Universities play role in broadband expansion

A New Mexico broadband initiative will give broadband access to 3,000 homes and 1,000 businesses.

A New Mexico broadband initiative will give broadband access to 3,000 homes and 1,000 businesses.

Colleges and universities will help bring broadband internet to underserved schools, businesses, and neighborhoods after Vice President Joe Biden announced the first round of federal stimulus funds to expand high-speed web access on Dec. 17.

Eighteen projects nationwide, funded by $182 million in stimulus dollars, will build long-awaited fiber-optic networks in rural areas not served by high-bandwidth web connections in larger nearby cities.

The University of Maine is among the campuses involved in the broadband expansion program. Maine will partner with Biddleford Internet Corp.—along with several other companies—to build three fiber optic rings across 1,100 miles of rural area with $25.4 million in funding.

The massive network will connect 10 University of Maine campuses and pass through about 100 communities with more than 110,000 houses, according to the government’s projections.

University of Maine officials said only college campuses located on or near the Interstate-95 corridor have access to reliable broadband connections. Students and faculty in rural areas only have access to networks that are strained as campuses grow and more people connect to the web and use valuable but limited bandwidth.

“We cannot obtain the level of connectivity that we need to keep up with the [enrollment] growth and student demand,” said Jeff Letourneau, acting executive director of Networkmaine, a university group formed this year that spearheaded the effort to formulate a broadband expansion plan that private companies could support.

“What it does for our rural campuses is bring them up to an even playing field for their academic pursuits,” he added. “This project will help us meet those demands at a fixed cost.”

FairPoint, a North Carolina-based internet provider, competed for the stimulus dollars and criticized the university for its involvement in the stimulus program. The company proposed a $20 million plan to add to its existing internet network.

Severin Beliveau, an attorney representing FairPoint, told the Bangor Daily News in August that the university would be receiving a “subsidy from taxpayers” if the stimulus money was awarded to Biddleford and other companies teaming with the university.

“It caught us somewhat by surprise,” Letourneau said, adding that Maine simply served as the “catalyst” to find a consensus broadband plan for internet companies to rally behind. “But we didn’t pay much heed to it.”

Having a dependable broadband network at all University of Maine campuses, Letourneau said, would be critical in competing for research funds. Campuses without high-speed access are not usually considered for national projects that bring millions to colleges and universities.

The University of New Mexico joined the New Mexico State Library to propose a plan designed to give broadband access to 3,000 homes and 1,000 businesses. The plan was awarded $1.4 million in federal funding.

New Mexico is among the states with the fewest web users. The state ranks 36th nationally in broadband access and 46th in percentage of internet users.

Biden spoke Dec. 17 at a technologically advanced manufacturing plant in north Georgia whose business has been held back by the lack of a broadband network in its part of the state.

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Lotus Notes Converter Tool Reaching To Many More Users

SysTools Software Group has recently signed new agreements with more resellers in different parts to extend the reach of their Lotus Notes Converter Tool so that many more users can benefit from this product.

Madrid, Spain, December 18, 2009 – On the communication pathway, a new entrant was “EMAILS” which brought about a complete change in the way people used to interact. Communication became quick and easy with the onset of emails and gradually it became easier with the onset of email management tools like Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express etc. More options means more changes in preferences. Many Lotus Notes users get fascinated by the features of MS Outlook which is in a way justified because Outlook is easier and cheaper to manage and use. Thus, many users started switching from Notes to Outlook, and, because no one can let go of their crucial email data; so, the need was created to transfer Lotus Notes NSF files to Outlook PST format to retain the access to older data. Hence,

Lotus Notes converter

tools became popular.

SysTools Export Notes tool had been helping users with their Lotus Notes migration need in perhaps the most satisfactory way. This software will now reach many more users than before – as SysTools has appointed new resellers for their Lotus Notes converter tool recently. More and more users will be able to avail the benefit of easy Lotus Notes NSF to PST conversion using this simple and intuitive Lotus Notes to Outlook converter software. By signing new agreements with more resellers, SysTools has extended its reach to many more users located in different parts of the world.

