Here's our lineup for these first days of April:
- For and from teachers: Web resources, debate
- A millennial site
- CyberAngels on Japan's crackdown
- Web News Roundup: Kosovo from the ground; Whither Melissa?; The Amazon auction; 50-50 (men & women)….
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The whole debate about the Internet in classrooms (and homeschool rooms) continues to be a fascinating one. New resources and perspectives come into view all the time, and it's high time we gave you an update.
- Elementary, my dear
Have you run across webTeacher.org? It's a Web tutorial created by two Tennessee teachers and the Webmaster of TECH CORPS, a national non-profit that "assists schools with their technology efforts." The site is sponsored by the cable TV industry.
The webTeacher site has an amazing amount of material in it - for beginners or for the technical sophisticate who needs help in talking about the Web in "plain English"! "Baby Homepage" offers the basic HTML anyone needs to make her first personal home page. Then she can find out how to add images, sound, movies, and Java applets - even how to run her own chat group from her own computer! If she's borrowing someone else's video or sound clips, she might want to check out the section on "Usage Permissions." [One caveat: If someone does not want to learn HTML, they will not find much information in webTeacher about WYSIWYG (for "what you see is what you get") editors like Macromedia's Dreamweaver or Microsoft's FrontPage - or, for that matter, about communities like Angelfire that teach home-page creation and host 5-megabyte pages for free.] HTML aside, webTeacher explains a lot of 'Net things fuzzy to many of us, such as older technologies FTP, Telnet, Newsgroups, and Internet Relay Chat.
- Beyond HTML
Another resource that is more links list than tutorial - but great for the aspiring programmers among us - is Homework Central's Programming Languages page. It links to tutorials (introductory to advanced) out on the Web in everything from Visual Basic to Java to C++.
- Preaching to the choir
And what do teachers think of such training? Well, those actually participating in a Microsoft tech-training program for students say that "students' overall high school experience is improved by the program because it encourages them to pursue higher education, motivates them to apply their new info-tech skills in real-life situations, and leads them to become supporting members of their school communities," according to a survey conducted by Market Facts Inc., a market research company in the Chicago area. Now, the people surveyed are, of course, already pro-technology, of course. But we felt MS's "Authorized Academic Training Program" worth mentioning because of what the surveyed teachers saw in their students and because the program is free (even tho' it only teaches MS tech and products).
- A college president weighs in
And much more perspective can be found in a New York Times piece about a university president's views on technology and school. Gregory Farrington, president of Lehigh University in PA, believes the Internet is useful to 18-22-year-old residential college students. As Times writer Pamela Mendels points out, most Web-based university programs (such as the California Virtual University aren't targeting this group. Dr. Farrington suggests that Internet use can extend debate, improve writing skills, support self-paced learning, give both professors and students new opportunities, and promote some long-needed self-examination on the part of colleges and universities. For balance, Pam includes the views of David Noble, a professor at York University in Toronto who's critical of educational technology.
Meanwhile, many of us know teenagers who plan to work their way through schools like Lehigh and York using their dorm rooms as a base for their 'Net-based businesses! If you have someone with those proclivities in your house, we'd love to hear from him or her. It's great talking with the real Web experts - and publishing their know-how (via firstname.lastname@example.org).
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For these millennial days
Our thanks to Homework Central for pointing out this fine site by middle-schoolers for all of us: "Explorers of the Millennium: Greatest Adventurers of the Past 1,000 Years". This Web site by 4th- and 5th-graders at Sherwood School in Highland Park, IL, was the 1998 4th-place winner in the ThinkQuest Junior content. It offers a list of such explorers as Neil Armstrong, Ferdinand Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, and Charles Lindbergh; a timeline; a quiz; a list of links for more in-depth information; and a bibliography.
We think ThinkQuest and ThinkQuest Junior are wonderful programs because of their approach to technology as a tool for learning many things, including teamwork, creative thinking, knowledge-sharing, and how to overcome obstacles and challenges.
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This week from CyberAngels
We're seeing progress in the battle against child pornography on the 'Net. Japan is key to that progress. Last week we sent Parry Aftab, CA's executive director, the following brief report from the AOP Bulletin, asking for her perspective on it (Parry is part of an international committee appointed by UNESCO to combat cybercrimes against children).
From the AOP Bulletin: "In the face of significant international criticism, Japan is moving to pass laws banning child pornography. With no such laws in place, Japan has been a haven for as many as 1,200 Web sites carrying kiddie porn. The new law will be considered by the Japanese Diet (Japan's legislature) as early as this summer."
