel pressured to introduce technology early. Media interfaces are intuitive and children can learn quickly.
  • Monitor children’s media. For example, know what apps are used or downloaded.Test apps before your child uses them, play together, and ask your child what he or she thinks about the app.
  • Turn off TVs and other devices when not in use. Background media can distract from parent-child interaction and child play, which are both very important in child language and social-emotional development.
  • Keep bedrooms, mealtimes, and parent-child playtimes screen free and unplugged for children and parents. Turn off phones or set to “do not disturb”during these times.
  • Avoid exposure to devices or screens 1 hour before bedtime. Remove devices from bedrooms before bed.
  • Avoid using media as the only way to calm your children. Although media maybe used to soothe children, such as during a medical procedure or airplane flight,using media as a strategy to calm could lead to problems with a child’s own ability with limit setting and managing emotions. Ask your child’s doctor for help if needed.
  • Develop a Family Media Use plan for you and your family.
  • Remember that your opinion counts. TV, video-game, and other media producers, and sponsors pay attention to the views of the public. Let a TV station know if you like a program, or contact video game companies if the content is too violent. For more information, visit the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) website.
  • Encourage your school and community to advocate for better media programs and for healthier habits. For example, organize a “Screen-Free Week” in your town with other parents, teachers, and neighbors.

Additional Information from (American Academy of Pediatrics)

The related recommendations below on cell phone use were issued by the same American Academy of Pediatrics, yet appear to be receiving much less media attention.  American Academy of Pediatrics Issues New Recommendations to “Reduce Exposure to Cell Phones”: Nation’s largest group of children’s doctors responds to new government study linking cell phone radiation to cancer.

“In response to the U.S. National Toxicology Program study results finding exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the prevalence of highly malignant heart and brain cancers in rodents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued specific recommendations to reduce wireless cell phone exposure and updated their online resources for parents concerning cell phones and wireless devices.

“They’re not toys. They have radiation that is emitted from them and the more we can keep it off the body and use (the phone) in other ways, it will be safer,” said Jennifer A. Lowry, M.D., FAACT, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Environmental Health Executive Committee in the AAPs press release on the NTP Study Results.

“The findings of brain tumors (gliomas) and malignant schwann cell tumors of the heart in the NTP study, as well as DNA damage in brain cells, present a major public health concern because these occurred in the same types of cells that have been reported to develop into tumors in epidemiological studies of adult cell phone users,” stated Ronald L. Melnick, PhD, the National Institutes of Health toxicologist who lead the NTP study design and senior advisor to the Environmental Health Trust. “For children the cancer risks may be greater than that for adults because of greater penetration and absorption of cell phone radiation in the brains of children and because the developing nervous system of children is more susceptible to tissue-damaging agents. Based on this new information, regulatory agencies need to make strong recommendations for consumers to take precautionary measures and avoid close contact with their cell phones, and especially limit or avoid use of cell phones by children.”

The AAP has updated their Healthy Children Webpage on Cell Phones entitled Cell Phone Radiation & Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know. The webpage reiterated children’s unique vulnerability to cell phone radiation stating, “Another problem is that the cell phone radiation test used by the FCC is based on the devices’ possible effect on large adults—not children. Children’s skulls are thinner and can absorb more radiation.”

The AAP issued the following cell phone safety tips specifically to reduce exposure to wireless radiation:

  • “Use text messaging when possible, and use cell phones in speaker mode or with the use of hands-free kits.
  • When talking on the cell phone, try holding it an inch or more away from your head.
  • Make only short or essential calls on cell phones.
  • Avoid carrying your phone against the body like in a pocket, sock, or bra. Cell phone manufacturers can’t guarantee that the amount of radiation you’re absorbing will be at a safe level.
  • Do not talk on the phone or text while driving. This increases the risk of automobile crashes.
  • Exercise caution when using a phone or texting while walking or performing other activities. “Distracted walking” injuries are also on the rise.
  • If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch in order to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • Keep an eye on your signal strength (i.e. how many bars you have). The weaker your cell signal, the harder your phone has to work and the more radiation it gives off. It’s better to wait until you have a stronger signal before using your device.
  • Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal through metal, so the power level increases.
  • Remember that cell phones are not toys or teething items.

