Cyberbullying is NOT a technology issue-here’s how to really combat it.

If schools and parents want to combat cyberbullying, they need to understand relational aggression first.

Cyberbullying continues to grow and present itself as a huge challenge for schools, government policy makers, stakeholders, parents and the community—but is regulating access to technology and social media the answer?

Though the online platforms may be relatively new, cyberbullying should not be separated from bullying. Both behaviors are about relationship power and control, otherwise known as “relational bullying;” therefore, it requires a relationship management-based type of approach in dealing with its impact and prevention.

When conducting my Digital Age Parenting classes, one of the things I share with parents is information about how their child is using a device to say and do things to hurt someone or put themselves in danger. However, the device is only facilitating the interaction between the person and the situation.

Dr. Satira S. Streeter, a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder and executive director of Ascensions Psychological and Community Services, explains that parents shouldn’t limit access to the internet; rather, more focus should be on the behavior instead of their child’s technology use.

Because the internet is now integral to learning and social interactions, focusing on technology alone, grounding children from using it at home, expelling children from school because of its misuse, and tougher laws are not the answers. So, then, what are the answers?

The Relational Bullying Basics

Relational Bullying (or Relational Aggression) is a form of bullying that common amongst youth and more so among girls. It involves social manipulation such as group exclusion, spreading rumors, sharing secrets, and recruiting others to dislike a person. Relational bullying can be used as a tool by bullies to both improve their social standing and control others.
And though relational bullying has been around for quite some time, the concept of bullying is getting more attention now than a few years ago. One of the reasons for this additional attention is the proliferance of cyberbullying caused by many youth feeling that apps offer anonymity, which can therefore decrease accountability—especially since many youth believe cyberbullying can’t be traced by law enforcement.

A number of lives have also been cut short due to the growth of cyberbullying.

In the recent December 2016 case of a high school senior that committed suicide due to cyberbullying, the victim appeared to have done everything right: She told her father about the bullying incidents, and she also told the police. However, because the app used to bully her was one of anonymity, the police could not trace her harassers.

What more could have been done? We may never know the answer; however, this issue needs to be addressed within a broader social context and a range of developed and taught skills, rather than simply limiting access to technology and its platforms. After all, human behavior is learned.

(Next page: 3 ways to address the larger issue behind cyberbullying)


App of the Week: Math meets the Grim Reaper

Extremely addictive puzzle game has dark, slightly gory play.

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

In Divide by Sheep, a cute but dark math game, the Grim Reaper has gotten lonely and is looking for companions — sheep, primarily, but later he also takes wolves and even the ghosts of sheep. After Grim unleashes a great flood to drag the sheep under, the become stranded on small islands and need your help to get to safety. Life rafts can only accept certain numbers of sheep, and you have to jump them from island to island until they’re grouped in the correct amounts. This math puzzle game has you adding, subtracting, and dividing sheep by any means available, whether it’s by putting them together or dumping some off.

Price: $2.99

Grades: 6-12

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Genuinely fun, kids won’t even realize how much critical thinking they’re doing.

Cons: Even though it’s cartoonish, gore may be off-putting for some children.

Bottom line: A great game for math problem-solving, but be careful choosing your audience.


This pathway helps students better prepare for college

The TEXAS MicroMajor gives high school students much-needed college prep.

A new “MicroMajor” program from the University of Texas at Austin will help high school students better prepare for the rigor of university life.

The TEXAS MicroMajor program has its roots in UT Austin’s work with school districts, educators and students across the state to bridge gaps between traditional high school courses and the expectations of colleges and universities.

TEXAS MicroMajors will feature courses developed or endorsed by UT Austin faculty members that help high school students prepare for specific programs of study and earn college credit. Students will receive advising and ongoing academic support through their high schools and from the university.

The opportunity also will help students become more competitive for admission and success at UT Austin or other selective colleges and universities, and strengthen skills that will help them excel in college.

UT Austin is partnering with Austin Independent School District (AISD) to pilot the new program in the 2017-18 academic year.

(Next page: How the MicroMajor pilot will be structured)


January’s 11 buzzworthy edtech tools

The month of January’s hottest, must-know edtech tools—right now.

[Ed. note: Common Sense Education’s Edtech Eleven is chosen by Common Sense Education every month and helps educators find the best edtech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Go to Common Sense Education for free resources including full reviews of digital tools, ready-made lesson plans, videos, webinars, and more.]

