5 Ways to Stay Safe (Relatively) on the Internet for Parents and Students


Click on any title to learn more about each tip.

1- Enable SafeSearch

By enabling SafeSearch, you can filter out most of the mature content that you or your family may prefer to avoid. If an inappropriate result does sneak through, you can report it to Google.

2- Filter YouTube Content by Enabling Safety Mode

If you’d prefer to not to see mature or age-restricted content as you browse YouTube, scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page and enable Safety Mode. Safety Mode helps filter out potentially objectionable content from search, related videos, playlists, shows, and films.

3- Control what your family Sees on The Web

If you want to control which sites your family can visit on the Internet you can use Supervised Users in Google Chrome. With Supervised Users you can see the pages your user has visited and block the sites you don’t want your user to see.

4- Limit access to just approved apps and games

Want to share your tablet without sharing all your stuff? On Android tablets running 4.3 and higher, you can create restricted profiles that limit the access that other users have to features and content on your tablet. Learn more about this feature from this page.

5- Use app ratings to choose age-appropriate apps

Just like at the movies, you can decide which Google Play apps are appropriate for your family by looking at the ratings: everyone, low maturity, medium maturity, or high maturity. You can filter apps by level, and also lock the filtering level with a simple PIN code (keeping other users from accidentally disabling the filter).

Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?

This article was originally posted in the NY TImes:

The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking.

(We tried to include other factors, including income mobility and measures of environmental quality, but we were not able to find data sets covering all counties in the United States.)


We used disability — the percentage of the population collecting federal disability benefits but not also collecting Social Security retirement benefits — as a proxy for the number of working-age people who don’t have jobs but are not counted as unemployed. Appalachian Kentucky scores especially badly on this count; in four counties in the region, more than 10 percent of the total population is on disability, a phenomenon seen nowhere else except nearby McDowell County, W.Va.

Remove disability from the equation, though, and eastern Kentucky would still fare badly in the overall rankings. The same is true for most of the other six factors.

The exception is education. If you exclude educational attainment, or lack of it, in measuring disadvantage, five counties in Mississippi and one in Louisiana rank lower than anywhere in Kentucky. This suggests that while more people in the lower Mississippi River basin have a college degree than do their counterparts in Appalachian Kentucky, that education hasn’t improved other aspects of their well-being.

As Ms. Lowrey writes, this combination of problems is an overwhelmingly rural phenomenon. Not a single major urban county ranks in the bottom 20 percent or so on this scale, and when you do get to one — Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit — there are some significant differences. While Wayne County’s unemployment rate (11.7 percent) is almost as high as Clay County’s, and its life expectancy (75.1 years) and obesity rate (41.3 percent) are also similar, almost three times as many residents (20.8 percent) have at least a bachelor’s degree, and median household income ($41,504) is almost twice as high.


10 Must Reads about the “New” Literacies or 21st Century Learning

The literacy landscape is rapidly evolving to the extent that we can no longer expect what it will be like in the next coming years. Regardless of the nomenclature, whether you call them new literacies, emerging literacies, 21st century literacies , the traditional concept of literacy has definitely undergone so much transformations and modifications in the last two decades especially in the light of the the new technological advancements and the emergence of new forms of using and interacting with text. Literacy now entails more than just being able to decode (read) and encode (write) text, but also includes the ability to express and communicate through a multimodal system of signs, the ability to analyze, evaluate, synthesize, critically appraise and share different forms of information.

For those of you interested in delving deep into the concept of new literacies, the academic works below are definitely a must read. These books will help you understand the essence of 21st century  literacies and enable you to conceptualize a working definition of what they mean in an academic context.

1- New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning  . By Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel

2- The New Literacies: Multiple Perspectives on Research and Practice. By Elizabeth A. Baker EdD (Editor), Donald J. Leu (Foreword)

3- A New Literacies Reader: Educational Perspectives (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies). By Colin Lankshear (Editor), Michele Knobel (Editor).

