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Making the most of learning and teaching online: Fostering skills and strategies to stay safe is never too early to help students realise that there is a risk when using social networking, and to help them assimilate strategies and skills that will assist them to stay safe online, while also enjoying the huge benefits of being online and part of learning communities.

As such, there should be age-appropriate, engaging, interactive, multimodal safety sessions for every student in every school, college, and university. Approaches such as showing videos with hypothetical situations, and taking students through role plays and ‘authentic’ experiences can, for example, be very effective.

Policing and ‘locking down’ is an almost irresponsible action by schools because it does not help students raise their own awareness, or to stay safe in environments outside of school. It is a little bit like keeping your children inside your house because there is a busy road outside. Better to give them the skills to cross safely, and the option to use the pedestrian crossing just up the road if they wish to...


It is also important to participate in the education of the wider community – to give them hints and tips about how to help their children stay safe online.

Educators can know what knowledge and strategies learners bring to their online activity by engaging the students in active, engaged tasks around staying safe in social networking sites. They should also be able to recognise cyber-bullying and have strategies to address the problem. There are some really good, accessible multimedia resources available such as:

  • For an in depth look into the major issues and dangers for young users of the Internet, The Complete Guide to Protecting Your Child's Online Safety in 2018, is timely and relevant (especially if you are based in the US). The step-by-step practical guides for parents are clear and easy to follow and cover setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). as well as using the parental controls on a wide range of browsers and popular social networking spaces.  The accompanying Guide for Teachers  provides guidelines around "how to best teach your students about internet safety, from teaching elementary school students the basics of online etiquette to educating high schoolers about the importance of their digital footprint". These resources are highly recommended.
  • Netsafe's film, At a Distance, created and  filmed in New Zealand, and offers a practical, engaging resource for teachers to use to engage students in understanding, discussing and addressing the issues of cyberbullying in their school.
  • Chilldnet's cyberbullying film, Let’s Fight It Together, is a unique drama documentary produced by students with accompanying lesson plans and classroom discussion points. Another toolkit that might be used alongside this documentary is the Cyberbullying guide by KidsHealth.
  • Jigsaw: Assembly for 8 10 year olds (see video below) is really well-made and makes a strong point extremely well. Would be great to share with a class to start a conversation about behaviours online, and some of the things to do / avoid online. Makes a strong connection between the concrete world and the abstract online.


Resources such as those on TES (some free, some with a small cost attached), and Teachers TV are superb at supporting educators, and giving them ideas and strategies about making the most of learning and teaching online while helping everyone to remain safe.

The description from the site for the video above (Internet Safety Guidelines) reads: "Internet Safety Rules to keep everyone safe online! Helping to raise awareness and promote Internet safety for kids and teens. Internet safety tips for parents also and everyone interested in promoting online safety. Sometimes a catchy tune helps get the point across! :)" You might also find this eSafety guide and infographic informative.

For a toolkit around online safety, suitable for further and higher education institutions as well as for individuals you may find some of these numerous resources from the Digital Literacy and Creativity Collection of interest. 


Policies and procedures

Schools, parents and teachers can access resources from organisations such as Netsafe that seek to provide suggestions around policies, procedures and acceptable use agreements to help build a school cybersafety programme. From this foundation, the students themselves could be asked to contribute suggestions to further inform these policies, procedures and acceptable use agreements - for home as well as within school and the wider community.

Image source

Netsafe facilitate an online community initiative to share resources and ideas around staying safe online. You can read more about it and access the Learn, Guide, Project site by visiting this blog post.

Some useful examples of communication with parents, as well as example acceptable use policies can be found in the list below:

  1. Digital Citizenship Policy
  2. Staff Responsible Use Agreement
  3. Student Responsible Use Agreement


Image source - by College Degrees 360

Data sharing and privacy

If you are also interested in some of the issues of data sharing and privacy in a more general sense, you may like to read Allison Miller's discussion: "Is the case for sharing data online open or closed?". 



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Making the most of learning and teaching online: Fostering skills and strategies to stay safe by Ethos Consultancy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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