Things move fast in the edtech world, and we hear all the time from teachers how hard it can be to keep up. This is why we’ve created Common Sense Education’s EdTech Eleven: our monthly list of noteworthy tools generating buzz in the edtech world. While these aren’t recommendations or ratings (you have to check out our Top Picks for that), what you’ll find on Common Sense Education’s EdTech Eleven is a quick and current list of trending tools you might want to check out.

January 2017 Updates

What left the list? OneNote, Sutori, Swift Playgrounds

What’s new? Bitmoji, Space by Tinybop, TinyTap



Bitmoji — an app that lets users create their own personalized emoji — is the second most popular free app on the Apple store, and was bought by Snap in 2016. There’s no doubt it’s trending, but why did it make an edtech list? Because like Bitstrips before it, Bitmoji has caught fire with educators who we’ve seen use their Bitmojis to engage students as well as their PLNs.



In edtech right now, there’s nothing more novel — or generating more buzz — than BreakoutEDU. It brings the popular puzzle-room phenomenon to classrooms through purchasable physical kits or a DIY guide to building your own. What has really set them apart thus far, though, is their vibrant community of educators sharing stories and collaborating on new scenarios.



CommonLit, which recently launched a big update, is a literacy tool that teachers, especially ELA teachers tackling Common Core, need to check out. It’s totally free, spans grades 5-12, and makes it easy to find engaging texts (fiction and non) for students, assign the texts, assess student understanding, and analyze mastery.

DragonBox Big Numbers


Big Numbers is the most recent release in the critically acclaimed DragonBox series. Big numbers builds specifically on the previous Numbers game, introducing long addition and subtraction and, of course, big numbers.  What really makes this entry stick out though is its ambitious scope, including a world map, resource gathering, and modifiable houses for the characters.



There aren’t many — if any — tools out there like GoNoodle, which provides video and game-based “brain breaks” of physical activity for students. That might explain why we’ve seen GoNoodle take a big leap this school year, emerging as one of the top trending tools on Common Sense Education.

(Next page: Edtech tools 6-11)



5 of education’s alternative facts

Sometimes what we’d like to be true in education turns out to be nothing more than alternative facts—here are some of education’s most popular alternative facts.

There are many alternative facts I choose to believe in my personal life; for instance, the salad I eat for dinner cancels out the cheesesteak I had for lunch; or the sale is so good I can’t afford not to buy a singing Margaritaville machine; or I’m completely up for going to a bar instead of sitting at home reading in my pajamas.

It seems that we all have these alternative facts we tell ourselves instead of the truth, and education is no different. No matter how many times research reports, teacher testimonials, or student performance metrics reveal seemingly undeniable truths, antiquated practices or beliefs about how students should be taught are still used frequently thanks to the citation of these alternative facts.

The editors at eSchool News quickly brainstormed what we believe are education’s most popular alternative facts that exist today, but we’d love to hear your suggestions! Make sure you leave your comments in the section below.

Alternative Fact 1: Learning gets better with technology.

How many times have we heard from tech evangelists and vendors that technology is the solve-all to today’s pressing education challenges?

Real Fact: Learning gets better with personalized, innovative teaching practices.

True progress in education comes not from the latest gizmo, but from practices that think outside the box in terms of helping each individual student. If technology helps support those practices, great! If not, there’s no need to use it.

Alternative Fact 2: Every school can use online resources if they want. It’s the 21st century.

Even the editors at eSN get caught up in this seeming fact sometimes. With so much coverage of what schools are doing with digital resources and technology, it can feel like every school is on the cutting edge of digital implementation.

Real Fact: Many schools still struggle with basic broadband connectivity.

Rural schools, schools in areas with high poverty rates, and many other poorly-funded or inadequately–infrastructured schools still have challenges simply connecting to the internet, much less harnessing the latest and greatest digital resources.

(Next page: Education’s alternative facts 3-5)


EXCLUSIVE: They’re here–robots are teaching your children

Classes in a suburban Los Angeles elementary school were successfully taught by teacher robots during the 2015-2016 school year.

Unbeknownst to parents, all first-grade classes in a suburban Los Angeles elementary school were successfully taught by teacher robots during the 2015-2016 school year.

