AUPs shape Web 2.0 use, guidelines

CoSN's guidelines are a resource for district leaders rewriting Web 2.0 policies.

As educational technology transforms teaching and learning, many districts are finding that once-solid acceptable use policies (AUPs) must be updated to reflect students’ and teachers’ increasing use of Web 2.0 technologies and other digital media tools.

To that end, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released an AUP guide to help school district leaders rethink their internet use policies and how educational technology can best be used to help students get the most out of their time in school.

The new guide addresses the following questions:…Read More

Social media monitoring services stir debate

Some companies offer services that update parents when children post unsafe information online.

As cyber bullying and inappropriate online behaviors become more commonplace in today’s technology-rich world, some companies are offering services that alert parents when their children are at risk or are misbehaving on a social network. Critics say the services amount to spying, but supporters say they open lines of communication and help children understand what is and is not acceptable online.

The services typically work like this: A parent opens a Facebook account and runs the monitoring service as an application. Once the parent and child are “friends” on Facebook, the parent invites the child to run the monitoring service as an application on the child’s own Facebook account.

When the child accepts the application, the parent is notified and able to view their child’s Facebook activities only when the service detects pre-selected words or phrases that the parent deems worrisome or inappropriate. Some services also send notifications when children establish new friendships on Facebook, or when their children are tagged in photos on the site.…Read More

Edmodo: A free, secure social networking site for schools

Edmodo doesn't require any student eMails or information to register.

Teachers seeking online communication and collaboration opportunities with students and other educators have another free resource at their disposal: Edmodo, an education-based social networking site.

The social learning network for teachers, students, schools, and districts offers free classroom communication for teachers, students, and administrators on a secure social network. Professional development for teachers is another component.

Teachers and students can post classroom materials, share links and videos, and access homework, grades, and school notices within Edmodo, which stores and shares all forms of digital content—including blogs, links, pictures, video, documents, and presentations.…Read More

Facebook ‘Groups’ could boost privacy, collaboration

Facebook launched an updated "Groups" application that allows for more collaboration.
Facebook "Groups" allows for easy communication and collaboration on projects, but is it an appropriate collaboration tool for students?

A new Facebook feature unveiled Oct. 6 gives users more control over which information is shared with certain groups of people, and it also offers an easy platform for online communication and collaboration on group projects—leading some K-12 educators and ed-tech officials to wonder if the social networking site might be a viable collaboration tool for students.

The Facebook “Groups” application lets users determine specific content to share with members of a defined group, as well as chat or work together on documents within a group. The feature could be a useful communication and collaboration tool for students outside the classroom—but concerns about online safety might keep many teachers and ed-tech officials from embracing the tool for such use.…Read More

The web means the end of forgetting

The digital age is facing its first existential crisis, reports the New York Times: the impossibility of erasing your posted past and moving on. Four years ago, Stacy Snyder, then a 25-year-old teacher in training at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa., posted a photo on her MySpace page that showed her at a party wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, with the caption “Drunken Pirate.” After discovering the page, her supervisor at the high school told her the photo was “unprofessional,” and the dean of Millersville University School of Education, where Snyder was enrolled, said she was promoting drinking in virtual view of her underage students. As a result, days before Snyder’s scheduled graduation, the university denied her a teaching degree. Snyder sued, arguing that the university had violated her First Amendment rights by penalizing her for her (perfectly legal) after-hours behavior. But in 2008, a federal district judge rejected the claim, saying that because Snyder was a public employee whose photo didn’t relate to matters of public concern, her “Drunken Pirate” post was not protected speech. When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder might well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the internet records everything and forgets nothing—where every online photo, status update, Twitter post, and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever…

