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Claims About Net Neutrality Used Biased Data, Researcher Says

The Free Press WV

As the Federal Communications Commission considers reversing net neutrality, researchers say a key assumption for the move does not hold water.

In his argument to revisit the Obama-era rule designed to protect a free and open Internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai cited a paper published in an academic journal that maintained the agency had failed to consider the economic impacts on industry.

But Jefferson Pooley, co-author of a new study published in the same International Journal for Communication, says Pai’s position is based on a paper riddled with factual errors and unsubstantiated claims.

“We showed that this core claim was incorrect, that, in fact, economists had been perhaps more active in coming up with the net neutrality rules than ever before,“ Pooley states.

Pooley’s team also found that the article cited by Pai was paid for by CALinnovates, a PR group that specializes in promoting policy for AT and T, an internet service provider that Pooley says could benefit if open Internet rules are reversed.

Proponents of rolling back net neutrality say regulating ISPs as a utility hampers innovation and investment.

Pooley maintains the failure to disclose industry funding amounts to “information laundering,“ making it possible for the FCC chairman to cite an academic publication without any trace of AT and T’s fingerprints.

He says it’s important for the public, and public officials, to know whose interests are behind research.

“We would probably dismiss a claim that AT and T made directly against net neutrality, since they stand to gain financially,” Pooley states. “So instead of making the argument directly, they funded academics who published an article in an academic journal.“

Pooley adds that CALinnovates threatened legal action against the journal and the University of Southern California, its host, unless material involving the firm was removed.

The FCC is accepting public comments on its plan, called “Restoring Internet Freedom,“ through Monday at www.fcc.gov.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Top STEAM Students to Attend National Youth Science Camp in WV

The Free Press WV

The brightest young minds from across the United States and eight other nations will be descending into the mountains of West Virginia for the annual National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) on June 14.

“Each state’s Governor has conducted a competition to select two students from their home state to jet into Yeager Airport in Charleston, WV, to join other top students from Central and South America for a month of learning, research, and dialogue encompassing topics in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts,” a spokes person said. “Situated deep in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, Camp Pocahontas will be the rustic home of over 100 students for nearly four weeks as they work and study side by side with top experts in STEAM fields from around the globe.”

Delegates will participate in a wide variety of activities that challenge them beyond their traditional learning while at Camp Pocahontas. Opportunities in art, music, and drama, as well as a myriad of outdoor activities including mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, caving, and mountain climbing afford each student an incredible range of experiences.

In addition to their time in West Virginia, delegates spend three days in the nation’s capitol participating in tours of national museums, meeting with US science policy makers, and attending a Senate luncheon in their own honor, sponsored by United States Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“Our goal at NYSCamp is STEAM enrichment and leadership development,” said John Giroir, Director and alumnus of the National Youth Science Camp. “We focus on engaging delegates with a broad spectrum of STEAM subjects and challenge them to set their sights on the stars. A number of NYSCamp alumni have and are trailblazing in many STEAM fields, which impact our world.”

About the NYSCamp: Operation and financial support for the NYSCamp is coordinated by the National Youth Science Foundation (a 501(c)(3) organization) with support from the State of West Virginia, the US State Department, and donations from alumni, corporations, and foundations. Through these valuable investments, delegates chosen from each state attend the NYSCamp “free of charge”, which allows these students to be selected based on academic merit and achievement, regardless of financial ability.

The staff of the NYSCamp, the NYSF and the State of West Virginia welcome these students from both hemispheres for a month of intense education,enrichment,  and adventure.

Started in 1963 as part of the state’s Centennial, the National Youth Science Camp is celebrating 54 years of operation. The NYSC has supported nearly 6,000 students over the past 54 years, providing a rigorous STEAM enrichment program in the mountains of West Virginia. This program has been a well-established response to the documented need for improved STEAM education among promising young minds across the country. This year, top STEAM students from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago will also participate through support from the US State Department’s Bureau of Exchange and Cultural Affairs.

NYSCamp is run by the National Youth Science Foundation, whose mission is to inspire lifelong engagement and ethical leadership in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related professions through its proven educational model for mentoring, challenging and motivating students. By building strong communities among students, teachers and professionals, NYSF programs complement, broaden and enhance the traditional school curriculum leading to careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related professions.

Progress Report on $160M Settlement with Frontier

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Frontier Communications has increased internet speeds for approximately 36 percent of customers impacted by its estimated $160 million settlement with West Virginia.

Frontier Communications entered into the settlement to resolve complaints about internet speeds provided to its customers. The agreement, announced in December 2015, marked the largest, independently negotiated consumer protection settlement in West Virginia history.

“My office continues to closely monitor Frontier’s compliance with our settlement,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This agreement improves connectivity for thousands in West Virginia. It’s also crucial to helping the state compete in this ever evolving world of digital technology.”

The multi-faceted agreement requires Frontier to invest at least $150 million in capital expenditures to increase internet speeds across West Virginia and lower monthly rates for affected consumers.

Frontier, to date, has spent $72.6 million in capital expenditures, funds which the company reports has increased internet speeds to 9,910 customers throughout West Virginia, according to the company’s most recent quarterly report filed with the Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Office, between 2013 and 2015, received multiple complaints from customers paying for Frontier’s high-speed service, which advertised internet speeds up to 6 megabits per second.