Only one parent was in on the secret. John Miller*, whose family moved to the area from Silicon Valley and whose son Jack enrolled as a new first-grade student last school year, first approached the district superintendent three years ago with a radical idea.

“We’ve been working on some super cool artificial intelligence (AI), and in lab tests, the AI robots demonstrated instructional capability,” Miller said. “I wanted to see if they could teach real students, because we’ve seen robots help children with social-emotional learning.”

Using life-like faces from Hollywood special effects and makeup artists (think Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire), along with voice modifiers to avoid a robotic monotone, production on the teacher robots began.

During one-on-one and small group instruction, the teacher robots emitted electromagnetic waves that stimulated the frontal lobe in students’ brains. The frontal lobe controls problem solving, self-monitoring, organization, and attention/concentration.

Student teachers present in each classroom helped to grade homework and assisted with classroom management as the artificial intelligence pilot rolled out.

Only one malfunction was reported during the pilot, involving a teacher robot that jumped up and down continuously while teaching students about the life cycle of monarch butterflies. The malfunction was due to a recalled processor that was mistakenly used. The error has been documented and corrected, and the existing batch of remaining recalled processors was destroyed, Miller said.

“The students were so engaged in watching the butterflies that they didn’t seem to notice, despite a few giggles here and there,” said the student teacher. “And they all passed their post-unit assessments.”

*Names have been changed to protect school and student privacy as the program grows

(Next page: Plans to bring the pilot to scale)


What educators can learn about effective teaching from a Harvard prof

Here are three essential lessons in effective teaching from David Malan’s enormously popular CS50 course.

[Editor’s note: This post by Alan November, written exclusively for eSchool Media, is part of a series of upcoming articles by this notable education thought leader. Check back soon for the next must-read post!]

Harvard professor David Malan has managed to pull off a neat trick: His Computer Science 50 course is the most popular course at both Harvard and Yale. By examining his success, we can learn some important lessons about effective teaching.

CS50 assumes no prior knowledge or skill in computer programming, yet it’s extremely demanding. Despite its rigor, CS50 regularly attracts thousands of students each year. While some aspire to become software engineers, others enroll just to experience the course.

Why is Professor Malan’s course so popular, even with students who don’t plan a career in computer science—and even though it requires a lot of work? Here are three keys to Malan’s effective teaching that I think all schools everywhere should apply, from K-12 schools to colleges and universities.

  • Strengthen the social side of learning.
  • Teach students to self-assess.
  • Provide a public audience to inspire students to invent.

Imagine teaching a course with 800+ students at Harvard and another 400+ students at Yale with an extremely high level of rigor and creativity. The course is available for credit at either university, and anyone around the world can take a noncredit version at no cost through the open courseware platform edX.

Learn from the best innovations in education! Join education thought leader Alan November in Boston July 26-28 for his 2017 Building Learning Communities edtech conference, where hundreds of K-12 and higher-education leaders from around the globe will gather to discuss the world’s most successful innovations in education.

My son, Dan, took the course. When he first signed up for CS50, it is fair to say he was not in the habit of choosing the most demanding courses on campus. But Dr. Malan’s unique learning culture and sense of responsibility placed on the students helped Dan to discover a passion for “learning how to learn” and thinking about design—skills he can apply to manage his learning in any situation, from other courses to his professional growth. Two years later, he is still on fire—and he will graduate in May to pursue a career in computer science.

I was so intrigued by the impact CS50 had on my son that I started to explore Malan’s keys to effective teaching that we can export to any educational setting. After many conversations with Professor Malan and Dan, I have identified at least three processes that we can apply across the curriculum at all grade levels.

1. Learning is social, and students are hardwired to work together to solve problems.

One of the aspects that makes his course unique is its culture. Malan pays as much attention to his students’ social experience in the class as he does to their academic experience, so that his students feel like they are part of a learning community.

For instance, he organizes several events throughout the semester that bring students together, such as “hackathons” and weekly lunches every Friday on the Harvard campus. His teaching assistants also host “office hours” every Monday through Thursday night from 9 p.m. to midnight, where students can gather over pizza to discuss problem sets or ask questions—and these nightly events routinely draw upwards of 300 students.

“I went to office hours four nights a week,” Dan recalls. “That was the only way I could make it through the course.”

