THE PROMISE AND PERILS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY > 1.0 INTRODUCTION > 2.0 THE PROMISES OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY >3.0 THE PERILS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY > 4.0 MOVING PAST PROMISE AND PROBLEMS > 5.0 EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY MODELS > 6.0 CONCLUSION > 7.0 REFERENCES > 8.0 LINKS


3.0 THE PERILS or CHALLENGES OF TECHNOLOGY


  1. Overview of Potential Drawbacks for Technology in Education
  2. Risks in the Learning Process and decreases in social interaction
  3. Technology Acquisition Decisions,Training, and Access Issues
  4. Job Market Issues in a Global Economy
  5. Security and Student Involvement
  6. Decreases Employment Opportunities
  7. Issues of social Networking

Western society has accepted as unquestionable a technological imperative that is quite as arbitrary as the most primitive taboo: not merely the duty to foster invention and constantly to create technological novelties, but equally the duty to surrender to these novelties unconditionally, just because they are offered, without respect to their human consequences. ~ Lewis Mumford

In a fast-paced world where educators often feel outpaced by rapidly advancing technology, it makes sense to pause and take a critical look at the use of technology in schools. Technology is the "process by which humans modify nature to meet their basic wants." (National Academy of Science, 2007) Technology is viewed as tangible objects, including computers, and in particular the focus on access to hardware at the expense of effective pedagogy (Earle, 2002). We need to think carefully about the challenges and consequences that we face as learners, educators and society as a whole. There is no shortage of techno-evangelists who are poised to integrate technology into every aspect of education. Cuban (2001) urges us to attend to research and past experience as institutions press forward through the myriad of hardware, software, and related ethical issues that did not exist thirty years ago. The question, he argues should be under what conditions, and what degree should we use technology. Will access lead to widespread use, and will widespread use lead to knowledge? In the late 1980’s Cuban identified three impulses which guided the implementation of technology in the school system: bringing students up to par with the demands of technical skills in today’s workplaces, increase productivity and efficiency of learning, and to learn collaboratively (Cuban, 1993). In the nineties, he did not see evidence of these changes and questioned the overuse of computer technology in schools and universities. Most of the critiques that we visit in this section are dated but those who hold these views may point to the recent study sponsored by the Department of Education which looked at thirty-three districts, 132 schools, and 439 teachers and found no significant differences between classrooms using the reading and mathematics software products and those in control classrooms (Dynarski, et. al., 2007)

In this section we follow a similar structure as we did in reviewing the promise. First, we examine issues linked to the learning environment -obstacles that can result from inappropriate use, unreliability of technology, and time limitations. Second we will look at social interaction and communication and some of the negative consequences that might evolve if teaching is done by computers rather than people. Third, not all schools are prepared to safeguard students and student information from the possible negative consequences of social networks. Fourth, we look at problems associated with assessment. Fifth, we examine how hierarchical decision making and limited funding that is prevalent in schools creates problems of access for all students. Finally we look beyond the classroom to examine how technology in the society may close many of the job opportunities that students could have expected to have in the past.


3.1 Overview of Potential Drawbacks for Technology in Education (TOP)


Drawbacks to using technology in education include, but are not limited to:
  • Risks to the Learning Process: Students need the support and direction of their teachers, too much of a reliance on computers could create a loss of school community and culture.
    • reduced exchanges with teachers
    • reduced interaction with peers
  • Engaging Teachers: How do we bring our teachers into the fold? Dias & Atkinson(2001) describe a five-stage evolution process by which a teacher passes from novice technology user to expert technology integrator. Those phases are Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Appropriation, and Invention. Teachers are forced by work conditions and society to enter the first phase but the problem arises in moving through to the last. There is not enough support for this development in the current structure of schools
    • Entry phase: The teachers are primarily text-based. Here is where the majority of our teachers stand. They are apprehensive to the use of the computer, possibly due to constraints set by their work places. The adoption phase is where teachers actually begin to analyze their lessons. They begin to think about new ways to incorporate the computer into their teaching.
    • Adaption phase: This is more of an adjustment phase. Teachers begin to understand planning for integration and acquire more technical skills.
    • Appropriation phase: In this phase, teachers begin to understand the worth of technology and actually apply it. A teacher’s attitude towards technology changes in this phase.
    • Invention phase: This is the 'pinnacle' phase. Teachers experiment with new instructional patterns and begin to see knowledge more like something students must construct and less like something to be transferred.
  • Cost: A major factor that drives our society, and easily the largest contributor to an "I can't" attitude. Costs include the following subsets.
    • Energy costs make up a large segment of many school districts’ budgets and the use of computers tremendously affects the budget. According to EPAestimates, the average powered workstation costs $37 a year to operate with 75% of its consumption coming from the monitor. With the addition of more computers into the classroom, comes an elevated cooling cost.
    • Along with energy cost is the charge of keeping up with technology. The average computer system is obsolete after 18 months. Not only systems but software can become outmoded in a short period of time. With countries competing against countries, schools need to be in a position to sustain and continue to move at the same pace as technology. In order for school districts to justify the added cost of more computers in the classroom, they must find more ways to utilize technology more effectively within the curriculum.
  • Security: For children this can be a reason technology is not allowed in the first place. Concerns about children giving away personal information that could compromise their families, there is an issue with blogs, forums and any other public 'chat' room that could attract predators.
    • Teens have particular issues with cyberbullying (teens being harassed by other teens or adults) while networking using websites such as MySpace and Facebook. There are answers to this dilemma, but everyone needs to follow them. Asking a teenager to remember all of these rules can prove to be a challenge. However, parents need to be involved to discuss sensible options with their children and to suggest ways to avoid this behavior. A website called Working Mothers includes some of these tips. Check out the Microsoft Online Safety website for some additional information.
  • No privacy: With the prominence of cameras in cell phones and easy video share sites, there is no longer any expectation of privacy as to what goes on in the classroom. Students are now posting humiliating videos of teachers being "pushed" by very questionable behavior. Discipline challenges now become more complicated as a result of video technology. Could the fear of being broadcasted on youtube be a reason to keep otherwise qualified instructors out of the classroom? See link for examples and debate.


