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Pennsylvania Safe Schools Conference Tackles Bullying

ascentiveCyber safety news from the Ascentive team

The Center for Safe Schools has announced that nearly 500 stakeholders from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond will convene in Harrisburg for the fifteenth annual Safe Schools Conference May 8-9, 2012. The latest research in school safety and youth violence prevention; as well as effective program models and practices from state and national experts will be presented.

The conference provides school leaders and personnel, law enforcement and community partners with the tools to create a positive school climate; one that supports academic success, learning and teaching in a safe and nurturing environment.

“Specifically, the event includes practical resources and information to deal with safety issues that schools face daily –  bullying prevention, conflict management, emergency response and crisis management, and initiatives to address student mental health issues,” said Lynn Cromley, Center for Safe Schools director.

“The 9/11 documentary ‘REBIRTH’ is included as a tool to inform, enlighten and help professionals prepare for future disasters and better understand the impact of trauma on lives, schools and communities,” Cromley said.

The film is a riveting journey into living history – an act of personal witness to one of the most profound events in American history and the healing that has come in its wake. The result of a decade-long process by director Jim Whitaker, the inspirational story of “REBIRTH” follows the nearly ten-year transformation of five people whose lives were forever altered on September 11, 2001 – and simultaneously tracks via unprecedented multi-camera time-lapse photography the minute-by-minute evolution of the space where the Twin Towers once rose. Both a singular cinematic and human experience, “REBIRTH” is deeply intimate and uplifting – providing a moving portrait of how trauma and grief metamorphose into hope and rebuilding as the human spirit transcends the unthinkable over time.

“The entire Project Rebirth team, especially our five film participants, are pleased and grateful every time educational professionals use our film and film content in advancing their own missions. Applications to date have ranged from teaching the history of 9/11 to advancing the conversation about the need for improved disaster preparation and response in our schools,” said Brian Rafferty, Project Rebirth board chairman.

Following the screening, Project Rebirth’s Advisor for Public Safety and Education, Gregory Thomas, will lead a Q&A discussion about the film including school emergency preparedness and trauma. As the Executive Director of School Safety for the New York City Public Schools during the terrorist attacks, Thomas worked closely with federal, state and local officials to address security and disaster related issues that arose for the many schools in the lower Manhattan area.

“The educational mission of Project Rebirth has been its main driver since filming began six months after the 9/11 attacks: to educate future generations about the suffering of those left behind, and to highlight the strength of the human spirit in the face of the challenges they faced and met over the years,” Rafferty said.

The 2012 conference is presented by the Center for Safe Schools in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Equity Assistance Center; with sponsorship support from the Highmark Foundation.

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More Organizations Launch Anti-Bullying Campaigns

AscentiveCyber Safety news from the Ascentive team

More and more organizations are launching their own campaigns to stop bullying and cyber-bullying. Tanda, a pioneer in energy-based at-home beauty devices, announces its Zap Bullying campaign to raise awareness among parents and teens about this epidemic and to empower teens to feel confident and secure in their own skin.  The multifaceted campaign from Tanda Zap, the powerful acne clearing technology endorsed by leading dermatologists and successfully used by thousands of users across the country, will include a partnership with the national leading anti-bullying organization STOMP Out Bullying™, a social media awareness campaign and a limited edition blue Zap device to support the cause.

“We envision a world in which young people feel safe from bullying and we’re thrilled to partner with the STOMP Out Bullying™ organization. We share their commitment to help people take a stand against bullying in schools and communities,” says Fabian Tenenbaum, CEO of Syneron Beauty, the maker of Tanda branded products.  “Tanda Zap offers ground-breaking acne clearing technology to help teens feel comfortable and secure in their own skin and we hope that this initiative will raise awareness and dialogue around this issue and that ultimately it will serve to help foster greater understanding and mutual respect among teens.”

Tanda Zap invites consumers to “Zap Bullying” and pledge support to this social campaign by visiting its Facebook page, http://www.Facebook.com/Tanda.  “Like” Tanda and then “Vote” to Zap Bullying.  Tanda will donate $1 for each Vote to the STOMP Out Bullying™ organization.

“We are so grateful to have Tanda Zap as a philanthropic partner,” says Ross Ellis, Founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying™. “Together we can reach more schools, kids, teens and families affected by bullying with the critical educational resources and support services they need.”

As part of the campaign, the brand will introduce a limited edition blue Tanda Zap acne spot treatment device, from which a portion of proceeds will be donated to STOMP Out Bullying™. The limited edition blue Tanda Zap device will be available for $49 for Back to School 2012.

