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I then realized that the 2online safety issue" was addressed and taught effectively more than thirteen years ago, when I first started teaching in the United States.
Today, more than ever, I have to admit that my experience as a High School teacher in the U.S gave me a vast knowledge of the subject, trained me many years before this topic was arisen in some other parts of the world, mainly in my home country, Argentina. At the beginning, the intensive training and reading sort of shocked me because I thought it was a very peculiar way of protecting the children or even an extremely strict way to instruct teachers. Some time later, I realized, I was not aware of the problem myself! I am so grateful for that and for some other training sessions I had there. Besides, being a state school employee, we had access to a very useful website: LearnNC, which I have been consulting since I came back to my home country.
It is undoubtedly a privilege I was granted many years ago, and I really appreciate it because it has become my daily self-assessment and professional development. Some months ago, I found a quite interesting article by a National Board Certified 6th Grade Language Arts teacher, Bill Ferriter, who says the following:
“There is no doubt that technology integration has had a significant impact on the quality of teaching and learning. We teachers have embraced blogging, wikis, asynchronous discussions or any other type of online work. While new Web 2.0 tools are incredibly exciting and powerful, they can also be dangerous because they expose students to a wider world that isn’t always closely monitored and protected. Risk taking is inherent any time that a child ventures into cyberspace unprepared for what they might encounter there. Providing opportunities to explore content through Web 2.0 technologies comes with an increased responsibility for introducing students to Internet safety practices that often go overlooked in our enthusiasm to try something new.”
What is my opinion about all this stated above?
Last year, while I was preparing a project on Cyberbullying, Online Safety and Digital Citizenship with my Senior class at school, I came across some useful tips from the ELearning Industry website article The Teacher Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online, where the blogger, Robert Lucas, explains that:
Online safety is not… "blocking websites, overbearing internet monitoring, heavy online restrictions, limited internet usage, the criminalization of websites like Facebook and Twitter. Online safety is KNOWLEDGE"
Teaching our students how to be safe online enables them to practice good habits for their entire life.
He provides three essential tips for keeping online safety:
- Get parents involved: I did so when I created my groups on Edmodo, which provides a code for the class and a Parent code.
- 'Provide resources to students'. Watch Google Family Safety or Safe Web Surfing on YouTube, for example. Reflect on Infographics: especially one on Digital Citizenship, created by one of my favorite Twitter connections, infographics diva Mia Macmeekin (it is on my Padlet wall).
- 'Create scenarios', which I certainly did by making my students watch the film: “Cyberbully”. Warning! This film was shown in many schools around the U.S but, in my opinion, it is rather shocking to be seen in class. As it was on YouTube, I only made my class see the first two segments. As soon as the bell rang, they rushed and watched it at home. Later, they left their comments in our Edmodo closed group.
As a conclusion, those teachers like me who are willing to integrate some technology and new tools must be responsible enough to keep the students safe. In my particular case, as I do not have computers in my class we are TOTALLY safe!, but that is another reason for blogging later on. Anyway, digital creation, collaboration and connection are playing an increasingly important role in 21st Century teaching and learning.
I mentioned above that I talked about the project with my students, which is all posted on a Padlet wall: Readings, Word clouds and even students’ recorded opinions: shall I share the link to my private wall on this blog? I already have their parents permission to publish their children’s works so here it goes: Enjoy the work of a group of very nice students and a proud teacher! http://padlet.com/wall/tht5uhr6r5
Here is a list of interesting websites which give advice on Online Safety: