Thursday, October 09, 2008

Educating them to be safe is better than blocking .

As I work on our new project , Digiteen- exploring what it means to be a digital citizen, I am more and more mindful of the responsibility we have as educators to ensure that our students are empowered to manage the web in a safe and smart way. I find that my daily conversations with students are changing as I watch the sites they visit, the amount of illegal (but innocent) downloading that they do, the way they happily play online for way too much time, the ineffective searching that they do, the 'friends' that they pick up online etc etc. I am also constantly reminded that blocking all but the most offensive and dangerous sites is all but useless . Our kids are too clever for that and their personal and online networks are too strong. Block one site and they will find the next one.
No, I am convinced that it is education that they need. Actually it's what we all need. It's not only kids that do this, I see teachers on a daily basis breaching copyright, overlooking Google searches that are a complete waste of time, looking past clear 'cut and paste' articles presented as a student's own work and telling students to go research a topic with no guidelines or strategy for doing so. And basically having little idea (or is it turning a blind eye?) of safe and secure ways to use the internet.
So it is with some gratification that Julie Lindsay passed on some news that she came across I by US congress where they have passed an update to the Children's Internet Protection Act requiring schools participating in the E-Rate program to educate students regarding appropriate behavior on social networking and chat room sites and about cyberbullying.
Of course we here in Australia are not sitting on our laurels and I'm happy to say that the Victorian DEECD offers some guidelines for schools when working online with students, teachers and parents. The solution I am convinced is in education. But we have a long way to go in ensuring that our teachers, our students and our whole school community are savvy in determining how to be an effective, safe, clever and smart digital citizen.

9 comments:

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Anne!

A great post! And I agree about the need for education for all.

There's a Scottish adage, "Naethin' cams itsel." It means nothing comes on its own.

With the ubiquitous accessibility of the Internet comes plagiarism, breach of copyright and other, much worse, misuses.

We, as teachers, are often charged with the responsibility of issues like this. As a teacher, I say, "Hang on!"

I believe that education is one way to provide part of the solution. I just don't believe that it's all necessarily needed just in school.

Who educates the authorities?
Are the teachers to be held reponsible for their current ignorance on these matters?

No!

Who educates the communities?
Are the teachers to be held reponsible for the communities' current ignorance on these matters?

No!

There has to be a concerted awareness, a whole of society awareness, in order for this to be put to right - eventually, if ever.

I am not denying the responsibilities of schools in this. But let's be aware that the problem that exists is wider than the schools' communities.

At the moment, I am writing the cybersafety policy for a huge distance school (about 20,000 learners). My pitch is a whole of school awareness - a difficult assignment.

It involves hundreds of teachers, more teachers than there are learners in many individual schools. It involves the supervisors of these learners. It involves the ICT structure of the school. It involves the Board of the school. Need I explain more?

But I am also aware that the buck does not stop here - simple though it may be to shove the responsibility into schools.

Do you take my point?

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Anne said...

I definitely do get your point. And you are so right. It does have to be a concerted effort and is so much more than being 'aware' at school. I have recently been watching a PBS Frontline Growing up Online program as part of our Digiteen project and it certainly opened my eyes up about what kids are getting up to. And therefore what we as parents, teachers and mature adults of a technology rich society have to be aware of and in many ways take responsibilty for.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora!

Anonymous said...

This is in fact a great post...
One comment I have about this post is that, as a parent of a teenage child, it is also my responsibility to ensure that I educate my child as well. I have seen parent’s because of lack of knowledge in technology or lack of time has inhabited them to see what their children do on the computer and internet, with an assumption that their child is smart and will not access sites or chat with others online that are not appropriate, that is great to feel trusted about your child.
However, on the other hand, I can say I trust my child but can not trust what is out there for them to see.
I am a mother, I work full-time, and I go to school, yet I make sure that my child is busy when I am and she can get on the computer with limited time for school and research use only and monitored. I keep an inventory of the sites she has visited and advise her and educate her on the use of computer and internet.
It might sound like a very structured and controlled environment, but I rather control than seeing her become exposed to unnecessary distracting internet sites.
So I agree that schools and teacher are responsible, but I also say that parents have as much responsibility as educators and schools.

