DeKALB – Despite the constant pleas to “put down those phones,” technology has become almost inescapable.

“Technology is a part of our lives, and we’re using our technology on a daily basis,” said Wei-Chen Hung, chairman of the department of educational technology, research and assessment in the Northern Illinois University College of Education. “We practically cannot get away from our technology for 24 hours, whether we’re working, driving or even sleeping.”

Lurking inside that relationship, however, and no matter the nature of the virtual connections, are hazards that can violate privacy, drain bank accounts or lead to the devastating (and sometimes fatal) consequences of cyberbullying.

And even as consumers of technology grow savvier in their awareness and suspicion of cyber scams and email phishing attempts, Hung said, most still are blissfully feeding search engines with their interests, allowing phone apps to access their information and contacts or asking questions of the voice-enabled digital assistants sitting on their kitchen countertops.

Keep in mind, he said, that big and recognizable names that seem completely trustworthy are at their core businesses that rely on dollars to survive. Their profitable sale of your information – your shopping habits, your driving patterns, your home address – fuels the direct marketing that clogs your Facebook feed and your email clutter and junk mail folders.

Many users of technology are children and teens, of course, which gives schools and educators an important role.

Five technology professionals, all from the education arena, will provide that knowledge during the College of Education’s fall Community Learning Series on “It’s a Cyber World After All. How to Protect Your Kids and Yourself Online.”

Scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, the free event will take place at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center, 231 N. Annie Glidden Road. A reception with light refreshments begins at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public

Resource tables will be open from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. for audience members to find more information or ask questions.

Panelists include:

• Michael Chahino, chief information officer, Elgin Community College;

• Michael Espinos, educational technology specialist and STEM communicator;

• Joe Jaruseski, director of IT infrastructure, Naperville School District 203;

• James O’Hagan, director of digital and virtual learning, Racine Unified School District; and

• Jason Rhode, executive director of extended learning at NIU.

Olha Ketsman, a clinical assistant professor in the department of educational technology, research and assessment, will moderate the panel.

For information, call 815-753-9339 or email etra@niu.edu.





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