Common Sense is the largest independent nonprofit organization committed to helping kids, teachers, and families manage media and technology in life and learning.

Common Sense Education provides high-quality digital literacy and citizenship programs to educators and school communities. Together, they work to empower students to harness technology for learning and life. Their free resources include ratings and reviews External link opens in new window or tab of digital tools, a comprehensive K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum External link opens in new window or tab, ready-made lesson plans, videos, webinars, and more.

In the April 2017 newsletter, Commons Sense Education offers a selection of resource about data and privacy.

Student data privacy is a complex issue that can baffle the best of us, but have no fear! There are some simple things any teacher can do to quickly identify and manage online privacy risks, protect student confidentiality, and be more FERPA- and COPPA-compliant. Learn these basic digital citizenship habits and then model them for your students.

  • Quick Privacy Checks Anyone Can Do: Tutorial Video and Student Worksheet
  • Privacy Lesson Plans for Elementary and High School Classrooms
  • Social Media Tips for Teachers and Schools
  • Chromebook and Google Account Privacy Settings: Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Set Good Privacy Habits: EdTech Privacy Evaluations and Tools to Check Out

Source: Common Sense Education, Teaching Strategies, Student Privacy External link opens in new window or tab

Photo of Penny Pearson

As a non-profit organization, NROC partners with educators to create open and low-cost courses and tools designed to recognize every student’s unique learning needs and preferences. These resources can be adapted and scaled to meet programmatic goals in a variety of instructional settings.

"NROC" started as the National Repository of Online Courses. Now, the organization defines itself as much more. NROC is emblematic of an approach defined by four shared beliefs:

  • NETWORK - Institutions benefit from working together.
  • RESOURCES - Educators are empowered by high-quality, multimedia content and applications.
  • OPEN - Membership keeps costs low for institutions, and free for individuals.
  • COLLEGE & CAREER - We're committed to helping students pursue academic and life success.

During the NROC 2017 Member meeting, OTAN’s Penny Pearson received the following recognition:

“Since the earliest days of this project, this individual has generously shared her expertise to help NROC develop a working understanding of the needs of a very special population of learners. With great patient persistence and a can-do spirit, she has been on the planning committee of every member meeting, worked to support pilots of early releases of our products, and presented at numerous webinars and conferences about our partnership. Like Judy Lowe, our very first Ambassador in 2015, this member has even provided projection equipment for our meetings. She and her colleagues have been diligent about bringing the powerful stories of adult learners External link opens in new window or tab to our annual member meeting – and this year is no exception.

We are pleased to announce the 2017 NROC Ambassador of the Year is Penny Pearson, Coordinator of Distance Learning, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN), CA

Thank you to Penny and the rest of the OTAN team for helping us understand how EdReady, HippoCampus, and NROC Math and English resources can best serve the unique needs of adult educators and the diversity of learners they serve.

The work of OTAN in the state of California is groundbreaking and more important than ever - and we are proud to be a partner in their efforts.”

EdReady logo

OTAN is offering WIOA funded adult education agencies and opportunity to try out EdReady External link opens in new window or tab – an online math assessment and curriculum designed to get learners ready for math for both college and career. Learners choose a math goal such as passing the AccuPlacer or GED. Additionally, there are over 150 career pathways that help learners understand the math needed specifically for that pathway. Contact OTAN for additional information.

Another offering from OTAN is for adult education teachers who are interested in learning more about Blended Learning in Adult Education. This online course starts with the basics of educational technology concepts, and then gives the instructor the tools and skills to blend #edtech External link opens in new window or tab with their direct instruction. Research shows that blending traditional classroom instruction with technology improves student learning and motivation. The challenge is for the adult education instructor to find the time and technical knowledge to make it happen! This course takes approximately 6 -10 hours to complete online. Contact OTAN for access to the course.


Webinar Date: Thursday May 11, 2017
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Presenter: Emily Pawlowski and Derek Holliday (American Institutes for Research)

This webinar will provide an overview of results from a recently released study called the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Prison Study. This study provides information on skills and competencies of incarcerated adults, and compares them to those of adults in U.S. households. The study also includes information on the extent of inmates’ participation in formal education and job training programs.

Compared to the household population, the incarcerated population is disproportionately male, Black, and Hispanic and has lower levels of education. A large majority (94 percent) of incarcerated adults have no more education than a high school degree (and many have less) compared to 64 percent of adults in the general U.S. household population. Compared to the U.S. household average, incarcerated adults’ literacy scores are significantly lower (by 21 points) and their average numeracy scores are significantly lower (by 35 points). About 20 percent of incarcerated adults are currently studying for a formal degree, with 70 percent of those currently not studying reporting they would like to enroll in an education program.

For more information about the study, visit the PIAAC Gateway: External link opens in new window or tab.

Click to register External link opens in new window or tab for this webinar and for more information about CALPRO events, please visit our Event Calendar External link opens in new window or tab.

picture of a computer

For a select group of motivated inmates at San Quentin, located just outside of San Francisco, hope comes in the form of an intrepid non-profit called The Last Mile, which is teaching convicts how to code and working with Silicon Valley companies to give hardened criminals a shot at success once they're released.

Despite the fact that there's no internet in prison, and many of the inmates have been incarcerated since the days before the flip phone, The Last Mile has made a mission out of rehabilitating prisoners through computer coding. The organization, which is now in 4 prisons with plans to expand, was founded by venture capitalist Chris Redlitz and his wife Beverly Parenti, after Redlitz visited San Quentin in 2010 and was impressed by its business-savvy occupants. "Many wanted to start businesses, they wanted to learn how to invest, and they wanted to understand what it was like in the real world," he said.

According to Redlitz, that visit changed his life.

They started The Last Mile shortly after. Parenti said the driving force behind starting the program was realizing how much money is wasted on locking up criminals who eventually get released and end up returning to prison.

The highly competitive program costs roughly $200,000 per year to run, and is funded privately and with the sale of prison products like license plates. Since its inception, 20 men have graduated from The Last Mile coding program and are out working in the real world. None of them have returned to prison.

Read about the personal success stories related to this program in the April 10, 2017 CNBC article External link opens in new window or tab by Michael Newberg.

Source: CNBC Tech External link opens in new window or tab