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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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Policy archive

February142009

Education Reform and the Freedom to Mod

Last month, I asked readers to give me their thoughts on what school reform truly looks like, so I could begin a conversation on the topic that was to take place at the Educon 2.1 conference in Philadelphia. Both online...

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January232009

What Does School Reform Look Like?

This weekend, I’ll be moderating a discussion at the second annual EduCon conference in which we tackle the question, “What does school reform look like?” It’s such a big topic that no discussion panel could ever capture the full scope...

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December192008

Boosting Public Broadband, One Library At A Time

This week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $7 million grant to invest in the expansion in broadband access in libraries across seven states. While $7 million may sound like chump change from a foundation that routinely spends...

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December052008

Lori Drew Convicted in Megan Meier Case

Last week, a jury in California convicted Lori Drew on misdemeanor charges related to the Megan Meier suicide case. Though public sentiment wanted to see her convicted specifically on Drew cyberbullying Meier into committing suicide, in the end she was...

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November242008

Case Closed for Julie Amero

Julie Amero, the substitute teacher subjected to a judicial roller coaster ride over whether she intentionally exposed a group of students to inappropriate computer images, ended her legal limbo by agreeing to a plea deal this Friday. It’s the end...

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November072008

What’s Your Memo to President-Elect Obama?

The longest presidential campaign in history is over. We now know Barack Obama will become president, but what will he accomplish in the realm of education technology policy? What do you want him to accomplish?...

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October102008

Congress Passes Bill Mandating Online Safety Education

Education technology organizations are hailing the passage of legislation in the House and Senate addressing online safety education in schools. The legislation will require schools receiving federal Internet subsidies to educate their students about appropriate online behavior and cyberbullying....

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October032008

Judge: School was Right to Suspend Student over Fake MySpace Profile

A court has ruled that a school was within its rights for suspending a student who created an offensive fake MySpace page for the school principal. The ruling brings together a number of legal precedents regarding the difficult question of...

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August292008

CA Legislation Criminalizes Campus Cyberbullying

The California state legislature has just passed one of the first laws in the country to deal directly with cyberbullying. It gives school administrators the authority to discipline studies for bullying others offline or online. But will legislation translate into...

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August222008

Coming Soon: A National Center for Edtech Research

This past week, President Bush signed into law a bill that will establish a new national research center for studying digital technology and learning. The center aspires be to edtech what the National Institutes of Health have been for medical...

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August082008

Internet Orgs Weigh in on Lori Drew Prosecution

In an interesting legal twist to the Megan Meier saga, a group of high-powered Internet law advocates have published a brief in relation to the case against Lori Drew, the woman being prosecuted in the wake of Meier’s suicide. In...

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August012008

On Order: Half a Million Classmate PCs to Portugal

This week, Intel announced a major partnership with the government of Portugual to supply half a million low-cost Classmate PCs to Portuguese primary school students. One can only imagine the disappointment of MIT’s One Laptop Per Child initiative, but that...

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July282008

Appeals Court Smacks Down COPA

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled against the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, a law passed in 1998 to prevent minors from accessing harmful Internet content. It’s a major victory for free speech advocates who...

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June252008

Random Acts of Journalism

At the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City this week, participants discussed and debated the impact of Web 2.0 on journalism, politics and governance. For two days, I couldn’t stop asking myself: what skills should we be teaching students...

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May062008

Judge Upholds NYC School Ban on Mobile Phones

In a blow to parents and school groups fighting the New York City Department of Education’s prohibition against mobile phones on campus, a judge has ruled that the board was within its rights to institute the ban....

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April212008

Publishers Sue University over the Distribution of Digital Course Packs

Like many universities, Georgia State University distributes electronic reading materials to students, often copying sections of copyrighted materials. But a group of academic publishers have concluded that GSU’s actions go beyond the notion of fair use and they’re suing the...

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April022008

Strengthening Student Resilience to Online Risks

A new report commissioned by the British prime minister tackles the thorny challenge of addressing online safety for young people. The report urges people to put the relative threat of online predators in perspective, while at the same time noting...

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March272008
March212008

Online Safety Bill Snags in Senate

A Senate bill that would appropriate $50 million for a competitive grant program funding educational online safety initiatives has now hit a parliamentary snag. Online safety organizations are now pushing to get things moving again....