Even though the cell phone manual contains specific instructions that say do not carry the phone next to the body, the US government does not publicize this information nor mandate companies inform the public, leaving most people unaware of potential hazards, unwittingly allowing their young children to play with them like toys,” stated Devra Davis MPH, PhD, president of the Environmental Health Trust pointing to the Berkeley Cell Phone Right To Know Ordinance being challenged in court this month.

In 2012, the AAP published Pediatric Environmental Health, 3rd Edition recommending, “exposures can be reduced by encouraging children to use text messaging when possible, make only short and essential calls on cellular phones, use hands free kits and wired headsets and maintain the cellular phone an inch or more away from the head.”

Since 2012, the AAP has supported the Federal Cell Phone Right to Know Legislation and has written letters to the FCC calling on the federal government to review and strengthen radiation standards for wireless devices in an effort to protect children’s health.

AAP Healthy Cell Phone Radiation & Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know

AAP responds to study showing link between cell phone radiation, tumors in rats May 27, 2016

2012 AAP Letter in Support of the Cell Phone Right to Know Act

2013 AAP Letter to the FCC calling for a review of RF guidelines



For readers interested in additional updates and research on screen time, development, learning, and health, see here.



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The Power of PEAS: Why Physical, Emotional, Academic, and Social Growth Are Key to a Successful Education // Dr. Michael Hynes 

Published on May 5, 2017

Educator, scholar and thought leader Dr. Michael Hynes works as a public school superintendent of schools on Long Island and advocates the importance of a holistic approach to educating children. He emphasizes the importance of play and recess in schools and yoga and mindfulness in the classroom, is a public school advocate and university lecturer, has published numerous articles and been featured on several podcasts on school leadership. Hynes has focused his work on transforming schools by tapping into Potential Based Education, which focuses on the significance of social, emotional, physical and cognitive development for students.

Hynes received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Bethany College and his doctorate in educational administration from Dowling College. He has undergone professional training to integrate organization learning and school leadership into programs at New York University, Stony Brook University and Harvard University. He has been awarded the “Friend of Education Award” and the “Distinguished Leadership Award” by Phi Delta Kappa.

Follow Mike at @MikeHynes5 

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Study Finds Adaptive Learning Education Software Often Doesn't Help Students Learn More // The Hechinger Report

Study Finds Adaptive Learning Education Software Often Doesn't Help Students Learn More // The Hechinger Report | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Jill Barshay

"Even proponents of educational technology admit that a lot of software sold to schools isn’t very good. But they often highlight the promise of so-called “adaptive learning” software, in which complex algorithms react to how a student answers questions, and tailor instruction to each student. The computer recommends different lessons to different students, based upon what they already know and what they still need to work on.

Wonderful in theory, but does it work in practice?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sought to find out, and gave money to 14 colleges and universities to test some of the most popular  “adaptive learning” software in the marketplace, including products from a Pearson-Knewton joint venture, from a unit of McGraw-Hill Education called ALEKS and from the Open Learning Initiative. Most of the universities combined the software with human instruction, but a few courses were delivered entirely online. Almost 20,000 college students and 300 instructors participated in the experiment over the course of three terms between 2013 and 2015. It’s probably the largest and most rigorous study of adaptive learning to date. Then Gates hired SRI International, a nonprofit research institute, to analyze the data. (The Gates Foundation is among the funders of the  Hechinger Report.) This story also appeared in U.S. News & World Report.


What SRI found was sobering. In most cases, students didn’t get higher grades from using adaptive-learning software, nor were they more likely to pass a course than in a traditional face-to-face class. In some courses the researchers found that students were learning more from adaptive-learning software, but even in those cases, the positive impact tended to be “modest”. The report is here.


“I wouldn’t characterize our report as cynical, just cautious,” said Barbara Means, director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International and one of three authors of the report."...


For full post, click on title above or here: 

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Updated Map of the Human Brain Hailed as a Scientific Tour de Force // The Guardian

Updated Map of the Human Brain Hailed as a Scientific Tour de Force // The Guardian | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"Researchers reveal that human brain has at least 180 different regions, confirming the existence of 83 known regions and adding 97 new ones"


"When the German neurologist Korbinian Brodmann first sliced and mapped the human brain more than a century ago he identified 50 distinct regions in the crinkly surface called the cerebral cortex that governs much of what makes us human.


