Category Archives: cybersafety

What does the world’s largest classroom look like?

map across vic
What would the world’s classroom look like at any point in time? I feel that I experienced that this morning. Why? There was/were

    • 1 classroom (virtual in Blackboard Collaborate)
    • up to 17,000 students
    • 170 physical classes
    • A class of deaf students from Furlong Park School
    • 1 teacher (or presenter)

It is Safer Internet Use Day today and the Topic is “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  Our Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development organised a webinar for all interested Victorian classrooms. The presenter was Greg Gebhart from Cybersmart ACMA who spoke on “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  The session went for 45 mins and was highly interactive which is essential to student engagement in a virtual environment.

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Questions and polls were posed at varying intervals. Class answers were placed in the chat. The presentation included lots of graphics and images and Greg’s presentation style was also engaging. When a round of applause was called for at the end, many used the virtual clapping hand but it was also exciting to hear real applause and cheers from classes who turned on their microphones.

Isn’t technology exciting? This is  a wonderful use of technology that has engaged and embraced many students across Victoria simultaneously. To keep the conversations going, innovative Sandy Phillips has created a blog where students will actually be able to “Build a Safer Internet” and share their ideas, experiences and opinions. It is rich in resources so check out each of the pages as well as the posts and interact where possible. Below are the questions that Sandy uses to get discussions going with students and others.


What are you doing for Safer Internet Day?

Teaching about Scams

It was with interest that I listened to another staff member tell me about the interesting email he had recieved inviting him to take part in a survey with one of or largest grocery chains in Australia. Thinking this could be interesting to share with my classes to teach authenticity of websites, I shared it with my classes this week -even my grade 4/5 ICT class. It worked really well with students enthausiastically sifting through the pluses, minuses and interesting components. (The active link has been removed so that others may not be mislead).

Here is the email:- (Note that this was the url but warning!

From: Woolworths Supermarkets []
Sent: Tuesday, 30 October 2012 4:05 PM
Subject: Customer Satisfaction Survey!
Importance: High

You have been selected to access the Woolworths 5 questions Survey and win a $50.00 gift certificate.

Please click here and complete the form to receive your reward. Thank you.

This is an automated message. Please do not reply.Message Id: 0019268154-wmrtsrv.


Here is what it looked like:

  1. I printed off the email msg below and got some classes to read the email and highlight anything that caught their attention. What was interesting, what was a little concerning etc. We then discussed as a class.
  2. With another group, they drew up a table in MS Word with the headings plus, minus and interesting. Under each heading they added their findings. They were given 5 minutes to do this. Then discussed as a group.

We also discussed why the clickable link was a potentially dangerous option. I did click on the link after warning them. This took me to the survey form. Below are two screen shots of the actual survey. Students read this, then talked about the interesting aspects of it and the authenticity of the site.


There were so many discussion points arising from this email

  • authentication
  • personal identity
  • how to protect personal identity
  • potential dangers of clickable links
  • scams, phish, potential outcomes of clicking on suspicious links
  • vulnerable people etc

Please feel free to use the screen grabs, but take care with any clickable link and do not submit that survey form or click on next.

Changing the way we view cybersafety – Tech Talk Tuesday in review

Tony Richards, (@itmadesimple and co-podcaster of the edtechcrew)  led a discussion on the way we should view cybersafety for Tech Talk Tuesdays. This was a challenging and thought provoking session.

It made us think about:-

  • where are our students online, when are they online, how are they online etc Do we know?
  • holding regular conversations with students
  • creating student surveys to see where they are at, and where the teaching needs to begin!
  • students should be being taught to screencast eg screenr , jing are online tools
  • 20 things I learned – a great free online resource. Could students read one chapter each fortnight and discuss in class? Should this be linked to their blog sidebars?
  • and so much more. Listen to the recording to catch it all.

Shared from the participants

  1. creating online avatars
  2. Let’s stalk women app
  3. the Kony video on youtube
  4. Tony’s bookmarked sites on being smart online 
  5. Report on Targeting Scams from the Australian government

Tech Talk Tuesdays: Changing the way we view cybersafety – a discussion

The Topic: Changing the way we view cyber safety – a discussion
When: Tuesday, May 1st, 4-5pm Melbourne, Australia time (gmt+10)
Where: Online webinar. Click on this link to join the session.
About the session: Taking up from past presentations on TechTalk Tuesdays this session Tony Richards (@itmadesimple) will be lead discussions on the growing challenge of cyber smarts, digital footprints, online reputations and how we are dealing with these issues on a personal, professional and school community level. Participants will explore and discuss ideas that have worked and those that have not, looking to share our knowledge and experience, please come prepared to share, argue and challenge.
About the Presenter: Mr Tony Richards has had a long and varied involvement with ICT in education. He has worked across a large range of environments, including time as a primary classroom teacher, technology advisor, network manager and developer, Distance Education Technology project manager, executive officer with ICTEV subject association, new media specialist with the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, Director of Information Technology with Northern Territory DET, blogger, podcaster on the Ed Tech Crew.     View LinkedIn profile
Here is the link to the recording. This was such a fabulous,  thought provoking session. Unfortunately, we had some technical issues uploading the presentation,  so the session was shortened. However, Tony has agreed to return in June to complete the full session.

Avatars – keeping students cybersafe

Please meet the students from my classes – they include years 7 through to years 9/10 ICT and some of my accounting students from years 11 and 12.
Can you find their names, their ages, their personal details from the pics below? No? Therefore they are really safe when using avatars as  computer identities when working online.

Students from my classes

Here are our two favourite avatar creating sites:-

  1. lego avatars with reasonably clever  (this requires a screen dump to save – see below)
  2. portrait making  with illustrator avatars – right click on completed avatar and save image as ….. in appropriate folder
  3. or you might like to use MS Paint and draw your own.

