Whether surfing the internet from a home computer, school computer, or even these days on a mobile device, it is very likely that most high school and college students do not feel any sense of danger or risk. Considering a majority of these students have grown up using the internet for a significant portion of their lives without any experiencing any harm or foul their sense of invulnerability is not surprising. The reality is that there are dangers and risks associated with internet use all around us, and our students vulnerability to them is only increasing as they continue to spend more time online both in and out of school. The following are some of the major internet safety concerns for students and some guidelines to help avoid them.
1. Online Predators
Traditionally this online threat largely came via chat rooms. Now however, thanks to popular social networking sites such Facebook and MySpace this threat has spread through new avenues. Students tend to post personal information about themselves freely on these sites such as their full name, hometown, sex, and so forth. As a result students can unknowingly post enough information about themselves to become vulnerable to stalkers and even abduction or sex crimes. Unless students have met someone they choose to network themselves with online in real life, there is no way of knowing who that person on the other computer truly is. The following links offers insight into some of the ploys used by internet predators and tips for students to protect themselves. http://www.internetsafety101.org/predators101.htm http://suite101.com/article/keep-teens-safe-online-a58538
2. Identity Theft
The internet has created new ways for students to become victims of identity theft. The risk comes not only from social networking sites where students list personal information freely and openly, but has also increased due to the prevalence of online shopping and online forms or accounts. Since many online businesses or other websites store personal information for their shoppers and users, it means another avenue for identity thieves to access your information. The following link offers tips for student in preventing identity theft online.
With the internet being such a great way to reach people, which means it is also a way for criminals to use it to try and rob them. These scams often come via email offering claims of free money or prizes. With many college students scraping by on savings, part time jobs, money from parents, or financial aid the prospect of free or easy money may seem quite alluring. The risk posed by internet scams is that students may find themselves taken for real money or perhaps have personal information taken in their pursuit to cash in on a prize that doesn’t really exist. The following links offer tips for avoiding internet scams. http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/avoid-scams http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/scamsandidentitytheft/ss/top10inetscams.htm
4. Viruses & Malware
One of the biggest risks comes from viruses and malware. These are malicious computer programs that can wreak havoc on a personal or school computer system and network. They can result in everything from computer crashes, stolen passwords, erased hard drives, to key logging, tracking internet use, or even taking over a computer entirely. This threat often stems from the propensity of students to download pictures, music, software, and other documents off of the internet. Every download from an unknown internet source can mean students potentially infecting their personal computer or even a school computer with a virus or malware. The following links offer tips on avoiding viruses and malware. http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/information-services/services/help-consultancy/help-services/online-help-guidance/staff/it-help/user-guides/viruses-malware http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/335/tips-for-protecting-your-computer-from-viruses/
The following links offer additional resources for teachers and students to teach or learn about internet safety. http://www.pamf.org/teen/life/risktaking/internet.html https://www.ncjrs.gov/internetsafety/ http://ciese.org/internetsafety.html http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2011/01/11-resources-for-teaching-learning-web.html
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Spreadsheet software like the widely used Microsoft Excel is something the general public normally associate with the business world. These days however, the reality is that spreadsheets are not just for accountants and bookkeepers but are actually serving an even greater good. Educators are now utilizing spreadsheets to help educate students in all types of subjects, as well as support many of the functional needs in their classroom. According to Baker and Sugden (2003), “there is no longer a need to question the potential for spreadsheets to enhance the quality and experience of learning that is offered to students.” The relative advantage of spreadsheet software is that it allows students to more easily work with large sets of numbers. For me personally I struggle working with numbers on paper. In a software spreadsheet however, I am better able to perform calculations and manipulate numbers the way I need or want to. Another benefit of something like Excel is that it can incorporate multiple types of data with numbers including text, dates, currency. Students can also represent the data in a spreadsheet visually using the graph and chart functions of the software programs. Using spreadsheets to help visualize complex data is believed to help students more than other static numerical tools (Roblyer and Doering, 2012).
While most people have experience with Excel, or have had exposure to some sort of spreadsheet software, database software is probably more alien to most and not as generally utilized. Working with database software is in my opinion more difficult and time consuming than using spreadsheets, but I ultimately attribute that feeling to my inexperience with the software. Through my entire educational experience, from elementary school through college, I never once had a learning experience that involved database software. However, that doesn’t mean that database software doesn’t bring its own relative advantages to the table in terms of teaching students or helping educators get their job done. Roblyer and Doering (2012), state that databases help students understand how organizations store data, teach them how to mine data for patterns, and facilitate the practice of problems solving. I have not been exposed to using databases for those purposes but I see the potential is there. My personal experience with databases has been accessing information shared by multiple people. I think more educators should consider setting up a class database where students can share their knowledge. Students could collaborate on building a virtual knowledge bank to use for assignments and studying.
Baker, John and Sugden, Stephen J. (2003) "Spreadsheets in education –The first 25 years," Spreadsheets in Education (eJSiE): Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 2
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (6th ed.). Pearson Education Inc.