Global Teacher - WEB 3.0 Community and Research Project

Keeping students cybersafe!

Posted by murch on March 28, 2008

As we are pioneers in cyberspace, cybersafety is a concern that is being refined and evaluated all the time - trying to balance transparency with privacy, allowing students some freedom, yet protecting them and ensuring their safety at all times.

Students complete posts in classtime but many find it so enjoyable, they post at home keeping a running journal, adding multimedia and producing online digital portfolios.

Here is what we have done in our classrooms this year, in relation to cybersafety:-

  • Watched videos on cybersafety, consulted various online sites (see suggestions) and hold ongoing classroom discussions.
  •  Constantly reinforce the need for safety during class eg no surnames, no addresses/phone numbers and other personal details to be placed online.
  •  Students create their own avatar using MS Paint or use other avatar creating websites  This becomes their personal “photographic ID” for blogging purposes, voicethreads and other online sites. (See the image of a global voicethread below for some of the grade 3/4 avatars.)

avatars on voicethread

  • Parents sign permission forms agreeing to publish student work online , online photographs, on the condition that no names are attached and group photos to be used where possible.
  • A folder and checked lists are kept to enable us to ensure these conditions are adhered to.
  • A partnership with parents is essential, so an information evening with grades 4-6 parents was held early on in the year, outlining the pedagogy for the use of blogs and other web2.0 tools and outlining cybersafety issues. A “techno corner” article appears weekly in our school and community newsletter.
  • Parents are encouraged to ‘adopt’ a student who may not have the internet at home. This ensures all students may get comments even those whose parents do not have internet access. Again, there are many watchful ‘eyes’ (both parents, staff and community) on our students, to alert us to any impending problems or issues.
  • We have a great staff and many of them voluntarily read student posts and comment on them, including our principal. So students are aware that they are constantly being monitored.
  • I have joint administration rights with my students on their blogs, so comments and posts can be edited if need be and comments and incoming links moderated.
  • Jess McCulloch, our LOTE teacher, a techno savvy person and I are currently applying RSS feeds for each student’s blog to our google readers, so that we are alerted to any new posts that students put up.

Here are some further activities we will do:

Further parent info evenings or invite parents to  classes so they can see what their children are doing.
Add links on our blog sites outlining cybersafety protocol.
Produce a form for Students to sign in the presence of their parents alerting both parites to correct internet protocol.

Further interesting reading and links:-

10 digital rules

 Postcript: It is only when you hear of Al Upton and the possible consequences that it makes you even more aware of trying to keep our students safe and that wonderful tool of blogging intact and ongoing. However, we can never guarantee they will remain 100% safe, but maybe we can give them the skills to cope with the dangers and surprises that may lurk out there

I would alos like to add this comment from John Pearce a fellow Victorian teacher, who has been a real pioneer with younger students and blogging.

Hi Anne,

“Nice list and ideas. Another suggestion we have used is to include a page with a set of rules to all of the student based blogs we set up eg http://leaemibps.globalstudent.org.au/ There is a copy of the rules in Word format at http://johnp.wordpress.com/tutorials/

On a slightly related tack we also asked our students to consider the issue of copyright by directing them to http://mrpbps.globalstudent.org.au/copyright-4-kids/ and then write a page on their blogs in response. Despite most students composing some reasonable responses to the task, many still were fast and loose with images. :(.”

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