The Internet and Web 2.0 tools have made it easier to communicate, create, and share for everyone. Learning to use these tools can help students be more productive online. Many of the tools are fun, too.

Learning Community
This is a learning community--a group of people committed to the goal of learning together and from each other. A learning community supports the learning and development of all members of the community. By participating in the MA On a Stick learning community, you agree to:
  • Fully participate by reading and doing the Things as described.
  • Share what you learn by blogging about the Things.
  • Help others learn.
  • Ask questions.
  • Respond to others' questions.
  • Comment on others' blogs in positive, helpful ways. (Click here to find out how to read other's blogs.)
  • Be nice--no rude comments, no bullying, no inappropriate behavior.
  • Follow the MA Acceptable Use Policy. And whatever rules are in force at your house regarding computer/Internet use.
How It Works
You are in charge of your learning in this program. We have identified the Things for you to do, but you decide when you do them—and the amount of time you spend and the depth of your exploration. Each of the Things can take as little as an hour or as much more time you have to give. You document your participation by setting up and maintaining a blog (Thing 3).

Each Thing will show you one or more Web tools. These Web 2.0 tools are bringing us in touch with the entire world through social networking, video, audio, and other sites.

Even if you think you know all about all of the tools in On a Stick, we encourage you to join the program. You can always learn more about any of the tools through independent exploration. And we will learn from you because you will blog about your discoveries.

Tutorial Format
Each Thing begins with a brief explanation of a new Web 2.0 topic or tool, followed by a numbered list of activities related to the tool. These exercises give you the background you need to understand the tools you're learning about. Don't skip them!

When you have done the items in each list, you comment or post to your blog. Your blog is the tool to communicate your reactions, new-found skills, ideas, questions, and favorite Web sites to the other On a Stick participants and is how your completion of all Things is documented.

Thing 1. Be Smart: Internet Safety

You have heard all the lectures and warnings from parents and teachers about Internet safety, being careful on MySpace, Facebook, or other social networks, and not responding in chatrooms, and more. You have read/heard the stories of students kicked off teams or out of school for bad behavior they posted on their MySpace/Facebook pages. It is important to review this as you start this project because you will be venturing out into the WWW and it is always wise to keep safety in mind.

So, we hope you listened, because it is smart to be safe and careful about what you do on the Internet. Most of us will never run into a problem--no identity theft, no predators, no bad encounters--but the chances of any of that happening are much less of you follow some simple practices whenever you are online or setting up a new account:
  • Use password that is hard to guess and don't share it! Don't use family birth dates, a pet's name, your family nickname, your zip code, your address---you get the idea.
  • Make sure you really know who someone is before you accept them as a friend. Especially true for the "friend of a friend" requests.
  • Fuzz up your online photos a bit so they won't be used/abused by others.
  • Don't post anything you wouldn't want a teacher, parent, principal, college admissions officer, employer, or other adult to see.
  • Remember, what you post online stays online--pretty much forever. You don't have much control of anything you post after you post it. It is easy to copy and re-post stuff and you won't even know where it is. Think about that when you post.
  • Don't do or say anything online you wouldn't say in real life.
  • Protect your privacy and your friends' privacy, too. Get their okay before posting something about them or putting their pictures online.
  • Regularly check what your friends are posting/saying about you. Even if you are careful, they may not be.
  • Keep in mind that nothing is really completely private on the Internet.
  • Use whatever privacy settings for online services that make you the most comfortable. Be especially careful with P2P software that lets you share files online--be sure you check the privacy settings so you only share what you intend to share. And do your parents know that you have P2P software on a home computer?
  • Keep in mind that "no one knows you are a dog on the Internet." This famous New Yorker cartoon sums up the fact that it is easy to hide or create a false persona on the Internet.

Remember that even "friends" can be a problem.
Harassment on the Internet comes in many forms. It may not even seem so bad at first, but all that text messaging/IMing/Facebooking can get out of hand if someone is constantly checking on you or demanding a response. Or if it takes time away from other stuff. See pic above.

The point is not to scare you or warn you away from the Internet and social sites. It is to remind you to pay attention to what you do online and be smart about yourself and your safety. It is not an urban legend about not getting into a job or being fired for what is on a Facebook or MySpace page. Fair or not, it happens.

