New Online Safety Lesson: Infographics: Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

March 19, 2012

The 13th installment in the lesson series I’m writing on behalf of iKeepSafe, focuses on developing and understanding of how to interpret and create infographics

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Research indicates that visual communication may be more powerful than verbal communication, suggesting that people learn and retain information when it is presented visually better than when it is only provided verbally or as text .

Every single day we create with 2.5 billion gigabytes of data from sensors, mobile devices, online transactions, and social networks. That amount of data is equal to a full-length episode of “Glee” running continuously for 214 thousand years.

To see and use this lesson, the companion presentation, professional development materials, and parent tips click here: Infographics: Is a picture really worth a thousand words?



New Online Safety Lesson: The Power of Positive Collaboration – If we each do a little, we all do a lot.

February 27, 2012

The 12th installment in the lesson series I’m writing on behalf of iKeepSafe, focuses on leveraging the internet to benefit local communities.

Remember flash mobs, those groups that seemed to come out of nowhere to perform a dance in unlikely public places? This concept has been reinvented with a socially conscious twist through “cash mobs”: groups who respond to online invitations to visit a specified store to help their community’s local economy.

Although negative internet behavior tends to grab the spotlight, most people use the internet positively. Socially conscious people understand they are part of a larger community, and that for the community to thrive, everyone needs to contribute to the greater good.

Learn the positive side of “going viral” and how the World Wide Web exists as a community of collaborators supporting local businesses and neighborhoods.

To see and use this lesson, the companion presentation, professional development materials, and parent tips click here: It Takes a Village – The Power of Positive Collaboration


New Weekly Headlines-Inspired Internet Safety Content Available for Schools and Parents

December 20, 2011

In collaboration with the internet safety group iKeepSafe, I’m pleased to announce a new initiative for introducing digital literacy, safety, security and privacy topics to students and your children.

Each week on behalf of iKeepSafe’s iKeepCurrent project, I pick a current news story and use it as the genesis of a short safety, security, privacy, citizenship, or other internet related lesson. By pulling from news of what’s happening today the lessons are extremely relevant and provide a natural way to pull events into perspective as teachable moments, and as drivers for learning new and positive online skills.

Every lesson includes a list of key concepts, vocabulary words, equipment needed, the full news articles, the lesson plan, optional activities, additional resources, plus learning development resources for teachers, and specific material just for parents.

To check out the lessons and see how you can leverage this material, click on one of the thumbnails (below) or go to and register to a weekly email.

I will begin posting these lessons every week as they appear.


One in Three Teachers Cyberbullied – 25% Comes From Parents

September 3, 2011

We hear a lot about kids bullying and cyberbullying kids, we hear plenty of stories about adults harassing and stalking others online, but what we hear less about is the cyberbullying teachers are subjected to at the hands of their students – and the student’s parents.

More than a third of teachers in the U.K. have been abused online. Most of the abuse (72%) came from students, but over a quarter (26%) came from parents according to a new study from Plymouth University in England conducted by professor Andy Pippen.

“Everyone acknowledges this is a problem and something needs to be done about it, but schools lack support. It is a sticky area as some of the things posted may not be considered illegal,” Pippen told the Huffington Post UK.

While teachers have always been targets of abuse – cars damaged, homes trashed, graffiti slurs, and threats – the internet’s anonymity appears to have given bullies – particularly parent bullies – the opportunity to scale to a new level of viciousness.

Showing typical gender role bias, 60% of the teachers who reported being bullied are women.  The abuse is manifest through several online mediums like chat and social networks, but cyberbullies are also creating Facebook groups specifically targeting certain teachers, posting videos on YouTube, and leveraging the ever nasty site.

“It seems to a subset of the [parent] population the teacher is no longer viewed as someone who should be supported in developing their child’s education, but a person whom it is acceptable to abuse if they dislike what is happening in the classroom,” said Phippen.

While this report is out of the U.K. and not the U.S., it would be naïve to assume that teachers here and around the world aren’t facing the same issues.