Many consumers advised their Frontier service was slow or did not meet expectations. The subsequent investigation found many customers expecting internet speeds “up to 6 Mbps” frequently received speeds 1.5 Mbps or lower.

Frontier denied any allegation of wrongdoing and entered into the settlement to resolve disputed claims without the necessity of protracted and expensive litigation.

The settlement specifically required Frontier to invest $150 million, in addition to its $180 million in planned upgrades as part of the federal government’s Connect America Fund II program.

The discounted monthly rate set bills for approximately 27,500 affected customers at $9.99 – a reduction expected to cost Frontier $6.25 million per year, which will shrink with time as the discount remains in effect until mandated improvements allow Frontier to increase existing download speeds.

Initiative to Fight Identity Theft

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has embarked upon a new initiative in the fight against identity theft, in particular theft that involves the skimming of credit and debit cards.

The Attorney General, in a letter to gasoline stations and convenience stores across West Virginia, requested information on ways to raise skimming awareness and prevention among business owners, managers and consumers.

“Importantly, this letter is not a part of an investigation into your business,” Attorney General Morrisey wrote. “We are asking for your input. With your help, our office hopes to create guidelines and strategies for helping retail gas and convenience store owners prevent and reduce skimming.”

Skimmers – handheld devices and others attached to gasoline pumps and automated teller machines – allow identity thieves to steal credit/debit card information from the card’s magnetic strip.

The devices store the stolen data until it is transferred onto a counterfeit card. Thieves then use the counterfeit replica to charge an untold number of purchases onto the cardholder’s account without authorization.

In some instances, thieves also use unauthorized cameras to record the consumer’s personal identification number.

Skimmers are increasingly difficult to detect due to advancements in technology, however consumers should watch for anything attached to a gas pump or ATM card slot. Susceptibility also can occur at restaurants, retail establishments and anywhere consumers lose sight of their card in making a purchase.

The Attorney General urges consumers to always use their chip card as opposed to swiping the magnetic strip. Also, they should cover the screen when typing PIN numbers, never share or write down such passcodes and refrain from choosing easy or obvious passwords, such as birthdays, a mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of a Social Security number.

A few things that can help those who fall prey to skimming include:

  • Place a fraud report with credit reporting agencies.
  • Contact your financial institution.
  • Order credit reports.
  • File a police report.

The Attorney General’s letter can be read at http://bit.ly/2pnFUnn.

For more information on skimming and identity theft, see a full brochure at http://bit.ly/2aaCejm.

Anyone who believes they have been the victim of identity theft should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1.800.368.8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304.267.0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

Five Technologies To Avoid In The Classroom-And What To Use Instead

In a technology-dependent education culture, are there some technologies to avoid? And if so, why, and what are better alternatives?

One of the most popular articles on eSchool Media is a surprising one to the editors: “6 apps that block social media distractions.” This story, which seemed  a bit counter-intuitive for us to write (being a tech-cheerleading publication in nature), has held the top spot by a massive margin for almost three years now; which had the editors considering the question, “Are there technologies that should simply be avoided in the classroom?”

Of course, the editors then had to ponder what would make a technology easier to avoid than try to implement, and came up with a list of broad technologies and technology trends that either A) caused, rather than eased, more problems and concerns in the classroom, and/or B) were not evolved enough to make an actual difference in teaching or learning.

And, not wanting to simply talk technology trash without offering some useful information, the editors then came up with the technology options that may be better suited for the intended classroom task.


5 Technologies to Avoid in the Classroom


1. Social Media:
This was the easiest to choose, thanks to our reigning king of articles mentioned above. Though social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for informal, personal use, most of education still has problems implementing these larger social media platforms for meaningful teaching and learning without running into privacy, security and cyberbullying headaches.

Better Option? Classroom-created forums. Many technology-savvy educators have deduced that perhaps the best way to mitigate social media distractions while still allowing for collaboration and discussion is to use a classroom or subject-specific forum or platform. In fact, according to EDUCAUSE, one of the core functions of the post-LMS era is to use a “next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE)” that “supports collaboration at multiple levels and make it easy to move between private and public digital spaces. The NGDLE must also include a requirement to move past a “walled garden” approach to locking down a course’s LMS, and instead enable a learning community to make choices about what parts are public and what parts are private.”

Outside of cloud-based or platform-enabled communication spaces, some apps even allow for project and assignment-only collaboration and organization, such as Slack (which Stanford uses for team communication and work management) and Trello (a project management app). Both are available for Android, as well.


2. Games
: There’s a lot to be said for gaming in specific areas of education, like for learning how to code or applying mathematical concepts to real-life technology. In fact, eSchool News recently wrote an article touting the benefits of game-based learning and describing how schools are effectively using game-based learning with great results. However, for the average non-STEM heavy course, using actual games to learn is still in its research infancy as to whether or not games provide any major benefits to learning. Compound this with the unfortunate reality that most gaming is still male-centric, doesn’t usually allow for multi-player experiences, and is new to many educators, the time it takes to vet and properly implement games may be more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Better Option? Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR). With AR or VR, educators can still boost student engagement while incorporating some of the best characteristics of visual technology: interaction and visual learning. With AR and VR, teachers can help students better understand abstract or difficult concepts, take learning outside the classroom while still incorporating technology, and strengthen emotional engagement in course material–all while incorporating the traditional gaming characteristics of play and humor. Read more about AR in K-12  HERE , as well as apps for AR HERE . Read more about VR in education HERE , as well as how some schools are seeing massive STEM gains with VR  HERE .