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March192008

Student Dodges Expulsion Over Facebook Study Group

A Canadian student learned yesterday that he won’t be expelled after all. What egregious crime did he commit on campus? He coordinated an online study group using Facebook....

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March142008

School Authorities Stifle Student Blogging Project

An Australian teacher renowned among educators for his use of blogging in the classroom has just had his latest blogging project shuttered by state authorities. Are other edubloggers next?...

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February152008

Students and Copyright: Discipline and Punish?

Microsoft has just come out with a new survey on student’s attitudes towards online copyright. The research suggests that very few students have a strong understanding of the issue, but it also makes me wonder just how they’re defining the...

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February132008

Harvard Faculty Revolt Against Publishing 1.0

In a vote that could potentially rock the publishing world, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) have unanimously adopted a new policy that would allow them to retain the copyright of scholarly research. As a result, students and the...

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February082008

Utah Bill Would Block Wi-Fi Access to Minors

There’s a new twist on policymaking efforts to make the Internet safe for young people: denying them access to it altogether. A bill in the Utah state legislature would require public wifi providers to ensure that minors can’t access the...

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February052008

Going On Your Permanent Record: Just About Everything

A New Jersey lawsuit between an HMO and a family whose daughter was denied insurance coverage for her anorexia may not sound like the kind of thing you’d read about on this here blog. But the legal tactics being used...

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January302008

Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton on Education and Technology Policy

As part of my ongoing series covering the positions of the presidential candidates regarding education and technology, I wanted to share some of my latest policy discoveries, this time coming from Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)....

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December072007

Debating Federal Funding for Online Safety Curricula

A coalition of online safety organizations and activists has come out in support of federal legislation that would create a $50 million grant program supporting online safety education initiatives. They’re also criticizing a competing measure on Capitol Hill that would...

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November272007

Discussing Edtech and the Digital Divide with Barack Obama and John Edwards - Sort Of

I’ve been hoping to ask the U.S. presidential candidates some questions about education technology and the digital divide, but my access to them is, shall we say, limited. So I suggested some of my more pressing questions to tech blogger...

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October262007

Overcoming Media Illiteracy among Media Literacy Educators

Now I know I have a habit of examining a lot of research reports in this blog. Yeah, I realize I overdo it sometimes. Today, though, please bear with me, as there’s a new report that examines what I believe...

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October182007

Ten Questions for Presidential Candidates, Including One of Yours?

Move over YouTube debates, now for something meatier! A coalition of blogs and news organizations is using Web 2.0 tools to create another exciting experiment in interactive presidential debates. It might even be a chance for your students to pose...

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October122007

Education Technology: A Matter of Debate

Next week, The Economist will hold an online version of a debate series they’ve been conducting for more than 160 years, and they’re kicking it off by focusing on the educational value of technology in the classroom. I’m hoping it’ll...

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October082007

Indecent Exposure?

An Ohio state legislator found himself in hot water last week when a nude photo stored on his flash drive popped up on screen while giving a talk to a group of students. It didn’t take long for people to...

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August282007

Back to School - Don’t Forget Your Cell Phone!

As middle school students go back to school this week in Montgomery County, MD, many of them will probably have cell phones in their backpacks. But this school year, they won’t be penalized for doing so, as the local school...

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August142007

New NSBA Report on Social Networking

The National School Boards Association has released a new report on student use of social media tools. The report contains a multitude of findings that have already started an online debate about the role of social networking in the classroom....

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July302007

Senate Hearing on Online Safety: More Emphasis on Educating Kids

Last week, the U.S. Senate held a committee hearing regarding children’s online safety and what steps need to be taken to prevent predatory behavior. Interestingly, much of the testimony emphasized the importance of online safety education over the use of...

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July252007

The YouTube Debate: Shining More Light on Schools, Filters and the Digital Divide

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been harping lately on the relationship between the digital divide, civic participation and Internet filters. Thanks to this week’s YouTube presidential debate, others have been talking about the issue as well....

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July202007

Do Internet Filters Undermine the Teaching of 21st Century Citizenship?

We all know that Internet filtering policies have the best interest of students in mind. But what are we sacrificing when we don’t allow educators to override filters at their own professional discretion? It’s something I’ve asked myself over the...

