Digital Instructional Materials: What Are Teachers Using and What Barriers Exist?

Digital Instructional Materials: What Are Teachers Using and What Barriers Exist? RAND Corporation. Katie Tosh et al. April 16, 2020.

This Data Note adds new insights from English language arts (ELA), math, and science teachers on their use of digital materials. Drawing on data from the spring 2019 American Instructional Resources Survey, researchers share the digital materials that ELA, math, and science teachers across the United States reported using regularly for instruction during the 2018–2019 school year. In addition to identifying the most commonly used digital instructional materials, researchers examine how teachers’ use of these materials compares with their use of comprehensive curriculum materials, as well as teacher-reported barriers to digital material use. Finally, researchers explore several hypotheses regarding factors that might influence digital material use. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages].

Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts over Social Media: Scalable Analytics for Early Warning

Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts over Social Media: Scalable Analytics for Early Warning. RAND Corporation. William Marcellino et al. March 16, 2020.

The United States has a capability gap in detecting malign or subversive information campaigns before these campaigns substantially influence the attitudes and behaviors of large audiences. Although there is ongoing research into detecting parts of such campaigns (e.g., compromised accounts and “fake news” stories), this report addresses a novel method to detect whole efforts. The authors adapted an existing social media analysis method, combining network analysis and text analysis to map, visualize, and understand the communities interacting on social media. As a case study, they examined whether Russia and its agents might have used Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup as a launching point for malign and subversive information efforts. The authors analyzed approximately 69 million tweets, in three languages, about the World Cup in the month before and the month after the event, and they identified what appear to be two distinct Russian information efforts, one aimed at Russian-speaking and one at French-speaking audiences. Notably, the latter specifically targeted the populist gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement; detecting this effort months before it made headlines illustrates the value of this method. To help others use and develop the method, the authors detail the specifics of their analysis and share lessons learned. Outside entities should be able to replicate the analysis in new contexts with new data sets. Given the importance of detecting malign information efforts on social media, it is hoped that the U.S. government can efficiently and quickly implement this or a similar method. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 66 pages].

The Data Driving Democracy: Understanding How the Internet Is Transforming Politics and Civic Engagement

The Data Driving Democracy: Understanding How the Internet Is Transforming Politics and Civic Engagement. American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Christina Couch. February 2020.

This report outlines the data and methodologies researchers use to understand how the Internet has impacted democracy and the challenges they face in this field. The report summarizes key insights from interviews with fifteen experts from a broad array of computer science, data analysis, media studies, legal, and political science backgrounds. It specifically examines the data and research methodologies experts use to study how the Internet is changing democracy, the types of inferences that can (and can’t) be drawn with current resources, and barriers in this field. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 52 pages].

Profiles of News Consumption: Platform Choices, Perceptions of Reliability, and Partisanship

Profiles of News Consumption: Platform Choices, Perceptions of Reliability, and Partisanship. RAND Corporation. Michael Pollard, Jennifer Kavanagh. December 10, 2019

In this report, the authors use survey data to explore how U.S. media consumers interact with news platforms, finding mixed perceptions about the reliability of news and that consumer partisanship broadly shapes news consumption behavior. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 110 pages].

The Emerging Risk of Virtual Societal Warfare: Social Manipulation in a Changing Information Environment

The Emerging Risk of Virtual Societal Warfare: Social Manipulation in a Changing Information Environment. RAND Corporation.  Michael J. Mazarr et al. October 9, 2019.

The evolution of advanced information environments is rapidly creating a new category of possible cyberaggression that involves efforts to manipulate or disrupt the information foundations of the effective functioning of economic and social systems. RAND researchers are calling this growing threat virtual societal warfare in an analysis of its characteristics and implications for the future.

To understand the risk of virtual societal warfare, the authors surveyed evidence in a range of categories to sketch out some initial contours of how these techniques might evolve in the future. They grounded the assessment in (1) detailed research on trends in the changing character of the information environment in the United States and other advanced democracies; (2) the insights of social science research on attitudes and beliefs; and (3) developments in relevant emerging technologies that bear on the practices of hostile social manipulation and its more elaborate and dangerous cousin, virtual societal warfare. The authors then provide three scenarios for how social manipulation could affect advanced societies over the next decade. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 215 pages].

Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019

Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019. Pew Research Center. Monica Anderson. June 13, 2019.

37% of Americans now go online mostly using a smartphone, and these devices are increasingly cited as a reason for not having a high-speed internet connection at home

As the share of Americans who say they own a smartphone has increased dramatically over the past decade – from 35% in 2011 to 81% in 2019 – a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the way many people choose to go online is markedly different than in previous years. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 23 pages].

Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism: A Case Study of the Redirect Method

Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism: A Case Study of the Redirect Method. Rand Corporation. Todd C. Helmus, Kurt Klein. December 10, 2018.

The number of programs dedicated to countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown in recent years, yet a fundamental gap remains in the understanding of the effectiveness of such programs. This is particularly the case for CVE campaigns, which are increasingly conducted in the online space. The goal of this report is to help CVE campaign planners better evaluate the impact of online efforts. It reviews prior assessments of online CVE campaigns, provides recommendations for future assessments, and provides a case study of one particular CVE campaign — the Redirect Method. A limited evaluation of the Redirect Method process variables suggests that the implementers are able to use advertisements linking to counter-extremist videos to effectively expose individuals searching for violent jihadist or violent far-right content to content that offers alternative narratives. Users clicked on these ads at a rate on par with industry standards. However, as is the case with other CVE evaluations, this partial evaluation did not assess the impact of the video content on user attitudes or behavior. The potentially highly radical nature of the Redirect Method’s target audience makes evaluation of the campaign particularly complicated and therefore might necessitate the recruitment of former extremists to help gauge audience response. Alternatively, it might be advisable to analyze user comments to understand how a subsample of users respond to the content. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 19 pages].

Developing Cybersecurity Capacity: A Proof-of-Concept Implementation Guide

Developing Cybersecurity Capacity: A Proof-of-Concept Implementation Guide. RAND Corporation. Jacopo Bellasioet al. August 2, 2018.

 The role played by information communication technologies (ICTs) and by the networks they generate and underpin has continuously increased throughout recent decades. From an economic perspective, the potential positive impact of the Internet and ICTs on growth and development has now been widely recognised. However, the cloak of immunity and anonymity that these technologies can provide, have led to a growth in illicit activities across cyberspace.

This document is a proof-of-concept operational toolbox designed to facilitate the development of national-level cybersecurity capacity building programmes and of holistic policy and investment strategies to tackle challenges in the cyber domain. The document seeks to enable a better translation of the results of national cyber maturity reviews and assessments into tangible policy recommendations and investment strategies, allowing policymakers to develop their countries’ cybersecurity capacity. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 324 pages].

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Angele A. Gilroy.  June 22, 2018

 As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the internet, to ensure equal access and nondiscriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” There is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” but most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.

 [PDF format, 29 pages].

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Angele A. Gilroy. December 20, 2017

 As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and nondiscriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network. 

 [PDF format, 28 pages].