Now researchers have updated the 100-year-old map in a scientific tour de force which reveals that the human brain has at least 180 different regions that are important for language, perception, consciousness, thought, attention and sensation.

The landmark achievement hands neuroscientists their most comprehensive map of the cortex so far, one that is expected to supersede Brodmann’s as the standard researchers use to talk about the various areas of the brain.

Scientists at Washington University in St Louis created the map by combining highly-detailed MRI scans from 210 healthy young adults who had agreed to take part in the Human Connectome Project, a massive effort that aims to understand how neurons in the brain are connected."...


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Children Prefer To Read Books On Paper Rather Than On Screens // The Conversation

Children Prefer To Read Books On Paper Rather Than On Screens // The Conversation | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"There is a common perception that children are more likely to read if it is on a device such as an iPad or Kindles. But new research shows that this is not necessarily the case.


In a study of children in Year 4 and 6, those who had regular access to devices with eReading capability (such as Kindles, iPads and mobile phones) did not tend to use their devices for reading - and this was the case even when they were daily book readers. Research also found that the more devices a child had access to, the less they read in general.

It suggests that providing children with eReading devices can actually inhibit their reading, and that paper books are often still preferred by young people.


These findings match previous research which looked at how teenagers prefer to read. This research found that while some students enjoyed reading books on devices, the majority of students with access to these technologies did not use them regularly for this purpose. Importantly, the most avid book readers did not frequently read books on screens."...


For full post, see: 

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"The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code" // KnowledgeWorks Forecast 4.0

[Note: Inclusion of the attached report on the EdPsych/Tech collection does not indicate endorsement of the publication. Rather, the document is provided to illustrate the stark research-to-practice gaps in proposed shifts to technologize learning without attention to health/developmental hazards of extended screen use.]


To download the document, visit here: 


For collection of research reports, updates, and concerns related to screen time effects on children's development/health, please see: 


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An Overconfident Public Learns the Limits of Predictive Technology: In Chaotic Times, We Rely Too Much on Big Data to Forecast the Future // By Professor Van Savage, via Zócalo Public Square

An Overconfident Public Learns the Limits of Predictive Technology: In Chaotic Times, We Rely Too Much on Big Data to Forecast the Future // By Professor Van Savage, via Zócalo Public Square | Educational Psychology & Technology | 


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'Red Flags' to Look for When Evaluating Personalized Learning Products // EdWeek

'Red Flags' to Look for When Evaluating Personalized Learning Products // EdWeek | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"Personalized learning: Is it an educational imperative, a marketing strategy for an ed-tech product, or both?

Too often, teachers and administrators say, they find that personalized learning is used by companies as mere buzzwords to promote a run-of-the-mill digital tool.

"In the marketing literature, this term is overused," said Devin Vodicka, the superintendent of the Vista, Calif., school district. "Many products that someone claims are personalized are actually just a series of digital worksheets."

But educators are finding ways to sort the real personalized potential from the empty promises of some ed-tech products.

For instance, Vista uses its own Personal Learning Pathway framework to evaluate products, said Vodicka.


Some of the key questions educators in his district ask:

• Is this product based on a student profile?

• Is there an integrated technology component that includes two-way communication?

• Does the product include student choice and pathways?

• How does it fit with the learning environment, and more broadly, is it connected with real-world opportunities?

• Does it use a competency-based model, in which students move at their own pace as they master academic content?

Last month, Vista hosted 42 superintendents from across the country, who discussed that and other approaches as part of an ongoing cohort studying personalized learning through AASA, The Superintendent's Association.

The most important starting point to vet a product, for Barton Dassinger, the principal of Chavez Elementary in Chicago, is this query: Does this product improve student learning better than the alternative to using it? And does the company generate reports in such a way to allow for an analysis that will answer that question?


The starting points of "what is our need?" and "what is our goal?" are important for Théa Williams, who is both a technology teacher for pre-K-5 and the technology coordinator for Brooklyn Arbor Elementary School in New York City. As an iZone pilot-team leader through the city's department of education, she said she has learned to move beyond the catchphrases for products to identify the data needed.