4- What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media. By Scott McLeod (Editor), Chris Lehmann (Editor), David F. Warlick (Foreword)

5- Literacy in the New Media Age (Literacies). By Gunther Kress (Author)

6- Teaching with the Internet K-12: New Literacies for New Times. Donald J. Leu Jr. , Deborah Diadiun Leu , and  Julie Coiro.

7- Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. By Henry Jenkins (Author), Ravi Purushotma (Contributor), Margaret Weigel (Contributor), Katie Clinton (Contributor), Alice J. Robison (Contributor)

8- Handbook of Research on New Literacies. By Julie Coiro (Editor), Michele Knobel (Editor), Colin Lankshear (Editor), Donald J. Leu (Editor)

9- New Literacies In Action: Teaching And Learning In Multiple Media. By William Kist (Author)

10-  The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. By James Paul Gee

Educational Resources for Young Learners

A simple website of family-friendly videos. Also available as an iOS app.
A simple iOS app of family-friendly videos. Can also create collections of your favorite videos.
Subscribe to get a box of crafts, projects, and materials once a month for your little learners.
 Subscribe and get a box of do-it-yourself electronics projects for your young engineers.Want more? Check out these collections .App Friday Apps

This collection is curated by children’s media specialist Julie Brannon.

This one is curated by preschool teacher Anna-Karin Robertsson.

8 TED Talks to watch with your kids

Looking for some TED talks to inspire young minds? The list below  contains some wonderful talks to watch with your kids. The talks highlight the importance of creative and imaginative thinking in unlocking the doors of possibilities and knowledge. As the late Maxine Greene argued in her book ‘ Releasing The Imagination”,  students need to be given spaces where they can use their imagination because imagination enables them to search for new beginnings and open up new perspectives  helping them identify alternatives, without imagination, their lives narrow and their pathways become cul-de-sacs. I would add my TED talk in there as well but that would be self-promotion. LOL Just in case anyone wanted to see it here is the link.

1- Science is for everyone even kids 

“What do science and play have in common? Neuroscientist Beau Lotto thinks all people (kids included) should participate in science and, through the process of discovery, change perceptions. He’s seconded by 12-year-old Amy O’Toole, who, along with 25 of her classmates, published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren, about the Blackawton bees project”

2-A teen just trying to figure it out 

“Fifteen-year-old Tavi Gevinson had a hard time finding strong female, teenage role models — so she built a space where they could find each other. At TEDxTeen, she illustrates how the conversations on sites like Rookie, her wildly popular web magazine for and by teen girls, are putting a new, unapologetically uncertain and richly complex face on modern feminism.”

3-  A promising test for pancreatic cancer…from a teenager 

Jack Andraka talks about how he developed a promising early detection test for pancreatic cancer that’s super cheap, effective and non-invasive — all before his 16th birthday.

4- If I should have a daughter  

“If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she’s gonna call me Point B … ” began spoken word poet Sarah Kay, in a talk that inspired two standing ovations at TED2011. She tells the story of her metamorphosis — from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. — and gives two breathtaking performances of “B” and “Hiroshima.”

5- Thomas Suarez : A 12-year-old app developer

Thomas Suarez’s interest in technology and programming led him to learn Python, Java, and C “just to get the basics down.” He built an app and then coaxed his parents into paying the $99 fee to get his app, “Earth Fortune,” in the app store. Thomas also started an app club at school to help other kids build and share their creations, and is now starting his own company, CarrotCorp.

7- Adora Svitak : What adults can learn from kids

Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs “childish” thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids’ big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups’ willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.

8- Birke Baer: What’s wrong with our food system

11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production.

You might also like:
A Must Have Resource of TED Talks for Your Class
The 20 Most Popular TED Talks in 2014
8 Good TED Talks on The Origin of Ideas
Excellent TED Ed Math Talks for Students







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Charter schools do not equal education reform

As Philadelphia’s Superintendent of Schools, I recommended the approval of more than 30 charter schools because I thought it would improve educational opportunity for our 215,000 students. The last 20 years make it clear I was wrong.

Those advocating change in Maryland’s charter law through proposed legislation are equally committed to educational improvement. They are equally wrong. New policy should not build on current inequities and flawed assumptions, as the proposed charter law changes would do.

