New Report on Internet Predators

My friend, Nancy Willard (Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use), shares, via the ever present WWWEDU, a new report from American Psychologist, a journal of the American Psychological Association.  The report, Online ‘Predators’ and Their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for Prevention, is based on a study involving three surveys conducted in 2000 and 2005, including Internet users from age 10 to 17, and federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

For an APA press release, Janis Wolak, the lead author of the student, said,

“To prevent these crimes, we need accurate information about their true dynamics.”

“The things that we hear and fear and the things that actually occur may not be the same. The newness of the environment makes it hard to see where the danger is.”

As an example, spite of public concern, the authors found that adolescents’ use of popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook do not appear to increase their risk of being victimized by online predators. Rather, it is risky online interactions such as talking online about sex to unknown people that increases vulnerability, according to the researchers.

Among the findings, according to the 18 February APA press release:

  • Internet offenders pretended to be teenagers in only 5 percent of the crimes studied by researchers.
  • Nearly 75 percent of victims who met offenders face-to-face did so more than once.
  • Online sex offenders are seldom violent, and cases involving stalking or abduction are very rare.
  • Youth who engaged in four or more risky online behaviors were much more likely to report receiving online sexual solicitations. The online risky behaviors included maintaining buddy lists that included strangers, discussing sex online with people they did not know in person and being rude or nasty online.
  • Boys who are gay or are questioning their sexuality may be more susceptible to Internet-initiated sex crimes than other populations. Researchers found boys were the victims in nearly one-quarter of criminal cases, and most cases included facts that suggested victims were gay or questioning their sexuality.

You can download a PDF of the original AP article here.

Willard, Nancy. “Finally, great research insight on online predators.” E-mail to WWEDU Mailing List.19 Feb 2008.

Mills, Kim. “‘INTERNET PREDATOR’ STEREOTYPES DEBUNKED IN NEW STUDY.” APA Online. 18 Feb 2008. American Psychological Assocation. 21 Feb 2008 <>.

Image Citation:
Carmichal, Alex. “The Future.” Roujo’s Photostream. 31 Oct 2007. 21 Feb 2008 <>.

No Need Any More

It has been a very long day of preparing a Digital Citizenship conference in Missouri on Friday, and trying to get caught up on stuff. I just got to e-mail only an hour ago. One of the most interesting aspects of the day was posing a question on Twitter about digital natives, digital immigrants, and digital citizens, and then harvesting the two dozen or so insightful responses that I got back and including them in the wiki handouts for Friday’s conference.

Speaking at the NCCCADL ConferenceYesterday I presented at the North Carolina Community Colleges Distance Learning Conference. It’s probably the one type of conference that I am least qualified to present at, and that I learn the most from. These are digital educators in almost every sense of the word, and just great folks.

During lunch (fantastic lasagna), the president of the association proposed, as part of a business meeting, changes in the association’s by-laws, one of them to remove the organizations web master as a de facto member of the board of directors. When the by-laws were first written, they had a web master who was the person they all had to go to to publish information on the web. The web required such a person with the technical knowledge and skills. It made sense that the web master should be in on the meetings.

Today, however, there is no reason for the web master to attend meetings, because they do not have a web master. There is no need. The association uses some sort of content management system, so that the appropriate board (or association) member can publish their information directly to the site.

It’s just another indication of how the Web is changing.

Image Citation:
Keough, Patrick. “The ‘BUZZ’ In Distance Learning for NC.” KEOBLOG. 20 Feb 2008. 21 Feb 2008 <>.

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Reading the Old in the Old Ways of Reading

Often, when I’m talking about how our information environment is changing, I describe my experiences with Lulu, a print-on-demand service, through which I have self-published two of my books, Raw Materials for the Mind and Classroom Blogging.  I’ve just learned of another application of these services that I find quite intriguing — and I’m certain that some of the readers of this blog will think of even more applications.

Let’s start with the original premise.   I’ve written a story, or a text describing my hobby or other passion.  I’d like to see it as a book, or even make it available for sell.  However, I do not know how to attract the attention of publishers and can’t afford to contract with a printer to print and bind the book outright.

Enter Lulu and other print-on-demand services, where you upload your book in PDF format, select (or upload cover art), and then order your book.  Lulu prints the book and ships it for a fee, and if you choose, includes it in their online catalog, making it available to consumers. 

Now, lets step back even further to a world of writing that spans the centuries — archives of both obscure and famous books that are in the public domain and included in a number of online archives, such as:

  • The Internet Archive (300,000 public domain books)
  • Google Books (1.7 million public domain books)
  • Universal Library (600,000 public domain books)
  • Project Gutenberg (20,000 public domain books)
  • WikiSource (69,000 pages)

For example, Caesar’s Column, written by Ignatius Donnelly in 1891. The full text is available here, at the Internet Archive.  I want to read it, but not on my computer screen, and certainly not on one of those new-fangled Kindle things.  Load the text into your word processor, save it as a PDF, and upload it to Lulu, or other print-on-demand service.

To make things even easier, Yakov Shafranovich is running an experimental project, Public Domain Reprints, that formats and uploads the texts for you.