3.2 Risks to the Learning Process (TOP)


The structure I worked out for this section is general issue and then issues of use for very young to older students. It is a bit long so feel free to condense.
Technology cannot be treated as the silver bullet or answer to all of education's needs. Cuban warns against making broad claims that technology in the classroom can raise test scores (Cuban, 2001). The engagement that a computer creates might provide some short term gains in students' learning experiences, because kids pay more attention to the monitor (Cuban, 2001; Oppenheimer, 1997). But using technology as "a swift fix" for complex educational problems will not solve the problems educators might hope it will (Cuban, 2001). Instead of ending problems, technology may solve a "non-problem" and, according to Stoll, in the process creating "a slew of new ones" (1995 page numbers).

Some educators question the value of early childhood exposure to computers, particularly in the years from preschool to third grade, when a child is most impressionable (Oppenheimer, 1997). “In pressing early childhood teachers to use computers with eye-catching software for tykes, zealous parents and educators have not transformed preschools and kindergartens into new and different versions of ‘good schools’. Rather, they have watched a technological innovation get reinvented into a benign addition to traditional early childhood programs” (Cuban, 2001 , page number). Jane Healy (1999) warns that unproven technologies may offer engaging graphics, but suggests that they could also be detrimental to the early brain development. When considering that many schools have cut art and music programs to fund technology there is even greater concern. Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, who completed MRI scans of musician’s brains, “…found that the musicians had a larger mass of nerve fibers connecting the brain’s two hemispheres” (as cited by Oppenheimer, 2004, pg. 2005). “A person’s creativity and analytical skills depend greatly on the ability to think with both hemispheres of the brain…” (Oppenheimer, 2004, pg. 205). Limiting the experiences a child has at a young age could have damaging effects on their future capacity to learn. Clearly this is not in a child’s best interest.

As children rely on computer programs as a tool to do some of the work for them, many of their basic skills will dwindle, such as penmanship, spelling, grammar, and drawing (Stoll, 1995). Oppenhiemer (2004) refers to Frank R. Wilson’s book The Hand to explain, “In this exhaustive treatise, Wilson accumulates prodigious amounts of material… of people whose success stems from early experiences with intense, tactile work. Other studies seem to confirm Wilson’s case. The overall picture suggests that the sensory capacities of the human hand send powerful signals to the brain, helping it learn and develop" (pg. 199). Yet schools have cut arts and vocational classes in order to purchase and maintain technology in schools. “The further irony, of course, is that in today’s world, computer access is becoming ubiquitous, while access to tools and other materials needed to build physical things has become almost extinct in schools. And policy makers continue to accelerate this trend” (Oppenhiemer, 2004, pg. 197). Shop classes, a source of hands-on engineering, have nearly been eliminated, removing a practical, vocational educational offering in favor of computer literacy (Oppenheimer, 1997). The replacing of real-world experience with the "multimedia razzle-dazzle" offered by computers may communicate to children and teachers a belief that technological simulation is superior in cognitive benefits to real-world experience.

