tech security

Tech Tip #68: Check History in Your Browser

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: How do I check to see where my kids/students have been online without making them think I don’t trust them?

A: If they’ve been online without you (because you considered them mature enough for this action), by all means check up on them. This is not a sign of distrust any more than guiding them through any other new skill is. This is you showing them the correct way to use the internet. You’re not spying on your children; you’re making sure everything is OK, kind of like checking in on them while they sleep.

Go to what’s called ‘history’. ‘History‘ is where a list of all the websites whoever logged in under a particular user name went.  Here’s how you do it:

  • Hold Control key (Ctrl) and push H. That brings up a sidebar with the sites they’ve visited.
  • Select the time frame you’re interested in

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How to Instill Digital Citizenship in Students

digital neighborhood copyWhat is a parent’s greatest fear that first day they drop their precious child at kindergarten? You might think it’s whether they’ll get along with new friends or handle academic pressures. Or even that their eyes will be opened to the vastness of the Universe and no longer see their parents as the Answer to Everything.

Those are frightening, and might be ranked in the top ten–or even five–but today, the biggest concern is how to protect an innocent from the pernicious onslaught of the technology that grows like mold over every part of the education landscape. Will that trusting child be cyberbullied? Will they see stuff they shouldn’t on school websites? Will a predator find them from a naive contact online? And what about classmates–will they share bad websites found by older siblings?

It may surprise you that this scenario also keeps teachers awake at night, especially new teachers. What if they fail to protect their charges from this violent, dark online world? I remember second grade life cycle reports. I taught students how to search online images for pictures of each stage in a bug’s development, save them to student network folders, and then proudly insert them in the report. Students would find authentic and exciting pictures of ‘ladybugs’ and ‘pupae’ and ‘preying mantis larvae’ and ‘chicks’–

Chicks! That turned out to be a lousy search term. I’d warn students to search ‘baby chickens’ instead, but always, for one child each year, it wouldn’t work and–according to their parents–were permanently damaged by the pictures that popped up. They’d have nightmares. Their personalities would forever tilt to the dark side because of that picture–at least.

Truth, all stakeholders do their best, but stuff happens. If not in the classroom, at a friend’s house whose parents aren’t as vigilant as they could be, or on an iPad during library time. Educational best practices used to insist on protecting children from those eventualities, minimize exposure by unplugging kids as much as possible. That’s not the case any more. Even if we unplug them at the school house door, they plug right back in the moment they are away from the classroom. Our job as educators is to stare into the abyss of the unknown and educate: Teach these digital natives how to not just survive  but thrive in the digital world.

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Categories: classroom management, Digital Citizenship, internet, K-5 Tech training, Tech ed, tech security, websites | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Tech Tip #52: Roll Your Computer Back to a Problem-Free Date

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  Something happened and now my computer isn’t working right. I downloaded a program/music/video or installed a new program and it hasn’t worked right since. What do I do?

A: These days, that’s not as hard as it used to be. All you have to do is type ‘restore’ in the search box (on the start menu) and follow instructions. What it’ll do is turn your computer back to an earlier date, before you did the download or the install. It won’t affect documents, only the bad stuff. It’s saved me several times.

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Tech Tip #44: Clean Your Computer Weekly

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I’m afraid of getting slammed with viruses, malware, all that bad stuff that comes with visiting the internet. What can I do?

A:  If you take reasonable precautions, the chances of being hit are minimized. Here’s what I do:

  • Don’t download from music or video sites. They have the greatest amount of malware statistically because the Bad Guys know we-all like getting free music and videos.
  • Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel-Administrative Tools
  • Do the following every week:

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Categories: Computer hardware, free tech resources, internet, Parent resources, tech security, websites | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

13 Easy Spring Cleaning Steps for Your Computer

spring cleaningIf you followed my suggestion over the New Year’s holiday, you cleaned your computer out then so this will go much faster for you than others. But, it’s again time for Spring Cleaning. Set aside a couple of hours. Grab a litre of soda (unless you live in New York), get a comfortable chair. Put on your problem-solving hat, and get started:

