April 1

One of the days that you really have to be on your toes as a teacher is April Fools’ Day.  You never know what your charges will be up to.

In reality, it’s not all that terribly difficult to know that something is up.  First, there’s the distraction in the hallway before class when you get asked a few dumb questions while whatever is going to happen gets set up.  Then, when you enter the classroom, all of a sudden every set of eyes in the class is watching you quietly.  You know that never happens – there’s always that student or groups of students that are otherwise occupied.  On April 1, they’re all watching, watching, watching.  So, you look for the tack on your chair, check the blackboard for writing, look for buckets of water on the doorway, and so on…

The very best “gag” that was done was actually very well done.  Two students had written a computer program that looked like the log on screen to the network.  It had the details down to the last pixel.  Then, they would walk away from the computer with their program running.  The unsuspecting victim comes along and enters their userid and password (nicely done with * to mask the characters just like in real life).  This information is then piped to a text file before sending the message to the victim that they had entered an incorrect password.  In the background, the computer would close the text file, log off, and the victim would next be presented with the real login screen – they enter their details, get logged in and life goes on as it’s supposed to.  Alas, their credentials had effectively been stolen.  Of course, when the teacher found out about it, a discussion ensued on two levels.  First to the authors to indicated that this activity had risen beyond the level of a joke and to the others about the importance of being tech savvy when a computer displays unexpected behaviour.

This year, April Fools’ Day activities started to appear on March 31 locally.  Of course, it already was April 1 in other places.  There were some interesting gags this year.

What makes these so effective is the time spent by the authors making them look just like everything else is a company’s product line.  You’d have to look awfully close to see if there’s any indication that you’re looking at something bogus.  To that end, I’m going to add a number of these to my wiki resource “Sites that should make you go Hmmm“.  Their is an educational value to these.  In addition to enjoying the efforts of the creators, just like the password snagger program, students need to be able to read and discern what they’re seeing on the internet.  It’s so important to be able to assign a truth value to what you’re reading.

I couldn’t trip up my friend Alfred Thompson with this announcement.

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One of the better collections of April Fool’s Jokes can be found here on this Rebelmouse Page.  Mashable has a great summary here.

Did you find a gag or joke that was particularly noteworthy yesterday?  If so, please let me know in the comments.

 

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