Keeping students cybersafe!

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

Additional postscript: It is only when you hear of Al Upton and the possible consequences that online work can bring, that it makes you even more aware of trying to keep our  students as safe as possible, and that wonderful tool of blogging intact and ongoing. However, we can never guarantee they will remain 100% safe, but  we can give them the skills, and education in the classroom to assist in coping with the dangers and surprises that may lurk out there

Do you have any suggestions or comments to add here?

Postscript: I found this wonderful comment by John Pearce in my spam (would you believe) but would like to add to the body of this post for some further great advice.

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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27 responses to “Keeping students cybersafe!

  1. These are very helpful reminders and strategies.
    Kevin

  2. As a newbie in the use of web2 tools with my students I really appreciate the time and effort you spend in producing posts such as this one which help other teachers remain positive with web2 use. You list great tips on how to educate our parents, community and especially our students in how to keep safe while they connect globally with other students. Keeping connections alive is the basis for using these tools. Thanks Anne.

  3. Thanks for this post.

    Playing in Cyberspace, Web 2.0 and social networking sites are such ‘new’ spaces for students (and teachers) to be moving into.

    So where do students learn how to operate safely in these spaces?

    Whose responsibility is it to help guide students through these spaces?

    I believe it is the educational institution’s responsibility.

    If educators can enter these spaces with their students, they will then be able to help ‘shape’ what these online environments are like; help understand what’s appropriate and what’s not; just like educators they do in the real world.

  4. Thoughtful and thorough – thanks for sharing!

    I’ll definitely be showing this site, with its rich resources, to my administration.

    The only true safety lies in knowledge.

  5. Wow, Anne! You’ve provided such a wealth of information and seem to have covered all of the bases for doing blogging the safe way. Thanks for sharing all of this, it will help so many educators who are unsure of how to start with classroom blogging! I’m going to share this post on classroom 2.0 :-)

  6. 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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  8. Many school districts have an irrational fear of Web 2.0 and blogging, wikis and others social networking tools. The fear is that “bad things” might happen to students. But that “logic” does not seem to apply to teaching students to drive – where they could really die.

    Like driver education, web2.0 education needs to be part of our students’ education. The post I am responding to contains some wonderful suggestions. They are about inclusion – include the parents, include the teachers.

    Our kids are going to learn the internet superhighway some how – it might as well be the schools that takes the lead.

    This is a post I will share with my peers. Nice job!

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  11. Thanks for sharing Anne. You’ve covered so much of what scares people about using blogs & wikis with students.

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  14. Hi Anne,
    I’ll leave a response to your comments on my blog. Thanks for pointing me to this post… there are some terrific ideas and approaches to blogging safety. In a sense, with the appropriate background knowledge the rest becomes a matter of self-moderation. In the school context, this must be thoroughly understood (including limitations). To a degree, this is what I am trying to research or at least understand.

    Your approach provides a good insight and a considerable amount of time in it’s implementation. This is of great value and I’d like to thank you for this.

    Please feel free to contribute. Before I sign off, WOW… your ‘generation y’ blog is moving in leaps and bounds. I hope some of my students will begin to find some like minded bloggers on your site for a collaboration. See you,
    Altan :-)

  15. Thank you so much for sharing such an amazing blog, I will use it to guide my first attempt.
    Hectorsworld.com has animated episodes that I found worked well for lower primary.

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