Elementary students are often confused by what is valid and credible information, often citing sources that are written on blog spaces or from student-created sites. With such wide open access to wikis and Wikipedia sites, students are taking the information from these sites as factual, allowing little room for what past encyclopedias and books worked hard to prevent. Stoll, (1999, page number needed here) described kids who often lack critical thinking skills as "on-screen innocents who confuse form with content, sense with sensibility, ponderous words with weighty thought". A lack of understanding on the part of both teachers and students threatens a generation of students reared on Internet research: being unable to distinguish the legitimacy of the information available on the Internet. Students need instruction in how to evaluate what they find and to appropriately cite Internet sources. The impressionable nature of elementary children makes some worry about the trend to use technology to advertise, not educate. In many of the programs made available to schools at no cost, students of all ages are bombarded with banner ads (Cuban, 2001) Also, with ready access to sites that sell student essays, students can use technology to cheat themselves out of learning.
This problem is growing as generations are becoming exponentially more proficient with technology and its “quick answer” benefits. The key to successful implementation and realistic expectations of technology in the classroom is teaching students to be critical, reflective thinkers. Therefore, in order to address the problem head on, technology must be implemented by teachers for the purpose of problem solving, not “razzle-dazzle” presentations or quick answers. Stoll observes that good teachers will continue to be good teachers whether or not they use computers in their classroom, just as bad teachers will remain such with a computer in the classroom or not. However, Stoll’s comments take the teachers use of technology out of the equation.

Like any tool, technology can be used in ways that do little to benefit the student. Just as the film projector and VCR could be improperly used for respite from actual "teaching" in years past, the computer as "Edutainment" may focus on more entertainment then education. Clifford Stoll equated computers of the classroom of the 1990s to the filmstrips he has watched as a young student: "We loved them because we didn't have to think for an hour, teachers loved them because they didn't have to teach, and parents loved them because it showed their schools were high-tech. But no learning happened" (Oppenheimer, 1997). Edutainment is a strategy of embedding educational lessons in games to help make learning fun and enjoyable, thus captivating the students and motivating them to want to learn more. The fear of making learning fun through technology, Oppernheimer (1997) argues is that students may lose sight of the fact that learning is a challenge and will often entail a lot of hard work. This software often defines learning as drill and practice and it is unclear what a computerized multimedia presentation adds to education. However, if the teacher is able to construct activities that enable technology to be used a tool in the larger context of the problem, the teacher will have successfully avoided the trap of drill and practice.

Another factor that could potentially reverse a positive effect of technology is the reduction of human interaction that results from technology use.
Specialists in early childhood development value the whole development of the child using their senses to learn-- emotionally, intellectually and socially -- before introducing something as "technical and one-dimensional as a computer" (Oppenheimer, 1997). Oppenheimer further argues that the human and physical world holds greater learning potential than computers. Indeed, using technology to replace real world experiences, when available to a student, sends the wrong message: "that the mediated world is more significant than the real one" (Oppenheimer, 1997).

When teachers assign students work on the computers, they are not receiving any social interaction with their peers and teacher. Because of this, students may not develop the social skills needed to interact with others on an emotional level. “It appears that although we think we are reasoning out our decisions and choosing our actions deliberately, we may often just be responding more or less automatically to cues in our environment.” (Buchanan, 2007) If we decrease the amount of personal interaction our students have on a daily basis, we are, in fact, changing how they respond. Instead of interacting and responding to people in their environment, they are responding to advertisements, email messages, My Space Blogs and countless other inputs from the internet that could have an adverse reaction to their development. “The power and benefits of responding instinctively to our social environment are especially clear if you consider any tight-knit group of individuals, from the musicians in a jazz quartet to soldiers spending months in close quarters.” (Buchanan, 2007) Without these social interactions, we might miss out on fostering the development of an important part of who our students are and ultimately who they become. Buchanan further notes that "It may be that important parts of our personal thinking are actually caused by the social network we're in…” By limiting the amount of human interaction in lieu of technology, we could possibly be changing our students’ very thought processes, identity and patterns of behavior. “As Jaffee (1998) notes, core identities are often invoked and defended in teacher-student interactions and the use of digital technologies may disrupt, threaten or enhance [students’] identities.” (Benson, D. E. & Mekolichick, Jeanne, 2007)



3.3 Technology Acquisition Decisions, Training and Access Issues (TOP)

According to the National Education Technology Plan, “over the past 20 years, America has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in education. For the 2003-04 school year alone, expenditures at local, state and federal levels on elementary and secondary education exceeded $500 billion. Despite the investment, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores have remained essentially flat during the same 20- year period” (2004). While many may argue that technology is a useful learning tool which can potentially bring all students to a level playing field, Stoll emphasizes that implementing technology will result in an exorbitant cost to the school system. In the late-nineties, Todd Oppenheimer reports, school districts across the United States slashed programs in art, music, and physical education in favor of purchasing classroom computers (Oppenheimer, 1997). It is important to prioritize and spend the limited money properly (Stoll, 1995).

