May 31, 2005

Teaching children to use the Internet
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

I meant to write about this awhile ago, but for some reason it kept getting pushed back. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to teach children in grades 3-5 as part of an after-school program in my community.

The course was 6 weeks long, with just one hour a week, and I titled it "Surfing the Internet". My main goal, and this was included in the class description, was to teach children how to safely have fun on the Internet. This included learning email, fun sites to visit, how to use a browser, and safety.

I decided I really wanted to go in with an effective curriculum, as a teacher had pointed out to me that someone had tried this with the children previously, and it was nothing short of a disaster. The only way to do this effectively seemed like building on each lesson as the weeks progressed.

The class was such a huge success that the children were sad to see it end, and the teacher told me that I had done a great job and she had never seen it done so methodically. Most importantly, by the end of the class, those kids were nothing short of savvy. They understood what an ad banner was. They understood why they weren't allowed to click on a pop-up. They asked permission before signing up for something, and they certainly didn't use their real name when putting in their high-score on a game site. They sent me e-cards saying goodbye at the end of the class.

In case someone can benefit from this, here is my curriculum of the first three weeks (the foundation skills) and the tools I used.

1. Email accounts for the students. I chose "". For one low price per year, Safe2read allows one primary master account. After that, you can add up to 10 email accounts and monitor all incoming and outgoing email. You can also safely add allowed emails. So I set up 10 generic accounts such as "[email protected]", "school2", "school3", etc. Generic names allows for no compromise of the student's privacy. I also set all these accounts so the students could email each other without approval needed.

2. Letter to parents.
The first week, the students were sent home with a letter explaining the curriculum, and the generic email accounts. They were also assured that the child's privacy and security would not be compromised by the email account, and were reassured the accounts would be deleted once the class was over.

WEEK 1 - Learn to browse, and what's the Internet, anyway?
A foundation in knowing what the Internet really is becomes crucial to the students learning to respect it. Children were given rope, and each child had a worksheet. Half the sheets were about frogs, the other half were about kangaroos. Each child was told they were a page on the Internet. All the frogs then joined ropes with each other, and were told they became a web site, and were now a great site to learn about frogs! The kangaroos did the same. One child from the frogs then joined a rope to one child from the kangaroos, "linking" their sites to each other. Now, anyone could first learn about frogs, then click the link to go on to the site about kangaroos via those two linked children.

After this, students were then sat at their computers and shown an excellent site to learn navigation - The site is busy, yet there is lots to click on, drag, highlight, etc. And, to get there, the students have to type in the URL in the address bar.

WEEK 2 - Internet Safety
It must be said that for this week, I was better prepared to learn how to say "hands off the keyboard and mouse and eyes should be looking at me!" This also becomes crucial for the next lession, especially now that the students know how to find the Disney Channel online. :-)

Out of all weeks taught, this was the most important. It's equivalent to showing a child a circus across the street, but not teaching them to look both ways before crossing first.

The children were sent to, a wonderful site to teach children all about safety. The site has six 1-3 minute animated films for the children to watch. Watching them in order is crucial. The children watched them all in row together.


They involve humorous personification of all the dangers of the Internet called "Wizzywigs", such as characters like the Numbut, who spends too much time on the computer and not enough time playing outside. The Spamazoid sends the same email to everyone on their email list all the time. Then there is Follow-You-Fiona, who likes to listen to what you say, and loves it when you tell her too much information.

There's also games such as "Who Is Your Friend on the Internet?" These games had the kids laughing AND learning.

Once the movies were over, I handed out a printout of a sample online profile of a child. We went over all the bits of personal information in there and the children told me which bits were OK to have in there, and which were stating too much information. They even picked up on the subtle clues in the profile, such as stating the first name of the child's dad in a classified ad. Between that and knowing the last name of the child, the students correctly figured out that someone could put two-and-two together and could call information based on the father's full name.

After the safety lesson, we moved on to banner-ads and more privacy lessons. I explained how toy stores have fun toys spread out for kids to play with to keep them in the store. I then explained how websites contained fun games, but many of them, like toy stores, were trying to sell something at the same time. Most websites have a primary focus, and the first step is to discover what that focus is. Lastly, I explained how banner-ads were usually rectangular, but were almost always animated and were definately trying to sell something.