Anyone with an email address can place a request on this page using a link from a supported archive. Your request will be forwarded to our conversion server which will convert the appropriate book to printable form, and sends it off to several of the print on demand services we use. When the book has been uploaded, it will be made for immideate ordering and shipping, and you will receive a set of links to it via email and THEN you can make the decision to purchase the book as well as choose the print on demand service you want to purchase the book through. Requesting a reprint does not obligate you to buy the resulting book.

As I say again and again, it is not the computers that are impacting us as a society or as individuals.  It’s what we can do with information that is changing things.

Image Citation:
“Old Books.” Deepsan’s Photostream. 22 Aug 2005. 17 Feb 2008 <>.

Magic is Not the Hard Part

A while back, I opened a staff development institute for a school district someplace in New England.  I delivered my contemporary literacy thing where I uncover Nazi conspiracies, built maps of the world with tabular data, construct historic tag clouds, and showcase amazingly inspiring student video productions.  It’s a great magic and I confess some thrill in performing it.  I’m old enough to remember when it would have been magic.

But on this particular day, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction got up after my talk to dismiss the faculty for the dozen’s of breakout sessions available to them.  But before he did, he said, “I know now how illiterate I am.”  It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that, and in itself it indicates a reflection about his own information skills.  But he didn’t say, “I’m going to learn how to do some of these things, because they are important.”

I’m afraid that there may have been educators in the audience, seasoned and new, who were looking for an excuse not to pursue contemporary literacy skills, and he may have given it to them.  The fact is that learning to work digital content to accomplish goals is not hard to do, and you don’t have to learn to do all of it.  There is always someone nearby who can show you, and there are always your students.  Give them the chance to see you as a master learner — a life-long learner.

It isn’t something that can be solved with workshops or lesson plans.  They aren’t skills that must be learned, and then “problem solved.”  Learning it is easy.  Being in the habit of learning and using it is hard.

It can start simply.  Make it your practice to add something new to every lesson that you teach.  It doesn’t have to be digital and it doesn’t have to involve your students touching technology. 

But it has to be something that you learned by teaching yourself — by utilizing learning literacy skills.

Image Citation:
“Learning Grid University of Warwick.” Jisc_Infonet’s Photostream. 15 May 2006. 15 Feb 2008 <>.

“A Bubblin’ Crude” on Titan

Lakes of Hydrocarbons on TitanHere is a introduction to a report I received by e-mail this morning.  The web version is available at the Cassini web site.  It continues to amaze me that we are actually exploring our solar system to this degree.

Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.

So, kids, how might we get this fuel from Titan to the Earth.  An interesting thought or problem-solving experience for students to engage in and then describe in detail their solutions.  Of course would having more hydrocarbons to burn be the best thing for this planet.  So an optional alternative assignment might be to describe the alternatives.

By the way, “A Bubblin’ Crude” is a reference to the 1960s TV show, The Beverly Hillbillies about an Appalachian family who finds oil on their land.

The Changing Landscape of Education

Brought to my attention by Dangeriously Irrelevant’s Scott McLeod, is news that MIT is now repackaging its MIT OpenCourseWare Initiative for secondary teachers and students.  In his article, Scott points to an Education Week piece that describes the project and how high school teachers and students are beginning to use it.  Launched in 2001, and talked about frequently by Alan November, the OpenCourseWare Initiative features…

…2,600 video and audio clips from faculty lectures, as well as assignments and lecture notes. Some of that material is assembled on the site for specific high school classes, such as Advanced Placement biology, calculus, and physics, which are college-preparatory courses.

For classrooms with standard contemporary information and communication technologies, this and other similar offerings from the Internet represent opportunities that are, quite simply, foreign to our traditional notions of teaching and learning.  It is these obsolete (and dangerous) notions that, no doubt, lead to actions such as our president’s zeroing out federal technology funding for FY09, leaving most classrooms without standard contemporary information and communication technologies.

GlobalScholar Tutor Interface Even more foreign to education as we know it, is a product that I took a tour of yesterday, thanks to Shmuly Tennenhaus.  I don’t think I’ve been so intrigued, excited, or felt my old-fashioned senses so threatened in years as what I saw in their product, GlobalScholar.  The company features three offerings, starting with a web-based learning management system.  Currently providing their bread and butter, the LMS will soon serve 800,000 students in South Carolina.

The company is also working toward establishing educational portals for schools.  The higher ed product is the most refined part of the product, and I learned that my alma mata, Western Carolina University, was attended by Mel Gibson (class of 1992) — that was Mel Gibson, the basket ball player.

But, what really rocked my boat was their online tutoring platform.  Still in beta, the site can best be described as an eBay for education.  It facilitates buyers and sellers in the world of teaching and learning.  Potential tutors submit their offering, advertising what they can teach, their availability, and their charge — roughly $10 to $50 an hour.  GlobalScholar runs an extensive security check on the tutor, and if passed, the tutor is added to the searchable catalog, which is organized by grade level and subject area.  Tutors are ranked in the listings by the ratings of their past clients — a trust index.