Perhaps as schools put together the final pieces of their back-to-school materials for this school year they should add a section to their student cyberbullying policy that specifically outlines expectations for parents.  If the parents are cyberbullies, it will be awfully hard to get their kids to behave better.


LimeWire, Told to Disable Its Software

October 7, 2010


Published: October 26, 2010

Limewire, the music file-sharing service, has been ordered to essentially shut down after a federal judge in New York issued an injunction over LimeWire’s illegal sharing of copyrighted music. Would-be file-sharers now see a legal notice displayed on top of the site’s homepage

At issue in the epic four-year battle between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and LimeWire is the latter’s search, download, upload, file trading and file distribution functionality, that allowed users to cheat the recording industry out of millions of dollars – all the while profiting from the illegal practice.

“The operators of LimeWire continue to tout how ‘proud’ they are of their service,” the RIAA wrote on its blog. “To be clear, for the better part of the last decade, LimeWire and its operators have violated the law, and in doing so, enriched themselves immensely.”

“In January, [the next phase in the court process] the court will conduct a trial to determine the appropriate level of damages necessary to compensate the record companies for the billions and billions of illegal downloads that occurred through the LimeWire system,” the recording association said in its statement.

Though users of all ages – particularly teens – will mourn the passing of the site that allowed them to steal content, the effect will hopefully be an increased understanding and respect for intellectual content and copyright.  But the chances of that are slim as they will likely find alternative methods for sharing, unless parents (many of whom are also guilty of the practice) step up to their responsibilities as role models and ethical digital citizens.

The demise of LimeWire (at least in this incarnation) seals it’s place in the category of Napster and Grokster two other former Internet pirate companies.


8 Tips to prevent student hackers from accessing school computers

September 2, 2010

Back-to-School time means hacker-proofing school’s computers. While protecting students online safety is a must, so is protecting school computers from malicious students.

It’s an administrator’s nightmare – students hacking school databases to change grades, stealing computer passwords, infecting computers with key-stroke logging malware, accessing secure sections of school sites, posting pornography or hate content on school sites, or hijacking a school’s website.

And it is a reality schools across the country struggle with.

“Students are very, very tech-savvy. Far more savvy than the majority of adults at our school,” says Michael Wilson, the principal of the 775-student Haddonfield Memorial High where keystroke logging malware was used to discover passwords and gain access to protected areas on the school’s computer network.

School systems are uniquely vulnerable to hacking, says James E. Culbert, an information-security analyst for the 135,000-student Duval County schools in Jacksonville, Fla. “In the case of our school system, we’ve got 135,000 [potential] hackers within our district, inside of our same network that houses our student-information systems and HR systems.”

Staying ahead of would-be hackers is not a one-fix solution; it’s an ongoing process that periodically assesses new and existing threats and updates security practices.

If you’re school is struggling with hacking, or you are unsure of the steps your school is taking, review the 8 Tips to preventing student hackers from accessing school computers:

  1. Ensure school computers have up-to-date security software installed, and that it automatically updates. Be sure firewalls are set, and enforce the use of  strong passwords.
  2. Set the ground rules that outline what is (and isn’t) acceptable use of school computers, and make sure students and their parents are aware of both the rules and the consequences for hacking, harassment security breaches, or failing to adhere to the schools acceptable use policy. Talk about these standards periodically, not just during the first week of school.
  3. Leverage content filtering technologies that help prevent students from seeking out inappropriate online content.
  4. Swiftly and consistently, address any misuse of the schools computer system.
  5. Require each user – teacher or student – to use a unique login. Some schools have strengthened their networks by clearly identifying if it is a teacher or a student who is logging in. Some also time-stamp when the account was last accessed allowing teachers to quickly see if their account has been compromised.
  6. Use two networks – one for students, another for teachers and staff. This makes it harder for students to hack into sensitive information.
  7. Educate teachers, staff and parent volunteers about the school’s internet access policies so they can stay vigilant in monitoring students online use and actions.
  8. Teach internet safety and digital responsibility to help students develop a strong online ethic.

Its the start of a new school year, let’s get it started securely.