We went back to the kids' favorite site, I asked the kids to tell me the primary function of this site. Without hesitation, they all answered "to tell us what shows are on the Disney channel!" They were then able to correctly point out all the ad-banners on the site.

WEEK 3 - Email
This week each child was given their "school" email account and shown how to log in. Before the class, I sent each child about 5 different emails, with a task to do in each email.

The tasks consisted of "Send me a reply to this email! To do that, hold your mouse button over each icon until you see the one that says "Reply", and then send me a message!"

More tasks, such as "forward this email", "delete this email", "send a brand new email to the person sitting to your left", etc. taught each aspect of emailing in a manageable format. Children didn't move on to the next email until they had completed the task.

At this point, classes became easy as I could simply group email the children what sites I wanted them to go to and their assignments.

The last step of this class was about FUN! This should always be the most important element of each class, and should *never* be forgotten. Always end each class with some element of fun if possible.

The children were sent a link to Hallmark's free E-Cards. They could take their time and go through and pick out a card, and send it to someone in the class, or myself. Once they found a card they liked (Hoops and Yoyo were *really* popular!), I showed them how to fill out the bit (safely) to send it to someone in the class.

Now that you have established a strong Internet foundation, the rest is up to you. We did scavenger hunts online through Yahooligans!, using the Internet as a reference tool, and more. Ask Jeeves for Kids is excellent. Give each child a "why" question (why is the sky blue? Why do we sleep?), or have them come up with one on their own and find the answer.

Happy teaching!

May 26, 2005

Flickr surfing...
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

Everyone has heard of Flickr, the photo-sharing site, and yet I always thought of it more as a photo storage site than anything. Until now.

Matt introduced me to a new fun pastime for us, surfing Flickr photos. If you go to "Everyone's Photos" on Flickr, it displays the most recently updated pictures. These change so quickly, hitting Refresh on your browser will cause a new block of pictures to appear.

Well, would you know, we had SO much fun one night with our respective laptops on the couch hitting refresh, laughing, and looking at photostreams.

Each picture tells a story. There are some wonderful photographers out there. There are some amateurs. There are mothers diligently capturing all 300 frames of their child's first birthday. There are pictures of cityscapes from views one might normally never get to see. There are rare birds, and babies with their eyes crossed. Among an album filled with the contents of the inside of someone's trunk, there is a captivating picture of a toothless man. Never have I thought a streetlight could be so beautiful if the light is just right. The most amazing photos I have seen are things that I never in a million years would have even thought to take a photo of.

And that's just from hitting 'refresh' once.

The Flickr user names are just as personality-filled as the photos themselves, from Uncleboatshoes to Fast Eddie.

Here's one you can all enjoy perusing, those of bEEfEatEr's. I've gotten his permission to share with you all what had me and Matt captivated for hours.

Happy Flickr surfing. Who thought normalcy could be so out of this world?

May 24, 2005

Back from Boston!
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

Back from Admin2005, and relaxing. And of course, catching up with the piles of voice mails and email!
Here's the quick and dirty rundown:

1. I had a wonderful time hanging out with everyone, and this time, Matt was with me, so it was even better. I got to find all my "usual suspects" and meet some new people. Matt will definately be at Lotusphere with me next year.

2. Everyone be sure to say Happy Birthday to Susan Bulloch on Wednesday! Susan was wonderful and even made sure to be up with bells on to support me at my Friday 8:30AM session. Thank you Susan, you rock!

3. Admin2005 was fun! Although, I was really nervous this year, and I think it was because I did three sessions versus the one I did last year. However, I was really happy with the take-home code (including displaying code elements such as field names, form names, agent names, view names, and view column titles from databases whose design is hidden. Also a plug-in local database that will allow any user to design and print out mailing labels from ANY database that has contact information, with no changing the design and no needing to pre-configure the label).

4. Saw Revenge of the Sith. I personally loved it. To me, I could have skipped the first two movies entirely, and went right to this one. This had the feel of the original three movies we know, love, and hold so dear to our hearts. Bad acting, even worse dialog, campy humor, a personality-filled spunky R2D2, lots of wookies, answers to questions, a really REALLY cool Vader moment when his mask gets put on for the first time, and a nice scene on Tatooine with the original score from the 80's.