Tutors can offer scheduled tutoring, instant/on-demand sessions, homework help (the client uploads their essay or report and the tutor evaluates it and sends it back), and self-paced learning materials, which the client pays to access.  Tennenhaus also showed me the tutor interface, which is fairly standard, with chat, whiteboard, file exchange, and audio headset interaction, and the ability to utilize the whiteboard as a slide show.  More enhanced features are in the works.

All in all, it is another indication of an education environment that not only offers new learning experiences for students, but, perhaps even more importantly, demands that the institution of schools adapt to this new landscape or continue to fall into irrelevancy.

Tell Congress to Support Ed Tech Funding

For readers outside the U.S., I apologize for this Amero-centric post. I wonder, though, if it is a uniquely American state of affairs, where educators have to be urged, at all levels, to beg for funding.  I know that it isn’t.  But, never the less, it is very sad.

Children + Technology = America's FutureETAN (EdTech Action Network) has posted an online tool that will enable you to easily send a letter of support to congress, urging them to return the funding of EETT back to it’s FY2005 levels. Once again, Bush is attempting to zero out the entire program. Here’s part of ETAN’s message, which can be read here in its entirety.

The President’s proposed FY09Budget again calls for the total elimination of critical education technology funding. Specifically, the President’s Budget would zero out the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program, cutting education technology funding by $267.4 million. Before the House and Senate put forth their budget proposals, we urge you to send a letter to your congressional representatives asking them to save EETT.

You can go to the site and enter your zip code to send your message directly to your representatives, or use the form tool I’ve posted on my sidebar to the right.

We need to make it heard that we want for our children the education that they deserve.

Here is another part of the ETAN page, with suggestions that it be sent to friends:

Did you know that the Bush Administration is intent on eliminating education technology funding? I find it so surprising that elected officials would want to do such a thing when we’re at a critical place as a Nation in terms of how we match up with others in a global economy. I personally don’t want to see our country fall behind when it comes to technology and innovation in the classroom – America needs to stay competitive! That’s why I went to to send a letter to my Members of Congress. It was really easy – just one click and I made my voice heard! I encourage you to do the same and join me to spread the word!

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A Path to Becoming a Literate Educator

Ever wonder what teachers do after work?Last week, a teacher came up to me and asked what she should do to develop the 21st century skills I was talking about.  But it’s a hard thing to explain in two minutes off the top of my head — and it’s not the first time we’ve heard that question.  It would be nice if I could point them to an online course that I’m managing or some other billable offering.  But that’s simply not what I do — nor can I say, “Buy my book!

So, I tell them to do what I’ve done — read blogs.  Find some people who are talking about what you want to learn, and from them, you’ll learn of others with ideas and practices to share. 

Then it occurred to me that it might be useful to have a set of suggested steps that I can point folks to.  So here it is.  It’s not complete nor is it in any way definitive.  ..and I’m looking forward to your suggestions. 

A Path to Becoming a 21st Century Literate Educator — Self Development

  1. Find two or more other educators in your school who are interested in learning and using emerging information and communication  technologies.  It would be of enormous advantage if you can include your schools library media specialist.
  2. Identify the appropriate person in your school or district who can provide technical support and configuration for your increasingly utilized computers and network.  Bake them some chocolate chip cookies.
  3. Identify some edu-bloggers who are talking about the emerging ICTs you are considering.  See the Bloggers to Learn From wiki, contributed to by a world community of educators.
  4. Delegate!  Assign each member of your team some of the selected blogs to follow, and share specific posts with each other.
  5. Read, study, and discuss books about teaching and learning and the world we’re doing it in.  See the Books to Learn From. wiki, contributed to by a world community of educators.
  6. Schedule regular meetings (once or twice a month) at a local restaurant, coffee shop, or pizzeria (preferably with WiFi).  Meet and discuss what you’ve learned and what you want to learn.
  7. Start a group (A social bookmarks service) account for organizing and sharing web resources.
  8. Start a wiki for posting notes, links, and step-by-step instructions.
  9. Join one or more of the Ning social networks, such as: School 2.0, Library 2.0, Classroom 2.0.
  10. Start your own blogs for sharing your reflections on what you are learning and how you are learning it.
  11. Start experimenting in your class and share the results.
  12. Share your results with other teachers in your school and Invite them into your conversation.

Start to model, in your job as a teacher, the practice of being a master learner.

Image Citation:
Plott, Wendi. “Day 15- Jan. 15, 2008- Ever wonder what teachers do after work? Here’s a hint:).” Shining Superstar’s Photostream. 15 Jan 2008. 10 Feb 2008 <>.


This is Cool!

You Might Be Too Busy IF… 2/9/08

I think that one of the coolest things about Personal Learning Networks is when they blossom into something interesting, useful, or funny. The later appeared yesterday when Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach published a list of statements shared by educators in her PLN. She’d asked, through Twitter, for statements that began with “You know when you’re busy when…”

Read You Might Be Too Busy If…, and enjoy the fact that it is a collaborative effort of busy educators who are learning every day, and enjoying the benefit of a greater brain!

Mine is the one about Saturday and Sunday — and I think that one of them is today 😉

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