SysTools already had many resellers spread in different parts of the world for their Export Notes software and this tally has increased further as the company appointed new resellers. The previously existing resellers for the Lotus Notes converter tool are many —- Softchoice Corporation, Hamaad Nazir -Software Licensing Analyst from USA; Grey Matter Ltd, QBS Software Ltd from UK; Agence Croissy, SMLB from France; SOS Software Service GmbH, SFC GmbH from Germany; SOS Developers España from Spain; Beijing Com & LAN System Tech. Co. Ltd from China; Software Exchange (S) Pte Ltd, LOGON Software (Asia) Limited from Singapore; Software House International, Inc. from Hong Kong – to name a few.

This is an attempt by SysTools to expand their assistance for easy Lotus Notes migration by their simple and intuitive Lotus Notes converter tool to many more users around the globe. http://www.lotusnotesconverter.com


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Universities play role in broadband expansion

Colleges and universities will help bring broadband internet to underserved schools, businesses, and neighborhoods after Vice President Joe Biden announced the first round of federal stimulus funds to expand high-speed web access on Dec. 17.

Eighteen projects nationwide, funded by $182 million in stimulus dollars, will build long-awaited fiber-optic networks in rural areas not served by high-bandwidth web connections in larger nearby cities.

The University of Maine is among the campuses involved in the broadband expansion program. Maine will partner with Biddleford Internet Corp.–along with several other companies–to build three fiber optic rings across 1,100 miles of rural area with $25.4 million in funding.

The massive network will connect 10 University of Maine campuses and pass through about 100 communities with more than 110,000 houses, according to the government’s projections.

University of Maine officials said only college campuses located on or near the Interstate-95 corridor have access to reliable broadband connections. Students and faculty in rural areas only have access to networks that are strained as campuses grow and more people connect to the web and use valuable but limited bandwidth.

"We cannot obtain the level of connectivity that we need to keep up with the [enrollment] growth and student demand," said Jeff Letourneau, acting executive director of Networkmaine, a university group formed this year that spearheaded the effort to formulate a broadband expansion plan that private companies could support.

"What it does for our rural campuses is bring them up to an even playing field for their academic pursuits," he added. "This project will help us meet those demands at a fixed cost."

FairPoint, a North Carolina-based internet provider, competed for the stimulus dollars and criticized the university for its involvement in the stimulus program. The company proposed a $20 million plan to add to its existing internet network.

Severin Beliveau, an attorney representing FairPoint, told the Bangor Daily News in August that the university would be receiving a "subsidy from taxpayers" if the stimulus money was awarded to Biddleford and other companies teaming with the university.

"It caught us somewhat by surprise," Letourneau said, adding that Maine simply served as the "catalyst" to find a consensus broadband plan for internet companies to rally behind. "But we didn’t pay much heed to it."

Having a dependable broadband network at all University of Maine campuses, Letourneau said, would be critical in competing for research funds. Campuses without high-speed access are not usually considered for national projects that bring millions to colleges and universities.

The University of New Mexico joined the New Mexico State Library to propose a plan designed to give broadband access to 3,000 homes and 1,000 businesses. The plan was awarded $1.4 million in federal funding.

New Mexico is among the states with the fewest web users. The state ranks 36th nationally in broadband access and 46th in percentage of internet users.

Biden spoke Dec. 17 at a technologically advanced manufacturing plant in north Georgia whose business has been held back by the lack of a broadband network in its part of the state.

A $33.5 million grant to the North Georgia Network Cooperative for a fiber-optic ring will bring high-speed internet connections to the northern Georgia foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The project will serve an eight-county area with a population of 334,000.

A combined grant/loan of $2.4 million to the Consolidated Electric Cooperative in north central Ohio will fund construction of a 166-mile fiber network that will be used, among other things, to connect 16 electrical substations to support a smart grid project.

