Research based Internet Safety bill . . .

U.S. Sen. Menendez unveils legislation establishing internet-safety grant program –

Menendez’s proposal would establish a four-year program providing from $25 million to $40 million in grants for research on internet-safety education and funding for initiatives and existing programs based on guidelines developed from the research.

Now this makes a lot of sense to me. Do more research on Internet Safety training to see what works and then develop programs around the findings of the research. Read the complete article as it outlines some good possibilities.

Scared Safe?

Our school division is contemplating having a presentation by the Safe Surfin’ Foundation on helping children be safe online. In general these types of things can be helpful in that they remind students about some of the so-called “dangers” that are in online environments. At the same time, it is my continuing understanding that these fears are overblown and that we need to change the narrative of our conversation on Internet Safety.

We need to change the conversation from one of fear to one of confidence and empowerment, helping our students know what is appropriate information to put online and what is appropriate behavior when online.  These technologies and technology tools aren’t going away, and using fear as a tactic to frighten students will possibly work for some, but certainly not for all.

In looking at the literature that I received, one of the quotes that jumped out at me was “According to the FBI there is a 100% chance that your child/grandchild will meet a sexual predator in a chat room.” I read this and immediately thought, “based on what evidence?” What research has been done to substantiate such a claim? To me it sounds an awful lot like the “Scared Safe” approach to Internet Safety.

Yet, based on the research done at the Crimes Against Children Research Center, they have found that during the time period between 2000 and 2006 arrests of Internet predators was increasing while overall sex offenses against children were going down. This says to me that the Internet is not the big bad place that many Internet Safety people claim it to be. In addition, the Crimes Against Children Research Center found that, “There was no evidence that online predators were stalking or abducting unsuspecting victims based on information they posted at social networking sites.”

Other research shows that children who might get into a risky online situation are the same children who take risks in their off-line lives. It is these students who are more willing to enter a chat room and talk about sex with strangers; it is these students who are more likely to seek out someone to meet off-line, too. Generally speaking, the Internet is a far safer place to be than other places young people might hang out. I think we need to remember this.

Finally, some of the suggestions from the report are:

For example, we think that more efforts need to be made to educate and discourage teens from engaging in sexual and romantic relationships with older partners.

Youth awareness also needs to be raised about age of consent and statutory rape laws, the illegality of cross generational sexual solicitation online, the inadvisability of teens engaging in sexual conversations and exchanging sexual or provocative images with strangers and presenting themselves in sexualized descriptions online.

These sorts of messages are more likely to address the real dynamics of the crime than warnings about being stalked by someone who obtains personal information posted online.

In addition I would encourage educators to help families understand that the people in their kids’ lives are more of a danger than strangers online. People such as fathers, step-fathers, close family friends, and clergy are statistically more likely to develop an inappropriate relationship and commit a sex crime than a stranger online.

Crimes Against Children Research Center

The Myth of Online Predators

Remains of the Day: The iPhone vs. Kindle Edition

Remains of the Day: The iPhone vs. Kindle Edition

So I downloaded the Kindle app for the iPhone the other day to check it out. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I don’t have a Kindle (yet), so I thought this might be a way to check out the iPhone/iPod Touch’s e-book technology. It’s good, I must admit. Supposedly these two things stay synced somehow, so that the Kindle will know where you left off, and the iPhone will also. Neat.

Along those lines, I’ve also been fooling around with Stanza, a free e-reader for the iPhone. They’ve got a desktop app that allows you to upload a bunch of different documents, including .pdf files, which I did last night. So far, I like it. And free is good too. 🙂

Kids and Kindle – James Fallows

Kids and Kindle – James Fallows

My wife is only days away from receiving her exciting new new-to-her Kindle, which is to say that I expect soon to get my hands on a Kindle 2. Meanwhile this note from a good friend about the machine’s effect in his household:

An (unreported?) Kindle phenomenon: 11-year old girl, drove parents crazy by not reading books because totally addicted to electronics, has now transferred total addiction to Kindle 2 – and now does nothing, ever, but read books, one after another. In bed, in the car, while eating – while crossing streets!

[My wife] says, “Let’s buy Amazon stock. In six months, the world will have discovered this particular phenomenon.” (She is the one who had the sudden insight that this might work for [our daughter].)

This from one of my favorite writers who blogs for The Atlantic Monthly magazine, from yesterday. Perhaps the Kindle and other e-readers will spark an interest in reading for some students? Having approached the issue of reading before, this one got me to thinking is all . . . .