Red flags about the "personalized learning" label abound, according to Amy Nowell, the director of research for LEAP Innovations, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works to build educational innovations by connecting schools and businesses. From her experience testing ed-tech products with evidence-based research methods, Nowell, and other experts have identified several red flags educators should watch for:

Questionable Student Agency

This is a fundamental element of personalization. Can the students take ownership of their own learning by setting their own goals? Can they track their own progress?   Nowell recommends that teachers "test drive" products as though they are students and make sure they understand what the data mean.

For instance, if students aim to learn a particular unit within a specified period of time, and the product provides feedback that "you have only completed one activity" in that time frame, what, she asked, does that mean to a student trying to complete and comprehend the full unit?

Inadequate Content

By definition, personalized learning allows students to move at their own pace through material. "There's never a classroom where every student is average," said Nowell. "We've had a number of teachers who were really disappointed when they dug in, and two months into the year, their brighter kids are looking for material that wasn't there."

While ed-tech products can often be retrofitted to accommodate material for advanced or struggling students, that's often a "clunky" solution, she said. A digital resource with "only 130 lessons" is unlikely to have enough content to go up or down two grade levels.

Useless Data

Products for personalized learning generally produce a lot of data. Williams recommends educators first ask: "How do I make sense of this data?"

In theory, experts say a data dashboard should help students and teachers understand what the metrics are, how a certain metric was arrived at, and what it means for student learning. But that is not always the case.

For example, one product reported to teachers the percent of total lessons each student completed in the 4th grade curriculum. "Johnny has completed 4 percent of the lessons has no actual meaning to anybody," Nowell said. "It's not tied to what students are learning. It's not tied to learning standards or mastery of content. Johnny could have clicked through, 'completed' them, and gotten them all wrong."

Lacking Recommendations

"I need the data to help make instructional decisions," said Williams.

The problem is that automating the process of using data to inform educators' decisionmaking is still largely an unmet need. "I don't feel personalized ed-tech products have mastered that yet," she said. "I'd like to see more automation, providing data to teachers to make instructional interventions in the learning path."

Poorly Aligned Assessments

Generally, the embedded assessment questions in personalized-learning products have had no external validation, Nowell said. When piloting their products, companies want to know what assessments students will take, whether it's from one of the common-core-aligned testing consortia or another well-known test. But because educational technology generally doesn't have the resources for rigorous assessment design and validation, the assessment data that are generated from the trials might not align with the tests that eventually will be given to students, she said.


Classroom-Integration Problems

A company should be able to inform teachers how to best integrate their products into the classroom structure. Does the product work best in classrooms where groups of students rotate from one station to another, while the teacher instructs another small group? Can students work on it together, or solo?

"We've had teachers who started with the station-rotation model but had to revert to the typical classroom model," said Nowell, "and it was really about the way the technology was set up, not about the kids not being mature enough to work that way."

Another question is, "Who assigns the next piece of content? The teacher or the software?" Teachers want both options, she said.

Little Evidence It Works

Nowell cautions teachers not to put too much stock in testimonials from other users of a product, five-star ratings on websites, or anecdotes about how a product is used. "Press companies for hard data about documented outcomes," she advised.

"Ask them for any studies done on how well their products impact student outcomes," she said. For instance, companies should be able to provide empirical data on product effectiveness as it relates to student achievement. "Even case studies, if done well and based on a similar context to your classroom, can provide a powerful indication of how a product could potentially work for you."

Measures of student learning can include nationally standardized test scores, as well as more timely measures of student engagement and motivation for learning, she added.

Lacking the Personal Perspective

Personalized learning means taking each child's uniqueness into account.

"There are all these factors you have to consider: culture, family background, interests, learning strengths, social-emotional development. We could go on and on," said Williams, of Brooklyn Arbor in New York. "We're talking about a human being."


Teachers would like to see products that provide them with more in-depth insights into their students. Williams said she sees educators' excitement about the prospect of personalization. But personalized-learning experts generally agree that most ed-tech products are not geared toward students' individual backgrounds and interests.

"When they do find products that really work for them, and respond to how students answer questions then make adjustments accordingly, teachers can be so much more effective," she said. "Then they can do the things that the personalized learning tool can't do and focus their time and energy on that."...


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