The Need for a National Education Technology Plan (NETP)

first_imgAs Liberia endeavors to revamp its education sector, there will be a need for a National Education Technology Plan (NETP) requiring the integration of technology in all schools in order to prepare the new generation of Liberians for the challenges of the 21st Century. This plan should, inter alia, require students to take technology courses from 6th grade and upwards. This will allow students who cannot afford to go to college after graduation from high school to be prepared for entry level jobs.Sometime in December of 2009, a young lady had asked me to write her a letter of recommendation. In her hand was a copy of the newspaper carrying the advertisement of the job for which she had intended to apply. Two “CONSPICUOUS” requirements for the position being advertised were: (1). Must have a high school diploma and (2). MUST BE COMPUTER LITERATE. As I read the requirements, I asked the young lady if she was computer literate. She told me she had never touched a computer and that she was disappointed over the possibility of not getting the job because of this reason. I knew that with a tight and somehow competitive job market, her chances of getting the job without experience or computer skills were absolutely slim. And so, as a consolation, I offered to pay her tuition at a local computer school in Monrovia which charged US$50 for introductory computer courses.The clause “MUST BE COMPUTER LITERATE” has become mundane across the global spectrum because we are in the Information Age. However, it has become an “opportunity killer” for Liberian students who graduate from high school with desire to enter the workforce as an alternative to college. The problem is, most Liberian students do not have the opportunity of taking computer classes while in high school because only few schools (i.e. B. W. Harris School) have access to computers or something that parallels a computer education program. This lack of comprehensive computer/technology program in schools, forces high school graduates to attend computer schools, in order to obtain the skills needed to apply for jobs. And, most of them can barely afford the cost of attending those computer schools.Education is the key to Liberia’s economic growth, prosperity, sustainability and its ability to compete in the global economy. It is the conduit to good jobs and higher earning potential for Liberians. It fosters the cross-border and cross-cultural collaboration that are desperately needed to solve the most challenging and evolving problems of our time. But modern education requires the integration of technology. And technology, as we all know is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work today, therefore, it is imperative that we leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences.To integrate technology in our educational system, we will need to develop and implement a National Education Technology Plan (NETP) which will espouse a revolutionary transformation of the Liberian educational system. This Plan will require the integration of technology in schools and present a model for 21st Century learning driven by technology. It will discuss innovation, prompt implementation, regular evaluation, and continuous improvement. It will kindle a shift from the currently practiced 19th Century educational paradigms toward 21st Century student-centric paradigms. Our educational system will be transformed to one in which teachers play the role of facilitators and certainly not sole deliverers of information in the classroom. This will allow students to think critically and engage the learning process more enthusiastically.To begin this initiative, we will need to establish a Technical Working Group. A group that will encompass the following: universities, representatives of primary and secondary schools, ICT professionals, educators, representatives from the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders. This team will be charged with the development of a document that will lead to a revolutionary transformation of the Liberian education system.Currently, Liberian schools lack two main things that are required for 21st Century education: the technological infrastructure that enables this new pedagogical paradigm and teachers who have the training in and knowledge of this new approach. Most, if not all, Liberian educators lack computer or technology skills which is part of the daily lives of professionals in other sectors. The same can be said of many of the educational leaders and policymakers in schools and the higher education institutions responsible to prepare new educators to teach in schools. Therefore, professional development (pre-service and in-service) should be strongly encouraged. Professional development for teachers can also be enhanced when integrated with online communities for collaborative learning. Collaborating with educators in the global community will greatly expand the “horizons” of Liberian educators.This NETP will be an opportunity for change and when implemented will revolutionize our education system. This change will be driven by emerging technologies and the national need to radically improve the country’s education sector. The Ministry of Education has to play a major role in identifying effective strategies to ensure the implementation of this plan. Moreover, the parents, teachers and et al, must be a part of this initiative if it is to succeed. If we cannot reform education in Liberia, then maybe we should begin thinking about revolutionizing it. Of course, this is merely my opinion!!Until next week,Carpe diem!!!!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