Other projects receiving funds include a 4G wireless network to be built by an Alaska Native Corporation in southwestern Alaska, a fiber-to-the-home project in a remote corner of New Hampshire, and computer centers for 84 libraries in Arizona.

Congress included $7.2 billion for broadband projects in the stimulus bill to create jobs and bring new economic opportunities to parts of the country left behind in today’s digital age.

That includes $4.7 billion to be awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department, and $2.5 billion to be awarded by the Rural Utilities Service, part of the Agriculture Department.

Demand for the broadband money has been intense—far outstripping the amount of federal dollars available.

The Commerce and Agriculture Departments received nearly 2,200 applications submitted by local governments, inner-city community groups, rural cooperatives, nonprofits, and for-profit corporations in every corner of the country.

They asked for a total of $28 billion to pay for fiber-optic lines, wireless clouds, computer labs, internet training programs, municipal communications networks, and a range of other projects to bridge the digital divide.

The administration plans to award a total of $2 billion in grants and loans on a rolling basis over the next 75 days as it starts doling out the first round of broadband stimulus funding.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Links:

Broadband USA

University of Maine

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Facebook faces flak over privacy changes

Facebook's updated privacy policy has attracted national attention.

Facebook's updated privacy policy has attracted national attention.

A Washington, D.C.-based privacy advocacy group and nine other organizations have filed a complaint against Facebook over the online social network’s latest privacy changes.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said it has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into the changes Facebook has made to its users’ privacy settings and to force Facebook to restore its old privacy safeguards. The changes, unveiled last week, include treating users’ names, profile photo, friends list, gender, and other data as publicly available information.

The complaint says the changes diminish user privacy by disclosing personal information to the public that was previously restricted. (See “How to protect your privacy on Facebook.”)

Among the groups joining EPIC in its complaint are the American Library Association, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Center for Digital Democracy.

Facebook said it discussed the changes with regulators, including the FTC, before making them and that it is disappointed “that EPIC has chosen to share [its] concerns with the FTC while refusing to talk to us about them.”

This is not the first time, and likely not the last, that Facebook has been challenged over how it treats the vast amounts of information it gets from its 350 million users—several million of whom are high school or college students.

Earlier this year, Canada’s privacy commissioner accused the social network of disclosing personal information about its users to the hundreds of thousands of outside developers worldwide who create Facebook applications. In August, Facebook agreed to give users more control over such information sharing.

In September, the company finally shut down its much-maligned Beacon marketing program, which launched two years ago amid fanfare only to generate a storm of privacy complaints over the tracking of user activities at partner web sites.

Facebook had agreed to create a foundation to promote online privacy, safety, and security as part of a $9.5 million settlement in a lawsuit over the program.

The latest flap stems from Facebook’s move last week to change its privacy settings to give users more control over who sees the information they post on their personal pages.

Beginning Dec. 9, the social-networking web site took the rare step of requiring users to review and update their privacy settings.

The new controls were designed to simplify the cumbersome privacy settings that have confounded many people, which is one reason why only 15 to 20 percent of Facebook users have specified their privacy settings. Facebook hoped the changes would encourage more people to be comfortable with sharing more information.

As part of the changes, Facebook users are able to select a privacy setting for each piece of content, such as photos or updates, that they share on the site as they share it. The choices are “friends” only, “friends of friends,” or “everyone,” which means not just Facebook users but everyone on the internet. (The exception: Minors aren’t able to share their content with everyone. For people under 18, the “everyone” setting sends information to “friends of friends.”)

There is also an option to customize groups of friends such as “college buddies” for certain kinds of updates.

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How to protect your privacy on Facebook

Keeping information private on Facebook is easy if you follow several steps.

Keeping information private on Facebook is possible if you follow several steps.

Over the past week, Facebook has been nudging its users to review and update their privacy settings. The site has given users many granular controls over their privacy, more than what’s available on other major social networks. Still, in updating their privacy settings, several users might have made more information about themselves public than what they had intended.