And remember, everyone has access to the Internet, people can create and post whatever they wish on most sites, and not everyone and everything may meet your standards of behavior and morality. This is true even on sites like Flickr, ToonDo, and other content hosting/creation sites. If a link or site or something you find on a site (story, profanity, photo, image, cartoon...) is offensive to you, don't click on it. Nothing says you have to read it just because it's there!

At school (and maybe at your house), there is a filter to block some content, but it won't/can't block everything. And, really, you wouldn't want it to block everything someone else thought might be offensive to someone. Don't rely on a filter to "protect" you from content. You need to be smart about what you choose to view/use on the Internet. This is part of protecting yourself. Be responsible, be smart, make good decisions.

In the interest of entertaining you on this topic, we looked for some good YouTube videos on Internet safety. Most of them are lame, very lame, or so alarmist as to be silly. But here are a couple. If you find any others that are better, let us know!

1. Watch these videos and comment on them in your blog.

2. Can you find any better videos? Post them in your blog.
2. Review the Acceptable Use Policy so you know what you agreed to.

3. Google your name. Find anything surprising?


Got an issue online with someone? This site might help:
That's Not Cool
Report issues of bullying, stalking etc. to parents/trusted adults.

Blog Prompts
These are just to get you started. You don't have to answer any or all of these questions; they are just to help you think about something to say.
  • What are your thoughts on Internet safety?
  • What did you think of the videos? Informative? Useful? Silly? Dumb? Would they help anyone you know learn more or change their behavior?
  • What do you do to be sure you are using the Internet wisely and safely?
  • How do you have your Facebook and/or MySpace accounts secured?
  • If you do Internet banking or other things online--apply to college, for example--have you thought about safety and security?

Thing 2. Responsible Use

As 21st century learners, you have grown up with the Internet. You may not even remember "life before Google." You may never have done research or written a paper without using online resources--Wikipedia, Ask.com, Google, online databases, and other resources have always been there for you. Having access to these online resources makes it much easier to do research, but it also poses challenges for the responsible use of information and the hardware that makes it all possible.

Responsible use involves respecting copyright and not plagiarizing others' work. It means respecting rules established at home and school on using hardware and the Internet. What's that really mean to you?

Everything that is created by someone--you, an artist, a musician, anyone--is copyrighted from the moment of creation. That's right; you don't need to apply for a copyright from the copyright Office or put that little c in a circle on it to claim copyright. So, that essay you wrote for English class--copyrighted. Your painting/drawing/sculpture--all copyrighted. A Web site you created is copyrighted. Musical scores, movies, songs--all copyrighted. The person who created the work--and everyone in this day and age is pretty much a content creator--owns the copyright and can decide who can use the work and how. Copyright law is international and complicated, but it is important because it does protect our intellectual property from being used without permission. Copyright is enforced by the courts.

You cannot just copy someone else's stuff and call it your own. If you do, it is called

Plagiarism is to use other's people's words or ideas as your own without credit or citation. By presenting another's ideas/words as your own, you are stealing. Plagiarism is a serious offense in every academic and professional setting. Any college/university you attend will have plagiarism policies with the consequences clearly spelled out. Do a Google search on "plagiarism consequences" and you will get many academic policies on what happens when students plagiarize.

It has never been easier to plagiarize. The Internet makes it supremely easy to just cut and paste "research" into a document and call it your own. Don't do it. Not only are you cheating the originator of the information, you are cheating yourself by not doing doing your own work and therefore actually learning.

You can avoid plagiarism by always crediting sources you use in your research and writing. You can paraphrase the research--put it into your own words--and cite the source of the ideas. Here are some resources for avoiding plagiarism:
So why is this important in the context of MA On a Stick? You will be looking at many Internet sites, using things you find there to create a mashup two, putting your own stuff out there, and more. And even though MA On a Stick is designed to be fun, it is also learning. If you use someone else's stuff, we expect you to give credit.

  1. Does MA have an Academic Integrity/plagiarism policy? What does it say?
  2. Try to find a video that explains copyright or plagiarism that you think would appeal to your fellow students. Post it on your blog.
  3. Read through the avoiding plagiarism sites above and bookmark any that seem useful to you.

Blog Prompts
These are just to get you started. You don't have to answer any or all of these questions; they are just to help you think about something to say.
  • Do you think you understand copyright and plagiarism?
  • What have you learned about copyright?
  • Why is this an important topic to discuss in this context?
  • Share any experiences you have had regarding copyright or plagiarism issues.