Trend Watch(8)

Blogging, Not So Safe

Wildly popular with teens, Web logs and social networking sites can be valuable tools to help users develop a sense of personal identity. But, as BBC product developer Fiona Romeo pointed out in her presentation at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference last winter, many popular blogging sites (such as LiveJournal and Xanga) undermine messages from parents and educators about online safety. Though the services make some privacy measures available, they do little to encourage safe practices, often publishing personal data-including a user's photo, name, age, and location-by default. Since research shows kids still tend to be remarkably casual about their private information while online, educators can help by addressing such privacy issues within lessons. Meanwhile, Romeo points to Toontown, LEGO, and Neopets as best-practice examples for safe online identity management.

Space Out in May

Top 10 items to take to Mars? Which space foods tickle your taste buds? Why all the fuss over Orson Wells' War of the Worlds radio broadcast? These are a few of the topics covered in "101 Ways to Celebrate Space Day," a free download bank of lessons for K-8 educators who want to share the excitement and wonder of space with their students. Courtesy of founding sponsor Lockheed Martin, Space Day arrives Thursday, May 6th, and is themed "Blazing Galactic Trails," in honor of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. http://www.spaceday.org

Cyber ID on the Way

A new initiative seeks to protect kids online by providing them with digital credentials. Announced by youth Net safety nonprofit i-SAFE America and digital security firm VeriSign, the i-SAFE Passport/ID Program-due to be piloted this summer-would supply students with a piece of encoded hardware they'd insert into computers' USB ports while they're logged on. The technology will "allow children to encrypt e-mail, to access kid-safe sites, and to purchase items that require a digital signature," according to CNET, who first broke the story. While the goal of making cyberspace safer for kids is admirable, we predict skepticism from some quarters around the idea of a captive audience for the youth marketing industry. www.i-safe.org; http://www.verisign.com

Quotation of the Month

What's Your Opinion?

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"No Child Left Behind is an unfunded mandate, surely. But Brown vs. the Board of Education, the decision that prompted desegregation of schools, was an unfunded mandate and we did it anyway. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was underfunded and we did it anyway. Now we are required to educate all kids to the highest level, and we must do it anyway."

-Russlynn Ali, director of Education Trust West, at a United Way roundtable on standardized testing last February

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