What's Happening in Character?

Blended (Social & Emotional) Learning

Posted by Anya Warburg on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 @ 15:02 PM

by Anya Warburg

As of 2010, approximately 4 million students were impacted by online learning components embedded into their daily curriculum, cementing blended learning principles in schools across the world - and that number is growing. Exponentially.

It is no secret that technology in the classroom has the ability to engage students like no other learning tool. Technology has become so ingrained in our society’s culture that students gravitate to the educational programs that have resulted from this growing accessibility to technology in schools.

But when you begin to place a stronger emphasis on social and emotional skills in your curriculum, a new question comes into play: how can emotional exploration and expression specifically function without a human being present to guide participants through challenges, ideas or stressful moments?

Read More

Topics: technology

Character.org Technology Update

Posted by Character.org Staff on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 @ 09:02 AM


As this month, and with it our focus on technology, draws to a close, I wanted to make sure that I shared a couple of the exciting new ways Character.org is using technology to enhance our resources and our ability to connect with educators across the world.


A Brand New Webstore

We’re now offering even more products, including our first ever digital download available! Browse through our collection of Schools of Character Magazines, White Papers and much more. Now featuring books by character education expert, Hal Urban.

Read More

Topics: technology, Character.org

Digital Citizenship: Character Education for Digital Lifestyles

Posted by Jason Ohler on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 @ 09:02 AM


by Jason Ohler

In many parts of the world, one of the most universally available international experiences is traveling the World Wide Web. It’s hard to believe, but the Internet and the world of ubiquitous connectivity have only gained widespread adoption within the last fifteen years. Yet they are so embedded in our everyday experience we can’t imagine life without them.

It is because the Web is so pervasive and invisible, and provides access to so many different kinds of experiences, that we have developed such a keen and sometimes urgent interest in understanding how best to help students navigate this new world. In the educational arena, this interest has been given the name “digital citizenship,” a reference to our belief that the Internet offers a kind of community experience. Our goal as educators is for students to become the kinds of citizens who know how to interact safely and responsibly in this new community without losing the sense of hope and creative possibility that the Internet inspires.

In a few words, our goals for our students are as follows. We want our students to be safe, ethical and responsible; inspired, innovative and involved; passionate, reflective and empathetic; and informed, savvy and ultimately wise. We want them to interact in this new land as skilled researchers, participants and leaders. As we move forward blending and balancing our lives in the real and online worlds, here are some points to consider to help us realize those goals.

Digital citizenship and character education need to inform each other.

We tend to think of digital citizenship as a technical matter. However, the foundational issue is character, and the digital citizenship movement needs the foundation that character education provides. Yet the digital domain introduces new situations and considerations to issues of character that are complicated and challenging, and bring a breadth and depth to issues of character that are quite new. Character education and digital citizenship need to join forces. Our focus needs to be on how character plays out in both worlds, and how students blend those two worlds into a single, integrated, healthy approach to life.

Read More

Topics: technology, Digital Citizenship

Happy Digital Learning Day!

Posted by Character.org Staff on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 @ 05:02 AM


How many times have you looked at your cell phone today? How many times have you checked your email? How about Facebook?

Whether we like it or not, technology is integrated into everything that we do. Because of that, need to think critically and intentionally about how we want to integrate technology into our schools and classrooms.

What is Digital Learning Day?

The Alliance for Excellent Education is hosting Digital Learning Day today, February 17, 2016. Their website explains, “Digital Learning Day is not about technology, it’s about learning. It’s not about laying off teachers for laptops, it’s about enhancing the role of the teacher in America’s classrooms. Digital Learning Day promotes the effective use of modern day tools afforded to every other industry to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools.”

I really love this idea of technology about not replacing certain teaching practices or classroom routines, but enhancing them. But how does this tie in to character education?

Read More

Topics: technology, Digital Citizenship

Five Reasons to Use Game-based Assessment to Measure your Character Programming

Posted by Jessica Berlinski on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 @ 08:02 AM

By Jessica Berlinski, Chief Impact Officer of Personalized Learning Games (PLG)

 Up until now, measuring the efficacy of your character programming has been challenging. Essentially, there’s been two ways to measure students’ character traits and social and emotional learning (SEL) skills: teacher observations and student surveys. As most of you are all too aware, teacher or counselor observations take a long time and can be arduous to fill out for each student. They also include the natural biases of the observer. Student surveys are subjective, challenging to administer, and, for younger students, largely not tenable - given the obvious literacy challenges of children in kindergarten through 2nd grade.

Enter game-based assessment. Last spring, the first video game to validly measure six character traits or SEL skills was launched in schools in across the country. The K-5 game, called Zoo U, assesses empathy, emotion regulation, impulse control, cooperation, communication and social initiation. Students play through a set of six short game-play scenes, after which a report is generated showing their percentile ranking against a national sample of their peers in each skill. 

In less than a year, the field of character and SEL assessment is quickly transforming due to this new method. Here are five reasons game-based assessment improves on traditional methods:

#1 Games are performance-based.