3. Untested Apps and Online Tools
: Thanks to the explosive growth of mobile technology and its use in education, apps and digital resources and tools across a host of platforms are also available…perhaps dizzyingly so. Checking education apps and tools on any large platform, like the Apple Store, for educator-based comments and reviews is tedious; and often challenges like apps and tools that are never updated, or apps and tools that don’t actually perform as promised cause more headaches then they’re worth.

Better Option? Vetted apps and tools. Because of the overwhelming choice of apps and digital tools and resources that currently exist for education, some notable industry companies and organizations have taken the time to vet these tools for educators, using a selection process based on their own experience as well as feedback from teachers and administrators. For example, Common Sense Media reviews apps, digital tools and much more, providing feedback from educators when applicable. You can find their vetted apps here on eSchool News, as well as their “EdTech Eleven” monthly tool and resource picks HERE .


4. Anything That’s Not Accessible
: With the growth of online and blended education options, as well as digital tools and technologies, accessibility has become a hot-button issue in education. Accessibility not only applies to technology hardware and software, but to school websites, classroom content, and literally anything on the cloud.

Better Option? Consult IT First. During an EDUCAUSE 2015 conference, a panel of education IT experts were asked to discuss accessibility issues as they related not just to overall school technology, but specifically to classroom materials and technology. EDUCAUSE even has its own IT Accessibility Constituent Group that its members can consult for accessibility advice. You can find a rundown of proactive accessibility considerations from a recent toolkit  HERE , but it’s also a good idea to consult your school or district’s IT department before implementing any kind of new technology. A step-by-step guide for making online learning accessible is available  HERE , and video accessibility compliance steps can be found  HERE .


5. Device-Specific Technology
: In the war of iPads versus Chromebooks versus Androids, honing in on apps, platforms or branded software that are only compatible with one kind of technology is usually a mistake, thanks to the quick turnover of many of these devices. Also, technology that doesn’t work well with others (think older LMS’ that refuse to integrate with other school or classroom software) is not a smart, future-looking option.

Better Option? Interoperable, Device-Agnostic TechnologyAccording to educational experts, the best approach to supporting BYOD for instruction is the “device-agnostic” class. To help smooth out some of the BYOD-related bumps in the classroom, applications like Haiku Deck (presentation software), Tackk (a multimedia scrolling poster), and Snapguide (for creating step-by-step guides) are all offered in iOS, Android, and/or web versions. The latter, for example, uses a browser-based interface to allow students to access the application from any device–regardless of operating system–and use it online without having to worry about software incompatibility issues.

One of the newer entrants to the device-agnostic BYOD market is EXO U, a platform that allows teachers to share information and collaborate with students across multiple operating systems. Shan Ahdoot, CEO of the San Francisco-based firm, says such applications help educators get “everyone on the same page” quickly and effectively without wasting classroom time or IT resources. “The goal is to create a consistent experience from phone to laptop to interactive whiteboard,” says Ahdoot.

~~  Meris Stansbury   ~~

G-ICYMI™: WV’s Broadband Ranking

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

WV RANKS 48 IN REAL BROADBAND ACCESS IN USA

Frontier Communications and cable companies like Suddenlink are opposing the West Virginia Legislature’s latest attempt to improve high-speed internet across the state.

At a public hearing Friday, lobbyists for Frontier and the cable industry skewered parts of a bill (HB3093) that would authorize a pilot project in which three cities or counties would band together to build a broadband network and offer internet service to customers.

The industry lobbyists said legislation should target areas without high-speed internet — not places that already have service.

“When you spend taxpayer dollars and resources to focus on areas that already have broadband just so you can have a third or fourth choice, you are denying and depriving service to those who have none,” said Kathy Cosco, a Frontier executive and lobbyist.

Frontier and cable internet providers also oppose a section of the bill that would allow 20 or more families or businesses to form nonprofit co-ops that would provide internet service in rural areas.

Mark Polen, who represents the cable industry, said the bill should be changed to “make it clear these pilot projects and co-ops can’t be deployed where there’s already service.”

“That would be critical to the protection of our investment,” Polen said. “Anything that’s going to result in public subsidies being given to those that are going to overbuild private investment is not the proper policy. Let’s focus on the unserved areas and not allow this program to turn into an overbuilding initiative.”

Smaller internet providers like Bridgeport-based Citynet support the legislation. Citynet CEO Jim Martin told lawmakers that Frontier and the cable industry want to shut out competitors and protect their stranglehold on broadband service across the state.

“There is a reason they’re opposed to it, and that’s because this bill is going to enable competition,” Martin said.

Frontier, which is the largest internet provider in the state, also opposes a section of the bill that bars companies from advertising maximum or “up to” speeds. That measure aims to block firms from advertising internet speeds that they seldom — or never — deliver to customers.

Cosco said the measure unfairly stops companies from touting improved service. Frontier stopped advertising an “up to” speed in 2014, she said.

“If providers aren’t allowed to promote the service that’s available, it would be detrimental to the state’s economic development,” Cosco said.

Martin said his company would have no problem whatsoever with the ban on deceptive advertising. Internet providers would still be able to advertise minimum download and upload speeds available to customers.

“If you have a network and you’re comfortable with it, you should be able to advertise your minimum speed, and then stick with it,” Martin said. “It’s fantastic we aren’t going to allow for false advertising and representations of an ‘up to’ speed.”

