Teachers’ newest online worry: ‘cyberbaiting’

A new report indicates that the more time children spend online, the more negative situations they are likely to encounter.

A new report sheds light on an emerging trend known as “cyberbaiting,” a phenomenon where students taunt their teachers to the point of outburst, then capture the teachers’ reactions via cell phone videos and post those videos online for all to see.

Cyberbaiting is the latest example of using social networking for bad behavior, and one in five teachers across the globe has personally experienced cyberbaiting or knows another teacher who has, according to the Norton Online Family Report, a global survey of more than 19,000 students, parents, and teachers in 24 countries.

Perhaps due to the emergence of cyberbaiting, 67 percent of teachers across the world say being friends with students on social networks exposes them to risks. Still, 34 percent of global teachers continue to “friend” their students.

In the United States, 15 percent of teachers are friends with students on social networking sites, 90 percent of teachers think that being friends with students exposes them to risks, and 11 percent of teachers know a fellow teacher who has experienced cyberbaiting.

Only 51 percent of teachers say their school has a code of conduct for how teachers and students communicate with each other through social media, according to the Norton survey.

Eighty-two percent of U.S. teachers think their school should be doing more to educate students about online safety–on par with 80 percent of global teachers. Sixty-five percent of U.S. parents believe schools should do more to educate kids about online safety, compared with 70 percent of global parents. Twenty-six percent of U.S. students think they receive too little online safety education at school.


Police: No charges in gay teen’s bullycide

Neither the in-school bullying episodes, nor "insensitive and inappropriate" online comments, were found to be prosecutable.

Police investigating the suicide of a bullied gay teenager said Nov. 22 that offensive comments he endured online and at school couldn’t be considered criminal and that no charges would be filed.

Amherst, N.Y., investigators last month sent 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer’s computer and cell phone to a forensics lab to help determine whether anyone should be prosecuted for the bullying he often talked about before taking his life Sept. 18. They also interviewed Jamey’s family, friends, and peers, uncovering five bullying episodes at Williamsville North High School, where he’d just begun his freshman year, Chief John Askey said.

“He was exposed to stresses in every facet of his life that were beyond what should be experienced by a 14-year-old boy,” Askey told reporters during a news conference at police headquarters.

But neither the in-school bullying episodes, one of which involved pushing and an anti-gay remark, nor “insensitive and inappropriate” online comments were found to be prosecutable, Askey said, in part because the victim is dead and unable to help prove harassment or other charges that might have been filed.

More news about cyber bullying:

Survey reveals teens’ experiences on social networking sites

10 ways schools are teaching internet safety

What schools can do about bullying and cyber bullying

“I’m not satisfied, to be honest,” said Askey, adding that officers had devoted hundreds of hours to the investigation. “I would like to have seen something we could have done from a prosecution standpoint.”

Jamey’s father, Timothy Rodemeyer, had a similar response.

“We’re not satisfied, but we somewhat expected this outcome,” he told The Associated Press by phone after the press conference. “That’s why we’ve taken on a mission trying to get laws passed that will make people accountable.”

The investigation determined that three students had targeted Jamey in high school, one of whom hired a lawyer after Jamey’s death. Those students weren’t the ones commenting inappropriately in online forums, the investigation determined.


Deadline for 2012 eRate applications announced

The eRate provides discounts up to 90 percent off the cost of eligible telecommunications services and internet access for schools and libraries.

The Universal Service Administrative Co., which runs the federal eRate program, has announced the opening and closing dates of the eRate filing window for Funding Year 2012.

The window will open at noon Eastern time on Monday, Jan. 9, and close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, March 20. Schools and libraries will have 72 days in which to file applications for the 2012 eRate funding year. Feb. 21 is the last date on which schools can file a Form 470 requesting new services for the 2012 program year, because of the 28-day posting requirement for that form.

The eRate provides discounts of up to 90 percent off the cost of eligible telecommunications services, internet access, and the internal connections—such as wiring, routers, switches, and file servers—necessary to bring internet access into classrooms. Nearly $2.3 billion in discounts will be awarded during the 2012 funding year.

Applicants and service providers “should be mindful of the window’s closing date, as many schools will be on spring break during that time,” noted eRate consulting firm Funds for Learning. “Applicants and service providers should communicate any conflicts during March and make the appropriate adjustments in order to avoid missing the deadline.”

For more news and advice about the 2012 eRate funding year, see:

eRate applicants face important changes with this year’s program

How to make sense of the new eRate gift rules

Five tips for eRate success

Hosted VoIP: A better call?


