Assignment 3 -- External Threats and Opportunities

Electronic Learning as a Replacement and/or Supplement to High School

Susan M. Anstead

University of Maryland, University College

TMAN645 Ė Electronic Commerce -- Spring 2000

 

In this paper, I will address several of the external threats and external opportunities to the deployment of electronic commerce in the successful implementation of high school electronic learning. First I will summarize these threats and opportunities, and then I will address each in detail.

SUMMARY OF THREATS & OPPORTUNITIES:

  1. EXTERNAL THREATS
    1. Critical Infrastructure Protection
    2. Digital Divide
    3. Privacy
  2. EXTERNAL OPPORTUNITIES
    1. Next Generation Internet
    2. Increase in Technology Funding
    3. Multimedia

THREATS:

Critical Infrastructure Protection. Critical Infrastructures are those physical and cyber-based systems essential to the minimum operations of the economy and government. These systems are so vital that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact n the defense or economic security of the United States.[1] A critical part of such an infrastructure involves information and communications. According to the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection:[2]

A critical infrastructure is characterized by computing and telecommunications equipment, software, process, and people that support:

    1. the processing, storage, and transmission of data and information,
    2. the processes and people that convert data and information into knowledge, and
    3. the data and information themselves.

Interruptions of critical infrastructure service can be attributed to both natural and intentional acts. Examples of natural or inadvertent acts include those related to the weather, as well as simple errors and omissions. Examples of intentional acts include insider operations, recreational hackers, criminal activity, industrial espionage, terrorism, national intelligence, and information warfare.[3]

The public switched network (i.e., the national telephone system) is a major point of concern because it provides the connectivity among computer systems, people, and organizations.[4] Should the services on such a network be interrupted, electronic commerce would be also be disabled. For those students involved in high school electronic learning, this would prevent them from accessing their coursework, communicating with teachers and classmates, and doing online research.

Digital Divide. The United States Department of Commerce defines the digital divide as, "the divide between those with access to new technologies and those without".[5] The Department of Commerce in their study on the digital divide presented the following statistics:[6]

Based on these statistics, those individuals who could benefit the most from distance education may be the ones with the least access to technology.

Privacy. In recent weeks, this issue has been the top story of many internet publications. In 1999, an internet advertising company, DoubleClick merged with a direct-marketing company, Abacus Direct. DoubleClick collected data on internet users, such as IP address, browser version, operating system, and sites visited, while Abacus Direct maintained offline data such as name, address, and purchase history. By merging these companies, DoubleClick is now able to mesh these databases and collect vast amounts of information regarding an individualís Internet usage. As a result, the company was hit with a Federal Trade Commission inquiry, two state investigations, and six lawsuits investigating whether the company was engaged in unfair or deceptive practices in gathering information about Internet users.[7] DoubleClick has since backed off merging its data with that acquired from Abacus Direct.[8]

A 1999 AT&T Labs Technical Report surveyed 1,500 Family PC magazine subscribers regarding their concerns over internet privacy. This study showed that 87% of female respondents and 76% of male respondents were very concerned about threats to their personal privacy online. Overall, respondents felt very uncomfortable about providing personal information over the internet. Only 11% felt comfortable giving their phone number, 3% felt comfortable giving their credit card number, and only 1% felt comfortable giving their social security number.[9]

These privacy issues should not only be of concern to general electronic commerce companies, but to high school electronic learning students as well. Many electronic learning institutions have enabled internet-based registrations, which frequently require both a credit card number (for payment) and a social security number (for identification). In addition, grades are provided on "secure" websites or through e-mail, providing another point of interception for confidential material. Finally, if outsiders access student databases, that information could be paired with internet traffic information to provide a detailed snapshot of a student's internet activity.

OPPORTUNITIES:

Next Generation Internet. The Next Generation Internet (NGI) is a Federal research and development program for developing advanced networking technologies and revolutionary applications. These technologies are being tested at 100 to 1000 times faster than todayís internet.[10] This project is supported all the way to the top of the United States Government, as evidenced by President Clintonís statements in the 1998 State of the Union Address. In this address, President Clinton stated:

"I ask Congress to step up support for building the next generation internet. Itís getting kind of clogged, you know. And the net generation internet will operate at speeds up to a thousand times faster than today."[11]

Over 170 U.S. universities, working together with industry and government are conducting a similar research and development program, Internet2. Internet2 is working to enable applications such as digital libraries and virtual laboratories that are not possible with todayís internet technologies. One of the long-term goals of Internet2 is to accelerate the diffusion of advanced Internet technology. Internet2 strives to benefit non-university members of the educational community as well, especially K-12 and private libraries.[12]

Increase in Technology Funding. In attempting to expand the use of electronic commerce, it is important to ensure that everyone has access to technology. Numerous public and private foundations have been established to do just that. An example is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was formed to help get access to technology to all citizens.[13] A division of that Foundation, the U.S. Library Program, makes grants to public libraries to purchase computers and hardware to bring internet access to their patrons.[14] The five-year goal of the program is to provide such grants to more than 11,000 libraries serving low-income communities.[15] As of the third quarter 1999, they had completed installation of computers and internet access in 2,188 facilities.[16]

In addition, In March 2000, the Foundation announced a $350 million investment in a series of education grants designed to improve both teaching and learning and to enhance access to technology in order to help all students achieve at higher levels.[17]

Multimedia. In recent years, significant strides have been made in the development and advancement of multimedia applications on the internet. The new streaming audio and video technologies allow large sound and video files to be delivered via the internet. These files can be played in real time as it's received, as opposed to waiting for the entire file to be downloaded before playing.[18] This is of great benefit due to bandwidth constraints on today's Internet, which result in lengthy waits for large files to be downloaded.