If you want to stay out of people’s view, but still want to be on Facebook, here are some things to look out for as you take another look at your settings. (See “Facebook faces flak over privacy changes.”)

1. Some of your information is viewable by everyone.

Everyone can see your name, your profile photo, and the names of work and school networks you’re part of. Ditto for pages you are a fan of. If you’re worried about a potential employer finding out about a quirky fetish or unorthodox political leaning, avoid becoming a Facebook fan of such groups. You can’t tell Facebook you don’t want those publicly listed.

Your gender and current city are also available, if you choose to specify them. You can uncheck “Show my sex in my profile” when you edit your profile if you don’t want it listed, and you can leave “Current City” blank.

2. Your list of friends might also be public.

Facebook also considers your friends list publicly available information. Privacy advocates worry that much can be gleaned from a person’s list of friends—even sexual orientation, according to one MIT study. But there is a way to hide the list. Go to your profile page and click on the little blue pencil icon on the top right of your box of friends. Uncheck “Show Friend List to everyone.” Either way, those you are already friends with can always see your full list.

3. You can hide yourself from web searches.

There is a section for “Search” under Facebook’s privacy settings page, which is accessible from the top right corner of the web site under “Settings.” If you click the “Allow” box next to “Public Search Results,” the information that Facebook deems publicly available (such as photo, fan pages, and list of friends), along with anything else you have made available to everyone, will show up when someone looks up your name on a search engine such as Google. The stuff you’ve limited access to in your profile will not show up.

This is useful if you want people you’ve lost touch with, or potential work contacts, to be able to find your Facebook page. If you’d rather not be found, uncheck this box.

A second setting, controlling searches within Facebook, lets you refine who can find you once that person has logged on. Limit searches to friends only if you think you have all the friends you need and don’t want anyone to find you when they type in your name to Facebook.

4. Beware of third-party applications.

Quizzes and games are fun, but each time you take one, you first authorize it to access your profile information, even if you have made that available only to your friends. You’re also letting the application access some information on your friends.

Under “Application Settings,” Facebook lists all the apps you have opened your profile up to. If you no longer want to authorize access to a quiz or survey, you can always remove it by clicking on the “X” next to its name. Apps you use regularly, such as Facebook for Android if you update your status from your mobile phone, should stay.

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Optical Image Technology and Paperless Technologies Announce New Partnership

News

Pennsylvania companies Optical Image Technology (OIT), based in State College, and Paperless Technologies, created by Ford Business Machines and headquartered in Connellsville, are partnering to offer end-to-end document solutions for businesses. The combined software, hardware and services enable information-intensive businesses to capture, index, and access documents electronically, as well as automate and expedite standard business processes.

Ford Business Machines, a distributor of multifunctional office equipment, along with its subsidiary, Paperless Technologies, provides scanning services to large enterprises as well as small businesses. OIT, creator of the browser-based DocFinity® suite of document imaging, document management, and BPM/workflow software, offers solutions that enable thorough indexing, centralized storage, and robust security as well as the ability to manage, control, and expedite document processing. The companies offer extensive professional services to address customers’ unique business challenges.

The goal of the partnership between OIT and Paperless Technologies is to provide an end-to-end solution for companies that are seeking ways to manage information cost-efficiently and improve customer service. By capturing information digitally, managing documents securely, and producing clear transactional audit trails, the solution helps businesses to comply with HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other document and information-related regulations.

Quotes

“Ford Business Machines’ hardware and OIT’s DocFinity software have served businesses for years. By joining the back-file conversion services of Paperless Technologies with DocFinity software, we give businesses the ability to secure, control, and manage digital images throughout the document lifecycle, with clear audit trails every step of the way. Together, our solution provides an easy and cost-effective way for businesses to become cost-efficient, competitive, and compliant.” – Jim Thumma, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Optical Image Technology

“There is tremendous synergy between our companies, the result of our shared commitment to creating strong, flexible, and scalable solutions that address customers’ rapidly changing business needs. We look forward to helping current and prospective clients find cost-effective solutions to their unique challenges.” – J. R. Herrington, Director of Document Management Services, Paperless Technologies

About Optical Image Technology, Inc.:

Optical Image Technology’s software makes information manageable and companies more profitable. Since 1986, OIT and its DocFinity® suite of workflow and document imaging, document management, and BPM software have helped businesses solve their document management and business processing challenges. OIT offers robust, flexible products including document management, imaging, and workflow. Organizations see an ROI and improved productivity with DocFinity.