Speakers at the public hearing also praised the bill for establishing procedures that would give internet providers quicker access to telephone poles used to hang fiber cable. Smaller firms said they sometimes have to wait months or years to use the poles.

But Cosco said the proposed changes conflict with Federal Communication Commission rules. And a leader of a union that represents Frontier technicians said the proposed pole procedures pose a safety risk.

“It would allow unqualified personnel from third-party contractors to transfer equipment on a utility pole to make room for a new provider’s equipment,” said Elaine Harris, who represents the Communications Workers of America in West Virginia.

ORIGINAL STORY 03.16.2017 – West Virginia lawmakers unveiled comprehensive broadband legislation Thursday that aims to spur competition among internet providers in rural areas and stop deceptive advertising about internet speeds.

House Bill 3093 would allow up to three cities or counties to start a pilot project by banding together and building a broadband network that provides high-speed internet service. Twenty or more families or businesses in rural communities also could form nonprofit co-ops that would qualify for federal grants to expand internet service, according to the bill.

“This is superb,” said Ron Pearson, a retired federal bankruptcy judge and broadband expansion advocate. “We’ve got to have competition in providing internet and other services that travel over fiber to households and businesses or we’re going to be stuck in the dark ages of competition in West Virginia.”

Lobbyists for Frontier Communications and cable internet providers already are raising objections to the legislation. The bill will face tough sledding in the Senate. Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, also works as Frontier’s sales director in West Virginia.

“We believe connecting West Virginia citizens is vital to our shared success, and any legislative proposal should focus on reaching the unserved and rural markets of our state,” Frontier spokesman Andy Malinoski said. “We are, however, concerned that House Bill 3093 may not accomplish that goal.”

Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, gave a 30-minute overview of the broadband legislation Thursday in the House chamber. Lawmakers have been working on the bill for months.

One of the bill’s key selling points: It requires no state funding — welcome news as lawmakers grapple with a $500 million budget deficit.

“We need revenue-neutral solutions to problems,” Hanshaw told lobbyists and fellow lawmakers who attended his presentation. “This is such a bill.”

In addition to broadband co-ops, the legislation would forbid internet companies from falsely advertising maximum download speeds — also referred to as “up to” speeds — while providing significantly slower speeds to customers. The internet firms could still advertise minimum internet service speeds.

Frontier, West Virginia’s largest internet provider, faces a class-action lawsuit over false advertising. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also has taken the company to task over internet speeds.

“This [section of the bill] protects consumers from deceptive advertising,” Hanshaw said.

The legislation also expands the powers of the state Broadband Enhancement Council.

The 13-member panel would be responsible for collecting data about internet speeds and broadband service across the state — and publishing the “mapping” information. Data would be collected voluntarily from internet providers and consumers.

West Virginia ranks 48th in the nation for broadband accessibility.

“More data is always better,” Hanshaw said. “It gives businesses looking to locate here a definitive tool they can use to make decisions on where to locate a facility.

” Also under the bill:

The broadband council would collect and distribute grant money. The council also would act as a “think tank” and make recommendations to the Legislature.

Internet providers could string fiber-optic cable in shallow “micro-trenches,” which are less expensive to dig than traditional utility trenches.

Companies wanting to expand broadband could place their fiber on telephone poles more quickly under new, expedited procedures.

A program would allow landowners to voluntarily grant easements for fiber lines.

~~  Eric Eyre Gazette-Mail ~~

4 Good Computer Habits Every Teacher Should Have

The Free Press WV

They say computers make life easier. They sometimes make our lives miserable.

How many of these habits are a part of your teaching life?


1. Back up your computer:
This may sound old-school, and you’ve probably heard people say it all the time; but let me tell you again that backup is the single most effective way to prevent data loss.

You may think data loss will never happen to you, but it happens to everyone at some point. It’s often too late when you realize it, the moment when you accidentally deleted a student’s assignment from your flash drive; worse yet, when your computer crashed all of a sudden due to unexpected errors. Having an up-to-date backup will avoid frustration and save you time to restore.

How to do? If you are using a PC or Mac, you can set up Windows System Backup or Time Machine to backup your computer regularly. For those important files, such as the students’ assignments and your teaching materials, make sure you also save at least one copy saved to an external hard drive. Another alternative that’s also convenient nowadays is online backup. For example, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox all make it easy for us to upload files to the cloud and their services are free to get started. See also: An appliance approach to data backup.


2. Clean your desktop and hard drive:
We all like to save files and folders to the computer desktop to make them easier to access. You probably never locate a file by clicking “This PC” (for Windows) or “Macintosh HD” (for macOS) because it’s a waste of time. But if your computer desktop looks cluttered with dozens of files, folders, or shortcut icons, it’s time to clean them up a little bit. Not only does a cluttered desktop affect your productivity, as files are harder to find, but it can even slow down your computer if you use a Mac.

Likewise, clean up your hard drive. Research shows that the first 50 percent of a hard drive performs better than the second 50 percent due to the way disk storage works. Also, if the internal hard drive of your computer is almost full, chances are everything will slow down and you’ll wait longer for your PC to fully startup, and apps won’t run any quicker than before.

How to do? Start by transferring large files to an external drive, then delete duplicates and remove third-party programs you no longer use. Last but never least, be more organized by having fewer folders to categorize all the files you have—your computer will be more productive and so will you.