A growing national initiative to promote technology must take into account the rising costs of providing necessary technological capital. Todd Oppenheimer believes that the high-tech industry and the business community have fostered a "high-tech habit" among the school districts to whom they have donated equipment (Oppenheimer, 1997). After delivering and setting up the computer systems, "the companies often drop their support" (Oppenheimer, 1997). The district or school is left with the daunting responsibility of "maintenance of the computer network and the need for constant software upgrades and constant teacher training -- the full burden of which can cost far more than then initial hardware and software combined" (Oppenheimer, 1997). This leads to a cycle of "handouts from other companies," grant writing to cover costs, and turning to the community by asking voters to levy additional taxes (Oppenheimer, 1997).The money spent on initial implementation of technology in a school as well as the long-term costs associated with maintenance and upkeep can cause a misallocation of funds better suited for better purposes within the district. "In appropriating substantial funds for sustaining technology in a given district, administrators often leave other pressing needs unmet" (Cuban, 2001). The "high-tech habit" Oppenheimer believes imprisons schools in software licensing contracts and annual upgrades might not provide the benefits that technology promises.

Differing priorities between administrators and teachers has led to challenges in integration of technology into instructional purposes. Teachers, the experts in the classrooms, are often left out of the loop when decisions are made about technology purchases (Cuban, 2001). Technology is sold to administrators, and teachers are not given the assistance needed to implement technology use in the classroom (Tyack and Cuban, 1995). Cuban also questions the academic value-added for technology as compared to the dollars spent. “Even with little evidence that investments in information technologies raise test scores or promote better teaching, most school managers use the rhetoric of technological progress to establish legitimacy with their patrons and the private sector” (Cuban, 2001). The initial cost is multiplied by the need for training, equipment maintenance and in only a few years replacement costs. Any breakdown can cause a class to waste valuable teaching and learning time attempting to troubleshoot and fix the problem. As computers age, software conflicts increase, causing more interruptions and wasted time in the classroom. Often, the technology support team that has the responsibility for fixing the computers, has too many tasks and responsibilities to quickly solve problems.

In many instances technology is not consistent across a given campus or school. A 2006 study for the British Journal of Educational Technology indicated that there are barriers to technology use "In general, participants identified the following two issues as the most significant barriers to effective use of technology in the classroom: poor classroom environments and a lack of or limited availability of equipment, even basic equipment such as overhead projectors." (Brill and Galloway, 2007). Far too often technology is provided while adequate training is lacking or limited. Technology and software require time and effort to master. This can be an impediment for instructors designing a course, and for students, who may need to spend time mastering the technology or software in addition to the course materials. Faced with ever more educational software , the teacher needs a high level of proficiency and extra time to research and assess software to find quality products. Judah Schwartz, a professor of education at Harvard and a co-director of the school's Educational Technology Center was quoted by Oppernheimer as saying that 99% of the educational programs were of little value. In addition, schools that try to adapt technology into its curriculum often cannot integrate it effectively into the classroom (Shields, Behrmam, 2000). Without time and opportunities to learn, teachers are stuck at what McKenzie, (2000) termed Stage 3, or "electronic traditionalists," educators who see implementation of technology in the classroom as an extension of the traditional classroom (McKenzie, 2000). Cuban agrees, stating, “Most teachers adapted an innovation to fit their customary practices, not to revolutionize them” (Cuban, 2001). Technology is often introduced into the classroom and the teachers feel they have to change their method of delivery without any instruction to accomplish this task. With a lack of instruction for teachers who are equally mis-equipped for properly integrating technology into the classroom, the computer becomes nothing more than an expensive typewriter, according to Cuban (2001).

In addition to limited class time, there are often limited computers in the classroom. While this problem has been significantly reduced, most schools cannot provide students with ready access to computers. In the past, the size of technology in the learning environment created visual obstruction making it difficult to speak to a group of students with computers. But frequent use of new more portable machines could put students at risk for the same physical problems that develop from improper ergnomics and eye strain. There is some hint that psychological problems are associated with increased interactions over the Internet (Kraut,Patterson, Lundmark, Kiesler, Mukhopadhyay,& Scherlis, 1998). These may posed a threat to the "well being" of our students These authors reported an an average 1% increase in depression by for every hour spent on-line per week for adults. Knowing this, we must proceed cautiously with introducing our children to a technology that may result in increased loneliness, depression, and decreases the number of close friendships. Time spent at a computer may have negative affects on the development of emotional attachments. . Additionally, kids are spending more time in front of computers than participating in physical activities, which can have a number of physical effects. Computer use maycontribute to the increased problems with obesity and staring at a computer screen for long periods of time could damage children's vision (Shields, Behrmam, 2000).

Similar challenges are faced in corporate and organizational settings when learning technology systems are implemented. When analyzing an organizations infrastructure for a web-based or technology enabled solution, technology integrators should not only analyze the systems alignment with business goals but the drivers that prompted the learning system initiative as well. Learning systems are typically implemented when a performance issue is identified which impacts the businesses bottom line. Because business goals typically fall into categories such as revenue generation, expense reduction, and improved compliance, learning professionals and implementation stakeholders should carefully analyze how a systems offerings will help improve knowledge gaps related to these areas. Often times, in addition to knowledge, factors such as employee motivation, organizational structure, or the presence or lack of presence of incentives are contributors to business performance gaps and such factors cannot be resolved through learning.