Mixed academic results: Charters, on the whole, do not result in significant improvement in student performance. It’s mixed at best. In some evaluations, charter schools overall actually underperform regular public schools.

Mr Hornbeck, thank you for writing this. Now that the damage has been done here in Philadelphia, articles like yours might help turn the tide for our district. Philadelphia School District is already $80 Million in the red for next year’s budget; much of our financial problems are caused…

Funding and unequal opportunity: Charter funding is also negatively affecting regular public schools. Charter advocates rely on the premise that as money flows from a regular school to a charter school, the costs of the regular school go down proportionately. Sounds good; it’s just not true. Costs in schools sending students to charters cannot shift as fast as students and revenue leave. The costs for the principal, heating, lights, building debt and many other things remain; thus, the remaining children face the prospect of larger class sizes and cuts to core academic programming, music, art and other inequities. Opportunity for the 13,000 charter school students in Baltimore City is in part funded by the loss of opportunity for the remaining 70,000 students without a commensurate performance improvement by charter school students.

According to Moody’s Investors Service, charter schools pose the greatest credit challenge to school districts in economically weak urban areas and may even affect their credit ratings.

Further, the proposed legislation also assumes all students cost the same to educate. Again, not true. It costs more to provide a quality education to some, such as those with severe disabilities, who are rarely served by charter schools, leaving traditional schools to disproportionately bear this cost at the expense of all students.

States with “stronger” charter laws are not doing better: Advocates say we need a “stronger” charter law, noting that Maryland ranks near the bottom. Pennsylvania’s law is ranked much higher, yet its charter growth is contributing significantly to a funding crisis that includes draconian cuts to teachers, nurses, arts, music and counselors in Philadelphia.

We need the best and brightest teachers: The proposed “stronger” law undermines collective bargaining that protects teachers from politics and favoritism and has been crucial to improvement in compensation and benefits. It would create a two-tiered system in which charter teachers would have to organize and bargain separately with each charter opting out of the larger system’s contract. Unionization is not the problem. There are no unions in many of the nation’s worst educational performing states. All schools, charter or traditional, must pay competitive salaries and benefits to attract experienced, skilled teachers who can succeed with all children.

Charters do not serve students with the greatest challenges: Charters will be quick to point out they enroll high percentages of low-income students. Some do. However, the citywide charter lottery inherently skims. Every student chosen has someone (parent, pastor, friend) who encouraged and is advocating for her/him to apply and succeed. That fact by itself creates a select pool of students and a corollary depletion of those students in non-charter schools.

The expansion of state board authorizing power is not needed: There is no evidence that states with separate or multiple authorizers have charter schools that outperform states with single authorizers. The only discernible difference between single and multiple authorizer states is that the latter have more charter schools.

One detriment of more charters from multiple authorizers is the potential incoherence in the local system. Maryland’s constitution calls for a thorough and efficient system of education. Local school systems have the front line responsibility for delivering on that promise. That’s why, when a local charter fails, the local system picks up the children.

Charters are not substitutes for broader proven reforms. In fact, chartering is not an education reform. It’s merely a change in governance. A charter law doesn’t deal with the hard and often costly slog of real reform. We know from research and experience what works to build schools with thriving students:

•High standards;

•Quality teachers;

•Prekindergarten for 3 year olds;

•Lower class sizes through the third grade;

•Attacking concentrated poverty through community schools; after school programs; more instruction time for students who struggle; home visitation programs; and high quality child care.

Let’s do what we know works.

David W. Hornbeck was Maryland State Superintendent of Schools from 1976 to 1988 and Philadelphia Superintendent from 1994 to 2000). His email is

Making K-12 ‘Innovation’ Live Up to Its Hype

This was originally posted in EdWeek on March 4, 2015 written by Matthew Muench

Is innovation losing its luster? Critiques of the ubiquitous “disruptive innovation” theory—in the pages of The New Yorker (June 23, 2014) and elsewhere—have led some to wonder. Growing use of quotation marks around the word innovation, and the eye-rolling its use can sometimes provoke, reflect not only its overuse, but also a dawning reality: What we call “innovation” often lacks substance and sometimes works to our detriment, not our betterment.

