As a teacher, your responsibility to keep students safe in the classroom extends to the digital classroom. While the Internet is ripe with opportunities to help students learn, it also exposes students to the potential for harm. Your school district probably has filters and blocks in place to help keep students safe online, but chances are students have already learned how to get around them to access their favorite websites and videos while at school. They do not understand the purpose of filters and blocks is to keep them safe online. To students, filters and blocks are just another form of oppression.
One of your jobs as a teacher is to teach students about the reasons for filters and blocks and educate them about the dangers they face online. This doesn’t mean you need to make students scared to even open an Internet browser, but as you incorporate new technologies and online resources into your curriculum, you need to provide students with tips to help them avoid dangerous situations.
Avoid Posting Personal Information
Keep students’ personal information away from public access. Do not allow students to use their names on any websites the public can view. Instead, have students create unique usernames. It’ll take more work to keep track of who’s who online, but the time is worth keeping students safe from the possibility of Internet predators figuring out who they are.
Monitor all exchanges between students online and explain to students the effects of cyber-bullying or sending inappropriate pictures and messages. Try to avoid resources which allow students to message one another in a non-supervised environment and have students block the option to leave comments on profiles, blogs or projects the public is able to view.
Discipline students for breaking the rules. Downloading a song, visiting an unauthorized website or innocently putting down another student in a message or comment may seem like a minor infraction, but if you let these infractions slide, students will begin to take bigger risks, putting them at risk to download malicious viruses, access highly inappropriate content or send a series of mean or threatening messages to other students.
Students do not always access the Internet from within the safety of the school walls, but the lessons you teach there will work to keep them safe whenever and wherever they get online.
What are your tips to fellow teachers and parents? Please post a comment below and thanks for reading the educational technology blog Teach Amazing!