For more information, please visit www.docfinity.com.

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Blackboard, D2L declare legal truce

The three-and-a-half-year court battle between learning management system (LMS) giant Blackboard Inc. and competitor Desire2Learn ended Dec. 15 when the companies agreed to license each other’s patents and drop long-standing lawsuits. But some observers believe the truce comes too late to stem the growing movement toward open LMS technologies in higher education.

The protracted legal clash began in 2006 when Blackboard–the market’s No. 1 commercial LMS–received a patent for online learning systems widely considered to be too broad.

Blackboard sued its biggest rival, Desire2Learn, for patent infringement, and the companies went back and forth until last July, when a federal appeals court voided part of the Blackboard patent.

Financial details were not disclosed by either company. Both companies make LMS software that helps educators log student grades, conduct web-based class discussions, and distribute class material.

"We are pleased to have resolved our differences with Desire2Learn," said Michael Chasen, president and CEO of Blackboard. "Bringing this matter to resolution is in the best interests of both of our organizations, our respective clients, and the broader education community."

Campus technology experts said they were relieved that Blackboard’s patent did not stand in court, but many added that the sometimes-ugly court fight might have harmed the images of both companies among college IT decision makers.

"They realized that lawsuits are hampering both of them … and hopefully they’ve realized they have to put that behind them," said John Orlando, program director for information assurance and business continuity at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. "It’s a way of them getting on with it and improving their products."

In the years since Blackboard and Ontario-based Desire2Learn filed their lawsuits, educators said, open-source learning system models that incorporate Web 2.0 tools like wikis and blogs have become a viable alternative to the strict corporate approach to LMS software.

Open-source LMS projects are collaborative efforts in the technology community that differ from the centralized, dependent model of campuses that use popular vendor systems.

The move away from traditional learning platforms could force market leaders like Blackboard and Desire2Learn to incorporate more Web 2.0 features in their newest products, Orlando said.

"The leaders in the [educational] technology field are embracing Web 2.0," he said. "With all the variety out there now, companies like Blackboard are probably going to be forced to make those changes."

Raymond Schroeder, director of the University of Illinois’s Center for Online Learning, Research, and Services, said the settlement between Desire2Learn and Blackboard "holds far less meaning" than if the companies had come to an agreement three years ago.

The LMS landscape has changed, he said, and both companies spent millions to fight over a technology that is no longer favored by technology officials. 

"The current budget situation facing everyone has colleges, universities, and school districts across the country questioning if they can continue to afford the kind of expenditures required for a commercial LMS," Schroeder said. "When a university is facing layoffs and unpaid furloughs, an expenditure of $20,000 to $200,000 [for a commercial LMS] is often mentioned as one place to save [money and] save jobs. Open-source systems are generating a lot of interest, as is the idea of packaging together a group of Web 2.0 technologies to replace an LMS."

Blackboard began adjusting to schools’ open-source migration in the midst of its legal back-and-forth, unveiling an instant messaging service in April.

Professors and their students can discuss lesson plans and homework questions with the instant messenger’s pre-populated class rosters, which provide connectivity between classmates who might be encountering the same problems in preparation for quizzes and tests. Pre-populating the IM service ensures that professors are not assigned the tedious task of collecting student IM addresses and plugging them into the course web site.

Desire2Learn’s LiveRoom includes a chat function and a virtual whiteboard space that lets online tutors conduct lessons in real time. The platform also allows students and professors to download files and presentations, and it lets faculty members track attendance and create online polls.

