J 2.0

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Know Your J-Jargon

AJAX: A bundle of technologies and techniques that allow a web page to do things quietly in the background without reloading the whole page. AJAX is not a programming language, but rather an acronym used to describe that bundle, ÔÇťAsynchronous Javascript and XML.” AJAX provides much of the functionality associated with Web 2.0. Hacks/Hackers Survival Glossary.

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3 ways to find a balance between journalism and school system worries

 

  1. One approach is to draw analogies between the Web publication and others in a school. If student news media prints or broadcasts names and photos, why would these be eliminated on the Web? If the newspaper allows students to make content decisions, why run online or digital news past a screening committee? Part of the Supreme Court decision in the Communications Decency Act indicates the Internet is legally like the printed word, and legal speech can appear there. If the paper or broadcast outlet is an open forum and explores problems and policies in a journalistically responsible manner, reaching a wider audience is a plus.
  2. Think about how Web site policies apply to the school's curricular goals. If a journalism class is to practice the professionalism of its "real world" counterparts, eliminating names and photos is a bad practice. In fact, because commercial news organizations cite names and faces in news coverage, what's the value of prohibiting these on the student site? A school's mission includes preparing students for their roles in a democratic society. Where else but school can they learn how common sense usage of the Internet ties into their duty as citizens?
  3. An acceptable use policy should spell out student rights and responsibilities. A student publication should be a public forum for student expression. If administrators are worried about unprotected speech or links to illegal sites showing up on the school publication, AUPs can add clarity:

Here's a sample policy:

  • School officials will apply the same criteria used in determining the suitability of other educational and information resources when determining student media access to, or authoring of, online material.
  • Unprotected speech, that is, libel, obscenity and copyright infringement will not be published.
  • Just as the purchase, availability and use of media materials in a classroom or library does not indicate endorsement of their contents by school officials, neither does making electronic information available to students imply endorsement of that content or responsibility for that content on the part of administrators.
  • Just as contents of print media produced by students does not indicate endorsement by school officials, neither does making content created by students available to others imply endorsement of that content or responsibility for that content on the part of administrators.
  • All material displayed on school system Web sites is subject to applicable federal, state and local laws.
  • Instruction for all levels of potential Web site users will be available throughout the calendar year. Such instruction will include technical as well as legal and ethical instruction.
  • Web sites posted under the auspices of the Board of Education will follow current communications law and district policies. For example, sites should not include students' home or cell phone numbers, home addresses or Social Security numbers.
  • Parents and only parents have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children — and their children only — to resources, upon request.
  • Educators have the responsibility to educate students about their responsibilities — to themselves and to others — while using the Internet.
  • A balanced approach to Web site use emphasizes instruction, teachable moments and guidance rather than censorship. Educators empower students to exercise judgment, not to be restrained by artificial barriers.

One clear, helpful approach is to not place student news media on school/school district Web servers. My.hsj.org offers free Web hosting of student news and was created by a non-profit association that encourages sound journalistic and educational practices. Click here to learn more.