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July172007

Intel and the $100 Laptop: What Does it Mean for U.S. Schools?

Last Friday, I nearly did a spit-take when I saw the headline: after years of acrimony, computer chip manufacturer Intel is forming a partnership with MIT’s so-called $100 laptop program. It’s big news, no doubt, but how will the move...

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July102007

Court Rules Against Student Suspended Over Threatening Instant Messaging Avatar

In the wake of the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court late last month, it was probably just a matter of time before we’d see another student free space case using it as precedent. I might...

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July062007

Got Broadband?

After posting my interviews with several of the Democratic presidential candidates last week regarding the digital divide, some of you emailed me and asked about the actual status of the divide here in the U.S. As it turns out, there’s...

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July022007

Video: Democratic Presidential Candidates Discuss the Digital Divide

Over the weekend I edited together some video I shot at the PBS Democratic candidate presidential debate on June 28, 2007. The video features candidates Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel offering some thoughts on how they...

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June292007

Ask a Presidential Candidate

Last night, PBS hosted a debate among the Democratic candidates running for president. After the event, I had a chance to speak with four of the candidates about their perceptions about the digital divide and the role schools might play...

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June252007

Supreme Court Rules Against Student in “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” Case

In the first major Supreme Court decision on student free speech in almost a generation, the Court ruled against a student who was suspended for displaying a banner with drug-related messaging just off the school campus. What does the ruling...

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June122007

How Not to Use MySpace in the Classroom

Just when you thought you could avoid yet another educational controversy breaking out on MySpace, a teacher in suburban Washington DC is finding herself in hot water for comments she wrote on her MySpace blog, and the online discussion with...

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May292007

When Students Become Accidental Celebrities, What Next?

Every teacher and parent should read the article in today’s Washington Post about the California high school student who’s become an online celebrity, from MySpace to YouTube. Who she is and how she got in this predicament, however, probably isn’t...

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May232007

D-Day for Julie Amero

Last week, the Connecticut substitute teacher convicted of exposing students to porn was supposed to find out her sentence. Yet once again, her sentencing has been delayed - until D-Day, of all days - and even the press is beginning...

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May162007

Could Wikis Help Achieve Consensus on Edtech Policy?

If you had the opportunity to help craft federal education technology legislation, would you participate? The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, as politicians are beginning to explore wikis as a tool for collaborative policymaking. And educators could become...

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May112007

Open Letters on the Role of Education Technology

The U.S. Secretary of Education is asking for your input on the role of technology in the classroom. I hope you’ll respond to her - and tell the rest of us what you think as well....

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May092007

Avast Ye Knee-Jerk Reactions, Matey!

A pre-service teacher has been denied obtaining her teaching degree because her MySpace profile featured a photo of her with an alcoholic beverage in hand, including the caption “Drunken Pirate.” Pirate or not, she’s suing the university, and generating a...

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May042007

Schools drop laptop programs - but are they dropping the ball as well?

The New York Times is reporting today that some schools have been dropping their student laptop programs, labeling them a failure. But what’s the actual failure taking place here? I fear it’s a failure of expectations and imagination....

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May012007

The iPod of the Beholder: Can MP3 Players Enhance Learning?

First it was cell phones, and now it’s iPods. K-12 schools around the country are beginning to ban students from carrying MP3 players, fearing they may use them for cheating. Yet at least one university is embracing the exact opposite...

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April272007

DOPA Jr. Gets a Rewrite - and a Little Sibling

There haven’t been too many headlines as of late regarding the latest incarnation of the Deleting Online Predators Act, which rose from the ashes in January. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t news to report....

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April252007

Does Sentencing Delay Mean a Possible Reprieve for Julie Amero?

Julie Amero, the Connecticut substitute teacher facing a controversial 40-year prison sentence for exposing her students to online pornography, has once again had her sentencing delayed. Might the delay be a sign that prosecutors are reconsidering the evidence that led...

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April182007

Virginia Tech: Yet Another Wake-Up Call for Better Emergency Preparedness

Eleven years ago, Readers Digest proclaimed Blacksburg, Virginia as “The Most Wired Town in America.” So why couldn’t this wealth of technology be used to save lives during the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech? Perhaps the wrong tools were in...

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April132007

What Goes Up Must Come Down?

