Introduction for Educators
You may be wondering, "what use can
this book have to an educator?" But in fact, this book can be
an outstanding (if not essential) resource for teachers at the
middle school, high school, or university level.
With computers prevalent in today's classrooms,
many teachers tend to focus exclusively on using the computer and rarely deal with security issues. It's not uncommon for classroom computers to be infected with viruses and spyware - especially
in those classrooms where students are allowed to browse the internet or install their own software.
Computer security should be a basic first step covered in every class where a computer is used - even those that aren't specifically computer classes. The first
class session should spend some time teaching how to verify that an antivirus program is present, a firewall is installed, and the software is up to date. Even the youngest students should be taught not to open attachments and to be careful which websites they visit.
This book, while directed to teens, contains everything a teacher would need to know to introduce this topic - in fact,
I know of one teacher who has a preview copy who is already building several lesson plans around it. Equally important, this book shows educators how computers are really being used by their students, so they can offer guidance that is truly
relevant to their students, and not just adapted from guidelines written for adults.
Finally, it is not uncommon these days for teachers, even those teaching computer science, to have students in their class who are already more
knowledgeable about computers than they are. Unfortunately, some of these students will use this knowledge to cause trouble or spy on others (including the teachers). The information in this book will help teachers to secure their own machines,
and to detect and prevent this kind of problem.
Some of your students will know more
than you about computers and security.
It's always a bit embarrassing when a
student corrects you in front of class - teachers are expected to
know everything, even though we don't. But nowhere is this issue
more important than in the area of computers. Because this is one
field where I can absolutely promise you that you will have
students in your class who know things you don't. I'm an expert on
Windows and I still learned things from the teens who reviewed my
book. The reason this is inevitable is because the field is so
vast and changes at the speed of thought. Unfortunately, in the
area of computer security, some teens think they know everything
when in fact they really don't - they too need to learn that it's
ok not to know everything, and that they need to keep learning. Here's
an essay I wrote to them. You as a teacher can be a good
role model on this score as well.
Most of your students will not be
There are teenage hackers, but most teens
just want their own computers to work well. However, while there
are relatively few teen hackers, there are plenty of pranksters
who, given the opportunity, will push the limits just to see what
is possible. Here's a true story from my own past:
I was working for my college as a student
intern. One evening I helped staff a college fair -
where representatives of many colleges had booths at a local high
school. One booth near us was boasting about their computer science
program, and had in fact brought a "real computer" to
the booth - a Radio Shack TRS-80 as I recall (which dates me). The
computer wasn't doing anything, just sitting there.
Being loyal to my own school, I walked
over, and spent a few minutes typing on the computer's keyboard.
When I left it had a program running displaying something along
the lines of "For a real look at computer science, visit
UCI's booth..." any time someone clicked the keyboard. The
poor staff of that booth ended up unplugging the computer - they
didn't even know enough to stop a simple program.
Now that certainly didn't qualify as
hacking, even by the standards of those days. It was at most a
prank of opportunity. But it illustrates my point - you need to
provide at least a minimal level of security because if you don't,
even the best of students won't be able to resist the temptation
to have some fun. The exact same techniques I use to teach teens
to protect their computers from visits by friends and siblings
will work for you to protect your classroom computers.
Though not a professional teacher, I do
have many hundreds of classroom hours teaching high school
students on a part time basis. And many times that experience
working with teens and teaching them outside of the classroom. You
already know that teens are adopting technology quickly, and in
ways that are hard to keep up with (much less anticipate). My
request to you as an educator is to make computer security a part
of whatever you do in the classroom that relates to computers. My
book can help you to educate yourself, and give you the tools you
need to educate your students. Please don't hesitate to forward to
me any suggestions or comments you have, especially
recommendations to other teachers. I will be glad to post them on