Another new development is Voice over IP. Voice over IP refers to the transmission of voice that has been compressed and transmitted over an Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as the internet.[19] Voice conversations that traditionally take place in person or on the telephone will be available over the Internet. With further advancements in Internet bandwidth, Voice over IP will provide an alternative to voice conversations over the traditional public switched network.

The development of these and other new forms of multimedia will certainly enhance the educational experience for high school electronic learning. Streaming video can be used to distribute "live" instructional sessions, similar to the traditional classroom, over the internet. Voice over IP can provide a low-cost and convenient means for students to communicate with each other and with their teachers.

CONCLUSION:

There are many issues and developments occurring in the world of computers and telecommunications. Each of these has the potential to affect electronic commerce, and through it, electronic learning. It is important for any organization or educational institution planning a high school electronic learning program to work with communities and governments to address such issues that arise, and be aware of new developments that may enhance the implementation of their program.

 

 

ENDNOTES:

1 Clinton, William J.; Presidential Decision Directive 63, May 22, 1998, Executive Order 13010, July 15, 1996; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm.

2 The Report on the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection; October 1997; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm

3 Frequently Asked Questions; National Infrastructure Protection Center; March 8, 2000; [Online[; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/nipcfaq.htm

4 Ware, Willis H.; The Cyber-Posture of the National Information Infrastructure; RAND; 1998; [Online]; Available at http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR976/

5 Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide; United States Department of Commerce; March 3, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/.

6 Falling Through the Net.

7 Anderson, Diane & Perine, Keith; Marketing the DoubleClick Way; Industry Standard; March 7, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/is/20000306/bs/20000306120.html.

8 Huh, Mary; DoubleClick is Firing Back With Both Barrels; NYPOST.COM; March 8, 2000; http://www.nypost.com/business/1680.htm

9 Cranor, Lorrie, Reagle, Joseph, Ackerman, Mark; Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users' Attitudes About Online Privacy; AT&T Labs-Research Technical Report TR 99.4.3; April 14, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://www.research.att.com/resources/trs/TRs/99/99.4/99.4.3/report.htm

10 Internet2 and the Next-Generation Internet; The Next Generation Internet Initiative; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/ngi.html

11 Clinton, William J.; State of the Union Address; White House on the NGI; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ngi.gov/white-house

12 Frequently Asked Questions; Internet2; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/faqs.html

13 Learning; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/default.htm

14 Learning.

15 Libraries; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/default.htm

16 U.S. Library Program; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/libraryprogram/default.htm

17 Learning.

18 Ramage, Tom; Streaming Media; Illinois Online Network; March 9, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://illinois.online.uillinois.edu/Presentations/Streaming/index.htm

19 McIntosh, Brian; Voice Over IP; Your About.com Guide to Telecommunications; April 17, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://telecomindustry.about.com/industry/telecomindustry/library/weekly/aa041799.htm?

 

REFERENCES:

Anderson, Diane & Perine, Keith; Marketing the DoubleClick Way; Industry Standard; March 7, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/is/20000306/bs/20000306120.html.

Clinton, William J.; Presidential Decision Directive 63, May 22, 1998, Executive Order 13010, July 15, 1996; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm.

Clinton, William J.; State of the Union Address; White House on the NGI; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ngi.gov/white-house

Cranor, Lorrie, Reagle, Joseph, Ackerman, Mark; Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users' Attitudes About Online Privacy; AT&T Labs-Research Technical Report TR 99.4.3; April 14, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://www.research.att.com/resources/trs/TRs/99/99.4/99.4.3/report.htm

Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide; United States Department of Commerce; March 3, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/.

Frequently Asked Questions; Internet2; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/faqs.html

Frequently Asked Questions; National Infrastructure Protection Center; March 8, 2000; [Online[; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/nipcfaq.htm

Huh, Mary; DoubleClick is Firing Back With Both Barrels; NYPOST.COM; March 8, 2000; http://www.nypost.com/business/1680.htm

Internet2 and the Next-Generation Internet; The Next Generation Internet Initiative; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/ngi.html

Learning; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/default.htm

Libraries; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/default.htm

McIntosh, Brian; Voice Over IP; Your About.com Guide to Telecommunications; April 17, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://telecomindustry.about.com/industry/telecomindustry/library/weekly/aa041799.htm?

Ramage, Tom; Streaming Media; Illinois Online Network; March 9, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://illinois.online.uillinois.edu/Presentations/Streaming/index.htm

The Report on the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection; October 1997; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm

U.S. Library Program; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/libraryprogram/default.htm

Ware, Willis H.; The Cyber-Posture of the National Information Infrastructure; RAND; 1998; [Online]; Available at http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR976/