There are good reasons for educators to heed these criticisms. We’ve seen too much innovation-for-innovation’s-sake. Countless would-be innovators offer products and services that look shiny and cool—and lay claim to “disruptive” potential—but fail to solve any real problems for educators or learners. Moreover, these offerings often reek of arrogance about the challenge of engendering meaningful learning, and are overwhelming in the numbers with which they bombard educators.

Let me offer a path to redemption: Employ the science of learning, and focus on building the personal skills that will shape school, work, and life outcomes.

Start with what the science says about how people acquire, retain, and use knowledge and skills, and build new technologies or models grounded in that science. Most do not do this. Investors pumping hundreds of millions into educational technology every quarter seldom ask about the extent to which learning science was used in design. As developers sprint to build the latest and greatest, they rarely pause to ask what the research suggests about whether another animation and explosion sound is likely to aid or to hinder learning. It’s a shame how many beautiful products or intriguing new education models are doomed to ineffectiveness for ignoring what is known about how people learn.


In fairness, the market hasn’t demanded this: Procurement processes in schools generally lack the sophistication to consider the match between design and science, or to require validated demonstration of effectiveness. Right now, a large sales force, an existing contract, and an installed base of products tend to win the day.

There is growing recognition, however, that philanthropic and other efforts to help schools should focus more on building capacity in procurement, adoption, and use of new technologies. And as the market becomes more sophisticated, providers of learning-science-based products will win. They would be wise to get ahead of this curve.

Entrepreneurs should start with reflection: What do we know about working memory and cognitive load? What does the literature say about when to guide a learner and when a learner should have autonomy? How much have we thought about contextualization? Metacognition? What are the likely “decay” rates of the knowledge our product helps people learn, and how does our strategy to reduce this loss draw on research? Do we provide learners with feedback? And is its timing, nature, and specificity based on research? And do we test and refine the design to maximize effectiveness?

There are signs that the field is moving in this more careful, questioning direction. Last year, leaders of several universities, as well as Google, Microsoft, edX, Coursera, and other companies, formed the Global Learning Council to work on unlocking the power of learning science and technology to improve student outcomes. There is a growing sense that education technology hasn’t delivered on its promises, and the most obvious way to turn cool experiences into quality experiences is to use learning science to improve design.

“It’s a shame how many beautiful products or intriguing new education models are doomed to ineffectiveness for ignoring what is known about how people learn.”

There are many resources out there, but one accessible way for educational innovators to get started is to read books such as Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age: Using Learning Science to Reboot Schooling, by Frederick M. Hess and Bror Saxberg.

Second, design offerings to help learners acquire the personal skills so critical to shaping success in learning, work, and life. These are variously called soft skills, noncognitive factors, dispositions, attributes, behaviors, employability skills, and so on. But, following the National Research Council, I prefer the specificity of “interpersonal” and “intrapersonal” skills.

The importance of these skills is reflected in the current buzz about grit, perseverance, and academic mind-sets, a field of thought associated with Angela Duckworth, Paul Tough, Carol Dweck, and others. But it isn’t just buzz. The field has focused in on a set of skills that determine success in many contexts. The interpersonal skills include communication, collaboration, and relationship management. The intrapersonal skills—which arguably shape everything else—include conscientiousness, self-regulation, self-efficacy and growth mind-set, metacognition, and perseverance.

This isn’t to diminish the importance and difficulty of helping students acquire essential cognitive skills and content knowledge. But research indicates that these ultimately are not enough to ensure college and career success, if the individual lacks the ability and disposition to activate and make use of them in different contexts.

Two good sources of information on all of this are a 2012 report out of the University of Chicago, “Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance,” and a 2012 report by James Pellegrino and Margaret Hilton for the National Research Council, “Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century.”