3.4 Job Market Issues (TOP)

The new push of technology and the technology buzz occurring as a result of the International Society of Technology Educators standards, is leading educators toward teaching students to become technology warriors. However, according to The World is Flat author, Thomas L. Friedman, many of the technical jobs that the United States and Britain were previously employing from in house have been sent to places like India where the pay is cheaper and the cost of living is lower. Larger corporations like America Online, Microsoft, and even the major news source, Reuters, has outsourced much of their work to countries outside of the United States, costing us jobs for our current students. Students today need to be trained not for today's jobs but for tomorrow's positions and to meet with tomorrow's labor demands, today's workers need to be well educated and flexibe. Acording the July 2009 report titled "Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow," published by the Executive Office of the President Council of Economic Advisers, 25% of Americans are currently employed in positions not listed in the 1967 census report.
In her article "Preparing Today’s Workers for Tomorrow’s Jobs" Catherine Rampell
Friedman predicts that outsourcing of jobs will continue to increase. Indian business students are lining up outside the doors of corporate offices in India to work in call centers that handle accounting and technological procedures. At one time these were American, European, and Canadian jobs. While saving these companies money, the students of today are looking at a bleak future in technology and accounting jobs as a result of this outsourcing (Friedman, 2006).

- Additions by Abrash
The outsourcing trend which has overwhelmed the American job market since the late 1990s is costing the US economy and families billions of dollars. Americans will have to adapt to the steady decline of work and develop skill sets which can make them marketable in today’s job market. For instance, with the lack of positions available in today's workforce in areas like "Help Desk Analysis" and "Customer Service Representative" people can fine tune their skills and specialize in different aspects of corporate technology such as enterprise software applications. In some instances, job providers are leveraging websites like ODesk - the marketplace for online workteams.

While America has lost 1 million jobs since 2001, employers have been outsourcing hundreds of thousands of jobs to other countries in order to lower their costs. And they've moved millions more to low-cost contractors in the U.S. that provide services on the cheap by paying low wages and providing few or no benefits to employees. (http://www.outsourceoutrage.com/)

“A number of factors have combined to make outsourcing one of the fastest growing federal market segments over the past few years. In a time of war, a deficit, and tightening federal budgets, Input expects the federal IT outsourcing to remain one of the healthiest federal markets. Generally speaking, the business challenges and market factors driving the decision to outsource are similar between the private and public sectors. Most often, outsourcing is prompted by the need to supplement internal technical resources, reduce cost, infuse new technology, or standardize and streamline operations.” (Chris Campbell)



Outsourcing.jpg
OutSourcing Pie Chart


“Government must act decisively to restore a balance between overseas investment and outsourcing, and preserving vital industries in this country.” (Morton Bahr, President of Communications for Workers of America)

In recent years, however, Outsourcing has become a moving target in its benefits versus results gained. Deloitte released a survey of 25 large organizations with a combined $50 billion in outsourced contracts and found that 70% had negative experiences with outsourcing. 25% of those corporations brought outsourced projects back in house and almost 50% of those surveyed failed to realize any cost savings. Outsourcing has started to be seen as viable only to those companies that truly see themselves a multi-national rather than to simply save money. In late 2008, the state of Texas ended its $900 million outsourcing contract with Accenture due to return of investment and quality control problems.

A 2004 Gallup poll indicated that 61% of all Americans were worried about losing employment due to Outsourcing. With the recent economic downturn and global recession, that number is only said to increase. However, public fear is does not always translate to corporate realities. Outsourcing is alive and economy, but the success of today's worker is becoming much more dependent upon their knowledge, training and skill sets they possess.

The success of the job market today is contingent on the technology it uses in its daily operations. From Wall Street to your local convience store. Technology is essential as Schlenker and Mendelson state in Technology at Work. “ It is essential to have student use technologies in the classroom that they will encounter in the business world. In order to move forward we believe that business schools must provide students through the liberal use of authentic technologies throughout the curriculum. Moreover, schools must provide not only the content and the technology, but the contextualized learning experience that teaches students hot to apply the technology. Yet, as in the working world, these technologies are only a means to an end – not the end in itself. Even as students become familiar with these work based tools, they will not be focused primarily on understanding the features and functions of new software. They’ll be learning to use these tools within their specific organizations and industries as they communicate, innovate, and market in the 21st century world. “ Remember to hear is to forget, to see is to learn, to do is to know. (KarenFS)


3.5 The Use of Assessment Data Requires Training (TOP)

Learning and acceptance of technology is often very challenging for today's teachers due to reliabilty of technology and time restraints. In schools that use computer based training (CBT) or Integrated Learning Systems (ILS), teachers struggle to find time to look at the student assessment data generated by the software. This data allows teachers to identify any learning benefits for the students (Pflaum, pg. 191). Because most schools do not have a 1:1 ratio of computers to students, not all students have equal access. Larry Cuban stated, “Because of the limited time in centers, not every child was guaranteed a turn at a computer” (Cuban, 2001). In this scenario, it is equivalent to not having enough books for the students to study. Teachers must use techniques for rotating students as they would for traditional activities. While some researchers believe that there is valuable software that can have a positive impact on student learning, teachers must have time to identify which software meets the needs of their students and also monitor the usage and results to adjust usage.