New Apple computers face cyber attacks

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO (AP)— Benjamin Daines was browsing the Web when he clicked on a series of links promising to deliver pictures of an unreleased update to a computer operating system. Instead, a window opened on his screen and showed strange commands being run, as if the computer was under the control of someone — or something — else. Daines was the victim of a computer virus. Such headaches are hardly unusual for computer users that run Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. Daines, however, was using a Mac — a computer often touted as being more secure and immune to such risks. He and at least one other person who clicked on the links were infected by what security experts call the first ever virus for OS X, the operating system that has shipped with every Mac sold since 2001. After surviving unscathed from the onslaught of viruses and other computer malware unleashed on the Internet over the past decade, Mac aficionados can no longer take for granted they are immune to such attacks, security experts said. “It just shows people that no matter what kind of computer you use you are still open to some level of attack,” said Daines, a 29-year-old British chemical engineer. He’s one of those who considered Macs invulnerable to such attacks. Apple’s increasingly iconic image, growing market share and adoption of the same type of microprocessors used in machines running Microsoft Windows are making the Apple machines a bigger target, they warn. But Bud Tribble, Apple’s senior vice president of software technology, disputed claims that OS X is more susceptible to attack now than in the past. “It’s become less vulnerable as we’ve continued to improve security,” he said. In Daines’ infection, a bug in the virus’ code prevented it from doing much damage. Still, several of his operating system files were deleted, several new files were created and several applications, including a program for recording audio, were crippled. Behind the scenes, the virus also managed to hijack his instant messaging program so the file was blasted to 10 people on his buddy list. “A lot of Mac users are in denial and have blinders on that say, nothing is ever going to get to us,’” said Neil Fryer, a computer security consultant who works for an international financial institution in Great Britain. “I can’t say I agree with them.” Fryer, himself a Mac user, said over the past year he has begun taking additional precautions to make sure he doesn’t fall victim to an attack. He spends more time than in the past scrutinizing his security logs for signs of intruders, and he uses a firewall and additional security applications, just as he would with a Windows-based machine. Among the other signs Macs are a growing target: The SANS Institute, a computer-security organization in Bethesda, Md., added OS X to its 2005 list of the 20 top Internet vulnerabilities. It was the first time the Apple operating system has been included since the experts started compiling the list in 2000. The number of discovered Mac vulnerabilities has soared in recent years, with 81 found last year, up from 46 in 2004 and 27 in 2003, according to the Open Source Vulnerability Database, which is maintained by a nonprofit group that tracks security vulnerabilities on many different hardware and software platforms. Less than a week after Daines was attacked in mid-February, a 25-year-old computer security researcher released three benign Mac-based worms to prove a serious vulnerability in OS X could be exploited. Apple asked the man, Kevin Finisterre, to hold off publishing the code until it could patch the flaw. The Mac’s vulnerability could also increase as a result of Apple’s transition to a product line that uses microprocessors made by Intel Corp., security experts said. With new Macs running the same processor that powers Windows-based machines, far more people will know how to exploit weaknesses in Apple machines than in the past, when they ran on the PowerPC chips made by IBM Corp. and Motorola Corp. spinoff Freescale Semiconductor Inc. “They have eliminated their genetic diversity,” said independent security consultant Rodney Thayer. “The fear is that we’re going to run into a new class of attacks.” Apple’s Tribble noted that OS X was derived from FreeBSD, open source software that was built from the ground up to provide security for computers networked together. Since its origins in the early 1990s, the Unix-based FreeBSD has continually been battle-tested by college students and computer security specialists, whose discoveries of holes have allowed security to improve over time. OS X, Tribble said, is designed to be Internet safe out of the box, without the need for firewalls or additional security software. He praised OS X for making it easy for users to automatically install security patches. He also disagreed with people who say Intel processors make Macs a bigger target. “All the things we’ve been doing to make Mac OS X secure continue to be relevant on Intel,” he said. To be fair, real-world attacks of Macs remain virtually nonexistent, and Apple gets high marks from many security experts for making an operating system that, by default, resists viruses and other malicious attacks. F-Secure Corp., which has been providing security software since 1990, discontinued a version of its antivirus program for the Mac in the late 1990s. “There was no market because there were no Mac viruses,” Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure’s chief research officer, explained. Windows, by contrast, often requires users to modify a number of default settings and to install antivirus and antispyware programs to lock down a machine. For instance, Windows automatically gives an end user full authority to format a hard drive, delete operating system files and carry out other administrative tasks often central to the successful execution of malicious programs. By default those types of commands require OS X users to enter a password first. But as Daines can attest, such safeguards are no guarantee. For reasons he still doesn’t understand, the virus that attacked his PowerBook G4 was able to elude OS X’s password protection, possibly, he said, because he was already running in administrator mode. “We’re all sort of waiting with bated breath to see if any problem will happen and the jury is still out,” said Thayer, the independent security consultant. “I don’t think you’ll find a consensus.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more