My school's gone to HECC...
The Hoosier Educational Computer Coordinators' Conference, that is.
Day Two, Friday, lots of fun!
The second session I went to was a talk about the i-SAFE Internet safety program. Pretty cool program, it's free (gratis, that is, by way of government funding), and aimed at various sectors of the populations though mostly geared towards schools. They provide curriculums, handouts, videos, presentations, and stuff to educate people about how to be safe on the internet. They have a program through which they encourage high school students to become i-SAFE Mentors to elementary school kids, which I think is great: involving the kids rather than talking at them.
Besides the school-oriented stuff, they have an i-PARENT program for parents, an i-SHIELD program for law enforcement officers, and even an i-FIFTY+ program for older people who are just now getting their first experience of the 'net.
It's reassuring to see someone see the dangerous side of the Internet and not just say "It's evil! Keeps kids away from it!" as that's about as effective as promoting abstinence as the only way of fighting HIV-AIDS. Honest and open education is the only effective way to empower people to make informed decisions and be safe in a frankly unsafe world.
Some interesting statistics: According to the i-SAFE guy 90% of parents think they have a pretty good idea of what their kids are doing online, while 60% of kids think their parents have NO IDEA what they do online. Think about that. Don't quote me on this, though, as I'm not notorious for my photographic memory.
While waiting for the session to start, I was approached by the Technology Director and Assistant of Canterbury School who are joining me in using Ubuntu in their 1:1 computing classrooms. Welcome to the community, Vern! I told him they absolutely HAD to join the Ubuntu and Education Community Mailing List, so I hope to see them both on there soon.
The third session I attended was a "Discussion of Web Filtering Practices" which, unfortunately, turned out to be a sales pitch even though it was not listed as a vendor session. The first ten or fifteen minutes were sort of unbiased, a discussion of why we might want to filter. Moot, though, since we would forfeit federal funding if we DIDN'T filter. The rest of the time was spent explaining why we should buy this particular vendor's filter.
Lunch followed, which was pretty good. Timothy Magner from the U.S. Department of Education talked about School 2.0, among a few other things. One thing that kind of bothered me--though it may just be that I misinterpreted him--was his repeated emphasis on the United States needing to be competitive against the rest of the world, especially India and China, whereas the way I see it we should be cooperative with the rest of the world.
We are one planet, stewards of the same Earth, aren't we?
The next talk I was at was on "Educational Blogging", Sandra Doran gave an introductory talk about blogging with her son John, who is a very animated and delightfully knowledgeable speaker. John even treated the audience to a demonstration on how to install Mozilla Firefox along with a couple of his favorite extensions. Way to fly the Free Software flag, John!
I was flattered and slightly flabbergasted to see my blog on Sandra's bloglines aggregator list screenshot. Noone ever comments on my blog, and Blogger doesn't keep track of how many hits I get, so I'm always a little surprised to learn I'm not just writing to myself.
Thanks for helping bring blogging to the education world, Sandra, I believe it's a very worthwhile tool (obviously).
The last presentation I saw was a run-through of some good Open Source Desktop Applications by Lance Woods, from the Southern Indiana Education Center, he went through several good applications and showed them off a little bit. I talked to him a little bit afterwards, and he's a very cool guy.
He was still running Breezy though, on his laptop; I suggested he update to Edgy. It was neat to see someone else running Ubuntu, though, so mad props for that!
And that's all I have to say about that.