Librarians and teachers in grades K– 12 as well as district- and state-level administrators and policymakers all agree that today’s students need access to the online interactive and collaborative learning environments that are the new infrastructure of our learning and working lives. But those same educators have concerns about both real and perceived dangers to students that may arise in such environments. What they require, of course, is solid information on safety, security, and access to help them make the educational decisions they need to make. That’s our theme this month, and it’s the focus of two main features in this issue of Multimedia & Internet@Schools.
In our cover story, Security in a Web 2.0-Based Educational Environment: Issues and Answers (p. 8), Nancy Willard, who is an ardent activist for an intelligent approach to such issues, tips her hand and her philosophy with this opening shot: “Trying to prepare students for their future and teach them about internet safety without Web 2.0 in schools is like trying to teach a child to swim without a swimming pool.” She then enunciates a vision of what a true 21st-century learning environment will look like. This is actually the first of a two-part series. In Part 1, Nancy advises us on how to work toward this vision in our schools by moving past “techno-panic” and fear of the internet, considering alternate approaches to filtering.
Also on this theme is Victor Rivero’s second roundup piece, Tools for Learning: Safety, Security, and Access (p. 24), in which he covers information, approaches, products, and services to help you ensure your students are safely learning in a 21st-century environment with 21st-century tools. Among his subjects are Lightspeed Systems (“Sometimes the best security is a strong fortress.”), ePals LearningSpace (“a controlled, flexible online workspace”), a whole section on internet safety resources (NetSmartzKids, SafeKids.com, and more), and Atomic Learning’s Internet Safety and Social Networking Classroom Project.
Also this month, and beyond the scope of the issue’s theme, columnist Stephen Abram offers insights into the nature and value of the ebook for libraries and for education in general. Check out his Pipeline column, Thinking About Ebooks (p. 18). Charlie Doe’s feature is self-explanatory: A Look At … Subscription Websites (p. 12). And in her Tech Effect column, Johanna Riddle looks at a very “21st-century learning environment” sort of program called Book of the Month at an America’s Choice model school site. See A New Kind of Book Club (p. 20) for details.
David Hoffman , editor