[Hacker Highschool : Cyberbullying : “Alex Wonder” game helps kids fight cyberbullying]

One major Hacker Highschool lesson we projected was Lesson 22, Cyberbullying. At SchoolforHackers.com we’ll move forward at a much faster pace on this issue, particularly if we keep getting good submissions.

Material dealing with cyberbullying is available by the ton on the Internet, but as with all subjects, separating the wheat from the chaff is difficult.

Some authorities suggest reporting bullying immediately; here in New Mexico, that will get you branded as a snitch, which will not be good for your future health. Others suggest turning the tables and finding ways to turn the brutality back on the bully. While this may be satisfying, it also simply perpetuates bullying.

How about one of the popular trends in training, “game-ification?” WiredSafety.org is trying this approach,¬† as Hope Gillette reports on Voxxi.com:

Alex Wonder Kid Cyberdetective is a new game introduced by WiredSafety.org designed to help children safely navigate the Internet. Children follow the adventures of Alex Wonder as he helps children learn to identify the warning signs of cyberbullying and learn how to responsibly use the Internet.

The basic technique is “stop, block and tell.” I personally become immediately skeptical, for the reason I mention above. But the game-based learning style may be effective. You can download the game from StopCyberbullying.org; it requires that Adobe Air be installed.

If you give it a try please drop me a line and tell me what you think.

The people at CallerSmart.com have an interesting piece, “What is Cyberbullying and How to Stop It” (https://www.callersmart.com/articles/49/What-Is-Cyberbullying-and-How-to-Stop-It). There are some excellent charts about the laws on bullying and sexting in the different US states, and my particular interest, some discussion of tactics for dealing with bullying.

My question to my readers is: Will these methods work? Do you know of any, or of better ones? Register to comment on SchoolforHackers.com and tell us what you think.


Honest businesses are shutting down rather than participate in NSA spying on YOU

For all the talk of transparency, the Obama administration sure does prosecute the hell out of whistle-blowers. For all the talk of hope and change and trusting him, he sure has embraced the rapidly expanding security structure his predecessor (Dick Cheney) built.

It’s a basic tenet of trust: if you do not trust me, don’t expect me to trust you. You don’t have to be an ISECOM Certified Trust Analyst to understand this.

So it sucks that email provider Lavabit chose to shut down rather than open its users encrypted email to the Feds. Provider Silent Circle followed within 24 hours. Lavabit founder Ladar Levison, who emphatically DOES know about email, has decided to stop using it at all. And loudly broadcasting that any business with ties to the US (such as operating on US soil) must repeat MUST NOT BE TRUSTED. Your private life, your personal communications, your comings and goings, your friends – they have all been pwned. By the Feds.

“There’s information that I can’t even share with my lawyer, let alone with the American public. So if we’re talking about secrecy, you know, it’s really been taken to the extreme, and I think it’s really being used by the current administration to cover up tactics that they may be ashamed of,” Levison said.


Educational Models: Massively Open Online Courses

I’ve been managing the Hacker Highschool v.2 project for over a year now, and it’s become nearly an (unpaid) full-time job driven, to some degree, by altruism. The requests we at ISECOM (the creator of Hacker Highschool) are fielding include online courses, teacher training and certification, online communities for both students and teachers, answer keys for the exercises and a whole lot more.

All this has us thinking about the learning styles of both adults and teens. Many of my friends are teachers at UNM, CNM and other institutions, and several of them have led “hybrid” courses that include both time in class and time online with the class community. We’ve all taught the traditional in-classroom courses, and some of us have developed e-learning materials that students use on their own.

What would you think works best? In-class, followed by hybrid, followed by solo e-learning, right?


The hybrid classes are substantially better for younger learners. That makes this model attractive for Hacker Highschool, but perhaps less so for trainings that involve older learners.

How about duration models? Is the weekend “boot camp” less effective than a class that meets 12 hours a week for three weeks? Is a semester-long, three-hours-per-week traditional 16-week class even better? I wish I could tell you, but the evidence is all over the map. Many of my colleagues are leery, though, of the boot camp format, simply because people can’t do intensive learning eight hours¬† a day.

So what about MOOCs, massively open online courses? “Free education for everybody” sounds nice, but students and cultures are so extremely diverse that it’s hard to imagine, much less construct, courses that work for “everybody.”

Consider this article, “A MOOC Delusion: Why Visions to Educate the World Are Absurd”. http://chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/a-mooc-delusion-why-visions-to-educate-the-world-are-absurd/32599. Ghanashyam Sharma, an assistant professor in writing and rhetoric at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, argues that “No matter how much hype is generated or money is invested in accessing learners worldwide, the ‘massive’ component and the lack of student-teacher interaction will continue to plague this mode of online education for non-American learners.”