3. Wipe your old computer or device:
Technology evolves fast. Chances are you’ll get a new computer (or a mobile phone) every several years. What about the old computer or device? You probably want to trade in or sell it; or if you’re kind, you may choose to donate it so teachers and students in poor areas can benefit from technology. But one thing you should remember to do before you let your device go—wipe out all data on the device. Wiping is critical because your computer or device may fall into wrong hands, thus putting your personal data at risk.

How to do? If you are a tech-savvy teacher, you know that data recovery is often possible even if you’ve emptied Recycle Bin or Trash or formatted a hard drive. For example, we all delete pictures or videos to free up space, but they can often be retrieved by photo recovery software. How do you erase these old devices? Visit your device manufacturer’s official website, do a quick search, and you should be able to find related guides.


4. Set strong and different passwords:
If you have a Yahoo account, you probably heard that Yahoo announced 1 billion user accounts were hacked, and that was right before the holiday season in 2016. I use Yahoo’s email services, and at that time I received a notification from Yahoo security center with one important message about changing my password. I also remember one day a friend shared with me this PCMag article. I laughed because I had exactly three passwords for almost all my online accounts because I hated to reset passwords for security concerns.

What to do? Even if you think you have a strong password that no one can hack, you might be wrong because yesterday’s clever tricks could be dated to protect today’s hackers. A few password principles you should have are: 1) always set a login password for your computer and important folders, 2) don’t save your password in any web browsers, 3) use unique passwords for all sites, 4) manage them with a password management tool like LastPass or Roboform, and 5) change passwords on a regular basis, just in case.

In the digital age, computers are like co-workers. Building good computer habits will not only boost your productivity but also help you live a healthier lifestyle. What other good or bad computer habits do you think teachers should have or get rid of?

Cyberbullying Is NOT A Technology Issue-Here’s How To Really Combat It

If schools and parents want to combat cyberbullying, they need to understand relational aggression first.
The Free Press WV

Cyberbullying continues to grow and present itself as a huge challenge for schools, government policy makers, stakeholders, parents and the community—but is regulating access to technology and social media the answer?

Though the online platforms may be relatively new, cyberbullying should not be separated from bullying. Both behaviors are about relationship power and control, otherwise known as “relational bullying;” therefore, it requires a relationship management-based type of approach in dealing with its impact and prevention.

When conducting my Digital Age Parenting classes, one of the things I share with parents is information about how their child is using a device to say and do things to hurt someone or put themselves in danger. However, the device is only facilitating the interaction between the person and the situation.

Dr. Satira S. Streeter, a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder and executive director of Ascensions Psychological and Community Services, explains that parents shouldn’t limit access to the internet; rather, more focus should be on the behavior instead of their child’s technology use.

Because the internet is now integral to learning and social interactions, focusing on technology alone, grounding children from using it at home, expelling children from school because of its misuse, and tougher laws are not the answers. So, then, what are the answers?


The Relational Bullying Basics

Relational Bullying (or Relational Aggression) is a form of bullying that common amongst youth and more so among girls. It involves social manipulation such as group exclusion, spreading rumors, sharing secrets, and recruiting others to dislike a person. Relational bullying can be used as a tool by bullies to both improve their social standing and control others.
And though relational bullying has been around for quite some time, the concept of bullying is getting more attention now than a few years ago. One of the reasons for this additional attention is the proliferance of cyberbullying caused by many youth feeling that apps offer anonymity, which can therefore decrease accountability—especially since many youth believe cyberbullying can’t be traced by law enforcement.

A number of lives have also been cut short due to the growth of cyberbullying.

In the recent December 2016 case of a high school senior that committed suicide due to cyberbullying, the victim appeared to have done everything right: She told her father about the bullying incidents, and she also told the police. However, because the app used to bully her was one of anonymity, the police could not trace her harassers.

What more could have been done? We may never know the answer; however, this issue needs to be addressed within a broader social context and a range of developed and taught skills, rather than simply limiting access to technology and its platforms. After all, human behavior is learned.


1. Teach Resilience as a Skill

Teaching social and emotional resilience in schools and communities will have a greater effect than policy regulation or legislation in dealing with cyberbullying. Children should be taught a range of social and emotional skills early in school so that it will assist them in dealing with these issues. Skills like pro-social values, emotional skills, social skills and high-order thinking skills would better equip them should they be the victim of this unwanted behavior.

Lack of knowledge creates gaps, and allowing students to be part of the solution through their learning will enhance their ability to prevent and intervene in bullying situations sooner rather than later. If school is about preparing children for life, then digital literacy topics like cyberbullying should be no exception.


2. Create Better Resources

Scholars also need to be involved in the creation of materials or resources for the promotion of socially acceptable behavior, as well as front runners in raising awareness.


3. Allow for Community Involvement

Finally, platforms that allow for open discussions about what users do online and offline are also needed. Educating every area of our communities is just as important as the young people within them.

Dr. William Blake, principal of Stephan Decatur Middle School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, says he and his administration spend 85 percent of their time dealing with conflicts between their students that began on social media or text messages. He says that by educating and raising awareness, and forming partnerships with school, family and community organizations like SafeCyber that educates communities on topics like cyberbullying, that number will begin to drop.


More Effective than Turning to Law

Because cyberbullying knows no geographical boundaries and commonly occurs outside of school, the ethical and legal issues regarding cyberbullying provide concern for teachers, schools and parents due to limited clarity. Therefore, I argue that initiatives and programs which focus on the enhancement of positive relationships and the development of behavioral skills are more effective in dealing with the impacts of cyberbullying.