When Dan would arrive, the TAs would ask how far he had gotten in that week’s problem set and how confident he was in his work. Then, they would put him in a group with other students at his same comfort level. “There was never an issue finding a group that was at your pace,” he says.

By making the learning fun and social, while not sacrificing rigor, Malan has found that his students give their best effort.

“We hope that by creating these somewhat special and unusual experiences for students, we can expect more from them,” he explains. “If we are perceived as meeting them halfway, we hope they will meet us halfway as well and will get as much out of the course as they can.”

Making the learning a shared, social experience not only motivates students to do their best work; it also helps them learn from each other. And when students learn from their peers, they’re apt to learn more effectively.

There is a phenomenon known as the “curse of knowledge,” in which teachers who have thorough knowledge of a subject sometimes have trouble reaching students who are new to the material, because they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be in that position. Students, on the other hand, are more likely to empathize or relate to their peers who are struggling.

Dan can attest to the enormous value of the student community that Malan has crafted.  Dan found the highly social office hours especially helpful, because they gave him a chance to discuss the problem sets with his peers in the same situation—and inevitably he would see the topic in a fresh new light.

How many opportunities are there in schools to craft various social settings for students to come together outside of class to work with peers? Many schools are now converting libraries—where students traditionally cannot raise their voice—into learning commons where there are spirited debates among students as they study together.

(Next page: 2 other processes to apply across curriculum)


New generation of Chromebooks designed for millions of students and educators

Two new Chromebooks demoing at Bett are the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213, scheduled to arrive late spring.

[Editor’s Note: At Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, Google is announcing a new line of Chromebooks for education. Check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 for more information.]

When I was a student, I juggled different tools throughout my day—a paper notebook for history, a shared desktop for research, and a TI-83 for calculus. In the years since, the potential of computers has begun to replace the need for those various tools—what we did on that expensive calculator for example, can now be done with an app. We believe in the power of technology to help students learn however they learn best and help teachers teach the way they find most effective. At Bett this week we’re introducing  a new generation of Chromebooks designed to adapt to the diverse ways students learn. These convertible Chromebooks have touch and stylus capability, world-facing camera and access to millions of Android apps, so technology can flex to the needs of students, not the other way around.

Today both Chromebooks and Classroom are used by more than 20 million teachers and students, and we’re excited to announce that G Suite for Education has now reached 70 million active users. Chromebooks have been the device of choice because of their simplicity, security, shareability and low cost. We’re committed to introducing even more options for the teaching needs of schools, so look out for a lineup from Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, and Lenovo and the recently announced Samsung Chromebooks—a powerful option for educators. We expect that, in the future, our partners will be able to build an even wider variety of Chromebooks, including detachables and tablets.

More versatile Chromebooks

The two new devices we’re demoing at Bett are the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213, scheduled to arrive late spring in time for back to school planning. We worked closely with educators and partners to design these Chromebooks for the specific needs of schools:

  • Stylus capability: Both Chromebooks come with an intelligent, affordable stylus for student note-taking and drawing. The low cost pens resemble #2 pencils with a unique eraser for correcting mistakes and don’t need charging or pairing, so they can be shared and easily replaced if lost. These Chromebooks use an input prediction model—built using Google’s machine learning—to ensure writing is extremely responsive and low lag. And with optical character recognition in apps like Google Keep, handwritten notes are indexed and searchable. “Our math department was keen to get tablets so students could write out math equations,” said Roger Nixon, Director of ICT at Wheatley Park School, Oxford. “Stylus on Chromebooks will be a massive help for mathematics.”
  • World-facing camera: Schools everywhere have asked for world-facing cameras so students can use Chromebooks to capture photo and video from all directions. We carefully designed the first laptop cameras placed on the keyboard side so when a Chromebooks is flipped, the camera faces outwards for students to hold like a tablet.
  • USB-C charging: We heard from educators that multiple chargers and slow charging wastes precious time for students. All future Chromebooks will have standard super-fast USB-C charging so one Chromebook cart can charge any device quickly.