3.6 Information, Security, Regulatory Compliance and Student Involvement (TOP)

A key part of implementing technology in any environment is maintaining security in said environment. In these fast changing times recent problems with security have led to various security breaches. For instance, in educational environments student’s social security number are prime targets for identity theft. Computer security is important because organizational information such as emails, employee or student information systems, and financial records are meant not to be seen by the general public, or other unauthorized individual. In addition, there are various legislative bills, security regulations and guidelines that companies must abide by if they are dealing with sensitive and confidential data.

As information has become more readily available security has increasingly required school administrators to look at ways to secure vital systems such as email. We have increasingly become reliant on email as a source for communicating within faculty members, administrators and students. It is almost impossible to think of how we communicated before emails! Email has become so popular that the amount of emails sent in one day surpasses the number of pieces of mail processed by the US Postal service by several hundred times over. With email being so popular the issues securing e-mail can quickly become an administrative nightmare. When dealing with e-mail the three major security risks come from spam, malware and compliance. IBM released in their bi-annual X-Force 2008 Trend Statics report that more than 40 million relevant spam signatures and 1 million new spam signatures are deleted every day (IBM Global Technology Services, 2008). With these numbers security around spam must be taken seriously and not taken lightly. Systems must be put in place to protect users from the spam and the risks they bring with them. Another, security risk is malware. Malware can carry viruses, Trojan horses, and spyware. The Gartner Group (www.gartner.com) estimates that over 80 percent of viruses enter the network through email and end up costing organizations over $500,000 per incident (Technology, 2007). Estimated cost of a security breach can range between $90 and $305 per record. (www.scmagazineus.com - This estimate does not include the added stress of not knowing how much data will be lost or is lost during a viral infection.) One more, security risk that is gaining more recognition is compliance. Compliance is the legal liability for content generated or stored on the organizations email system. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act sets forth record management and retention policies for all public companies, this includes e-mails (Wikipedia, 2008). This means that school districts and schools will have to produce e-mail communications that are requested by the courts for the purposes of litigation. With all these risks encountered by email it is clear the technology in education comes with security risks and therefore must be managed very closely. As technology advances we will need to increase the safeguards in the e-mail systems to protect organizational, employee, financial, and student information.

Industry Standards and Guidelines

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
(PCI DSS)
  • worldwide information security standard assembled by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC)
  • created to help organizations that process credit card payments prevent credit card fraud through increased controls around data and its exposure to compromise
  • applies to all organizations which hold, process, or pass cardholder information from any card branded with the logo of one of the card brands
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)
  • enacted by Congress in 1996
  • protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs (Title I of HIPPA )
  • requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers (Administrative Simplification, or AS, provisions of Title II of HIPPA)
    • intended to help people keep their information private, though in practice, it is normal for providers and health insurance plans to require the waiver of HIPPA rights as a condition of service
California Senate Bill 1386 (SB 1386)
  • amends civil codes 1798.29, 1798.82, and 1798.84 of the state law regulating the privacy of of personal information
  • introduced by State Senator Peace February 12, 2002; became operative July 1, 2003
  • enacts a bill that requires notification to any resident of California whose unencrypted personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person
    • requires an agency, person or business that conducts business in California and owns or licenses computerized 'personal information' to disclose any breach of security (to any resident whose unencrypted data is believed to have been disclosed)
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001
(The USA PATRIOT Act/ Patriot Act)
  • enacted by the United States Government (Public Law Pub.L.107-56)
  • signed into law on October 26, 2001 by President George W. Bush
  • increases the ability of law enforcement agencies to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records
  • eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States
  • expands the Secretary of the Treasury's authority to regulate financial tansactions, particularly those involving foreign intelligence gathering within the United States
  • enhances the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts
  • expands the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act's expanded law enforcement powers can be applied
Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA)
  • The Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the "Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act" or GLB Act, includes: provisions to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions.
  • There are three principal parts to the privacy requirements: the Financial Privacy Rule, Safeguards Rule and pretexting provisions.
  • Administer and enforce the Financial Privacy Rule and the Safeguards Rule. These two regulations apply to "financial institutions," which include not only banks, securities firms, and insurance companies, but also companies providing many other types of financial products and services to consumers.



3.7 Social Networks on the Rise


Social networks such as LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter pose a significant risk not only to the user but also to the institution they belong to if he/she does not participate in a proactive security stance. The social aspect of Web 2.0 technologies is what makes it difficult to secure, the IT or communication department no longer control any incoming or outgoing information. This poses a particular risk for corporations whose employees, knowingly or unknowingly risk the danger of leaking valuable information.

