As a teacher, I wasn’t always thinking about ways to manage cyber safety in the classroom. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never really had a system or a set of protocols that guided the children’s use of the Internet. There was a school policy of some sort, but that was tucked away in a big folder, and was very rarely referred to. If something undesirable should happen, I was confident I wasn’t too far away to address the issue.
How times have changed. I think very differently now—about what it means to manage cybersafety in the classroom (and at home), and the long-term implications if this isn’t addressed appropriately.
But what does everyone else think?
NetSafe survey reveals lack of confidence in educators about cybersafety
Recently NetSafe asked New Zealand educators how confident were they in managing cybersafety in their schools. The key findings from this showed:
- Teachers do not feel confident supporting students with cybersafety, with secondary and intermediate teachers less confident than those teaching at primary level. A knowledge of cybersafety issues was needed by teachers.
- In terms of managing issues, generally students were not involved in discussions about appropriate use of ICT, filtering was seen as only one element of managing cybersafety, and
- That issues extend beyond the school gate, but that educators were seen as vital in guiding students.
Most educators acknowledge the classroom landscape is changing (due to adoption of mobile and Internet technologies), and the research shows nearly 70% of respondents realise they are required to “… be confident in supporting students to develop their digital citizenship, and, like other literacies and skills digital literacy and cybersafety skills, require cultivation and development.” But the findings from this research also shows a significant amount of New Zealand teachers (more so at the secondary level) are not confident about their own knowledge and ability to teach cybersafety. Check out NetSafe’s Teacher Confidence Survey Summary (PDF).
What we as educators can do about digital citizenship and cybersafety
If being a successful digital citizen is just as important as being a ‘regular citizen’, then perhaps we need to get busy finding ways to:
- Increase teacher confidence and knowledge of cybersafety in the classroom – from generalist through to specialist teachers
- Improve strategies for managing cybersafety by involving students and parents in a consultative process to help develop policies and user agreements
- Extend messages of cybersafety and digital citizenship to the wider community
As mentioned in Digital Citizenship (part 1), one way teachers can improve confidence with teaching digital citizenship and cyber- safe practices, is to continue to focus on the Key Competencies and how this might be translated into the digital realm.
Digital citizenship and cybersafety resources
There is a wealth of resources both locally and internationally that can help educators unpack the concepts of digital citizenship and the realities of managing cybersafety—in school and at home.
For more information on specific resources that can help support the three areas identified above:
- Read the full article Digital Citizenship: At school and at home, by Tessa Gray (CORE web site)
- Read Digital citizenship (part 1)
All images sourced from Ollie Bray free internet safety and responsible use cartoons