Digital Citizenship – Keeping Safe Online

I wrote an article for the Te Kura June 2013 Link Up magazine (see page 18) on digital citizenship. This magazine goes out to students and whānau.

The article is cross-posted here.


Digital citizenship: Keeping safe online

If you use the Internet, mobile phones and other devices, you are responsible for how you conduct yourself online. You are a digital citizen.

A digital citizen needs to:

  • Use technology appropriately
  • Respect and protect themselves
  • Respect and protect others
  • Respects and protects intellectual property.

How can I keep my children safe online?

Children and teenagers need support and guidance in keeping safe online and acting responsibly. Communication is key. Children need to feel comfortable that they can talk to you about what is happening online without being judged. Monitoring what your children are doing online is important, but it is not about spying on them. These simple suggestions might help you and your children feel more comfortable:

  • Make sure that your children have access to the computer or devices in an open space—not behind the closed door of their bedroom.
  • Sit down regularly with your children and discuss what they have been doing online.
  • Let your children know that they can talk to you if something happens online where they feel uncomfortable.
  • Discuss with your children how they can protect themselves and feel safe online.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of privacy, dignity and their identity. Discuss how what they post now could impact on their future.

How can I keep myself safe online?

It’s not just children that need to keep safe online. Adults also need to conduct themselves in a safe and responsible manner online. So what can an adult do to stay safe online?

  • Think carefully about what you post online. Remember that your children also have to live with the consequences of what you post—that cute photo of your toddler in the bath may not be what they want shared with the world in the future.
  • Remember to regularly check your privacy settings on the websites you visit (eg. Facebook, Twitter, Google accounts etc).

We need to work together to keep ourselves and our children safe online.

For more information about keeping safe online, check out:

Digital mihi

As I wrote in my previous post, I stated I was working on a digital mihi and to “watch this space”. Well, I’m done. I think I’m going to investigate slightly different mihi and different formats to present them, but here is my first one.

One of the challenges for me was thinking about where I’m from. I felt like I didn’t really have a mountain or river, for example, related to “where I’m from”. I also felt like I didn’t really have a definite place that I could say, “this is where I’m from”. In fact, my feeling is that my home is where I am with my family. As you can see from my mihi, my family mean a lot to me. What I ended up doing is choosing the mountain and river that I connect closest with. Living at the foot of Ruapehu for two years and looking out the lounge window at the marvellous site helped develop that connection. And the Waikato River holds many memories of early days with my wife. These mean a lot to me.

Moving on…

Today is a bit of a strange day for me. It marks the last day that I will be working at Te Kura. I’ve been here five and a half years—the longest I’ve ever been in any one place of employment. While I came as a Science teacher, I have also had several Senior Teacher positions in Science before moving into the Senior Teacher E-learning position. While it’s had its ups and downs (I haven’t been in a job yet that doesn’t), it’s a place that has enabled me to grow and reinvigorate my passion for education—both teaching and learning. I’ve also developed a strong interest in distance education and see the need and usefulness to have schools like this.

While I know someone will come and fill my position, I hope that I have left something worthwhile, something valuable, something for people to think about.

In just a few short days I begin in a different position for a different organisation, CORE Education. I’m excited, nervous and feel a little bit like I’m stepping into the unknown. While it’s not totally unknown, it is all new for me.

I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead but also thinking about what I’m leaving behind. Great colleagues, friends, as well as dreams! It’s a new stage of my life and an exciting adventure I’m on.

Here goes nothing!!!

3 things I’ve learnt so far this year

This post is cross-posted from (r)e-Flections blog.

Below are three things I’ve learnt so far this year while working and learning with other online teachers. I know it’s not really anything new, but it’s been a good reminder to me.

  1. If it’s not working – let it go. Don’t drag out a discussion or a task that students haven’t engaged in. Give them a couple of reminders and if there is still no engagement, then end it. Reflect on it and move on. Take what you’ve learnt and apply it later on to improve the learning experience.
  2. Focus. Don’t make a discussion too big by asking lots of (even related) questions. Keep it simple.
  3. Let students take the reins. Giving students control over the learning process can be very effective. I don’t necessarily mean letting them choose what they learn, but appointing someone to lead an activity. I recently observed a great synchronous online session where a student was given control over the first 15 minutes or so, welcoming everyone into the session and then running a grammar lesson with them (incorporating Google Docs as well). It was very successful and ALL students were engaged.

Contributing to discussions

A couple of years ago, some colleagues and I sat down to put together some guidelines to contributing to discussion forums (although some relate to generally working online. Feel free to use or adapt them if you think they are useful. For us, in distance education, it’s not always easy for us to get the group together to come up with ‘class’ guidelines, so thought we would put some general ones together.

Here they are:

  1. Show respect towards yourself and others online. Treat others as if you were talking in person, face-to-face.

  1. Encourage others who have responded to a discussion. Relate to them or what they have said. Respond to their ideas/comments. Recommend some further ideas.

  1. Encourage others to contribute to a discussion. Consider including a question in your comment.

  1. Take care with what you share online. Many people may be able to see what you write in your blog, discussions and ePortfolio.
  2. Have fun online. The more you put into a discussion, the more people will respond to you.

How to escape education’s death valley

Sir Ken Robinson has presented another TED talk and this is very good. Much of what he says is pertinent to where the NZ education system seems to be heading. Our government at times seems intent to follow the US and what they are doing in their education system, however as this talk shows, this is not necessarily the best route to take. Giving more freedom back to teachers to teacher and facilitate learning amongst their classes rather than focusing on standardised testing may see a shift in the way our children think about and react to school.

[ted id=1738]