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The 3×5 Learning Revolution

Twenty years after technology began transforming every other sector, there is finally enough movement on enough fronts –15 to be precise — that, despite resilience, everything will change, according to Tom Vander Ark, a columnist for The Huffington Post. New and better ways to learn are inevitable, but progress will be uneven by state/country and leadership dependent. The 5 Drivers. These Web 2.0 forces are benefiting the learning sector, emerging economies, as well as every other sector:
• More broadband: increasingly ubiquitous high speed Internet access is enabling a world of engaging content including video, multiplayer games, simulations, and video conferencing.
• Cheap access devices: netbooks, tablets, and smart phones have dropped below the $100 per year ownership level enabling one-to-one computing solutions.
• Powerful application development platforms: rapid application development and viral adoption have radically reduced cost and increased speed of bringing solutions to market.
• Adaptive content: personalized news (iGoogle), networks (Facebook), purchasing (Amazon), and virtual environments (World of Warcraft) have created a ‘my way’ mindset that will eventually eliminate the common slog through print.
• Platforms: Apple’s iPhone illustrates the elegant bundling of an application, purchasing, and delivery platform. In a few years, we’ll have the same thing in education–powerful learning platforms and cool apps.

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Student video ‘Gotta Keep Reading’ inspires nation

The subject of reading seemed like the most logical choice for the flash mob video, said principal Sharyn Gabriel.
The subject of reading seemed like the most logical choice for the flash mob video, said principal Sharyn Gabriel.

In a powerful example of how online social networking, youth exuberance, and digital media can combine to affect a nation, students at Florida’s Ocoee Middle School created a video called “Gotta Keep Reading,” an infectious message that has “gone viral” and inspired other schools and big-name TV stars to endorse reading as a path to success.

The video began when the school’s reading coach, Janet Bergh, thought it might be fun to do something like The Oprah Winfrey Show’s “flash mob” video in Chicago last year. Winfrey and her producers elected to kick off the 2009 season with a live open-air version of the show in Chicago, featuring the Black-Eyed Peas and other performers. The Black-Eyed Peas rewrote the words to their single “I Gotta Feelin” as a Winfrey tribute dubbed “Oprah Feelin,” and hours before the show began the approximately 21,000 audience members were taught choreographed steps to the piece to create a flash mob dance.

Don’t miss Florida’s Ocoee Middle School’s video, “Gotta Keep Reading” on page two of this article. Page two does require free registration to eSchool News Online and includes additional benefits for you as you’ll have access to all our news and features online.…Read More

MeriTalk tech conference brings public and private sectors together

Government geeks and private-sector geeks will get a chance to rub elbows at a brand-new technology conference taking place March 4, the Washington Post reports. But beware of the buzzwords, because there will be plenty flying as panel discussions address how Uncle Sam should move onto the computing “cloud” while turning “green.” Please don’t bring up “Web 2.0,” because it’s “Web 10.0” that will be one of the topics at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. (And if you bring or use your smartphone while there, congratulations for being an “Edge Warrior.”) Called MeriTalk, the event is the first of what organizers hope will become an annual gathering that brings public- and private-sector tech thinkers together and sparks fresh conversations between the two. About 1,300 people have registered to attend the free conference, which will feature speakers and panel moderators hailing from outfits as far afield as Google and the U.S. Postal Service…

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District makes classroom Web 2.0 access a priority

Web 2.0 is becoming more prevalent in classrooms.
Web 2.0 is becoming more prevalent in classrooms.

Bandwidth-heavy applications can impact the performance of other academic and educational network traffic. Exinda solved this problem for Andover Public Schools in Essex County, Mass., by allowing Web 2.0 and more traditional academic and education traffic to co-exist on the school network without any degradation in service.

Web 2.0 technology aims to enhance creativity, information sharing and, most notably, collaboration among users. The educators at Andover Public Schools chose to seize the power of Web 2.0 technology to enrich their learning environment. Media rich and bandwidth hungry, the IT Department for Andover Public Schools had to facilitate the use of Web 2.0 technology in the classroom without degrading the performance of other academic and administrative traffic on the network.

Like most public school districts, Andover Public Schools leverage a SaaS model for many of their academic and administrative technology needs. As subscribers to the E-SpED Series of secure web-based applications, Andover Public Schools leverage applications in individualized special education and general education programs.…Read More