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Online Edge


In August, students, teachers and administrators in Florida's Duval County Public Schools were told not to use their school computers because a devastating new Internet-borne worm called Blaster struck the network.

Imagine having a fast and inexpensive way to reach many people with a great advertisement of what your district has accomplished. Obviously, that's the case with your school district's Web site.

A teacher recently forwarded to me a disturbing series of images that supposedly documented the Feb. 1 explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The message stated the pictures were taken by an Israeli satellite, and released by the U.S. Department of Justice to "hopefully give NASA a better idea of what happened." The e-mail was sent to more than 70 colleagues, who in turn likely forwarded it to countless others.

When Roxie Shaw from MOREnet--the state network that services every school district in Missouri--first warned colleagues about "spyware" that gets installed on computers as users travel the Internet, she appended a list of confirmed sources including sites used commonly in schools. Countless privacy-invading programs are downloaded without user knowledge or approval, and most educators have no idea that their own computers are watching them.

When an administrator in New England sadly faced the imminent death of a faculty member, he sought help from colleagues by posting a message to the K12Admin online discussion group: "The children know of the illness, but the relative certainty of death is a recent development. I'm looking for any advice from those of you who have had this experience."