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David Schmidt
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Apologies for this post being a couple hours late; yesterday got away from me. In downloading this article I was pessimistic about my overall interest in it. Upon reading it this morning I found myself fascinated by the content because these are questions I ask myself as I am in the classroom right now, and observing other teachers using technology. 
Unfortunately, my own thoughts on how technology improves achievement seem to align very similarly with the article. This will, perhaps, not lead to the most interesting of posts. I place the ability of technology to enhance learning almost entirely on the teacher. If a teacher blindly uses technology with no thought into how it will fit into the overall unit, and how it will be as good as or better than the alternative, than it simply shouldn’t be used. But technology has its place. I recently have been introduced to virtual geometry technology. This technology allows students to create a mental representation of the properties of shapes quickly and experimentally. This technology can be used well by a teacher in order to enhance student learning. Though this article wasn’t talking about this type of technology as much, and was more about technology that connected students to students or students to instructor, it still seems like a relevant point. Technology can be used well in the classroom, but it relies on the ability of an instructor to ask the questions about when, where, and how it should be used.
I don’t think that I overestimate the ability of technology. If anything I underestimate it. I am a “traditionalist” in the sense that I think that kids putting pen to paper is the way to learn. Seeing some of this technology used in the actual classroom though has allowed me to see the benefits of using it. I know that when I am a teacher I will not struggle with the overuse of technology, but I may struggle with not utilizing the potential student-enhancing technology. 
This article does look at student achievement as the basis for if a technology is beneficial. This seemed logical when reading the article but when the question is being posed it does bring up a good point. I would point to the example of the study of WWII where some students created a wiki and others went through the traditional route. Students in the traditional group scored better, but students using the wiki retained more eight months down the road. This brings up an age old question of how do we test students? It seems that the goals of teaching WWII would be retention of information about the war. It seems the wiki succeeded at this where the traditional route did worse. But the traditional route scored better in the short term. This requires us to look at the overall goals of the traditional system and is bigger than just the question of how technology was used in this situation. 

I chose to look at CIPA/COPPA because it was the one issue I knew nothing about. Most of this information comes from the FCC’s website on CIPA and COPPA.org. 
CIPA or the Children’s Internet Protective Act is meant to restrict access, by children, to harmful or obscene content on the internet. It was enacted by congress about 14 years ago and is mainly relevant in schools and libraries. When schools and libraries adhere to these restrictions they are eligible for certain discounts on communication services and products. Between 20 and 90 percent can be saved in telecommunication bills. 
These restrictions are decently logical in nature. Computers that can be accessed by minors must block/filter access to pictures that are obscene, harmful to minors, or explicit child pornography. A school must additionally monitor the activities of minors and educate minors about appropriate online behavior. 
These schools and libraries must adopt an internet safety policy that addresses access to inappropriate matter on the internet, unauthorized access involved in unlawful activity, safety of minors when communicating with others online, unauthorized disclosure of information of minors, and restrict minors’ access to harmful materials. All of these things must policies and restrictions must be addressed in order for the school/library to receive funding. 
COPPA or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, basically controls what operators of websites can collect, in terms of personal information, from those who are under thirteen. It also goes into detail about how websites can advertize to those under thirteen, and when/how they need to obtain parental permission for giving out information. 
The problem basically boils down to government oversight making sure that children are protected. This is actually a really good idea. Usually I don’t like the idea of the government controlling what we can, and cannot see, but in this case it is about protecting minors from really harmful things. It isn’t restricting the freedom of adults; it is simply based on protecting kids. I also love the fact that there are rewards for those who comply with these restrictions. If only more government programs rewarded people for being in compliance with the law. 
The way this can be used in the classroom, actually in a way that is mandated by CIPA, one must educate minors in appropriate online behavior. This can happen in multiple ways, whether it be simply stating the rules or practicing them in the classroom. Perhaps posting the rules in the class will serve as a reminder of how to appropriately use the internet.
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