In my dream, every ed-tech product and new school model brought into the world would be intentional in developing some of these interpersonal and intrapersonal skills among its targeted learners. When teaching algebra, for example, also build metacognition. In a science curriculum, promote a growth mind-set and self-efficacy. And do all of this based on the best scientific understanding about what these skills involve and how they can be developed.

Admittedly, there is less clarity about how to do this—at scale—than there is about what the skills are and that they’re important. Yet that in itself presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to design new approaches and bring something truly valuable to the market. Addressing this challenge would allow education innovators to have a transformative impact on individuals, communities, and society, and could make educational technology a force to help break cycles of poverty. I say that without hyperbole.

So what should education innovators do? They should follow two lodestars: learning science as central to the design of new learning technologies or learning models, and personal-success skills as targeted outcomes from any new learning tool or model. This will help maximize the positive impact of new ideas on the lives of learners. And, as a bonus, it can help restore the credibility of education “innovation.”

Charter schools struggling to meet academic growth

Students in most Minnesota charter schools are failing to hit learning targets and are not achieving adequate academic growth, according to a Star Tribune analysis of school performance data.

The analysis of 128 of the state’s 157 charter schools show that the gulf between the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72 percent were proficient.

Between 2011 and 2014, 20 charter schools failed every year to meet the state’s expectations for academic growth each year, signaling that some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable students had stagnated academically.

A top official with the Minnesota Department of Education says she is troubled by the data, which runs counter to “the public narrative” that charter schools are generally superior to public schools.

“We hear, as we should, about the highfliers and the schools that are beating the odds, but I think we need to pay even more attention to the schools that are persistently failing to meet expectations,” said Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education’s chief of staff. Charter school advocates strongly defend their performance. They say the vast majority of schools that aren’t showing enough improvement serve at-risk populations, students who are poor, homeless, with limited English proficiency, or are in danger of dropping out.

“Our students, they’re coming from different environments, both home and school, where they’ve never had the chance to be successful,” said April Harrison, executive director of LoveWorks Academy, a Minneapolis charter school that has the state’s lowest rating. “No one has ever taken the time to say, ‘What’s going on with you? How can I help you?’ That’s what we do.”

Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement and a handful of schools have received national acclaim for their accomplishments, particularly when it comes to making strong academic gains with low-income students of color. But the new information is fueling critics who say the charter school experiment has failed to deliver on teaching innovation.

“Schools promised they were going to help turn around things for these very challenging student populations,” said Kyle Serrette, director of education for the New York City-based Center for Popular Democracy. “Now, here we are 20 years later and they’re realizing that they have the same troubles of public schools systems.”

More than half of schools analyzed from 2011 to 2014 were also failing to meet the department’s expectations for academic growth, the gains made from year to year in reading and math.

Of the 20 schools that failed to meet the state goals for improvement every year, Pillsbury United Communities is the authorizer for six of those schools: Dugsi Academy, LoveWorks Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Connections Academy, Learning for Leadership Charter School, and the Minnesota Transitions Charter School’s elementary, Connections Academy and Virtual High School. Those schools also missed annual achievement gap targets.

Officials with the Urban Institute for Service and Learning, which oversees Pillsbury’s charters, say most of their schools cater to students at risk of dropping out, those who have been kicked out of other schools, and many who are learning to speak English.

“We intentionally work with students that most other people would really not want to work with,” said Antonio Cardona, director of the institute.

Two years ago, Pillsbury closed Quest Academy, a small St. Louis Park charter school that consistently failed to meet state performance goals.

Cardona said Pillsbury would consider closing more chronically low-performing schools, or more likely, adopt new turnaround strategies. They also want to add some high-performing schools to their portfolio so that some of their low-performing schools might be able to absorb successful teaching strategies.

At LoveWorks Academy in Minneapolis, about 85 percent of the school’s students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches. About 13 percent of its students were proficient in math and 12 percent are proficient in reading.

“What success means for me is our students are reaching the top,” Harrison said. “We are going to work until we get there.”

Some charter schools struggle with stability and finding qualified teachers who are the right fit. In one year, about 65 percent of LoveWorks’ teaching staff turned over. Some left on their own accord while others were not offered their job back.