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen the release of a pair of research reports that on the surface have nothing to do with each other. But as one report details how the U.S. is struggling to figure out...

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March232007

Cardboard Camcorders Take Playground by Storm!

There’s a short video floating around the Net right now telling the story about a school where all the students started to make toy cameras out of cardboard and pretended to film each other, YouTube-style. It paints a fascinating, and...

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March192007

Supreme Court Case Could Realign the Limits of Student Free Speech

Attention First Amendment geeks: there’s an important case being heard this week at the US Supreme Court about student free speech rights. And even though the case has nothing to do with the Internet, it’s quite likely that the resulting...

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February212007

The Julie Amero in All of Us

Mainstream media has finally started covering the case of Julie Amero, the substitute teacher who was found guilty of child endangerment because some of her students saw adult-oriented popup ads on her computer screen. And the news coverage is causing...

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February142007

Wikipedia Receives a Citation

Middlebury College is now informing students that Wikipedia is not appropriate for research, and that they use it at their own academic peril. Somewhat surprisingly, Wikipedia doesn’t necessarily disagree with them....

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February052007

More Details Emerge in the Julie Amero Case

Ever since substitute teacher Julie Amero was convicted last month of exposing her students to pornography on her classroom computer, bloggers have been debating who’s to blame, with most siding with her. Now, a published interview with a tech consultant...

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February022007

Caught on Tape - For Better or Worse

A student records a teacher violating school policies, leading to a ban on students taping teachers. What’s the story here, and who do you think is right?...

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January302007

The Mobile Phone Debate’s Latest Twist

As yet another school district bans students from carrying cell phones, a mobile phone carrier heads in the other direction, creating school-based contests to encourage students and their parents to interact via text messaging. The timing couldn’t be worse....

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January262007

Lifting the Hood on DOPA Jr.

The official text of the bill to replace the Deleting Online Predators Act has been published, and it goes beyond the scope of the original legislation, addressing child pornography, cyberbullying and children’s privacy. Let’s take a look under the hood...

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January232007

The Birth of DOPA Jr.

It didn’t take long for the latest generation of the DOPA legislation to rear its head on Capitol Hill. But will the bill go anywhere this time around?...

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January192007

Bloggers Back Teacher Convicted on Questionable Porn Charges

The blogosphere is rallying in support of a substitute teacher who was convicted on porn charges despite evidence suggesting she was a victim of malicious computer software and a lack of technical safeguards on the part of the school....

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January162007

Teacher Faces 40-Year Prison Sentence Because of Filtering Folly?

In a case that’s receiving scant national attention, a substitute teacher has been convicted of exposing students to online pornography, which she claims appeared on the screen due to spyware. Is this merely the case of a rogue educator, or...

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January122007

UK Proposal to Tackle Home-School Digital Divide

At a major edtech conference in London this week, a British government announced a new proposal to address the home-school digital divide....

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January052007

New York’s Cell Phone Proposal: Lock ‘Em Up

In the latest twist over the battle over student cell phone use in New York City, school officials are proposing a compromise. And so far, it seems that many students and parents aren’t buying it....

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December292006

DOPA Dies on the Vine

The end of 2006 also marks the end of the current congressional session in the House and Senate, closing the door on the Deleting Online Predators Act. Let’s take a look at why this legislation, which passed overwhelmingly in the...

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December112006

Should Schools Teach Responsible Gaming?

A national watchdog group has just published a report card on efforts to protect kids from the effects of violent video games. While progress is being made, there are still serious shortfalls - which raises the question of what role...

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December052006

The Student Becomes the Spy Master

A video of a recent tasering incident by a police officer against a college student gets posted on YouTube and creates a public outcry. With more and more students having access to camera phones, how do you balance maintaining discipline...

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December012006

Understanding the Impact of Online Communities on Civic Engagement

This week, the USC Annenberg School published a major study on the impact of the Internet on American society. Their research suggests that the online world is becoming equally important to people as the offline world - and it’s affecting...

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November272006

Mobile Devices in School: What Policy Would You Create?

In the latest twist in the debate over the role of cell phones in schools, the parents of an Oklahoma high school student have filed larceny charges against two local school officials for refusing to return a confiscated cell phone...