~~  Reginald Corbitt   ~~

Computer Science Program Celebrating 30 Years at GSC

Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These occupations are expected to add new jobs in part due to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, expansion of the ‘Internet of Things,’ and the continued demand for mobile computing.

Glenville State College has a well-established Computer Science and Information Systems program that will be celebrating a 30 year anniversary in 2017. For interested students, concentrations are available in architecture & security or in programming, either of which can lead to a challenging and rewarding career.

After graduation students should be prepared to design, maintain, and troubleshoot networks; write, debug, and maintain applications in Java and C++; design, develop, and maintain websites using HTML5, PHP, and MySQL; and design and maintain databases using SQL. Students can quickly put their degree to use in entry level positions as a network engineer, database administrator, web developer, application programmer, or system administrator.

The Free Press WV
University students in Puebla, Mexico answer questions from a Glenville State College student about her web design project


Former students in the program cite personal attention from the experienced faculty as their favorite part of being a Pioneer.

“There are a lot of professors out there who teach, but rarely will you find ones who inspire. For me, it happened my first day working with Leslie Ward (GSC’s past website technologist and current computer science professor). I was struggling with going to a class because it felt repetitive. She pointed out that no two teachers are the same, and one might cover a different area on the subject of study. I ended up going and really enjoyed and actually understood the subject a lot more. The instructor went out of his way to try to make subjects more enjoyable and had us do projects that helped us think of out of the box solutions,” said recent graduate Kevin Carson. Before completing his degree, Carson had already started his own web design and tech business, Forever Logic, and has continued it for eight years now.

GSC’s Computer Science program has also taken part in Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) courses to expand global learning opportunities. Students in a GSC web design class worked with students enrolled in a business course at the Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla in Mexico. During scheduled video chats throughout the semester, GSC students interacted with the students in Puebla and discussed business practices and etiquette in an international context. The collaboration culminated with a final project in which the web design students learned how to work with an international client to develop a website while the business students honed their English-speaking skills and learned about marketing to other cultures.

The professors in GSC’s Computer Science program are from a variety of professional backgrounds including information systems security, programming, database administration, and networking. The program is reevaluated constantly to match skills learned with expectations from industry professionals.

“I feel really lucky to be able to teach Computer Science courses at Glenville State College. I’ve had the good fortune of working for large organizations including the U.S. Air Force and Hewlett Packard, of being an independent contractor, and of working with small start-ups. It’s a lot of fun to be able to bring some of those experiences into the classroom to augment what we’re reading about in the texts. The small class size allows me to work closely with my students on projects, too, and I feel like I’m able to deliver relevant content more effectively as a result,” said Ward.

Students with a variety of existing skill levels are welcome to enroll in the program. Instructors in the program also administer the introductory computing skills course to all students, regardless of major.

For more information about the Computer Science and Information Systems program at GSC, contact 304.462.4123.

GSC Professor to Lead Local Science Series

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Glenville State College Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Gary Morris will be participating in a special four-part reading, viewing, and discussion program for adults. The free series, titled ‘Pushing the Limits,’ will take place at the Burnsville Public Library (BPL). The events will be held at 6:00 p.m. on the following Tuesdays: January 24, February 21, March 21, and April 25.

The Library is one of a number of rural public libraries nationwide receiving grants to host the series which centers on the topics of science and technology. Pushing the Limits brings together books and videos featuring authors, scientists, and everyday people who thrive on exploring the natural world.

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Dr. Gary Morris


The Pushing the Limits program will explore ideas through discussions that will include feature film quality videos and recommended popular books. The overarching theme is one of real people, real stories, and real science. Group discussion events will be held monthly centering on the following books and topics in the following order:

  • When the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle (nature)
  • Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (connection)
  • Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler (survival)
  • The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel (knowledge)

Discussion of the content will be led by Morris.

“Mrs. Beth Anderson, Director of the Burnsville Library, reached out to me to inquire if Glenville State College would be interested in participating in this program. I thought it represented a wonderful opportunity for a member of the College to directly engage members of the local community so I accepted the invitation to participate. I have never been a part of a program like this but I think the idea is a very good one: using science-based topics presented in books of fiction as a platform to talk about real science in current events. I look forward to having great discussions with participants who attend each of the scheduled events,” said Morris.

Interested participants should contact the Burnsville Public Library to obtain copies of books for the program. The materials are not required for participation in the program.

This national program was developed by a team of library professionals, scientists, and filmmakers. Their organizations include Dartmouth College, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Califa Group (a California-based library consortium), Dawson Media Group, and Oregon State University – with generous funding from the National Science Foundation.

The BPL is located across from the Burnsville Elementary School at 235 Kanawha Avenue in Burnsville, West Virginia. For more information, contact the Library at 304.853.2338.

As Trump Meets Tech CEOs, “Silicon Valley Rising” Calls For Resistance

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“Millions of families — undocumented workers, union members, women, Muslim Americans, low-wage workers who could lose healthcare or affordable housing — are living in fear of what comes next. ” – Silicon Valley Rising

Silicon Valley Rising is a coalition of community, faith-based and labor organizations that represent tech’s service workers. The coalition warns that “Trump’s policies present a dire threat to the lives and well-being of workers and contractors across the tech sector … be they immigrants, women, workers or Muslim Americans,” and are calling on tech companies “to play a leadership role in resisting unjust policies if they are put forward by the Trump Administration.”