It definately it not for kids, however, be gentle when you tell them they can't go. As my parents pointed out, it's gotta be hard to be a kid now, especially when Burger King is making Happy Meal toys for a movie they aren't allowed to see.

May 11, 2005

Admin2005 next week...
Posted by Jess in Announcements

The View's Admin2005 is next week in Boston, MA. Last year I did one session, and it did so well they invited me back!

This year I'm doing (gasp) three sessions, and I can't wait. They're all very different, but I'm very excited to give them. And I'm very, very happy about the way the take-home goodies came out!

Create Tools to Ease Administration
See how to eliminate repetitive, menial tasks through automation with button code, a utilities database, SmartIcons/Toolbars, and Agents. Accelerate the process to look up user information, display code elements of a database in an understandable format, and change fields on a Person document. Allow users to have multiple signature files, create labels from any database that has contact information, and avert major crises by automatically changing AdminP fields. Armed with tools to create your own functions, you'll be a hero to your users! Plus take home all the code samples and databases.

Changing Domains and Organizational Certifiers
Identify the difference between a domain and a certifier, and the ramifications of changing either one. Walk step by step through the process required to change both and the reasons why it may be beneficial. See what happens to your address book during this process, how changing the domain affects mail routing, and which code routines you can automate. Learn what tasks need to be performed before you change the certifier, and follow a complete demo of the modification process. Discover an extensive list of gotchas to watch out for along the way regarding user personal address books, hardcoded certifiers for database design elements, and users' grace periods.

The 30-Minute Server Audit
Upgrades, maintenance, and problem solving all require a thorough knowledge of your server and its functions from day to day. Get back to the basics and truly know your server Ė luckily, it doesn't take as long as you think. This session takes you step by step through all the server elements you need to audit: ID file management, ACL settings, program documents, server tasks, Domino security settings, key performance boosters, and security. Leave armed with tools to gather information and check ACL settings for the administrator, ID files in the directory, and full-text indexes. Identify unnecessary server tasks and overlooked maintenance so you can eliminate ensuing security leaks and performance issues.

May 06, 2005

Cuttin' it up on the dance floor
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

Amazing... three whole blogs from my husband in a row. It makes me so happy, I love to read his stuff. Hopefully, this pattern will stay current and we can expect more, and let the '' (not real) domain expire.


*grabs blog ruthlessly and rips from Matt's paws*

I was looking at all our pictures from our 2004 October cruise and Universal Studios trip (which was such a success, we just booked again). I've posted a photo album here.

However, I had completely forgotten about this woman in the black tank top cutting it up on the dance floor:


April had gone out to join her in this photo, but right up until then, she was out there dancing alone. And her husband was sitting at a table all by himself with his back to her. Not even watching. She was beautiful! And having so much fun! And he was missing it all.

Matt and Bill got up and went to him at the table and sat down. April and I watched as a few moments later all three of them got up and walked over to the bar. The bartender poured some shots of vodka and Red Bull (apparently he was a bit tired) and Matt and Bill paid for it, and toasted with him.

Not five minutes later we all watched in amazement as he joined his wife on the dance floor and seemed to have more fun than she did!

If something beautiful is happening around you, don't miss it. Alternatively, if someone else is missing something beautiful happening around them, don't ever be afraid to point it out to them. You just may make some new friends.

May 01, 2005

Is it just me?
Posted by Matt in Day to Day

I was watching TV Sunday night and I saw an odor eaters commercial. Nasty green clouds emanating from a pair of penny loafers and they say something like "Your foot odor may be worse then you think". Then they zoom in on a penny and Abe Lincoln coughs and lets out a "blech". The next think I think is "That doesnít sound like Abe Lincoln". Well, nobody really knows what he sounds like. But with all the plays and movies, I seem to think of him with a voice like that in Bill and Tedís excellent adventure. So, am I the only one who thinks they know what Abe sounds like? Be honest :-)

lotus notes
misc & links
picture gallery
internet how-to articles

about jess

ICQ 822906
AIM kendrtaunt
YIM kender_taunt