"Recently the Japanese police have begun to crack down on cybercrimes in Japan. A Japanese woman was murdered by someone who ordered cyanide over the Internet last year. Cyberstalking and harrassment is up as well. The Japanese police have announced the formation of a special task force of 31 volunteer citizen groups in Japan, and Guardian Angels [CyberAngels's parent organization] was selected to join it. CyberAngels will help train the task force and Japanese citizen groups. (Guardian Angels has three chapters in Japan, and is growing rapidly to include a fourth.)
"The world law enforcement community will be watching this task force closely because Japan has become a worldwide center for online child pornography. This is largely due to the fact that Japan has no criminal laws against child pornography. Because Japanese obscenity laws require the display of pubic hair, which younger children do not have, the most heinous of all abuses of children exploits this loophole in Japanese law.
"The world's child-pornography production and distribution industry has taken advantage of this loophole, putting its child pornography sites on Japanese servers. Though a recent report put the number of child pornography sites served from Japan at approximately 1,200, Cyberangels's and SOC-UM's Net Patrol teams, which search out child pornography sites around the world for law enforcement action, believe that number is much higher. More than a third of all child pornography sites they find are housed in Japan, and each site can have hundreds of images. (These are not the 'teen sites' advertised - most of the children are under 10 years old.)
"A recent television documentary and various news reports on CyberAngels have been aired on Japanese TV over the last month, as well as a series of newspapers articles written by a leading law-enforcement journalist in Japan. These reports have touched on how the global child pornography industry has abused Japanese hospitality. Tough child pornography laws are now being proposed there. Hopefully, the laws will be adopted and the Internet community will be able to count on Japan to join in the worldwide fight to stop the sexual abuse of children. We could use their help!
"I've been appointed by UNESCO to help setup a worldwide tipline for cybercrimes, and a helpline for children who have been sexually abused. If you're interested in joining in the fight against child pornography online, drop by the cyberangels.org site and volunteer for Net Patrol."
[Material supplied by our partners, CyberAngels, reflects their views, not necessarily those of The Sage Family. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us.]
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Web News Roundup
- Alternative sources on Kosovo
Thanks to the Internet, news from the war front gets out through many channels. We just have to be more careful about verifying what we're hearing. Wired News published a useful list of links to information sources from all sides - from the Serbian party line (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's Web site) to that of a radio station the Serbian federal government shut down to the site of the Kosova Liberation Army General Staff (freedom fighters) hosted in Switzerland.
- Whither Melissa?
Surely you've heard about Melissa, the computer virus that actually made network TV news this week. TechWeb adds some perspective to the hype with "Reports of Melissa Mayhem Exaggerated?" The New York Times profiles "software investigator" Richard, who is using programmer's tools to look into Melissa's code to track down the virus's creator. More on Melissa's origins can be found at Wired News. The FBI's on the case too!
- That personal touch
We received a message from Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com's founder, this week - did you? Can't help but say, "Nice touch, Jeff!" It's a departure for Amazon. Not so much the e-mail from the CEO, but rather the news he's sending his customers: Amazon's not just selling stuff now; it's letting customers sell things on its site. The company's leveraging its site traffic (Jeff says Amazon has 8 million customers) to take on well-established auction sites like eBay and onsale.com.
- Women got even
What we mean is, half of all adult Web users are now women, according to research by Media Metrix reported in Interactive Week. That represents serious growth in women online, since just three years before men represented 82% of 'Net users. More numbers: A whopping two-thirds of all US households will be online by 2003, says research by The Yankee Group in Boston. BTW, another New England research group, Forrester Research, says a lot of us will be borrowing money via the Web by the same year (2003).
- For kids' eyeballs
CNET's News.com reports that Disney has just relaunched its family Web "portal," making more children's material free. There are 12 channels serving up stories, movies, music, shopping, vacation information, and entertainment for all ages. Disney will see serious competition from AOL's "For Kids Only" and Viacom, with its plans for a music "destination site" and a new Nickelodeon site (working title: "Project Nozzle") slated for a September launch, News.com also reports.
- Privacy followup
ABC News's tech reporter Gina Smith provides a nice followup to our online-privacy roundup last week. She explains the threat to online consumers posed by the built-in serial number carried by Intel's new Pentium III chip.
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That does it for this week. Have a great weekend.
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