“I think that’s why we’re seeing success now because we have a staff that’s willing to listen and learn and take the coaching,” said Jamar Smith, the school’s arts coordinator.

Just like traditional public schools, the highest-performing charter schools tend to serve students from more affluent families, the analysis shows.

There are some notable exceptions, many of which are noted annually in the Star Tribune’s “Beating the Odds” list, which is a ranking of high-performing schools that serve a large number of poor students. For years, that list has been dominated by charter schools.

“These are schools that have fully utilized the charter school model to do what needs to be done,” Sweeney said. “If a program isn’t working, if a schedule needs to be changed, they have the flexibility to turn on a dime.”

New Millennium Academy, a Minneapolis charter school that serves mostly Hmong students, has hit the state’s benchmarks for improvement every year from 2011 to 2014. In 2013, it was designated a Celebration school, one of the state’s top school designations.

Amy Erickson, the school’s director of teaching and learning, said the school’s improvement is due to a focused effort to help its students who are learning to speak English — about 85 percent of New Millennium’s enrollment.

Among the ways the school has done that is through data-driven instruction. New Millennium tests its students about every six weeks to see how they’re doing. Those who need extra help receive it in small groups.

“Many of our parents don’t read or write English,” said Yee Yang, the school’s executive director. “So we have meetings where we just talk about the importance of education. We want to make sure they’re focused on that, too.”

In recent years, Minnesota has increased its scrutiny of charter schools, particularly organizations that authorize them. Starting in 2015, the state will begin evaluating authorizers. An unsatisfactory rating means an authorizer would lose the ability to create new schools.

The legislative effort has revealed a rift between differing charter groups.

Charter School Partners is supporting legislation that would make it easier for authorizers to close schools that perform poorly.

“We think it’s an inoculation for our charter community,” said Brian Sweeney, Charter School Partners’ director of public affairs.

The Minnesota Association of Charter Schools, which represents about half the state’s charter schools, will oppose any legislative efforts that give authorizers more authority to close low-performing schools.

“It’s the teachers and principals who have a much more direct impact on student achievement,” said Eugene Piccolo, the association’s director. “Not the authorizers.”

Instead, the association is throwing its efforts behind legislative proposals it believes might help level the financial playing field between charters and traditional public schools.

A recent report commissioned by Charter School Partners shows that Minneapolis Public Schools receives about 31 percent more in funding per pupil than the average Minneapolis charter school. St. Paul Public Schools receives about 24 percent more per pupil.

Charter school supporters say the model continues to evolve.

“Twenty years ago when charters began in Minnesota, it was 1,000 flowers blooming. Let’s experiment. Let’s innovate. Let’s see what works” Sweeney said. “Nobody ever thought it was to have schools last forever that are failing. So there’s a national move to improve the sector and I think we need to do that here in Minnesota.”

The President Announces New Actions to Protect Americans’ Privacy and Identity

The President Announces New Actions to Protect Americans’ Privacy and Identity

Watch on YouTube

In the lead-up to the State of the Union next Tuesday, President Obama’s been traveling across the country unveiling some of the ideas he’ll be talking about in the address.

Today, he stopped by the Federal Trade Commission offices to talk about how we can better protect consumers from identity theft and safeguard everyone’s privacy, including our children. He laid out a number of new steps and proposals, which you can read more about below.

“Since I’ve only got two years left in the job, I tend to be impatient and I didn’t wait to wait for the State of the Union to start sharing my plans,” the President quipped at the top of his remarks.

“If we’re going to be connected, then we need to be protected.”

In today’s world, we’re exchanging more and more sensitive information online — we’re managing our bank accounts, paying bills, handling medical records, and even controlling our homes from our smartphones. But as the President made clear today, the ability to do all of this online poses additional risks:

Major companies get hacked; America’s personal information, including financial information, gets stolen. And the problem is growing, and it costs us billions of dollars. In one survey, 9 out of 10 Americans say they feel like they’ve lost control of their personal information. In recent breaches, more than 100 million Americans have had their personal data compromised, like credit card information. When these cyber criminals start racking up charges on your card, it can destroy your credit rating. It can turn your life upside down. It may take you months to get your finances back in order.