Tech Oligarchs Meet Trump

Tech CEOs (a.k.a billionaires and a few lowly multimillionaires) (a.k.a “oligarchs”) met with President-Elect Donald Trump (billionaire, oligarch) Wednesday as tech’s workers called on them to “to take a stand and resist threats to the rights of workers, consumers and the communities they live in.”

Only heads of the largest companies were invited. Heads of startups and smaller tech companies were also not present. As the NY Times reported,

“This is a truly amazing group of people,” Mr. Trump said. “I won’t tell you the hundreds of calls we’ve had asking to come to this meeting.” Everyone laughed.

… Shortly after that, the press was ushered out of the room. It wasn’t immediately clear what unfolded after that.

However Twitter was cut from the meeting in retribution for the company refusing to create a “#CrookedHillary” emoji for the Trump campaign.


Oligarchs Want To Pocket Taxes They Owe

The tech oligarchs want deals to let them off the hook for taxes they owe on profits they have stashed in offshore tax havens. Companies have around $2.5 trillion of profits, on which they owe more than $700 billion in taxes. (See the Monday NYT op-ed Corporate Welfare Won’t Create Jobs.) Technology corporations have 29% of all untaxed offshore profits.

 

Will We the People get that $700 billion, or will Trump let them pocket it for themselves?


Oligarchs Likely Did Not Talk About Workers, Climate Change

While Silicon Valley Rising had asked the tech oligarchs to discuss “threats to the rights of workers, consumers and the communities they live in” other tech voices had also been speaking out out other Trump threats. From the NY Times report:

In the days and hours before the meeting, various factions made their positions clear. A group of engineers and other tech workers issued a statement asserting they would refuse to participate in the creation of databases that could be used by the government to target people based on their race, religion or national origin.

… Another group of entrepreneurs assembled virtually this week with the same goal of preventing any erosion of civil liberties. They also accepted “a responsibility to partner with communities where the effects of rapidly changing technologies have hurt our fellow Americans.” …

There is no indication whether any of these issues of concern were discussed. According to a Guardian report on the meeting, Trump did promise to make it easier to sell their products across borders:

The president-elect told the assembled CEOs that he would eliminate restrictions on international trade, a statement at odds with his hard stance against the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during his campaign.

Climate change is another area of importance for tech companies, like Tesla, maker of electric cars and batteries. It is not clear if this was discussed with Trump, who says climate change is a “hoax.”


The Full Silicon Valley Rising Statement

Silicon Valley Rising issued this statement:

We believe President-Elect Trump’s campaign commitments to deport millions of people, ban Muslims from entering the country and create a registry of Muslim Americans stand in stark contrast with the values many tech companies and industry leaders purport to uphold while also directly threatening workers within the sector.

President-Elect Trump’s policies present a dire threat to the lives and well-being of workers and contractors across the tech sector whose hard work day in and day out makes the success of these industries possible, and to millions of their customers  —  be they immigrants, women, workers or Muslim Americans.

Now is the time for the tech industry to step up as leaders, speak truth to power and live out the values of freedom, inclusion and opportunity. In doing so, the industry has an opportunity to be a beacon of hope for millions of Americans fearful of what comes next, and a model for how companies can begin to address the greatest economic challenges facing working families.

As leaders of community and faith-based organizations and labor unions who represent workers in the tech sector across Silicon Valley, we urge companies attending Wednesday’s meeting to play a leadership role in resisting unjust policies if they are put forward by the Trump Administration. Specifically, we call on companies to refuse to cooperate in the development of any registry monitoring Muslim Americans, sharing user and employee information or otherwise collaborate with law enforcement agencies to investigate violations of federal immigration law.

Since 2014, our Coalition has been working to encourage the largest companies in the tech sector to build an economy that works for everyone. We believe now more than ever is the time for technology companies to take actions to improve the economic prospects for workers in their operations including adopting responsible contractor standards to raise wages, improve conditions and support workers’ voices in their supply chains.

The solutions that address economic inequality in the tech sector are not going to come from the Trump Administration delivering tax cuts or slashing regulation for the industry. Instead, tech companies can begin to address these issues by leveraging the enormous power of their companies, their platforms and their supply chains to raise wages and job standards for their workers and contractors, positioning the tech sector as an example for industries across the economy.

Millions of families — undocumented workers, union members, women, Muslim Americans, low-wage workers who could lose healthcare or affordable housing — are living in fear of what comes next. At a time when racism, bigotry and economic hardship are driving our politics, it’s time for leaders in the tech sector to stand up for our communities and use their immense power and resources for good.

~~  Dave Johnson ~~

Frontier Starts to Resolve Speed Complaints

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The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office says Frontier Communications has increased internet speeds for almost one-fourth of nearly 28,000 customers covered by the December settlement to resolve complaints over slow service.

The agreement requires Frontier to make at least $150 million in capital expenditures over three years to increase internet speeds.

According to the attorney general, Frontier has spent almost $49 million so far and reports increasing internet speeds to 6,320 customers.

Customers paying for high-speed service up to 6 megabits per second complained they frequently received speeds 1.5 mbps or lower.

Frontier agreed to temporarily reduce monthly rates to $9.99 until download speeds increased, saving them $10 to $20 a month.