LinkedIn’s problem isn’t as much technology as the common practice of sharing of names, titles, and organizations. It can be very easy to get an organizational chart to be used for an attack. Once an attacker finds out the names of who works with whom, for instance, she/he could send a carefully crafted email via LinkedIn to the victim’s human resources department head, posing as a headhunter recommending a candidate for an open position. But his email could carry a malicious Word file, rather than a resume. When opened, the file could gain ownership of the victim PC and steal other company information. Basically, information about how people are connected, the work they do and their positions are all precious information for a potential attacker.

Twitter is a free microblogging site which allows users to communicate using short messages (140-characters) known as tweets. In 2008, ExxonMobil Corporation brand was highjacked when "Janet" from ExxonMobil began posting positive information on twitter about the company. A post from August 2, 2008 read, "Did You Know? We supported local NGOS in Angola and Indonesia to develop their capacity to effectively partner with multi-national companies." Janet's page was branded with the ExxonMobil logo and colors, it looked like a legitimate site. However, the company still doesn't know who "Janet" is.

MySpace was one of the first social networking sites, and it’s still one of the largest ones. Its sheer size has made it an obvious target for spammers, hackers, and online predators. MySpace is also a victim of its own business model, where the user controls his or her content and presentation. Users can add banners to their pages, and embed other Web technologies and links, so that there are many opportunities to link to dangerous things and to embed malware on the pages. In MySpace there’s often spam and it has had some cross-site scripting (XSS) flaws exposed. Besides the infamous Samy worm attack in 2005, the site was reported to have some troubles in keeping some private data private.

Facebook, now the leading social networking site in the world, can be considered to have security problems similar to those of MySpace, but it’s approach is a bit different. Part of the reason Facebook is so popular is that many users were put off by the anarchy of MySpace and see Facebook as more controlled and conservative, even if this is far from saying that Facebook is absolutely safe.

In particular, Facebook relies on third party Java applications, so that the user is not only entrusting Facebook with her/his login and password but also must trust the third-party applications that provide tools for Facebook users. There is a potential danger that the code you’re running on the site is malicious or points you to a site that contains malicious code.

As it has been said, Facebook lets you add applications and tiny programs that run inside Facebook itself. Facebook granted programmers free access to the Facebook platform in May of 2007, meaning that anybody with the necessary skills could create an application, so that the number of Facebook applications has grown. Facebook applications are small programs that work inside Facebook. They’re similar to Web browser plug-ins (like video players) in that they let you do something you couldn’t do before you installed them. They’re easy to install and appear on your Facebook Applications menu.
Often Facebook applications are just "humorous time-wasters", like the ones that let you spray-paint graffiti on someone’s wall, but there is also an increasing number of more serious, business-oriented applications: Professional Profile, for example, lets you post and edit your resume on Facebook, then track who views it. The downside to using Facebook applications is that you automatically grant the application’s developers access to your profile, which poses a security risk.

After Facebook introduced new options and a new privacy interface in 2008, a security expert demonstrated it was possible to exploit security holes and access private details. Then Facebook installed a bug fix to prevent it from happening. This recent Facebook breach puts in evidence how the social networking world is still evolving and continues to harbor a host of potential threats to personal and sensitive information. Businesses have been worried about social networking sites ever since they exploded in popularity. As well as expected loss in productivity, there are also worries about employees releasing confidential information. (http://cisspblog.logicalsecurity.com)


A recent article points showcases two student hackers from Orange County California who broke into their High School and altered their grades (FoxNews 2007). Both students are members of well recognized Tesoro High School, often regarded as one of the best schools in the country. The incident is so volatile that the alleged ring leader is being charged with identity theft, altering public records and even conspiracy.

Technology also poses additional physical threats to students as well, such as cyber-stalking. “Children who are prepared to provide personal information to strangers are potentially the most vulnerable to online grooming by a sexual predator. As a result, delicate care must be given when considering which Web 2.0 tools to use in the K-12 classroom. As an example, blogs can be a great way to enable students to express thoughts, brainstorm and work out issues online. However, if blogs are not secure and / or children fall into the habit of disclosing personal information, a predator situation can develop. In an American study of youth aged 10 to 17 years, it was reported that 45% were prepared to give out their name, address, and other information in exchange for a free gift valued at up to $100 (Turow & Nir, 2000).” With the over abundance of chat rooms, online social organizations and emailing, predators have an ever increasing way to target victims. Children can also be exposed to pornographic images, adult material and mature content on a number of websites, if safeguards are not put in place to protect them. Blocking such websites can walk a fine line between protecting impressionable children from mature content and outright censorship, so It is important to communicate with children about how to use the internet in appropriate ways.