“This is a direct threat to the economic security of American families, and we’ve got to stop it,” President Obama said. “If we’re going to be connected, then we need to be protected.”

President Obama delivers remarks on protecting consumers and families in the digital agePresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on protecting consumers and families in the digital age, at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

New actions to protect identities and privacy

The President announced a number of new steps today to safeguard Americans’ identities and privacy:

1. We’re introducing legislation to create a single, national standard protecting Americans from identity theft.

Right now, almost every state has a different law on this, and it’s confusing for consumers and it’s confusing for companies — and it’s costly, too, to have to comply to this patchwork of laws. Sometimes, folks don’t even find out their credit card information has been stolen until they see charges on their bill, and then it’s too late. So under the new standard that we’re proposing, companies would have to notify consumers of a breach within 30 days. In addition, we’re proposing to close loopholes in the law so we can go after more criminals who steal and sell the identities of Americans — even when they do it overseas.

2. More banks, credit card issuers, and lenders are giving customers free access to their credit scores.

This includes JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, USAA, State Employees’ Credit Union, Ally Financial. Some of them are here today. I want to thank them for their participation. This means that a majority of American adults will have free access to their credit score, which is like an early warning system telling you that you’ve been hit by fraud so you can deal with it fast. And we’re encouraging more companies to join this effort every day.

3. We’re also introducing a new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

Working with many of you — from the private sector and advocacy groups — we’ve identified some basic principles to both protect personal privacy and ensure that industry can keep innovating.

For example, we believe that consumers have the right to decide what personal data companies collect from them and how companies use that data, that information; the right to know that your personal information collected for one purpose can’t then be misused by a company for a different purpose; the right to have your information stored securely by companies that are accountable for its use. We believe that there ought to be some basic baseline protections across industries.

So we’re going to be introducing this legislation by the end of next month, and I hope Congress joins us to make the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights the law of the land.

4. We’re working to protect our children’s personal information and privacy online.

Today, we’re proposing the Student Digital Privacy Act. That’s pretty straightforward. We’re saying that data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes — to teach our children, not to market to our children. We want to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education. We want to prevent any kind of profiling that outs certain students at a disadvantage as they go through school.

And we believe that this won’t just give parents more peace of mind. We’re confident that it will make sure the tools we use in the classroom will actually support the breakthrough research and innovations that we need to keep unlocking new educational technologies.

“We pioneered the Internet, but we also pioneered the Bill of Rights, and a sense that each of us as individuals have a sphere of privacy around us that should not be breached, whether by our government, but also by commercial interests,” the President said. “And since we’re pioneers in both these areas, I’m confident that we can be pioneers in crafting the kind of architecture that will allow us to both grow, innovate, and preserve those values that are so precious to us as Americans.”

Read the President’s full remarks here, and see our fact sheet on today’s announcements.

PD Management and Delivery Cycle: 25 Tools

 This article was originally published by EdSurge

To evaluate PD Systems, we created a framework to capture the ways that professional learning is supported at the district level. It has five categories: Recruit and Retain, Manage, Teach, Instructional Support and Evaluate. These categories form a cycle that districts are constantly operating and maintaining. Teachers can be at many different stages within this cycle and sometimes are within multiple stages at one time. Some districts might choose one product to support the entire cycle, while others may choose a combination of products to support various professional learning needs. As districts look to technology to improve efficiency and increase capacity, our hope is that they will be able to find the right tools for the right purpose, whether it is a technology tool or not.

Each product falls into one or more parts of this cycle. The tables below are designed to help school leaders find the right products to provide the best support for teachers, while also illustrating how different products could be combined to cover a complete cycle of learning management and delivery.

Recruit and Retain

These systems support recruiting, hiring, tracking and managing qualifications or compensation, and most importantly, figuring out ways to build capacity amongst the staff districts already have. Often times, these systems are paired with Evaluation tools to help track and evaluate performance.