The LMS legal fight took several contentious turns, including a motion filed by Blackboard charging that Desire2Learn was in contempt of court after Desire2Learn changed the name of its LMS product.

Desire2Learn officials said their latest course-management software, version 8.3, did not violate Blackboard’s patents, adding in statement they would "defend version 8.3 vigorously."

In a July 2008 response to Blackboard’s motion of contempt, Desire2Learn said: "Blackboard bases its motion on nothing more than a series of flip-flops, distractions, and misstatements."

Blackboard officials argued that, despite name changes to Desire2Learn’s LMS products, their functionality had not been altered enough to satisfy requests to avoid patent violations.

Links:

Blackboard

Desire2Learn

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easyDNA experiences growth in Advanced Forensic Testing

 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA 01/09/2009easyDNA an international DNA testing company has announced today that it has experienced a significant increase in the demand for its advanced DNA forensic testing services since the launch of these services was made earlier this year.
Advanced DNA forensic testing involves more complex and advanced analysis of non-standard samples and are performed within a highly experienced forensic testing laboratory equipped with state of the art equipment and technology.
Whilst easyDNA already offers forensic DNA testing on a variety of non-standard samples such hair, blood and semen stained items, toothbrushes amongst others, with the advanced service it is able to work on more difficult samples, particularly samples that are degraded or relatively old. The additional sensitivity of these tests allows for better extraction rates for the DNA profiles from these samples.
When a prospective client approaches easyDNA requiring advanced DNA forensic services, his case is normally discussed in depth to identify the most effective way to proceed with the testing. The client is then presented with the various options available and the costs involved, thereby allowing the client to take an informed decision on how he wishes to proceed.
Andrew Alexander, International Director of Sales and Marketing commented, “Since we launched our advanced DNA forensic testing services, the response from clients have been very positive. In a number of cases clients will have relatively old or degraded samples, or alternatively a limited amount of sample such as a single hair, which could be processed under normal testing procedures but would have a much lower success rate than if processed with advanced forensics. Therefore the clients will prefer to pay the additional cost. In this way they minimise the chances of not obtaining DNA, and in the process losing the sample as well as the possibility of ever finding the truth about their relationship.” 
easyDNA specialize in the provision of reliable, accurate and confidential DNA Paternity Testing, DNA Relationship Testing and DNA Forensic Testing to both the private and public sector. easyDNA operates through a network of sixteen offices covering a wide geographic area. Our Laboratories are ISO 17025 and AABB accredited which guarantees the quality of our DNA tests. All testing is performed through state-of-the-art genetic identification systems using the highest levels of accuracy available. http://www.easydna.com.au
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Blackboard, D2L declare legal truce

The legal fight between Desire2Learn and Blackboard ended, but financial details weren't revealed.

The legal fight between Desire2Learn and Blackboard ended, but financial details weren't revealed.

The three-and-a-half-year court battle between learning management system (LMS) giant Blackboard Inc. and competitor Desire2Learn ended Dec. 15 when the companies agreed to license each other’s patents and drop long-standing lawsuits. But some observers believe the truce comes too late to stem the growing movement toward open LMS technologies in higher education.

The protracted legal clash began in 2006 when Blackboard—the market’s No. 1 commercial LMS—received a patent for online learning systems widely considered to be too broad.

Blackboard sued its biggest rival, Desire2Learn, for patent infringement, and the companies went back and forth until last July, when a federal appeals court voided part of the Blackboard patent.

Financial details were not disclosed by either company. Both companies make LMS software that helps educators log student grades, conduct web-based class discussions, and distribute class material.

“We are pleased to have resolved our differences with Desire2Learn,” said Michael Chasen, president and CEO of Blackboard. “Bringing this matter to resolution is in the best interests of both of our organizations, our respective clients, and the broader education community.”

Campus technology experts said they were relieved that Blackboard’s patent did not stand in court, but many added that the sometimes-ugly court fight might have harmed the images of both companies among college IT decision makers.