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November222006

Course Forge: Posting Your Entire Curriculum Online

Last week a Washington state school district announced an ambitious plan to put its entire curriculum online for public access. They’re one of the first K-12 districts to follow the lead of higher education’s open courseware movement, which is changing...

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October302006

Through the Looking Glass: Coping with COPA

Last week, a federal court in Philadelphia began hearing arguments on the legislation known as COPA. No, I’m not talking about DOPA, the Deleting Online Predators Act, or COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. I’m talking about yet another...

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October102006

Is MySpace Your Space As Well?

Even though MySpace seems to be on every politician and parent’s hit-list, a growing number of educators are staking their own claim on the online social network. We already know how those politicians and parents would react, but what about...

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September262006

Fair Use Has a Posse

Yesterday, the British Library jumped head-first into the digital copyright wars by issuing a manifesto demanding greater protection of Britain’s “digital heritage.” What’s going on exactly, and what does this have to do with American education?...

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September222006

The Politics of Plagiarism Detection Services

Today’s Washington Post includes a fascinating story about a group of students rebelling against their school’s use of plagiarism detection services (PDSes) to catch students taking shortcuts in their work. It may seem like sour grapes at first, but these...

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August302006

Blackboard, Lawsuits & Wikis, Oh My!

In case you’ve spent most of August relaxing on a beach somewhere, you might have missed the lawsuit that causing a firestorm in the edtech world and beyond. Let’s take a quick look at Blackboard vs. Desire2Learn, and see what...

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August142006

Back to School: Five Predictions and a Waffle

It’s that time of year, kids - we’re going back to school. (Okay, I’m not going back to school, but millions of educators and students are, so there’s a good chance this applies to you.) In honor of the start...

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July272006

Panic! at the Capitol: The House Passes DOPA

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives unexpectedly moved forward in voting on the Deleting Online Predators Act, or DOPA. This legislation, proposed on May 9 of this year, would require all schools and libraries receiving federal Internet subsidies known as...

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July072006

Should Principals Be Allowed to Review Students’ Cell Phone Records?

A Boston-area school district is asserting the right to search students’ cell phones for inappopriate information. Does this policy, one of the first of its kind in the US, cross the line?...

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June232006

A Man, A Plan, A Lot of Laptops

I’ve just spent the last two days hanging out at the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation conference here in Boston, an intimate gathering of educators discussing the role of ubiquitous Internet access and portable computing devices in education. The personal highlight...

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June052006

Fatherhood and the Future of Online Learning

On Friday night, I became a dad. I know you didn’t come to this blog to see baby pictures - not that I could resist - but I don’t think I could write my next post without thinking of little...

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May302006

Punishing Students for Extracurricular Online Activities: Crossing the Line?

Last week, an Illinois school district adopted a new policy towards student online activities that’s already stirring up a lot of controversy. All students in the Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 participating in extracurricular activities will now have...

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May262006

The Rant that Rocked the Edtech World

For more than a decade now, I’ve been the moderator of WWWEDU, an online community of technology-using educators discussing the role of the Web in education. We’ve had many intense debates over the years, but this week, emotions rushed to...

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May242006

Students Outsmarting Filters for Sport

BoingBoing, arguably the most popular blog in the United States, just posted a link to an April news story from C|NET News on how kids are engaging in a cat-and-mouse game with schools to successfully get around Internet filters. If...

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May172006

Technology Counts 2006: Did Your State Make the Grade?

In case you haven’t seen the last issue of Education Week, they’ve released their latest Technology Counts report. Each year, Ed Week takes an in-depth look at education technology in all 50 US states. They assign the states edtech report...

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May152006

Online Social Networks Join the Fray Over Online Social Networks

It’s been just four days since word got out about the Digital Online Predators Act of 2006 (DOPA), the legislation that would require all schools and libraries receiving federal Internet subsidies to filter online social networks and other interactive websites....

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May112006

New Federal Legislation Would Ban Online Social Networks in Schools & Libraries

Just when you thought the media circus around MySpace had peaked comes this whopper of a story: members of Congress have proposed new legislation that would require schools and libraries to block access to online social networks. As reported by...

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May082006

Should Students be Allowed to Carry Cell Phones?

Wired News reports on current attempts by parents groups and policymakers to force New York City schools to allow students to carry cell phones. The schools have long banned mobile devices as a public nuisance, but critics argue that cellphones...

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