These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds –

These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds –

Take a 60-minute lecture. Cut the excess verbiage, do away with most of the details, and pare it down to key concepts and themes.

What’s left? A “microlecture” over in as few as 60 seconds. A course designer for San Juan College, a community college in Farmington, N.M., says that in online education, such tiny bursts can teach just as well as traditional lectures when paired with assignments and discussions.

I found this article very interesting as it really seems to push the limits and ideas of ways to present material in an educational setting. I’d be interested in attending a class with this as the format. Rarely do I read about ways to move beyond our current system of education and this seems intriguing to me. Not that it is perfect, mind you, but it might fit the needs of some learners and some learning contexts well. Another article on this her at the Open Education Blog. Enjoy!

Bridging Differences: Confusing Test Scores With ‘Being Well-Educated’

Bridging Differences: Confusing Test Scores With ‘Being Well-Educated’

This came to me via Tim Lauer’s site today. I sometimes think we can get so wrapped up in the test score that we forget what it means to be well educated. These are conversations that we need to have with each other as educators as well . . . .

The more high stakes the data, the more corrupt become the data—which I’m told is called Campbell’s Law. We poison the well once we promise folks more money for “better data.” When “data” (e.g. test scores) are in the driver’s seat, beware. We also need more independent “juries” to analyze and make recommendations based on independent information. The phrase itself “data-driven,” rather than “data-informed,” gives me the chills.

We also need sensible longitudinal research, to explore the connection between test scores, school models, etc., and “doing better” 10 years out. This is uncharted territory. We might explore, in short, what “doing better” could or should mean in real life.
Being taught early, over and over, that making a predetermined “wrong answer” (out of a predetermined four or five) has serious intellectual and social consequences is dangerous. It leads to bad pedagogy. It’s precisely in school that it’s important to value the exercise of judgment based on evidence rather than being taught how to slyly “guess” at the one “right” answer.

“Podcasting Is The Most Underappreciated, Underutilized Media Ever” – Podcasting News

“Podcasting Is The Most Underappreciated, Underutilized Media Ever” – Podcasting News

Podcasting is the most underappreciated, underutilized media ever. Some people never try it. And many who do wind up giving it up unimpressed. Too bad.

A new study (Lecture Podcast Listeners Outperform Class Attendees) found that students who listen to lectures on podcasts test better than those who listen in class. Podcasting is a powerful educational medium, second only to books, in my opinion. But unlike reading books, you can listen to podcasts while doing the dishes.

I came across this today from one of the feeds in my feed reader. I would like to attempt podcasting in a “for real” kind of way, when there’s more time. Perhaps though it has more to do with my own sense of doubt about what it is that I have to say. To get beyond that, would be a place to start. I listen to podcasts regularly, mostly on my drive to and from work. Good ones too: This American Life, Radio Lab, and the Johns Hopkins Medical Podcast.

Perhaps I’ll start . . . . . .

Opinion | Replace the WASL but do it right | Seattle Times Newspaper

Opinion | Replace the WASL but do it right | Seattle Times Newspaper

The article linked above is from The Seattle Times and it is about the idea of replacing their state standardized test, the WASL, with online standardized tests. When I read this piece, I kept agreeing over and over. Some of the choice quotes from the piece:

But the bigger validity question is: Does the test make any difference? Are college professors more pleased with students who have passed the test? Are employers? The answer is a resounding, “We don’t know.” States are afraid to ask this question because, if the answer comes up, “No,” they will be seen to have spent millions, even billions, of dollars for nothing. But informal studies by journalists have yet to turn up a positive instance. So forget all the fear-mongering rhetoric that we need these tests in order to compete with China and in the global economy.

These are the kinds of questions that I continue to ask in terms of our state standardized test, the SOL. What difference do these tests really make in terms of these kids’ lives? Do they really make any difference at all, except for states to say that they have X percent passing at Y level? Another quote:

A passing score tells you only how many kids jumped over the barrier you put in their path. It does not tell you how high they jumped.

Yes! This is something I’ve understood for a while now, as do most educators. Yet, most teachers are being judged on what percentage of their class has jumped over the barrier.

Another issue is what about the students that don’t make the passing score of 400 by one point. What if they score 399 and they’re not in the group of passing students? Are they left behind then? Could it be that they just guessed wrong on one question?

Finally, the author wraps it up by laying out the idea (false idea) that testing is something you do after you’re done teaching. Why? Shouldn’t we have assessments that are relevant and meaningful to the student so that they know what they’ve accomplished or where they’re lacking in understanding? Is a test the only way to assess? Of course not.

Read this one. It’s good.