Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Avoiding Scareware.

You have probably seen it on your computer at one time or another. You are surfing the internet and then a window pops up and says something to the effect that your computer has been infected with a virus and to click here for a free scan. The windows look legitimate, and it looks like you are using a real antivirus program to scan your system, but it is not. It is a piece of software called "scareware". Scareware is defined as a type of malware designed to trick victims into purchasing and downloading useless and potentially dangerous software. Usually, when a person's computer is infected with this type of program, pop-ups will plague the screen until you download their supposed anti-virus software. This type of malicious program is also called "ransomware" because it will slow down your computer and cause all kinds of problems until you pay the money for the download. Some of these fake anti-virus programs look very legitimate and professional. They have names and graphics that look just like authentic anti-virus programs. The best way to protect yourself from this situation is to not click anywhere on the pop up window. Close the entire browser instead of clicking the "x" in the pop up. Even clicking that "x" can cause an infection in some cases. If you can't close the entire browser, use "ctrl-alt-delete" to quit out of the browser. Make sure your computer has legitimate anti-virus software installed, know the name of the software and know how it is updated. For example, the BPS uses Symantec AntiVirus for all of the computers. The updates are automatically pushed through the network. If you get a pop up for any other anti-virus software, it is probably going to be a scam.

Friday, September 25, 2009

NCMEC Policy Statement on Sexting

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recently released a policy statement about sexting. The consequences of sexting is dependent on what state you live in as well as the circumstances surrounding the case. This policy statement does a nice job of providing information regarding sexting, including examples, resources, and factors that should be considered in each sexting situation. It is a good resource if you are trying to educate parents and students not only about what sexting is, but also what sexting is not.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Teaching About Copyright

Understanding copyright law and how it applies in the digital age can be very confusing for both teachers and students. Teaching students to correctly cite their sources, avoid plagiarism along with distinguishing between valid and invalid information online is difficult. Northern Kentucky University recently launched a website called Creative Thinking which includes lessons, videos and student activities about copyright. According to the site, the lessons can be used with middle school through high school students. The site has some copyright basics for educators and a soon to be released teachers' guide.

Wesley Fryer
, who has a great educational technology blog, posted his presentation for educators about copyright. The presentation has audio and visual slides that cover copyright, Creative Commons and resources teachers can use for the classroom. Within this presentation, he talks about a copyright and media literacy resource from Temple University called the Media Education Lab. This site also contains videos, lessons and resources that educators can use with their students.

Friday, September 11, 2009

5000 Kids Get Smart About Cyber Safety This Summer

The Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) Cyber Safety Campaign is a unique program aimed at educating young people in Boston communities about safe Internet behaviors. Designed by BPS kids for kids, the Cyber Safety Campaign materials and activities were created to educate youth and their families everywhere about how to best protect their online activities and experiences.

Launched four years ago by the BPS Office of Instructional and Information Technology (OIIT), the program has continued to grow with new Cyber Safety Campaign materials and activities being developed every year. The graphic design concept, created by BPS students, features the BPS Cyber Safety Heroes – Amika, Shield, Copyright and Firewall. These super heroes help deliver the message to kids about the best ways to be safe on-line. The educational materials are being used in several elementary and middle schools in the City of Boston. Felicia Vargas, the BPS administrator who oversees the program, has set a goal of having the materials distributed to all kindergarten though eighth-grade BPS classrooms during the 2009 – 2010 school year.

This summer, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Microsoft and the Boston Society of Information Management, the BPS was able to continue the successful Cyber Mentor program. This program, overseen by the BPS TechBoston department (a division of OIIT), hires and trains high school students to serve as Cyber Safety Mentors. Once trained, the Cyber Safety mentors are deployed to community-based organizations and summer camp programs to conduct cyber safety educational presentations. During the summer months, nine Cyber Mentors fanned out in teams across the city and succeeded in giving 90 presentations and reaching over 5,000 people! Dressed in their blue T-shirts with the turquoise blue BPS Cyber Safety Campaign logo, the Cyber Mentors used the BPS cyber safety materials, including a movie, comic book, trading cards, key chains and buttons to spread the safety message to kids attending summer programs at churches, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, YMCAs and even Fenway Park! The Cyber Mentors were also co-presented at two Internet safety presentations in August conducted for the BPS School Police with Eric Esteves and Joe Kidd from the BPS technology department.

The Summer 2009 Cyber Mentor team included Darnell Coleman and Antoinette Jean from the John D. O'Bryant School of Math & Science, Idris Ali from East Boston High School, Hansey Blanfort from Madison Park HS, Cassandra Clark, Chloe Lynn and Aaron Sheffield from TechBoston Academy, Shaquille White from Brighton High School and Chavella Lee who attends Boston Latin Academy.
 Two BPS graduates, Vasantee Reddicks and Rachel Gaffney, were tapped by TechBoston to oversee the summer project.

For more information about the BPS Cyber Safety Campaign, visit www.bpscybersafety.org