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, a partner in The Bully Project and a supporter of Lee Hirsch’s new documentary “Bully,” offers educators, students, families and individuals the tools they need to address bullying in schools. By downloading free resources at PACER.org/bullying, communities can find ways to help change the culture of bullying.

“The Bully movie gives everyone a heartbreaking look at the reality of bullying,” says Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “Our hope is that the movie will be a call to action, and that more people will work together to create a climate that doesn’t accept this behavior.”

Resources available at PACER.org/bullying include bullying prevention classroom toolkits, activities and videos for K-12 students; toolkits for organizing community events around bullying prevention; tips for how parents can talk with their children about the subject and work with schools and more.

PACER’s TeensAgainstBullying.org website offers relevant and interactive information in a teen-friendly way. Teens can find strategies to deal with bullying, ways they can stand up for other kids, and ideas for how they can bring the bullying prevention message to their school. PACER’s KidsAgainstBullying.org website is also specifically designed for elementary-aged children and uses a cast of animated characters to share bullying prevention strategies.

In addition, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLB), AbilityPath and Autism Speaks are partnering with The Bully Project to raise awareness about how bullying affects children with disabilities. Resources and a toolkit will be available soon at specialneeds.bullyingproject.com.

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Fusion Project Unlocks Predictive Power of Public Data

AscentiveHave you ever wondered why Montana is the happiest state? Or why Mitt Romney is the front runner? These questions and others like them heavily influence our economy, our politics, and even everyday life, but the data that holds the answers is scattered far and wide. This is now changing thanks to the Fusion Project which is combing the vast data stores of government and research institutions alike to create one massively powerful data set.

The Fusion Project is making the promises of big data a reality and is possible only because of the explosion of available data. Back in 2010 Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, said that “every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”. Data has even skyrocketed since then with the proliferation of smart phones, tablet computers, and other products producing new forms of data, but no one has yet taken full advantage of this overwhelming data source.

“I was surprised by the sheer volume of data available from governments and public institutions,” said Jason Kolb, a senior data scientist at Applied Data Labs. “But there is very little value being extracted from it due to its fragmented nature and our inability to analyze it all as a whole.” When the data is properly fused to private data, Kolb said, companies can reveal exciting new insights and identify ideas and opportunities that were previously hidden. For example, they can extend customer data with demographic and income information from the US Census project, or quality of life data from Pew Research. This unlocks much richer sets of information for use in customer service, marketing, and many other initiatives.

To address this need, Applied Data Labs is launching The Fusion Project–a public project using techniques and technology developed internally at Applied Data Labs to combine multiple public data sets into a single, value-packed data set for public consumption. Using distributed data analysis technology which employs advanced statistical analysis and data integration technology, the Fusion Project is able to join together previously silo’d data sets, unlocking insights and ideas that were previously unavailable. The project’s ultimate goal is to unlock the synergy latent in the publicly available data sets and put them to work in analytics environments.

“The Fusion Project uses several new and emerging technologies to work its magic,” said Kolb. “It’s one of the first projects to use Semantic Web technology in a meaningful way, and we’ve developed several unique ways to combine statistical research and analysis to stitch data sets together.” Applied Data Labs researches and develops experimental and theoretical analytic technologies internally and then consumerizes them in various ways, the Fusion Project being one of the first publicly-available incarnations of this process.

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Social Media Redefining Americans’ Relationship With Food

AscentiveSocial Media News From the Ascentive Team

How Americans learn to cook, select recipes, plan their meals, purchase their food and share their culinary secrets with others has dramatically changed, according to a new study released last week. Called Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture, the study finds social/digital media is replacing mom as the go-to culinary source of knowledge for many people. The study was jointly developed and conducted by consumer research firm The Hartman Group and Publicis Consultants USA, a food & nutrition marketing agency, part of MSLGROUP Americas.

Study results show almost half of consumers learn about food via social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and 40 percent learn about food via websites, apps or blogs. “Consumers used to rely on mom and family traditions for meal planning, but now search online for what to cook, without ever tasting or smelling,” said Laurie Demeritt, president and COO at The Hartman Group. “Digital food selection is less of a sensory experience and more of a visual and rational process: What’s on the label? What’s in the recipe? Show me the picture!”

 

In the past, whereas consumers listened to the opinions of a few trusted resources — mom and other family members – in deciding what to buy, cook or eat, modern consumers “crowdsource” the opinions of many before deciding what to buy.