A world of content on Chromebooks

Chromebooks have always had access to Chrome web apps, and now there are more ways to find great educational content on Chromebooks:

  • Android apps: We announced last May that Android apps were coming to Chromebooks. In the coming weeks, Chromebook administrators will be able to create a library of approved Android apps and install them on select managed Chromebooks. Students will be able to access millions of Android apps, like Toontastic and Science Journal, for learning both online and offline.
  • Adobe has released a suite of Android apps optimized for Chromebooks. The Adobe Creative Cloud apps, including Photoshop Mix, Lightroom Mobile, Illustrator Draw, Photoshop Sketch, Adobe Comp CC, and Creative Cloud Mobile will be available for free download, expanding creative options for students and the capability of stylus and world-facing camera. “Having Adobe mobile apps on Chromebooks fills a much needed gap,” said Kelly Kermode from Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, MI. “Teaching everything from design concepts to visual storytelling will open up avenues for our students.”
  • Creative apps: Today we‘re also announcing that creative apps on Chromebooks—WeVideo, Soundtrap, and Explain Everything—are available in the U.K. and Nordics at a discount from resellers XMA, Lin Education and Avalon Solutions when purchased as a bundle.

Recent updates to Google Classroom

On all of today’s new Chromebooks, students and educators can use Google Classroom to collaborate, stay organized and save time. The Classroom Android app, now available on Chromebooks, opens up new possibilities to students in how they use their devices. With the help of a stylus-enabled Chromebook, students can complete their math homework by hand or sketch a visual for a science project by annotating documents directly in the Classroom app.

Students, teachers and administrators can also use their Chromebooks to try out the new Classroom features we rolled out earlier this month. Now, teachers can assign work to a subset of students, rather than just the entire class, and use new types of Classroom notifications to manage assignments. And for administrators, we now offer more insight into how Classroom is used with Classroom metrics in Admin Console reports.

Educators work hard every day to prepare students for skills of the future. At Google we strive to build tools that support their work, and we look forward to continuing this journey together in 2017.


Your monthly marketplace update

Don't miss this recap of the latest technology product news, reports, and research

Tech-savvy educators know they must stay on top of the myriad changes and trends in education to learn how teaching and learning can best benefit from technology’s near-constant change.

Keep reading for a monthly recap of the latest marketplace news that will keep you up-to-date on product developments, teaching and learning initiatives, and new trends in educational technology.

College readiness

Champlain College will host five pre-college programs this summer, including Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity Academy, Champlain Game Academy, Entrepreneurship For Good, Young Writers’ Conference, and an Art & Design Portfolio-Building course. All five programs are designed to strengthen high school students’ college applications, assist with the transition to a college learning environment and position them for a career they will be excited about. Read more.

With an increasingly complex college admissions process requiring high school students to get an earlier start, CollegeVine announced the launch of a mentorship program especially for high school freshmen. The new 9th Grade program is designed to provide that first vital guidance by helping students successfully navigate high school and laying the foundation for a successful college process. Read more.

Next page: Hardware, data and analytics, and digital learning resources


Tips for teaching students with Autism about digital citizenship

Experts detail some of the most effective ways to foster online social skills needed for the 21st-century for students with Autism.

Instructional Technology Specialist at Cumberland Academy of Georgia, Jennifer Liang, knows all about digital citizenship. But teaching the fundamentals of digital citizenship to students with High Functioning Autism is all the more important, especially as they prepare to enter college or the workforce.

In “Teaching Students with Autism about Digital Citizenship,” a webinar hosted by and Common Sense Education, and sponsored by Symantec, Liang discussed her teaching strategies for incorporating digital citizenship at Cumberland Academy of Georgia—all which can apply to any student, and not just students with Autism.

1. Build a Culture of Responsibility

Digital citizenship at Cumberland Academy began when the school started thinking about 21st century social skills. “A lot of our kids are attracted to online spaces. The social interactions are relatively structured, you know when it’s your turn to talk…you have time to pause and reflect before you respond to a question,” said Liang, referring to texting or talking over social media. When the school introduced Chromebooks a couple years ago, they knew it was important to build a culture of responsibility around technology and teach the fundamentals of digital citizenship.

2. Understand Nuances

Liang explained the components of digital citizenship, noting how they apply to the students with Autism. For example, autistic students may struggle with self-image and identity online. “Because of social media, a lot of our students are more aware of the social deficit they have,” she explained.

She emphasized that it’s important to remind students to stay realistic when comparing themselves to others, because people often post only the “perfect” version of themselves online. She also encourages students to unplug from social media, find role models offline, and be proud of their individual accomplishments.

(Next page: Digital footprints and privacy for students with Autism)