The term 'Digital Native' is used to describe children that have grown up with a mouse in their hand. (Prensky 2001) While these children may have a natural inclination to technology and talent in applying it, many also possess a lack of judgment and respect to the power of these tools that can lead to disastrous results. Growing up with something always within reach does not give one a natural understanding of the appropriate ways it should be use. It is this lack of judgment that leads to risky behavior on social networking and other sites where personal information is casually exchanged. A trend Today's educators, most of whom are 'Digital Immigrants' according to Prensky may lack the technical casualness of the younger generation but they may have a cautious respect for it that the natives could use. A number of legal cases have come to light in 2009 around the issue of "Sexting." A term that is used to describe a growing inclination among young people with access to technology, to share pornographic images of themselves via text messages, e-mails, and on social networking websites. This has led to a number of teens being brought up on child pornography charges for sharing images between cell phones and on some occasions posting them to sites like MySpace or Facebook. MSNBC reports on Sexting cases There is some debate on how to prosecute these youthful offenders, as the laws governing this sort of behavior existed long before the technology. Again it is important to educate students about how to appropriately use the technology that is available to them.

Cyber-bullying is another growing trend that is being defined by a number of high profile cases in America and around the world, as the legal system tries to catch up with the technology at hand. Bullying is nothing new, but the way that people communicate in the 21st century has created new ways for people to target others and cause psychological harm using digital technology. Organizations, such as stopcyberbullying.org, have been set up to educate people about the dangers of such behavior and prevent it from spreading. In 2006, a 13 year old girl name Megan Meier committed suicide after being subjected to Cyber-bullying by the mother of a classmate. Charges against the mother were dismissed in July of 2009 by a judge who stated that laws regarding this behavior were vague at the time of the incident. This case highlights the dramatic effect that bullying can have on the life of a young person. It is important for teachers and parents to be aware of the online behavior of their children and to speak to them about the power of words to harm others. The Family Online Safety Institue, fosi.orgrecommends the following top ten internet safety tips for parents.

1. Talk with your child about internet safety as soon as he/she begins using the internet. It is never too early to start discussing the importance of being a good digital citizen.
2. Use age-appropriate filtering, blocking and monitoring software on all internet-enabled devices used by the child, including laptops, wireless phones and video games.
3. Stay involved in your child's online world by setting limits on his/her "screen time" and monitoring who your child is communicating with online. Get to know the websites your child is visiting and educate yourself about your child's online activities.
4. Review Family Online Safety Contract with your family members and consider having all family members sign the agreement.
5. Explain to your child that he/she should never give out personally identifiable information online. For example, your child should understand that he/she should not post detailed information about his/her whereabouts.
6. Make sure your child knows never to meet someone they met online face-to-face without first talking with you about the situation.
7. Tell your child to never share their passwords with anyone, including friends.
8. Explain the consquences of posting inappropriate material online. For example, a child's reputation can be impacted by a status entry or an image that is shared.
9. Monitor your child's mobile phone usage and review text messages sent and received, including images downloaded and uploaded.
10. Educate yourself on the latest threats facing kids online (e.g.,cyberbullying, sexting, etc.) and arm yourself with information that will allow you to talk to your child about being a good digital citizen.

Most organizations see the necessity of securing computer and networking equipment with security chains and other similar devices (Lo-jack). Equipment costs can soar rapidly and create a burden on an organization, especially in education. Although the value of the digital information outweighs the operational costs in the larger scope, processing, retrieving, and storing data becomes a challenge in most educational organizations, even as new legislation decrees that even emails must be kept for a ten year period in case of future litigation. Since information has become so crucial, it's not only the hardware and software that demand protection, but also the data. When information is lost, damaged, or otherwise unavailable when needed, it can have a serious effect on the day-to-day operations of an educational organization. And when the information at risk is an individual student record, the consequences can be even more serious. What would be the damage, for example, if student report card files were modified inappropriately or confidential student aptitude scores were revealed improperly? (Szuba 1998)


There are ways to protect your data. Many corporations need to adopt these top 10 tips of preventing a security breach.

1. Management sets the tone for their organizations by their own behavior. As such, good information practices are obligatory for all stakeholders, not just employees.
2. Be proactive – management should deal with information assurance issues proactively, rather than reactively as information assurance is far more cost effective in a preventative rather than a remedial context.
3. Information assurance is a business issue, not something extra for IT to handle. IT simply does not have the resources and/or authority to drive information assurance best practices through their organizations.
4. Understand that information assurance is an ongoing process, not an annual event just before the auditors arrive.
5. Information assurance is everyone's job and as such investments in training and awareness programs for all employees are critical.
6. Management should set out the company's expectations with respect to information assurance in clear, accessible policies.
7. The process for dealing with information security incidents should be defined in straightforward and unambiguous procedures.
8. Investments need to be made in technology that will result in the secure transport and processing of information by the company's information technology assets.
9. Suitable best practices should be identified and implemented rather than ad hoc approaches.
10. Expert advice should be sought and used at all times to advise and oversee efforts in respect to information assurance from an experienced and objective third-party perspective. http://www.scmagazineus.com




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(note --lots of citations were not in APA style-pay attention to that here so you don't make mistakes in your papers)