  1. Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel-Administrative Tools. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check it to be sure it remains active.
  2. Defrag your computer. To quote Windows, Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Removable storage devices such as USB flash drives can also become fragmented. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently. Run Disc Defrag by going to Control Panel-Administrative Tools–Advanced Tools.
  3. Run Spybot or a similar antispyware program. Spybot is free, which is why I like it. I’ve had good luck with it. Download.com says this about Spybot: The program checks your system against a comprehensive database of adware and other system invaders. The Immunize feature blocks a plethora of uninvited Web-borne flotsam before it reaches your computer.
  4. Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.
  5. Run Ad-aware once a week to keep malware and spyware off your computer. It has a stellar reputation and is still free to all (although there’s an upgrade that you can pay for).
  6. Sort through your My Documents files and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months–or years. Do it, though. You may not need the hard drive space, but you don’t need the computer fingering through unnecessary files every time it searches.
  7. Back up all of your files to an external drive or your cloud storage. If you have an automated system for that, skip this. If you don’t have one, consider getting Carbonite or similar. If you use Windows, try their ‘backup’ program. It’s easy to find: Click the Start Button and search ‘backup’.
  8. Empty the trash folder. Don’t even look in it. If you haven’t missed a file by now, it won’t be in there.
  9. Learn to use that program you’ve been promising you would. Evernote is a great example. Use it (and you won’t be sorry) or delete the email from your best friend exhorting you to. Move on.
  10. Go through your programs and delete the ones you no longer use. Here’s what you do:
    • go to Control Panel>Programs and Feature

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Categories: teacher resources, tech security | Tags: | 3 Comments

Tech Tip #41: Repair Your Computer With System Restore

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I don’t know what I did, but my computer doesn’t run right anymore. What can I do?

A:  With access to the internet, computer malfunctions have become more prevalent than ever. Sometimes you download a program–or your child mistakenly pushes a button that allows malware on your computer. Suddenly, through no fault of your own, things just aren’t working right anymore.

This is so common that Microsoft has a program called System Restore on every computer with Windows operating system. System Restore is a utility that allows users to restore their Windows configurations to a previous state. While System Restore is often associated with providing recovery when driver or software installations go awry, it can really shine when spyware or other malevolent software compromises user machines. In many situations, this handy utility can roll back afflicted machines to a completely uninfected state. Of course, System Restore can work only when it is turned on and cataloging system states, so make sure it’s enabled on all user machines.

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Categories: Computer hardware, free tech resources, Parent resources, problem solving, tech security, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Teach Digital Citizenship in 3rd Grade

digital citizenship

How can I teach my students about digital citizenship

Understanding how to use the internet has become a cornerstone issue for students. No longer do they complete their research on projects solely in the library. Now, there is a vast landscape of resources available on the internet.

But with wealth comes responsibility. As soon as children begin to visit the online world, they need the knowledge to do that safely, securely, responsibly. There are several great programs available to guide students through this process (Common Sense’s Digital Passport, Carnegie CyberAcademy, Netsmart Kids). I’ve collected them as resources and developed a path to follow that includes the best of everything.

Here’s Third Grade:

Overview/Big Ideas

Why is it important to be a good digital citizen? How can students do this?

Essential Questions

  • What is a ‘digital citizen’?
  • What are my rights and responsibilities as Digital Citizens?
  • How is being a citizen of the internet the same/different than my home town?
  • What are the implications of digital citizenship in today’s world?

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Categories: internet, tech security, third grade, web | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: Where Can I Find Kid-safe Images?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from a reader:

I am a computer lab teacher and teach grades 1-5.  I can really use some advice from others. Do you have a good place for students to go and get images that are appropriate – I teach grades 1-5  and Google even with strict settings as well as MS Office clipart have some inappropriate images  that come up from searches

I wrote a post about this almost a year ago. I appreciate that you’ve reminded me it’s time to revisit. This is harder than it should be. I use Google as a default because it is the safest of all the majors, not to say it’s 100% kid-safe. I spent quite a few hours one weekend checking out all of the kid-friendly child search engines (Sweet Search, KidSafe, QuinturaKids, Kigose, KidsClick, Ask Kids, KidRex, and more), but none did a good job filtering images. Content–yes, but images dried up to worthless for the needs of visual children.

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29 Steps to Internet Safety for Kids

internet safety

Photo credit: Public domain pictures

This is a great list from Deb Ng, founder and former owner of the Freelance Writing Jobs. I thought hard about what she’d written to see if I could add anything, enhance or disagree.

Nothing. It’s a great list, as good as any I’ve seen since social media exploded on the education landscape. Read and take note:

Most of my online crowd are savvy when it comes to the Internet. We know how to navigate, can spot shady characters at a glance, and can quickly spy inaccurate and poorly written content. However, there’s a whole generation of young people out there who don’t know any of this. And it’s not a slam on their intelligence, either. Not everyone knows enough about predators, privacy and SEO content to educate their kids, and it’s not something so quickly offered in school. We’re getting better at teaching our kids the ropes online, but there are still some areas in which we’re falling short.

