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Online Edge


After a demonstration of Furl at a professional conference, Jim Wenzloff was so taken with the powerful new online tool, he wrote a Guide to Furl for his district Web site. "Furl allows you to save anything you view on the Web and share it with teachers or students," said the interactive media consultant for Michigan's Macomb Intermediate School District. "And you can use it for so many educational purposes." Indeed, Furl is a hot topic on school-related blogs such as Wenzloff's Visit My Class, yet most educators are not familiar with the term.

When continuing assaults from viruses, spam, pop-up ads and adware made Internet use almost intolerable in my teacher-son Karl's K-12 school in Massachusetts, the staff changed Web browsers from Internet Explorer to Firefox and the problems decreased significantly. The changeover was quick and easy, thanks to a setup wizard that walked people through the process, and the new browser imported previous settings including passwords and favorite sites.

"We were able to start using Firefox immediately," he says, "and our annoying pop-up ads dropped to zero."

Last April, the FBI raided the administrative services center of Arizona's Deer Valley Unified School District, looking for music MP3s and DVD movies downloaded illegally over the Internet. Agents arrived at 6 a.m., blocked the offices from the public, and pored through online records and data for most of the day.

Last November, armed with only a computer, a microphone and free Audacity software, Will Richardson prepared his first online audio broadcast.

Tutoring used to be thought of as a private issue. While many parents nationwide choose to supply tutors for their children, the issue hasn't appeared on schools' radar screens. Until now.