“They realized that lawsuits are hampering both of them … and hopefully they’ve realized they have to put that behind them,” said John Orlando, program director for information assurance and business continuity at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. “It’s a way of them getting on with it and improving their products.”

In the years since Blackboard and Ontario-based Desire2Learn filed their lawsuits, educators said, open-source learning system models that incorporate Web 2.0 tools like wikis and blogs have become a viable alternative to the strict corporate approach to LMS software.

Open-source LMS projects are collaborative efforts in the technology community that differ from the centralized, dependent model of campuses that use popular vendor systems.

The move away from traditional learning platforms could force market leaders like Blackboard and Desire2Learn to incorporate more Web 2.0 features in their newest products, Orlando said.

“The leaders in the [educational] technology field are embracing Web 2.0,” he said. “With all the variety out there now, companies like Blackboard are probably going to be forced to make those changes.”

Raymond Schroeder, director of the University of Illinois’s Center for Online Learning, Research, and Services, said the settlement between Desire2Learn and Blackboard “holds far less meaning” than if the companies had come to an agreement three years ago.

The LMS landscape has changed, he said, and both companies spent millions to fight over a technology that is no longer favored by technology officials.

“The current budget situation facing everyone has colleges, universities, and school districts across the country questioning if they can continue to afford the kind of expenditures required for a commercial LMS,” Schroeder said. “When a university is facing layoffs and unpaid furloughs, an expenditure of $20,000 to $200,000 [for a commercial LMS] is often mentioned as one place to save [money and] save jobs. Open-source systems are generating a lot of interest, as is the idea of packaging together a group of Web 2.0 technologies to replace an LMS.”

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Feds release cyber safety booklet

Teens should know that there are consequences to their actions.

Teens should know that there are consequences to their actions.

A new booklet released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other government agencies helps parents and teachers steer kids safely through the online and mobile-phone worlds.

The booklet, titled “Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online” was unveiled Dec. 15 at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C., by FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski. At the middle school, which is known for its emphasis on science and technology, the officials met with students and teachers to discuss online safety.

“The conversations that make kids good digital citizens aren’t about the technology; they’re about communicating your values as a parent,” said Leibowitz. “Teaching kids to treat others as they’d like to be treated online is key. Net Cetera tells you how to start those conversations—even if you think your kids are more tech-savvy than you are.”

The booklet tells parents and teachers what they need to know to talk to kids about issues such as cyber bullying, sexting, mobile phone safety, and protecting the family computer.

According to the FTC and U.S. Department of Education, talking to kids about these topics can help them avoid rude online behavior; steer clear of inappropriate content such as pornography, violence, or hate speech; and protect themselves from contact with bullies, predators, hackers, and scammers.

What’s inside

The booklet begins by telling parents and adults why cyber safety is an important subject, and it notes that most kids are now participating in some sort of social network.

It also gives advice on how to start talking to children about the issues surrounding cyber safety. For example, the booklet tells parents that they should start talking to their child as soon as their child begins to use a computer or mobile phone. Parents also should try to create an open, honest environment, initiate conversations, communicate their values, and try to be patient.

The booklet then covers how to talk about cyber safety with young children, tweens, and teens.

It suggests that talking to teens comes at a critical time, because this is when they will begin forming their own values in life, not just mimic those of their parents.

“When you talk to your teen, set reasonable expectations. Anticipate how you will react if you find out that he or she has done something online you don’t approve of. If your teen confides in you about something scary or inappropriate they’ve encountered online, try to work together to prevent it from happening again. Since your teen is closing in on being an adult, he or she needs to learn how to behave and how to exercise judgment about using the net safely, securely, and in accordance with your family ethic,” states the booklet.

Moving forward, the resource explains what kinds of guidelines and advice parents and educators should give to teens about socializing online.

For example, parents should remind their kids that their actions can reverberate online, and therefore they should only post information they are comfortable with other people seeing—especially because once they post it online, they can’t take it back.

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