What’s more, the infiltration of social media into the food experience goes far beyond purchasing and preparing food; it now includes the meal experience as well. While eating or drinking at home, nearly one-third of Americans use social networking sites. Among Millennials (18-32 years old), this figure jumps to 47 percent. “The ‘table for one’ rarely exists anymore, even among single people eating alone at home,” added Demeriit. “If you are eating alone, chances are you are also texting friends who live miles away or posting food photos to a review site.”

Brand ROI Is an Enriching Relationship
The Clicks & Cravings study offers learning for food and grocery brands developing digital campaigns in the category. The study reveals it’s not enough for food and grocery brands simply to be present in the virtual space or build up legions of followers. The payoff is a long-term and personal relationship that creates brand advocates and an emotional connection that drives influence. To achieve such an enriching relationship, communication must be relevant and have a distinct and authentic personality.

“The best social and digital campaigns reflect the audience’s values, interests, concerns and aspirations,” explained Steve Bryant, president of Publicis Consultants USA, part of MSLGROUP Americas.

According to Bryant, this approach is effective for both large and small brands. He points to the success of Roman Meal, a small whole grain bread company on the agency’s roster. With a minimal budget, the brand built a valuable social network using one clear brand voice, expert nutrition information, and real stories of personal struggles that a healthy lifestyle could help solve.

“We approached the brand’s social media as two good friends having an intimate conversation over a meal, and consumers responded positively,” added Bryant.

Three Tiers of Consumer Engagement
Clicks & Cravings found that in the food and grocery category, consumers’ social media behavior falls along a continuum of engagement. The study shows that brands should tailor communication strategies to be relevant to each type of user.

  •  “Spectators” use social media as an extension of their network of friends, family and peers. They use social media for product reviews, recipes and good deals.
  • “Dreamers” curate and push food related content through social networks. They aspire to have larger followings and more influence than they currently do.
  •  “Doers” are the most engaged. They are the core of food and social media, creating content that inspires followers.

“There are many brand opportunities for each specific consumer,” states Bryant. “For example, a brand may entice Dreamers by incorporating their recipes on its site, or appeal to a Spectator by offering incentives in exchange for a video review,” states Bryant.

“In tandem with smart communications counsel, the report is a powerful tool to help brands strategize their approach to social and digital media,” added Demeritt.

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Educator argues that Cyberbullying is not caused by Social Media

AscentiveJason Falls, a leading educator, public speaker and thinker in the world of digital marketing and social media, is calling on teachers to embrace social media in the classroom and harness the power of that technology to expand learning opportunities that have never before been possible.

“Social media and the ability to collaborate and communicate through the Internet tears down geographic boundaries [and] brings cultural diversity to students that normally wouldn’t have it,” said Falls, founder of Social Media Explorer.

Falls’ advice to teachers: “Embrace this.  You can only teach if you learn.”

In an exclusive interview for the Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, Falls discusses how social media and other technology are often wrongly blamed for some of society’s most destructive behavior.

“Cyberbullying is certainly a concern to parents and teachers everywhere, but cyberbullying is not the result of social media,” he said.  “It’s the result of somebody being a bully, and that happens offline as well as online.”

Falls is the fifth speaker in the Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, following retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Dr. Benjamin Carson, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Harvard Professor Chris Dede.

Reflecting on the evolution of communications, Falls said that texting and other forms of social media are not responsible for any decline in students’ writing ability.  He noted:

“Kids have become more efficient with their communications, as opposed to less professional with grammar and punctuation.  Take those same students and have them write a term paper or an email, and they’re not going to communicate with abbreviated codes and ‘LOLs.’  If they have bad grammar, punctuation and spelling, it has nothing to do with texting; it has to do with their education.”

Falls’ conversation with Katrina Allen, program director of 21st century learning at St. Philip’s Academy, is available for free in the Verizon Thinkfinity Community section of the Verizon Thinkfinity.org website.

Al Browne, national director and vice president – education and technology, Verizon Foundation, said, “Studies show that only 14 percent of teachers are using social media, compared with 87 percent of students.  Rather than allow fear to rule out opportunity, experts like Jason Falls can guide us in the effective use of social media to enrich learning experiences.”

The Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series is an online series that enables educators and parents to connect with some of the most inspiring voices in education.

The series is available exclusively to members of the Thinkfinity Community, a virtual home to engaging, thoughtful dialogue on some of today’s most challenging classroom issues.  Anyone can join the Thinkfinity Community for free.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention.

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