Frontier, which denied wrongdoing, has estimated the rate cut will cost it about $1.5 million quarterly.

West Virginia Ranks 37th on National Science Assessment

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West Virginia students who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science exam in 2015 showed improvement according to data released today by the National Center for Educational Statistics. Both fourth- and eighth-grade students in West Virginia ranked 37th out of the 47 jurisdictions who participated.

Overall average scale scores increased for both fourth- and eighth-grade test takers, with fourth-grade scores increasing from 148 in 2009 to 151 in 2015 and eighth-grade scores increased from 145 in 2009 to 150 in 2015. The percent of students at or above proficient increased from 28.08% to 31.35% in grade four and 22.10% to 26.61% in grade eight. West Virginia’s scores followed the national trend which also showed improvement.

“I am pleased to see our students are moving in the right direction,” said State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Martirano. “In order to ensure our students are prepared for the 21st century world of work, we must focus on the development of critical thinking skills in the areas of math and science which the jobs of the future are going to require.”

NAEP, often referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card,” is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in various subject areas. The 2015 science assessment was given between January and March, with more than 115,000 fourth-graders and nearly 111,000 eighth-graders participating nationally, representing both public and private schools.

Nationally, nearly all racial/ethnic groups made gains, and the White-Black and White-Hispanic achievement gaps have narrowed in grades four and eight since 2009. Additionally, there was no statistically significant difference in average scores between boys and girls.

NAEP is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Full results for the nation and states are available online at www.nationsreportcard.gov.

GSC Chi Beta Phi members participate in National Conference

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On Saturday, October 01, 2016, eleven members of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Chi Beta Phi and two other members of the Glenville State College community attended the 69th National Conference of Chi Beta Phi. The conference was hosted by the Zeta Chapter of the organization at the Eshelman Science Center on the Davis & Elkins College campus in Elkins, West Virginia. The faculty members of Alpha Iota Chapter present were Larry Baker (Associate Advisor of the Chapter), Wenwen Du, Kevin Evans, Jeremy Keene, and Paul Peck (Chapter Advisor). Student members who attended the conference were Brianna Caison, Samuel Canfield (Chapter President), Tara Evans, Carrie Huffman, Kelly Weaver, and Zachary White. Professor Alan Daniel and Chris Carver from Glenville State College also attended the afternoon session of the conference.

During the morning session the chapters present gave reports on their activities for the past year. National officers were also elected for two-year terms. The conference then witnessed a presentation by Professor Renaud Stauber of the Davis & Elkins College mathematics department entitled ‘Piezo-electric polymers: Making a space antenna with Saran-Wrap and double-sticky tape.’

In the afternoon session, 22 presentations of student research were made. Glenville State College students gave six of these presentations, the most by any chapter present.

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Caison presented ‘Psychological Pain in the Praying Mantis, Tenodera Sinensis.’ Her research mentor was Professor Daniel. The presentation received a third place award.

Her research took place over a six week period during the summer. “In studying the simplified nervous system of mantids, we can look at things like depression and opioid dependency. We can then hope to use the information on a larger scale as a model for human problems,” Caison said.

She plans on joining the Navy after graduation and eventually becoming a surgeon. Caison credits her advisor and other professors at GSC with helping her work toward achieving her goals. She said they also give the campus and the Science Hall, where she has spent countless hours completing research, a special feel. “They make it a home away from home,” she added.

The five other GSC students also spoke about their various research projects at the conference.

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Canfield presented ‘Bellamya chinensis and Lymnaea stagnalis mortality in the presence of Macrobdella decora.’ He worked with Todd Crowl and Kristin Bahleda at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center East during the summer of 2016.

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Evans presented ‘anti-Markovnikov Hydrobromination of Alkenes.’ Professor Evans was her research mentor. Her research was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

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Huffman presented ‘Evolutionary Analysis of Monopyle (Gesneriaceae) from Central America.’ Her research was under the direction of Professor Keene and was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

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Weaver presented ‘Optimizing the Reaction Conditions for the anti-Markovnikov Hydrobromination of Alkenes.’ Professor Evans was her research mentor. Weaver’s research was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

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White presented ‘Water Use of Mature Oak Trees.’ Glenville State College Professor Rico Gazal was his research mentor. White’s research was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

“The faculty in the Science and Mathematics, Land Resources, and Social Science Departments at Glenville State College are doing an excellent job providing our students with opportunities to participate in STEM-related research. Our faculty are also doing an excellent job helping the students attend professional meetings, such as the Chi Beta Phi National Conference, where the students can present their research experience and results to a broader audience. This is something our faculty are passionate about as evidenced by the number of faculty who went on a Saturday with our students to the Chi Beta Phi National Conference,” said Department Chair and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Gary Morris.

In the award ceremony at the end of the conference, GSC’s Alpha Iota Chapter was recognized as the Most Improved Chapter. All presenters received a presentation award. National President Bill Pohley announced that Alpha Iota Chapter will host the 70th National Conference of Chi Beta Phi on the Glenville State College campus next fall.

Chi Beta Phi is a scientific honorary for undergraduates. An affiliate of The American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1935, the object of the organization is to promote interest in science and to give recognition to scholarly attainment in science. Members participate together in events of scientific interest and wholesome fellowship. Membership is open to honor students in various scientific disciplines and to faculty members at colleges with local chapters. Alpha Iota Chapter at Glenville State College was chartered in 1964 and has been continuously active since then.

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