Effective online safety provision requires a marriage of policy and practice: one without the other leaves staff and pupils lacking protection as they explore emergent technologies. Online safety is more than a tick-the-box exercise; its inclusion is a recognition that the way in which our pupils learn, communicate and form relationships have changed in recent years. A number of years ago, back when ‘e-safety’ was still hyphenated, school management were undecided over whether this new consideration should fall under Curriculum or Pastoral; however, it quickly became apparent that it was to be an essential element of both.
When it comes to internet safety, we teachers are learning all the time. We know that when young people are not safe, cyber-bullying can be fatal. This report illustrates the figures with 4,400 young people committing suicide every year. Many educators are realising that the internet was “not designed with children in mind” and that age restrictions and privacy settings are not enough to keep young users safe.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the road and if you don't keep your feet there's no telling where you'll be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountains or even further or to worse places?” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (Frodo Baggins about Bilbo)
How many hours do you spend online? This was a classic question that, not so long ago, was at the heart of any e-safety lessons which took place in a school environment. This question is now awfully outdated because, as a society, we live in an interconnected world whereby we are always at some point in our day connected to this thing we call the Internet. This change in society has progressed at a rate quicker than technology has perhaps progressed, and these changes pose great difficulties for young people as to how they become part of this digital world. For us as educators, we have a fundamental role to play with how we help young people to embrace this digital world in a safe and secure manner.
Are your students safe online? Students can do almost anything, and go almost anywhere, on the internet - ensure your students stay one step ahead and are e-aware and e-safe. We at Britannica Digital Learning will be sharing how from stand B327 at this year’s Bett Show!
BT and Unicef UK recently celebrated their 300th workshop on internet safety in schools as part of their three year partnership, The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters. The programme is designed to help children and their families and teachers to use the internet safely. So far, 7,378 children, parents and teachers have taken part in the sessions at Unicef UK’s Rights Respecting Schools, which put the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) at the heart of their policies and practice. As a result, 90% parents say they will talk to their child more about online safety.
In my previous article for Innovate My School, I talked enthusiastically about the huge benefits that technology such as cloud computing can bring to schools, provided that it’s used effectively to meet real and measurable needs. From a budgetary standpoint, schools can achieve better value for money and improved functionality through tools like virtual learning environments. Innovative pedagogical models such as the flipped classroom are improving teaching and learning even from Primary age. It’s a brave new world for technology in schools, and I’m delighted to see educators reaping the benefits.
A series of curriculum-linked resources and new teacher training from the education charity Into Film invites teachers and students to explore issues relating to online safety using the magic of the moving image. Created, respectively, for Key Stage 2 (or equivalent), Key Stage 3 and 4, and Key Stage 5, the charity’s Staying Safe Online resource – featuring teachers’ notes and Powerpoint presentations - uses carefully selected films and related activities to help educate young people on how to use technology safely and respectfully, in keeping with the Safer Internet Day 2016 theme ‘Play Your Part for a Better Internet’.