Maryam M

MHarris said...

I completely agree that blocking in today’s world is pointless. We have a huge security system in place to block inappropriate sites on our school server. It is amazing how many kids can hack right through it with just a few buttons. The other day I was trying to pull up a website on Martin Luther King at school and the computer popped up the “you have been blocked” screen saying that the site contained racist material. I told the kids we would have to find another site and one of my 6th graders jumped up and said “Wait, I can fix that” he pushed a series of buttons and whala up came the site we wanted. I was telling our technology guy about it and he said this is not uncommon. The kids, in many cases, are ahead of us with technology. Rather than blocking them out of sites we need to teach them how to safely navigate on the web.

MHarris said...

I completely agree that blocking in today’s world is pointless. We have a huge security system in place to block inappropriate sites on our school server. It is amazing how many kids can hack right through it with just a few buttons. The other day I was trying to pull up a website on Martin Luther King at school and the computer popped up the “you have been blocked” screen saying that the site contained racist material. I told the kids we would have to find another site and one of my 6th graders jumped up and said “Wait, I can fix that” he pushed a series of buttons and whala up came the site we wanted. I was telling our technology guy about it and he said this is not uncommon. The kids, in many cases, are ahead of us with technology. Rather than blocking them out of sites we need to teach them how to safely navigate on the web.

anrock said...

Anne,

I found it very interesting when you mentioned all the errors that teachers make when it comes to the Internet. I agree with you 100%. However, I don’t think teachers even realize they need to change their ways. I am recently out of college and one of the things we learned about was all of the copyright rules. As we were looking at the list of things we were not allowed to do, several of them jumped out at me. Teachers break copyright rules ALL THE TIME!!

I am currently taking a graduate technology education course, and one of the topics we just explored was the websites found by Google. I would say that the majority of teachers and students go straight to Google when looking for anything (myself included!). However, one of the things we just learned was how many useless websites there are on Google! There are several misleading sites that are not by credible sources.

Somehow, teachers and students need to become educated about Google and other sites they should use instead. Maybe those of us that are now educated about Google as a search engine should start spreading the word!

anrock said...

Anne,

I found it very interesting when you mentioned all the errors that teachers make when it comes to the Internet. I agree with you 100%. However, I don’t think teachers even realize they need to change their ways. I am recently out of college and one of the things we learned about was all of the copyright rules. As we were looking at the list of things we were not allowed to do, several of them jumped out at me. Teachers break copyright rules ALL THE TIME!!

I am currently taking a graduate technology education course, and one of the topics we just explored was the websites found by Google. I would say that the majority of teachers and students go straight to Google when looking for anything (myself included!). However, one of the things we just learned was how many useless websites there are on Google! There are several misleading sites that are not by credible sources.

Somehow, teachers and students need to become educated about Google and other sites they should use instead. Maybe those of us that are now educated about Google as a search engine should start spreading the word!

Anonymous said...

Anne,

I found it very interesting when you mentioned all the errors that teachers make when it comes to the Internet. I agree with you 100%. However, I don't think teachers even realize they need to change their ways. I am recently out of college and one of the things we learned about was all of the copyright rules. As we were looking at the list of things we were not allowed to do, several of them jumped out at me. Teachers break copyright rules ALL THE TIME!!

I am currently taking a graduate technology education course, and one of the topics we just explored was the websites found by Google. I would say that the majority of teachers and students go straight to Google when looking for anything (myself included!). However, one of the things we just learned was how many useless websites there are on Google! There are several misleading sites that are not by credible sources.

Somehow, teachers and students need to become educated about Google and other sites they should use instead. Maybe those of us that are now educated about Google as a search engine should start spreading the word!

anrock