Trend Watch(3)

Nature: The Anti-Internet

The German government has developed a new social service program for kids perpetually tethered to IM chats and multiplayer Web games: a summer camp for Internet addicts. The first program of its kind, reports German media company Deutsche Welle, it feeds youngsters with a steady stream of swimming, aerobics, and psychological counseling; and allows them only 30 minutes online per day. While the numbers are fuzzy, it's estimated that Internet Addiction Disorder affects one million Germans. University of Florida researchers have identified the symptoms of IAD using the acronym MOUSE:

  • More than intended time spent online
  • Other responsibilities neglected
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down
  • Significant relationship discord because of use
  • Excessive thoughts or anxiety when not online.

Philly Plans School of the Future

In early September, Philadelphia announced plans for a $46 million state-of-the-art high school in which ubiquitous wireless and mobile technologies would streamline both school operations and curriculum instruction. Scheduled to open for 700 students in 2006, the school will act as a prototype for other schools that want to infuse academic study with extensive technology resources, including 24-hour homework help, online library services, and interactive digital textbooks not to mention a computer for every student. Microsoft has grabbed headlines by providing the district with technology consulting and a full-time project manager for the venture, but the district, although plagued by budget woes as recently as 2001, will pay for, own, and manage the school independently.

What's Your Opinion?

Does RFID technology seem like a useful, practical solution for school security issues? Click here and let us know what you think. We'll report your responses on Back Page.

Boon or Big Brother?

At an editor's day at Sun Microsystems, T&L saw RFID in action. RFID means Radio Frequency Identification Devices, tiny wireless ID chips that can be embedded into everything from a bank note to a cereal box to allow the tracking of items via a scanner's radio beam. The chips, which can be as small as a pepper flake, respond to a scanning unit's signal by transmitting back a digital code with a serial number that uniquely identifies the tagged item. Businesses are understandably excited about the improved efficiency in shipping promised by this technology, and many libraries see it as a great solution for eliminating the risk of lost or stolen materials. But not so fast, say the technology's detractors. Protestors in both the UK and California see RFID as the incarnation of the proverbial "Big Brother." Their point is if these chips are placed in our clothing, household items, and other personal belongings, it's not just the items themselves that can be tracked. The publicly accessible scanners can be used to dog our own movements as well. We anticipate a healthy long-lived debate over this issue, and predict the argument will find its way into schools where books, child protection, and mobile technology security issues may become the talking points of proponents.

Quotation of the Month

"They say these things that have nothing to do with reality."
Ellen Foote, principal of Intermediate School 89 in New York City

Foote is responding to Mayor Bloomberg's statement that he wants middle school literacy classes limited to 28 students. At the time of her statement, I.S. 89 was dealing with an unanticipated onslaught of transfer students who had come from schools labeled "failing" under NCLB.

Read other articles from the October Issue