Utah County Hackathon – December 12



Hackathon icon


This is the week where kids and computers get a lot of attention — Computer Science Week. The Utah County 4-H STEM leaders decided to sponsor a Hackathon, and EPIK has been helping plan the event. (We’ll also be hosting two of the Big Think activities during the day!)

The event is FREE, and there are activities for kids of all ages, ranging from K-12. (Younger children (K-4) need to have an adult present to participate.) Classes are filling up, so register today!

If you are interested in volunteering, see this Eventbrite signup page.

Utah County Hackathon

HB213: Safe Technology Use and Digital Citizenship Education


School community councils need information and support to implement HB213. The EPIK Alliance Community has an opportunity to help.

What is HB213?

In this last legislative session, Keven Stratton (who has participated in some of the EPIK community meetings) sponsored and the legislature passed a bill that proposed amendments to an already existing law. These amendments stipulated that a new responsibility for school community councils is to partner with the administration in making decisions about filtering of school devices that access the internet and to oversee training of students and parents to assist students in making smart media and online choices. (You can read the text of HB213 here.)

This legislation was precedent setting.

Through EPIK’s relationship with Media Literacy Now, a national non-profit, we became aware that this legislation (particularly the concept of putting the concept of digital citizenship in the books) was precedent-setting, as no other state has language codifying the need for digital citizen education.

Sometimes policy can help spur cultural shift!

EPIK Deliberate Digital’s Collaborative Role 

HB213 allows for school community councils (which include administrators, teachers, and parents, and who could work with their school youth councils) to seek assistance from non-profits in the implementation of the digital citizenship training element of HB213. EPIK Deliberate Digital is collaborating with the School Children’s Trust Section at the Utah State Office of Education.

To aid in supporting councils, parents, and youth, EPIK Deliberate Digital will host a digital citizenship website that will provide resources and information around the many facets of digital citizenship. Because EPIK Deliberate Digital is focused on community collaboration, we hope to involve many community partners in content creation for this website (see next section).

We will also be seeking to expand the conversation around digital citizenship to include more focus on leveraging the positives of technology (not just preventing the negatives).

Since the plans for the 2015-2016 school year have already been submitted by school community councils and approved by local school boards, the current plan is to collaborate with 8-10 councils in pilot mode. In addition to seeking input from these pilot councils on the digital citizenship website, we will also work with these pilot councils to engage with student leaders at their schools to select and implement a digital citizenship project that focuses on leveraging the positives of technology. This can help councils state-wide to have some examples they can draw upon as they plan for the 2016-2017 year.

How EPIK Community Partners can get involved

1. Contribute resource and program information for an EPIK digital citizenship resources website

EPIK Deliberate Digital will be hosting a website educating about the facets of digital citizenship, and informing school community councils and parents about the many resources available for digital citizenship education.

If you are interested in having your organization spotlighted on the website, and/or interested in writing a guest post for the website, please contact aubrey@epik.org or michelle@epik.org

2. Help expand the concept of digital citizenship to include using technology in creative, contributing ways

A good majority of digital citizenship dialogue and efforts focus on preventing potential negative outcomes that can exist with technology use. Initiatives and programs around internet safety, netiquette, cyberbullying prevention, protecting identity, etc. are essential elements of digital citizenship. But an EPIK definition of digital citizenship expands beyond preventing negatives and helping kids be smart consumers and users of technology to being contributors, connectors, and creators in their families, schools, peer networks, communities, and society at large.

We are hoping to connect with more organizations focused on this more proactive approach to technology use for kids. Please contact michelle@epik.org if you know of any organizations doing such work.

3. “Not about them without them” — Work with youth to brainstorm new ways we all can use technology more deliberately and positively 

We invite you to watch Devorah Heitner’s TED talk if you haven’t yet (or watch it again if you haven’t watched for a while). She talks of “co-creating solutions” with these youth who have “lived experience” with technology. The solutions of tomorrow regarding kids and tech can’t be created without tapping into the know-how and needs and ideas and energy of the kids and youth of today. They are the leaders of tomorrow. They are digital natives and have perspectives on and experiences with technology that we as adults don’t have. Let’s let them help create their future and ours.

Part of the website will include an ongoing list of ideas for ways technology can be used for good.

For example, youth of today can use their tech know-how and skills to:

  • Inspire and encourage others through social media interactions
  • Help fund-raise for good causes
  • Build relationships with loved ones and friends
  • Build skills for future jobs and technological advances in society
  • Provide positive peer support and help
  • Create art, music, video, inspirational messages, etc
  • Learn about and engage proactively with their world
  • Expand and share their knowledge of other cultures
  • Connect with other youth around the world

Good digital citizenship needs to be a cultural mindset, a way of life 

It’s exciting to have a law that has the potential to spur cultural change. HB213 will likely motivate many school community councils to find a program, presenter, or other one-time resource that can help a school community take a closer look at digital citizenship education. Over time, we hope that our efforts will help digital citizenship become more a way of life and a positive cultural movement. In summary, HB213 implementation can spur the potential for that kind of progress, as we work together to:

  • Create a clearinghouse of resources
  • Involve many community voices and experts — including youth — to spur more conversation about the many facets of digital citizenship
  • Brainstorming more ways youth can use technology to connect, create, and contribute in their families, schools, peer networks, cities/communities, and society at large

Community Conversation and Connection with Tech Companies

tech industryHelp build bridges and expand the communication with technology industry efforts, so that organizations and community individuals and families alike can benefit from more collaborative, creative efforts to build a more deliberate digital culture in our state.

