Become an expert on education policy with this internet resource from ASU

From the Education Policy Studies Lab (EPSL) at Arizona State University comes a research tool designed to help educators, policy makers, and other stakeholders understand key aspects of national education policy. Directed by Professor Alex Molnar, EPSL conducts and coordinates original research in areas such as student performance standards, assessment, commercialism in schools, curriculum, and language policy issues. The research is conducted and disseminated online through three specialized units: the Commercialism in Education Unit, the only research unit in the world dedicated to exploring commercialism in the schoolhouse; the Education Policy Research Unit, which provides independent analyses of research and policy documents to help inform the public debate about education policy issues; and the Language Policy Research Unit, which confronts the challenges and opportunities posed by learning in an international context. Educators interested in deepening their understanding of the policy issues facing America’s schools will find several scholarly publications and journal articles covering topics from the privatization of public education to policy briefs on large-scale school reform initiatives.


Know your hacker lingo

Phreaks, spoofers, and spammers want to invade your school and home computers, and the tricks of their trade include airsnarfs, wabbits, and fork bombs.

Few educators and consumers know hacker lingo, and even if they did, the most vigilant expert can’t make a computer 100-percent safe against attacks. But technology executives say they are undertaking unprecedented educational campaigns to teach consumers about emerging cyber threats.

Most major computer brands, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell, publish holiday guidelines for employees so they can help consumers protect their machines.

Related story:
  • Experts: Watch for
    rise in online attacks

    IBM’s security gurus also update a dictionary that describes various "cyber villains" and other dangers in non-technical terms.

    Here are some entries from Big Blue’s "Version 1.0 Online Security Dictionary," an employee reference guide that is currently published only on IBM’s internal web site:

    • Airsnarf (noun): A rogue wireless device added to a network that steals usernames and passwords from people using public wireless hotspots.
    • Backdoor (noun): A way to bypass authentication and obtain remote access to a computer. A spammer might install a backdoor to send junk mail from that computer.
    • Bot (noun): A software program designed to act like a person and infiltrate computers. For example, a bot might be programmed to automatically delete eMail messages containing certain words or to sweep up and collect certain information from a PC.
    • List bomb (verb): Forging messages that cause the victim to unknowingly subscribe to mass mailing lists (such as a subscription to an online newsletter) in volumes that might crash their systems.
    • Phreaking (verb): Cracking into the telephone network, which has now evolved to include cracking into cell phones and computer communications networks.
    • Spit (noun): Spam sent over an internet telephone connection.
    • Spim (noun): Spam sent over an instant message connection.
    • Spoofing (verb): Impersonating another host on a network; pretending to be a trusted host.
    • Wabbit (noun): Any hack that repeatedly replicates itself on a local computer
    • Fork bomb (noun): A species of "wabbit" that performs a denial of service on a computer system by creating a large number of processes very quickly and overloading the computer.


    IBM holiday security tips


    Framingham State’s courses now catering to wireless laptops

    The Boston Globe reports that an initiative at Framingham State College has made it possible for students in about 80 percent of the school’s courses to do all of their coursework with wireless laptops. Framingham State has been a testing ground for what is seen as the future of colleges and universities, rooted in a belief that portable computers can improve the quality of education.


    Canadian wireless laptop effort proves it has the write stuff

    Vancouver’s The Province reports that a school district in northern British Columbia reaped big dividends from an 18-month pilot program in which sixth- and seventh-graders were given laptop computers with wireless internet connections. The students used the laptops for all of their writing activities, resulting in a 14 percent increase on these students’ provincial writing assessments.


    District motivating its teachers with $5,000 tech-related grants

    The Tryon Daily Bulletin of Tryon, N.C., reports that the local school district is offering 10 grants worth a total of $50,000 to reward teachers who integrate technology into curricula. The grants reflect the school board’s commitment to helping teachers “move their instruction into the digital age.”


    Free computer game teaches online safety

    Police and school officials in the Camas, Wash., district are among the dozens of leaders in communities nationwide who are using a free computer program to teach students about internet predators and the online dangers of kidnapping, sex abuse, and child pornography.

    “We know for a fact that you are prime targets for this kind of activity,” Camas Police Officer Tim Dickerson told a class of 11- and 12-year-olds from James D. Zellerbach Elementary School.

    Beginning this month, all sixth graders in the school district will spend a day using “Missing,” an interactive CD-ROM game that requires students to crack a child-abduction case. It’s part of a new program in Clark County, Wash., to educate parents and children on the growing menace of sexual predators online.

    The course is introduced in sixth grade because students are more often using the internet, text messaging, and visiting chat rooms by then.

    “This is such a serious thing,” said Sherry Keene, Zellerbach school counselor. “I have kids coming and talking to me, having a computer in their room, unsupervised, getting into chat rooms.”

    During a six-hour session, Zellerbach students meet “Zack,” a boy who befriends a 40-year-old man he believes to be a trendy California kid named Fantasma.

    Zack’s online buddy has his own web site featuring photos of happy teenagers and preteens lounging at the beach. But when Zack gives him his personal information, he finds himself held captive in San Diego with other children who are exploited on a web site aimed at pedophiles.

    Youngsters must solve word and number codes and use visual clues to help police find Zack’s abductor.

    The game is an entertaining but helpful reminder to students of the possible dangers the internet presents.

    “Think twice when you’re on the internet,” said 12-year-old Kyle Erwin.

    “It was educational and fun, which is very rare these days,” 11-year-old Alec Maier said. “It was the best interactive thing I’ve done.”

    As part of the course, students also return an Internet Safety Plan they craft and sign with their parents. It lays out what happens at home should they be targeted with personal and sexual questions or sexual images.

    “Missing” is distributed by Santa Ana, Calif.-based Web Wise Kids. At least 340,000 students in 47 states reportedly have tried the game, which through federal grants and private money is offered at no cost to police and schools, according to the company.

    Camas Police had been considering the program for a while. The school board approved the course after a Clark County 14-year-old was abducted in August by a man she’d met on the internet. She was found, beaten and abused, two weeks later in a house near Tacoma.


    Web Wise Kids


    Mass. district hires a heavyweight to lead its tech integration

    The Marblehead Reporter of Marblehead, Mass., reports on the efforts of the local district’s new curriculum and technology project leader. Ann Koufman-Frederick, a former instructional technology specialist in Brookline, Mass., also trains teachers in instruction technology at Harvard. She is pushing the district to look at technology in new ways.


    Minn. district looking to have ‘paperless’ board meetings

    Sun Newspapers of the Twin Cities suburbs reports on two ambitious projects by the Hopkins School District. The first involves making all school board meetings completely paperless — as the district plans to provide reports to board members in electronic form. The second project is a one-to-one computing initiative in which some fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders will be given Apple iBooks.


    Palm Beach County aims to help parents benefit from new site

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Palm Beach County is working to give all parents online access to student-related information, which is now available through the district’s new web site. This includes an effort to enable people who don’t own computers to go online for free.