To make a screen dump:-

  • complete your avatar
  • Find the key PrtSc (on top RHS of keyboard = print screen)
  • open a drawing or image editing tool eg MS Paint
  • Click ‘paste’
  • Crop the image
  • Save as a jpg or png file

Extension activities

  1. A voki or talking avatar can then be produced and added in a text widget on the side bar or within a blog post.
  2. A  super hero can also be created. See flurogreen’s super hero. Her blog also features a lego avatar and a voki. Can you find them?
  3. The teacher could add a wallwisher, getting students to describe key features of their avatar and how it relates to their personality.

Can anyone give instructions for mac computers? What avatar creating programs do you use?


Cyber Scare in Second Life and where are the Police!

On Wednesday’s eT@lking, we had a rather interesting and worrying incident. In fact the first scary incident that I have ever been exposed to in all my four years of using online technology.

The session – a workshop on Second Life (SL) started in elluminate, with slides being shown by Marian Heddesheimer, walking us through how to find where to go, ensure audio worked etc. Unfortunately, some of the participants were late, so missed some of these introductions. As they entered elluminate, I reminded them to have the latest version of second life downloaded.

Halfway through the session, the participants who could, entered SL and were to meet Marian at a predetermined place, while   elluminate and application sharing were still used. However, one of our participants, Penny, who was relatively new to second life, started off at the ‘beginners’ island”. Two participants soon joined Marian in the predesgnated meeting room, but Penny was not to be seen. Next, there was question in the chat from Penny, saying that avatars were asking her age? They then told her she had arthritus and set upon attacking her and jumping on her. This included four avatars and two animals.

Brave Penny was so brave, in that she divorced her feelings from her avatar, kept her cool, chatted to us in the chat window, then used audio to find out how to meet the rest. Quick witted and experienced Marian was soon able to find her and teleport her to safety.

This leads to the following questions:-

  • Who polices second life?
  • How do you report cyber crime?
  • How many unsuspecting newbies have been frightened out of SL, by these cyber thugs at the beginners’ space?
  • How do we keep ourselves safe in second life and virtual worlds?
  • What extra measures do we need to take for our students to ensure their safety?
  • What measures should I take next time, to ensure that all our online participants are safe?

Cyber crime can be reported but the avatars’ names would be required. In those moments of anxiety, the victim is using all oftheir powers to try and ‘get out of there’ without observing the avatars’ names.

Who as advice for us on this problem?

Cyber Safety Awareness Week in Australia

 June 6-11 is National Cyber Security Awareness Week, an Australian Government initiative, implemented in partnership with state and territory governments, to raise awareness of smart online practices.

As part of this awareness, here are two interesting  videos for students from the Think u Know people in the UK

  1. the Jigsaw for upper primary/middle years students
  2. Consequences for middle years/ senior student

These two videos about online safety are great for parents to watch as well as children. The videos are from the UK CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

Some reading:  


My school, Hawkesdale P12 College is excited to be one of 20 schools chosen across Victoria, to be part of the Learning  Online Cybersafety initiative, working in conjunction with members of the Department for Education and Early Childhood Development. Five year 8 students will work as a team identifying potential problems with online learning pertinent to our school.  Students will participate in two web conference sessions that will support them to take authentic action in their school. During the online sessions students will work with a cybersafety expert, discussing online safety and identifying research questions that are relevant to their school. Offline, students will gather data and information that addresses their research questions and informs their action. It is anticipated that their action will assist to influence their peers to act more responsibly in the online environment. 

Their first online session was today.

What are you doing for cyber safety awareness week? Have you read any interesting articles or viewed any videos worth sharing. Please comment below.

Coffee anyone!

The major stakeholders in a school, were identified as

  • students
  • staff
  • parents
  • school council and leadership
  • parents club

Parents…… a vital link in the educational chain!  A very successful evening session was held earlier in the year with parents, updates have followed in the community newsletters and encouragement given via notes and journal entries to become involved in the student blogs

However, having recently attended the Shanghai Learn2.008, I learnt from Kim Cofino that they were running a morning coffee session once a month for interested parents at their school in Bangkok (an activity we had often discussed running here.)

So, tomorrow, October 15th will be the first of a monthly session of meetings with parents and interested community members. It is hoped  that this will extend to sessions where parents can learn some of the exciting web2.0 tools and gain some understanding of their student’s potential online activity. This may lead to parent and community classes tutored possibly, by year 9 students. The concept fits in well with the goals of our middle year’s coordinator and our librarian, as our library is a community resource centre as well.

Do students feel safe blogging?

When I was recently asked to write an article on safety, one of the questions was whether students felt safe using the web2.0 tools. So, I asked Grade 6 students a question on whether they felt safe blogging. (Students have had a class blog for 8 months and individual blogs for 2 months)

Here are some of their replies:-

  • I am very careful, and I make sure I never write anything too personal about me. And instead of using pictures of our selves we use vokis, weemees, and avatars.I feel safe because we are always reminded to not use our last names and we can talk to all our friends and our teachers. Also because our teachers regularly check all of our blogs and leave comments.
  • Because we don’t use photos and teachers remind you not to do some stuff.
  • Noone has said anything bad about my blog.
  • We don’t put our personal details and photos
  • Nobody really annoys us and if they do we can delete them.
  • I do because we dont write anything to personal about our selfs and we dont use pictures we use vokis weemees and avatars.
  • I feel safe as I have not given out heaps of information about where I live.
  • I feel safe because I haven’t used any of my information, last name or pictures .
  • Because i haven’t given heaps of info about where i live. I use Avatars instead of photos

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 There is a copy of the rules in Word format at

“On a slightly related tack we also asked our students to consider the issue of copyright by directing them to 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. :(.”