(news) Net Shepherd and Canadian Schools

Tony Barry Tony.Barry@anu.edu.au
Thu, 31 Oct 1996 17:15:14 +1100


This may be of interest.  Rating schemes of various kinds keep growing.


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Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 20:37:11 -0800
To: search@mccmedia.com
From: narnett@verity.com (Nick Arnett)
Subject: (news) Net Shepherd and Canadian Schools

Canadian Teachers Launch World's Largest Internet Rating Initiative

TORONTO, October 29 - Canadian teachers challenge US teachers to unite in
North American
initiative to rate web sites for quality and maturity of content for
students around the world Net Shepherd, Inc., a Calgary-base software
developer, today launched the StartSafe Challenge - an event announced in
partnership with Canada's
SchoolNet. The StartSafe Challenge is a North American initiative to
encourage teachers to rate the estimated 57 million documents on the
Internet. Schools across Canada challenged US teachers to get involved
with the Canadian led initiative to provide safe and efficient Internet
access to students.

The StartSafe Challenge is designed to help students find the best
educational information available on the Internet. Thousands of teachers
and librarians will take part in collaboratively rating every document
on the Internet for both quality and maturity of content. These ratings
will automatically be uploaded to the StartSafe database for use by teachers
and students across North America and around the world.

Schools from all Canadian provinces and territories `virtually'
participated in today's launch hosted by William Lyon Mackenzie
Collegiate Institute in North York, Ontario. A New York school also
participated in
the virtual press conference and accepted Canada's challenge to American
schools to participate in the rating initiative. Organizers estimate
that if every Canadian school devotes 40 minutes every week day to rating web
sites, all the pages will be rated by the initiative's closing date of
February 28, 1997 - these time requirements will be significantly
reduced with the participation of US schools.

``The StartSafe Challenge chose to partner with teachers and librarians
for this rating effort because teachers are bound by tradition and training
to promote a balanced approach to acquiring knowledge. They also have a
solid understanding of the learning needs of different age groups and can
assess content based on requirements for understanding,'' explained David
Beattie, director of virtual products, SchoolNet Canada.

Using Net Shepherd's daxHOUND, a PICS (Platform for Internet Content
Selection)- compliant software for rating, restricting and recommending
web sites, StartSafe participants assign ratings of General, Child,
Pre-teen, Teen, Adult and Objectionable to Web documents. An additional
ability to
rate contents by quality with one-to-five star ratings can be assigned
to a document which is very beneficial for educators, librarians and partners
to help students and children find the best quality resources on the
Internet. Net Shepherd automatically polls the participants as they surf,
their ratings to the StartSafe Label Bureau which will be made
available, free of charge, to schools, by businesses and home users around the

``There are several advantages to using daxHOUND for an initiative of
this sixe and scope,'' said Ron Warris, executive vice-president, technology,
Net Shepherd. ``First and foremost is its capability to create ratings
based on graduated levels of maturity and content which is of key
importance when designing a 'web site library' for students ranging from
4 to 18 years of age. From a global perspective, daxHOUND enables specific
groups, to manage Web information as they see fit - in the best interest
of their members - without infringing on the rights of others.''

To register in the StartSafe Challenge, participants should visit the
StartSafe Challenge web site (www.startsafe.netshepherd.com). Only
teachers, librarians and registered teachers' aides and volunteers
qualify to participate in the StartSafe Challenge. Once the StartSafe software
has been downloaded from the site and installed into an educator's Internet
capable PC, a StartSafe daxHOUND toolbar appears on user's screen which
is hotlinked to a special file of Web addresses. A document list of web
pages requiring ratings is provided to every user upon registration.
Participants are asked to rate sites provided in their file and when
these ratings are completed, daxHOUND automatically copies the ratings to the
online StartSafe database and then enters the participant in the draw
for StartSafe prizes. To receive a new document list, participants need only
to click on the daxHOUND toolbar.

To `filter' or restrict Internet access with daxHOUND, the authorized
administrator first establishes individual user profiles for their
students. When a user requests access to a site, Net Shepherd compares
the assigned access privileges to the rating value determined by the
StartSafe Label Bureau. If the site is objectionable, daxHOUND prohibits the

NetShepherd's daxHOUND StartSafe software will be provided free-of-charge
to all participating schools.

All registered Canadian participants are eligible to win special
incentive rewards including a new car, electronic cash, T-shirts and other
valuable prizes. Canadian schools with participating, registered StartSafe
Challenge participants also qualify for prizes including software,
printers and PCs.

Canada's SchoolNet is an Industry Canada initiative whose mandate is to
encourage all of Canada's 16,500 schools to get connected to the
Internet. SchoolNet fulfills this mandate by working with partners such as
provincial and territorial ministries of education, members of the private
and the learning community. SchoolNet is also a set of Internet-based
educational services and resources that stimulates learning and puts
creativity directly into the hands of its users. Through its Web and
Gopher sites, it provides teachers and learners alike with an easy-to-use,
single platform from which to reach the Information Highway. The broad reach of
SchoolNet's resources saves teachers, school boards and others involved
in the education community time, effort, and resources. For more
information visits SchoolNet's web site at www.schoolnet.ca.

Net Shepherd Inc., is a leading edge developer of Internet content
selection software that enables users to rate, restrict and recommend
web sites for members of independent online communities. Net Shepherd's
daxHOUND software allows administrators of schools, businesses,
organizations and home PCs to compose community `libraries' of web pages
that are appropriate to each user's information needs and sensitivities.
Organizations are encouraged to post their ratings databases with Net
Shepherd to allow like-minded Internet users and organizations to share
information reflecting similar beliefs and needs without infringing on
the rights of others. Net Shepherd Inc., based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada,
is traded publicly on the Alberta Stock Exchange under, the symbol WEB. For
more detailed information on Net Shepherd's products and company, or to
download daxHOUND, visit their Web size at www.netshepherd.com.

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Email          : Tony.Barry@anu.edu.au
Voice          : +61 6 249 4632         Fax: +61 6 279 8120
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Head, Center for Networked Access to Scholarly Information,
Australian National University Library, A.C.T. 0200, AUSTRALIA.