For Principals, District Leaders, HR Leaders, Applicants
An external website that helps districts create their own recruitment webpage, facilitate hiring online, track and rate applicants for smooth and collaborative hiring process
For Principals, HR Leaders
A document tracker that allows principals and HR leaders to easily keep track of hiring documentation in one place, through the use of checklists with due dates and reminders for each step in the paperwork process
For Principals, HR Leaders, Applicants
A tool that helps districts create a jobs board on their own recruitment homepage, with custom job applications, filtering and interview scheduling process for easy hiring with high volume of applicants


These systems are the heartbeat of the professional learning world. They help manage content and learning plans. These systems enable districts to manage and track enrollment, create courses, and track credits and activities. For teachers, these systems empower them to assess needs, set goals, create learning plans and find the right resources to meet their needs. Often times, they are paired with Delivery tools or Evaluation tools that can help guide which content a teacher should use next.

For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A PD Management system that helps district leaders track their own resources, create learning paths for teachers to follow and chronicle who’s taken which courses, whether online or in person
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A tracking tool for districts to track teacher’s PD activities from multiple sources, such as LMSs or PD delivery platforms, all in one place. Teachers can create PD plans and then track the hours they spend on their learning
For Students, Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Content creation, management and assessment reporting tool that supports proficiency-based learning models
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders, Edu Agencies
A course catalogue creation tool that allows education agencies to share their courses, and integrate their catalogue with districts to give teachers more content choices so teachers have more content to choose from
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
PD flexible learning management tool that districts can use to track content, assess learning, track reflections and credits for both formal and informal learning activities
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Professional development and human resource tools for K-12 districts to build new skills and track data on professional growth


These are systems that fall into our original PD Learning Cycle: Engage, Teach, Instructional Support, and Measure. They support learning directly and go beyond curated content libraries. These systems deliver courses, provide teachers with social engagement tools, and coaching or mentoring tools.

For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
A bank of videos, online courses, and educational resources that teachers can use to observe best practices and reflect on how to implement in their own classrooms
For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
Collection of 50-hour courses, along side a platform where teachers can set goals, create a PD plan and connect with a community of their peers
For Teachers
An eReading application that supports interactive learning experiences such as communicating with the author, uploading materials to the book’s community and connecting with fellow readers
For Principals
A video-based training that helps principals and coaches practice observing teachers via video so that they can develop consistant observation and evaluation techniques
For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
Private site created for schools or districts to share locally made videos, group teachers, and share commonly used resources online
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Management system that provides a catalogue of courses including videos of best practices, communities of practice, tools for observation and evaluation, and talent management

Instructional Support

Instructional Support systems combine professional learning with tools that support teachers, immediate needs in the classroom, specifically around lesson planning and assessment data. These systems scaffold their work so that learning moments can be included. They are generally associated with Delivery tools.

For Teachers, District Leaders
Adaptive social network and online learning platform that tracks teacher behavior and makes recommendations for content and connections based on ongoing behavior
For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
A PD management system that supports the observation process, learning plans and instructional resources
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Data collection and reporting tool that helps teachers create their own assessments or choose from a bank of assessments; it also helps them administer assessments and find scaffolded teaching resources related to the results


While often associated with Manage or Recruit & Retain tools, Evaluate tools are used to support the process of evaluating or measuring a teacher’s practice. They support the observation process and multi-measurement evaluations.

For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Platform that helps teachers set goals and administrators track observation data. It also connects to auto recommendations and to third party resources
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A set of tools that helps administrators create performance assessments, perform teacher evaluations and track teachers progress toward their goals
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A platform for administrators to create custom observation templates, track teacher observations and create final evaluations including multiple forms of evidence
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Administrator tool to schedule observations, track all the steps in the process and create final cumulative performance scores using various forms of data
For Teachers, Principals
A planning tool that helps administrators make annual observation plans, record observation results and report those results back teachers and the district
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A platform where teachers can set goals and administrators can recommend resources to individuals or groups based on observation results or goals
For Teachers, Principals
Interface for managing data associated with classroom walkthroughs, observations and teacher performance evaluations, as well as a resource bank and source for coaching groups