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The Emotion-Charged Debate about Internet Safety

Dean Shareski linked today to an important article about Internet safety for kids. The article debunks the myths that the Internet is always an unsafe place.

Safety on the shelvesIn an environment that is so emotionally charged, it is important that data is presented and this research article does just that. However, there are many creditable agencies that describe the tragedies that do occur with children and adolescents. There is important work to be done that cannot be ignored, in helping our children learn to be Internet-savvy. Interacting online with strangers is potentially dangerous behaviour. It is the same education we have provided our children about being street smart.

But there is much to learn in our world, just as there is much to learn and be connected with on the Internet. The data presented in this report focuses our work as adults in watching for children at risk, preparing all children to be Internet savvy, and then leveraging this amazing resource for all the positive it can be. The paper suggests that the focus should be more on the adolescent and less on the parent. The research also suggests that the prevention focus needs to be with adolescents, who are in a position to act independently.

The Parent’s Edge website describes seven warning signs for parents. This aligns with the research recommendations about prevention and is part of the parent’s role. Controlling behaviour by the parent is seen as less effective than teaching the adolescent directly. But how much of the advice is directly related to individual parenting styles?

I wrote a post not so long ago about defining safety and security as I personally explored this question of “do we worry too much?”. Josie Fraser offers a framework that assesses Internet risk according to contact, content and commerce. I was looking to extend that framework to assessing risk about safety for the user, safe practice by the user, safety of the site, safety of the technology/system from intrusion. The research presented here deals primarily with safe practice by the user, and may suggest that a site itself is not inherently unsafe by virtue of the functionality it offers.

Where to from here? Dean suggests we need to get on with the learning. I suggest we need to present the evidence first – or at least give it a wide public voice to fuel an intelligent debate based more on fact than emotion.


The Female Edublogger

There has been some discussion on Twitter lately as to whether women are under-presented in the educational technology arena. As a woman who has spent her career in information technology, this does not come as a surprise to me. There is much literature and several communities engaged in this area, and a place for female edubloggers, and males interested in the topic, to extend their networks.

I’ve been building a del.icio.us list of Women in Technology sites (women+technology). The list is not limited to Canada, but I was looking in particular for Canadian data and sites.

cindy’s Women in Technology bookmarks

Please add me to your del.icio.us network and help to tag additional sites.

Meme: Passion Quilt

Dean Shareski passed this my way.

Technology Enables the Democratization of Learning
……….Creative Commons License…………………………………………….

Here are the rules:

* Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative
Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most
passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short

* Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.

* Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

Okay, Here’s my list. (If you’re not familiar with these folks, check them out and add them to your reader)

    Lorna Costantini
    Matt Montagne
    Kate Olson
    Vanessa Van Petten
    Jaymie Koroluk

Wikipedia Academia – again

The Wired Campus this week highlights an article by David Parry, an assistant professor of Emerging Media and Communications at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The discussion that follows each article reflects the polarization of views about Wikipedia. Parry argues that dismissing Wikipedia entirely from academic use is irresponsible. Rather than arguing about how/whether to use Wikipedia, we should be more interested in why Wikipedia exists.

Students and teachers alike must understand how systems of knowledge creation and archivization are changing.

Wikipedia itself comments on Academic Use. Any encyclopedia is considered a tertiary source of information, subject to evaluation. Wikipedia is no different in that regard.

Parry makes, in my mind, a more important comment about the role of technology in the democratization of learning:

what is more important is teaching people how this technology changes the social sphere so that students too can be empowered to engage the polis rather than being passive users of Word Processing programs.

Let us understand the role that new media plays in centering the learning around the learner, and making life-long learners of us all.

Identity 2.0

Identity management is a very important part of supporting our Web 2.0 experience. Thanks to a tweet from Matt I just watched Dick Hardt from Sxip Identity, a Canadian company, talk about Identity 2.0. Just as we describe learning with the learner at the centre, Identity 2.0 puts the user at the centre.

Open Source, Open Content, Open Access

Thanks to Glenn, Rob, Lisa, Rick, Dan, and Peter who offered great perspectives to my recent post about the polarization of open source and proprietary software. Not everyone sees open source as the only way to support technology-enabled learning. There is room to explore the range of options and still be advancing a belief in open education.

So what happens if Microsoft buys Yahoo? Google has set the benchmark for open collaborative tools, and recently announced Google Apps Team Edition which will find its way into the enterprise. How will we selectively secure these spaces? When do we need to secure them?

Open source is an option for the learning delivery platform – either hosted or in-house. Open content is critical if we believe that what is important is having access to knowledge and a space to create or co-create meaning or knowledge. Open access is the third leg of the stool, and a potentially dangerous one. Not everything should be public. We have a responsibility to protect confidential information about our students. Where is the line between open access for knowledge and closed access for personal information? Who gets to decide?

Greening of the Internet

A recent article in Information Week reminds us that the Web is both “a crusader and a culprit” when it comes to energy use. Elearning, ecommerce, and all the other e’s have reduced energy hogs such as air travel. But on the flip side, data centres and personal computers devour energy. There are several initiatives underway to curb consumption and incent reduced consumption.
Don’t forget to think green! Are you printing? Do you power down?
Check out these websites for more info (courtesy of Information Week):
Global Warmup
Green Grid Consortium
Freedom to Connect
ITU report