Character traits or SEL skills are more often about what students do with knowledge than the knowledge itself. For instance, students know shouting in the hallway is wrong, yet they don’t always speak quietly and respectfully. Performance-based assessment allows you to see what students do, not just what they know. By putting students in a simulated environment and watching how they respond to challenges in real time, you get a more accurate measure of their skills, particularly skills like impulse control and emotion regulation.

#2 The assessment is hidden to the student.

If students know they’re being assessed – either taking a survey or being observed – they’re not always likely to behave as they would in real life. In game-based assessment, students don’t know they’re taking a test. They also don’t feel like they’re taking a test, so naturally they don’t have the test anxiety that can often throw off results. The result is, again, a more accurate measure of character traits and SEL competencies.

Read More

Topics: technology

The Digital World: Reduce Restrictions to Increase Competence

Posted by Chris Parrott on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 @ 08:02 AM

By Chris Parrott

As the statistics on cyberbullying and sexting rise, a growing sense of alarm does as well. Parents and educators want to know, “How do we protect our kids? How can we safeguard them against the potential dangers involved in social media and Internet use?”

The truth is: nothing is 100% foolproof. Handling social media and the Internet is a lot like driving a car: risks exist (actually, are everywhere), but you can take precautions. We don’t stop riding in cars even though we know they can be deadly. Car transportation has too many benefits, and cars are an essential a part of our lives: they get us where we need to go for just about everything.

The same is true for the digital world. Just like driving a car, we can get really hurt using social media and the Internet. It’s always possible. But the risks are less when we know how to drive - when we know how to navigate the infosphere (the digital world). Yet, rarely do we “teach” how to handle social media to our kids. Rarely do we have discussions about how to use it properly and what the safety precautions are. Instead, more and more, parents and administrations are restricting access to social media out of fear for what could happen (you can’t drive the car). This is a normal human response. But it is not a response that is always in our children’s best interests.

Read More

Topics: technology, Digital Citizenship

Character & Technology Resource Roundup

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 @ 08:02 AM

At the 2015 National Forum on Character Education, I visited the Center for Civil & Human Rights with a group of educators. I ran into another conference attendee and asked her how she was liked the museum. She excitedly informed me that she was able to videochat one of the classes at her school, using Skype. A group of elementary school students in New York experienced part of this amazing museum in Atlanta, right from their very own classroom. I was amazed by the power of technology to enhance education when you think creatively.

During February, we’ll be posting about how you can harness these powerful technology tools to enhance your teaching and students’ learning.

Still unconvinced you need to enhance your use of technology in the classroom? Start by reading 10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom.

Technology can help you and your class connect with others, build relationships and learn about the world.

As the educator at the conference demonstrated, Skype is a powerful tool. There are plenty of other video-chatting options, but Skype is one of the most popular. You can skype to connect with your class’s favorite authors, interview an expert on a topic your class is researching or even stay in touch with a student who moved away. Check out the Skype in the Classroom blog for more great ideas.

Read More

Topics: technology, Character Educaiton, Digital Citizenship

How to Wean Kids from TV and Video Games and Back into L.I.F.E.

Posted by Michele Borba on Sat, Aug 3, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

Noted psychologist and parenting expert Michele Borba serves on CEP's Board of Directors and shares  her blogs with us. To read more check out her home page. Follow her on Twitter @micheleborba.

The majority of parents admit their kids are in front of that TV more than they’d like, but with summer here that could pose a special problem: How to get the kiddos off the couch so they experience something other than TV these next months.

Beware: it’s easy for kids (and us) to fall into the additive habit of spending too much time in front of the boob tube. But there are dangers to our children’s emotional, physical, cognitive, and social development that we should consider. The fact is the more kids watch TV, the more time is lost
for nurturing creativity, learning sports or hobbies, reading and expanding their knowledge, playing in the great outdoors, practicing social skills, or just finding ways to entertain and enjoy themselves. Those key “Family connecting moments” are lost, as are other crucial life lessons and just experiencing those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer.

Read More

Topics: character, character education, parent involvement, family, technology, Borba Michele

Should We Require Teaching Digital Citizenship? Yes.

Posted by Jason Ohler on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

Digital citizenship should not only be required, it should also become the primary lens through which we ask our children and ourselves to view the world. Our prosperity, humanity, and indeed even our survival, may well depend on it.

Read More

Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, student voice, technology, cyberbullying

4 Safety Rules to Curb Cyber-bullying

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 17:06 PM

REALITY CHECK: Did you know that a recent survey found that almost 70 percent of adolescents say the best way for them to be safe online is through education? Are you educating your child how to be safe online?

Read More

Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice, parent involvement, technology, cyberbullying

Technology and Character Education

Posted by Lindsey Wright on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 @ 17:09 PM

By Lindsey Wright

The use of technology has been a growing force in education. Once, classrooms were relatively isolated, nestled into a school in a suburb, small town or city. Now, regardless of physical location, today's students have access to the larger world through the Internet. However, the focus of education itself has not necessarily changed.

Educating has always been about preparing students to be successful citizens, in whatever way possible. Strong reading, writing and math skills continue to be important, as does character. Being able to get along with others, having self-control and patience, being honest and trustworthy: these have always been traits teachers have hoped to instill in their students, and that remains true today.

Read More

Topics: Forum Speakers, character education in curriculum, student voice, technology