Four new American Chemical Society podcasts shine a light on solar energy

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has released a series of audio podcasts highlighting the science and cutting-edge technology behind solar power. The podcasts, available free of charge, tell the story of how scientists and students are making progress in harnessing the abundant energy of the sun. Well-suited for classroom use, the first two episodes explain the chemistry behind solar power—an alternative to fossil fuels that could have a larger role in the years ahead as a sustainable energy source for the world. The third and fourth podcasts describe a competition supported by the U.S. Department of Energy called the Solar Decathlon, in which students compete to build the world’s best solar homes. The podcasts are based on articles published in the latest issue of ChemMatters, ACS’ magazine for high school students. Published quarterly by the ACS Office of High School Chemistry, each issue contains articles about the chemistry of everyday life and is of interest to high school students and their teachers.




FCC chairman opposes AT&T takeover of T-Mobile

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has come out against the merger of cell-phone giants AT&T and T-Mobile USA, reports the Associated Press. Julius Genachowski made his position known in a document he circulated to fellow commissioners Nov. 22. Genachowski recommended sending AT&T’s proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile to an administrative law judge for review and a hearing. That’s what the FCC does when it opposes a merger. According to an FCC official familiar with the matter, an agency analysis concluded the merger would result in higher prices for consumers, less innovation, less investment in the U.S., and fewer U.S. jobs. The review also cast doubt on AT&T’s claim that only the merger would allow it build out “4G” high-speed wireless internet access to cover 97 percent of the population, up from about 80 percent. The agency concluded AT&T likely would do so anyway to remain competitive with Verizon Wireless. AT&T spokesman Larry Solomon said in a statement that the chairman’s action was “disappointing.” The deal, announced in March, would vault the combined No. 2 carrier AT&T and No. 4 T-Mobile into the top spot ahead of Verizon and would leave just three major wireless carriers in the U.S., with Sprint a distant third…

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A problem for North Carolina students: Virtual school is too popular

High school students across the state are being blocked, at least temporarily, from attending the North Carolina Virtual Public School in the spring because of a likely $3 million funding shortfall, the News & Observer reports. State education officials say the funding shortfall is caused by explosive enrollment. The virtual school’s $20 million budget is divided among school systems based on their previous enrollment in the program. The solution will require school systems to decide whether they want to tap into already strained local budgets to pay for students to take courses online. “It’s safe to say that there are students who won’t be at NCVPS because of the funding shortfall,” Philip Price, chief financial officer at the state Department of Public Instruction, said on Nov. 21. Officials have identified 15 school systems that have maxed out the budgeted amount set aside for them to enroll students at the virtual school. Registration for the spring semester started last week, and officials say enrollment from other school districts also will be capped soon unless they provide their own money…

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For-profit colleges broke rules in U.S. inquiry

According to a report released Nov. 22 by the Government Accountability Office, most of the commercial colleges tested by undercover investigators posing as students allowed them to enroll in online courses with fake high school graduation credentials, the New York Times reports. And most of the colleges that enrolled investigators violated academic policies on cheating or grading, or the federal regulations requiring exit counseling for those with student loans, the report said. Between October 2010 and last month, the investigators posed as students and tried to enroll in introductory online courses at 15 commercial colleges, 12 of which allowed them to use a fictitious home-school diploma or a diploma from a high school that had closed. The students then tested the colleges’ academic practices by ignoring assignments; turning in incorrect, unresponsive, or plagiarized homework; or failing to log in to class. Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, requested the undercover report as part of his continuing investigation into the practices of the rapidly expanding commercial sector. “The fact that many of the schools accepted incomplete and plagiarized work—sometimes for full credit—leads me to question whether for-profit college students are truly receiving the quality education they are promised to prepare them for a good job,” Harkin said in a statement…

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School bucks tech trend with unplugged approach

While a growing number of teachers use netbooks and iPads to teach students, a new school in Edmonton, Alberta, keeps technology out of the classroom, reports the Edmonton Journal. The Waldorf Independent School of Edmonton, which opened this fall, stocks its shelves with knitting needles and wool, wooden toys, and silk scarves. Natural materials dominate the small school’s numerous educational programs, including kindergarten and a Grade 1-2 combined class. There are no televisions, no computer screens, and no electronic gadgets for tiny fingers. “You can see, the way it’s set up, that we’re really encouraging creative play,” said Netta Johnson, the vice-president of the Waldorf Education Society of Edmonton. Her husband works with computers for a living. “It’s not that we’re anti-technology for people, but for children, yes,” Johnson said. “I think, increasingly, research is showing that there is a benefit to early play-based education and to the kind of education that Waldorf provides.” A New York Times story published last month revealed that the chief technology officer of eBay, along with employees of Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Google, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard, opt to send their own kids to a Waldorf school. May Louise Moskuwich teaches Grades 3 and 4 at Avonmore’s Waldorf program. She tells stories and uses rhythm, movement, art, drama, and music in her lessons. “What Waldorf education really likes to do is nurture and strengthen the development of children’s own imaginations,” she said, “and we’re concerned that electronic media can hamper children’s imaginations.”

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