One of the things that has been brought up more than once at EPIK community meetings in the past months has been the desire to have technology companies more involved in what the EPIK Alliance is doing. Not only do tech companies have a significant impact on the economic health of our state, but they can have a significant impact on the lives of youth (for good or ill) through products they may (or may not) provide. Parents are hungry to feel that companies care about the concerns they often have about technology. In addition, especially given the languishing talent pipeline for tech companies in our state, we think more could be done through collaborative creativity to find ways to provide youth more opportunity to have exposure to the tech industry, and perhaps help more adults build skills in that arena as well.

We are interested in expanding the circle of conversation and collaboration between tech companies, other business, government, non-profits, education – and parents and youth themselves.

We would like to learn more about innovative community engagement efforts that technology companies already have in motion. We are also interested in brainstorming potential collaborative initiatives that can foster an innovative, deliberate, positive digital culture in our state – for and with our youth.

At EPIK, we think the potential with youth and technology is yet largely untapped. Kids (and their parents) are still too often using technology primarily as consumers rather than real contributors. What about tools and initiatives for more lively and open civic involvement and service, and for more deliberate unplugged time as well?

We will continue to seek input from parents and youth and other community members as to how tech companies could help create a more deliberate, healthy, forward-looking digital culture in our state. We invite tech companies, past and present tech industry leaders, and others in this realm to join the conversation and creative collaboration EPIK was created to support.

Utah County Hackathon

KidHack Poster

Helping parents and youth in Utah County get excited about technology, creativity, and deliberate digital use

We are excited to be collaborating with Utah County 4-H STEM in putting on a hackathon for all ages and skills this December. We plan to host brainstorming challenges, design thinking workshops, coding classes for kids, discussions with community leaders and parents on raising “digital natives,” and more!

Sponsors can sign up for the following activities, and/or to help plan and create other meaningful activities for participants:

– Teach coding or other STEM-related classes

– Host a hands-on booth to showcase your organization’s offerings

– Participate in networking lunches with underprivileged high school students who are interested in tech-industry jobs

– Provide creative problem-solving activities

If you are interested in being involved in the Hackathon, please contact Rachel at stonerachel12@gmail.com.


An EPIK Bucket List!

There are two visuals that we have been using to explain the community collaboration work that EPIK Deliberate Digital is doing.

First, this image shows how EPIK is committed to a cross-sector approach to community impact. This cross-sector community work begins simply with people from various sectors sharing ideas and thoughts and conversations around a complex issue. EPIK’s work during the last year has been focused on facilitating these cross-sector community conversations. The longer-term goal will be having sectors come together to create a shared vision and shared measures that can indicate when shared goals are met.

EPIK cross sector community collaboration for impact

Second, the following “Bucket List” image is an output of some of the community conversation processes. The image reflects initial issue “clusters” that appeared as people in the community discussed the positives/opportunities and negatives/challenges related to kids and technology. These buckets help capture the various facets of what is involved in raising children in a tech-driven world.

Each bucket includes various sub-elements, and includes both positives/opportunities and negatives/challenges related to kids and technology.

This Bucket List is a work in progress. In fact, after the meeting with the Kearns Youth Council, and given input from other community meetings as well, we think adding a bucket for financial/economic considerations will be important.

EPIK Bucket List 1

EPIK Economic Financial Bucket imageEPIK economic and financial impact bucket description


EPIK celebrates all the work that is done on behalf of youth to help bring the benefits of technology into their lives, and to prevent potential negative impacts of technology. With an eye toward cross-sector collaboration and a bucket list view, EPIK is committed to help “hold a space for the whole” in community conversations. We believe that this big-picture view can help facilitate and create more opportunities for cross-sector collaboration. Even the best individual programs, curricula, products, and services are insufficient to address all that the next generation needs to be prepared for their futures. They need us to work with them, and to work together!



Collaboration Continuum

~by Aubrey

We came back from the Champions for Change Conference in Calgary with so many ideas brewing in our heads.

One thought that I got really excited about was this Collaboration Continuum.

Take a minute to study this chart. As you move from the left (competing for everything) to the right (being integrated with other players and sharing data and success) you become a trusting and trusted partner. You can better fulfill your goals as well as help others fulfill theirs.

Collective Impact helps you to move along this continuum and feel your relationships grow.

Where you were on this chart one year ago with relation to others who are interested in children and technology. Now, think about where you are today. Have you advanced from competing or co-existing to cooperating or even coordinating?

Where on this chart would you like to be?

What steps do you need to take to get to where you would like to be? Visualize the outcome.

It’s awesome once we all have the same desire to fully integrate our efforts and thus benefit children and the community because we trust each other and care more about the beneficiaries than our programs.

Tight-knit leaders equals a tight-knit community.

Original from Tamarack

Original from Tamarack

Research about raising digital natives, with ideas from the kids

This TEDx talk by Devorah Heitner shares research by a media historian about raising digital natives. The notion of “not about them without them” is brought alive in her work. Letting children/youth be experts in the conversation — and in creating solutions, in this case through apps — can help adults consider the complexity of raising children in this digital age.

Parents and their anxiety is normal in a digital age, this researcher says.

“But a surprising thing? Their kids are on often the same page, and want help navigating the tricky ups and downs of life online. As part of her work researching the digital lives of groups of 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds, Heitner asked students to determine the biggest issues they face as connected kids, and challenged them to come up with app-based solutions. Contrary to what many parents may have guessed, Heitner says, kids often included parent input in their apps, and even made apps designed for parents themselves.”

“They have tech savvy, but we have wisdom [and life experience].”

“We need to get really curious about kids’ day-to-day experiences. We need to ask them what they’re thinking, and then we need to co-create solutions that take advantage of their creativity and our wisdom.”

This video is a must-watch.