Why are we so good about teaching our kids how to avoid shady situations in the real world, but remiss when it comes to the unsavory online stuff?

I recently experienced a circumstance where my son viewed something extremely adult online, despite parental control settings. And though I haven’t been too lax about keeping an eye on his online habits, it got me thinking about all the things all parents should be teaching their kids about using the Internet.

Here’s my list – I hope when you’re done reading, you’ll add your own items to the list because I know there’s much more.

  1. Not everything you read online is true: It used to be anything we read in print was true. We could trust newspapers, magazines and books as reliable sources of information. It’s not the same with the web. Since anyone can become published, some of the stuff you’re reading online isn’t true. Even worse, some people are just rewriting stuff they read from other people online, so you might be reading the same false information over and over again. Even Wikipedia isn’t necessarily a reliable source. If you’re researching something online, consider the source. Some poorly written, ramdom web page, isn’t necessarily a good source. However, if you find a .gov or .org site, the information has a better chance of being true. Always look at who owns the website and whether or not they have an agenda before considering whether or not certain information is true. Continue reading
Categories: social networks, teaching, Tech ed, tech security, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 48 Comments

Book Review: Digital Forensics With Open Source Tools

Digital Forensics with Open Source Tools: Using Open Source Platform Tools for Performing Computer Forensics on Target Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, etc.Digital Forensics with Open Source Tools

by Cory Altheide

Note: This review written as part of my Amazon Vine Voice series

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I write techno-thrillers, so I’m always looking for new ways to crack the tangled online lives of popular fictional characters, a blueprint for the next Digital Fortress. In the case of Altheide and Carvey’s Digital Forensics with Open Source Tools (Elsevier, 2011), I’ll have to keep looking, but I wasn’t disappointed. It delves into the equally obfuscated world of computer malfunctions. In plain English (as opposed to the acronyms more rampant in the geek world than the government), it details how to investigate a variety of problems on a variety of systems to find out what went wrong and how to fix it–using open source tools. The ‘fix it’ part is the digital forensics which the authors define as “the use of scientifically derived and proven methods toward the preservation, collection, validation, identification, analysis, interpretation, documentation and presentation of digital evidence derived from digital sources for the purpose of …reconstruction of events found to be criminal…” Continue reading

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Tech Tip #68: Check History in Your Browser

tech tipsAs a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:How do I check to see where my kids/students have been online without making them think I don’t trust them? Continue reading

Categories: free tech resources, keyboard shortcuts, tech security | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

3 Steps to Keep the Internet Child-Safe

The biggest concern I get from parents at my school is how to keep their children safe on the untamed internet.

It’s true, every website links to other places. Children click there by accident–and suddenly they’re where they shouldn’t be. Some parents I know forbid internet use without constant supervision, but that’s onerous to parents and hurts kids. Parents don’t have time to watch over their child’s shoulder (while they are trying to cook dinner, prepare for guests, watch the dog–or do their day job) and kids end up the losers (see this list of great websites for kids to see what they’d be missing).

Here’s what I do to balance both sets of needs: Continue reading

Categories: homeschool, internet, K-5 Tech training, teacher resources, teaching, tech security | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tech Tip #52: Roll Your Computer Back to a Problem-Free Date

tech tips

Weekly tech tips

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, homeschool, tech security, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Tech Tip #44: Clean Your Computer Weekly

tech tipsAs a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy! Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, free tech resources, internet, Parent resources, tech security, websites | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tech Tip #41: Repair Your Computer With System Restore

tech tipsAs a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  I don’t know what I did, but my computer doesn’t run right anymore. What can I do?

A:  With access to the internet, computer malfunctions have become even more prevalent than ever. Sometimes you download a program–or your child mistakenly pushes a button that allows malware on your computer. Suddenly, through no fault of your own, things just aren’t working right anymore.

This is so common that Microsoft has a program called System Restore on every computer with Windows operating system. System Restore is a utility that allows users to restore their Windows configurations to a previous state. While System Restore is often associated with providing recovery when driver or software installations go awry, it can really shine when spyware or other malevolent software compromises user machines. In many situations, this handy utility can roll back afflicted machines to a completely uninfected state. Of course, System Restore can work only when it is turned on and cataloging system states, so make sure it’s enabled on all user machines.

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Categories: Computer hardware, free tech resources, Parent resources, problem solving, tech security, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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