Monday, April 20, 2009

Hindering Technology Integration in the Classroom

This article highlights the difficulties encountered by teachers when using technology in the classroom. Most districts, in order to limit access to inappropriate content, have installed software which allows the online usage from each computer to be monitored. This has also allowed the district to view any usage by employees that is unrelated to their educational objectives. Teachers have been reprimanded for making purchases online using school computers after school hours. Teachers and students are being asked to sign Acceptable Use Policies, detailing how the school computers are to be used. The advance in software available can sometimes make accessing websites impossible because filtering software has limitations. Additionally, email is being monitored, unlike the use of a phone. In the past, it was understood that an occasional personal call would be made, but email is treated as property of the district. An example of one districts policy: "No staff member shall access create, transmit, retransmit or forward material or information:
* that promotes violence or advocates destruction of property including, but not limited to access to information concerning the manufacturing or purchasing of destructive devices or weapons
* that is not related to district educational objectives
* that contains pornographic, obscene or other sexually oriented materials..."
While the first and last point make sense, the second item limits all email to district business only. This has lead to fear in many employees, who cannot even make plans with coworkers via email. Another difficulty encountered by teachers included being unable to set up websites with links outside their educational system.
I found the article interesting is that the oversight by districts is becoming very "big brother". There needs to be some freedom for teachers to engage their students and to discipline in the classroom when a student does not respect the rules.
Q1. What is the national policy on internet access for students?
A1. The Children's Internet Protection Act has clear guidelines on students need for protection from potentially harmful sites.
Q2. Are there any other areas of concern for districts?
A1. In addition to the above mentioned problems, there is also a concern regarding copyright infringement for districts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The ABC's of Privacy Practices for Educators

The article "The ABC's of Privacy Practices for Educators" attempts to educate teachers on the pitfalls of information loss. In todays digital transportable world, there are many ways in which information can be compromised. The steps to ensuring privacy include identifying the assets and classifying them. By classifying this information according to its level of security, it is then possible to build the privacy policies which will protect this information. In any school setting, there are numerous staff members which need access to various information, so levels of access must be set. The article goes on to describe a method for evaluating the information based on the type of information, the people responsible for collecting the information, the use of the information, the storage of the information, and the possible repercussions if the information was exposed. There is also information on the creation of passwords and encrypting/decrypting files in windows.

Q.1. What is a privacy policy?
A.1. " A privacy policy is a written statement that articulates how an organization handles the personally identifiable and private information it gathers and uses."

Q.2. What are some guidelines for choosing a password.
A.1. The best passwords are more that eight characters, they combine letters, numbers, and symbols, and they are easy to remember.