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:

A day at Puniho Marae

This post is cross-posted from the Virtual Learning Network, Enabling e-Learning group Beyond the Classroom blog.

I had the privilege, on Monday, to be able to spend the day with Jason Ruakere on his marae. This was very much a step outside of the comfort zone for this city lover. For me it really was like being in another world. I was out of the city. The pace was slower. It was more relaxed. I was introduced to eating Pūhā – which Jason had collected and cooked with pork bones – and immersed (at least in a small way) into Māori culture.

Reflecting on this it makes me sad that it was outside of my comfort zone and that of many other New Zealanders because it should be a part of what makes us Kiwi. The Māori culture may not specifically be my culture but it is part of my Kiwi-ness. Speaking for myself (although I’m confident this is the case for many Pākehā), I am quick to embrace some parts of Te Ao Māori when it suits me (the haka as a part of our rugby and sporting culture, for example) but other parts I tend to shy away from. I know this is due to a lack of understanding on my part – understanding of what is being said or done and why it is happening.

Puniho Marae


As a part of my inquiry this year I really want to find ways to connect with and engage with parents, whānau, and the school community. From my perspective, this is an area that many schools struggle with. By getting the opportunity to spend time with Jason, and the boys he has been teaching on the marae, I was able to experience a way of learning that is relatively unfamiliar to me but is quite normal for a large number of families in New Zealand.


On arrival I was welcomed onto the marae with a karanga from one of the “aunties” and a hongi with all present. I have to say I was grateful that is was just a small affair, which included the 5 boys that Jason has been teaching, as I think if everyone had been asked to come to the pōwhiri I might have felt a bit more uncomfortable. Jason gave a short mihi and I responded with a mihi that I had managed to learn (and get all the way through without checking my notes!) in the three days leading up to the visit. We then went around the group sharing our pepeha, starting with Jason and ending with me. This was a good chance for the boys and me to practice our pepeha.

Kōrero tuku iho

A quick break for morning tea before it was time to hear some of the stories of the marae and local area. I found this fascinating and really wished I had a better memory to recall all that was shared! Jason had been sharing the stories with the boys and continued the tradition of oral storytelling by encouraging the boys to share the stories with me. And they did well! It was great to see them supporting each other as they shared how Rauhoto, the rock that placed on the marae, came to be there. How Taranaki maunga had followed the rock from the central North Island area after losing a battle with Tongariro maunga over the beautiful Pihanga.

It was great to see the boys’ fascination and interest in the photos of people within the various whare. They were interested in the stories about them, and how they fit within the history of the area. It helped reinforce to me the importance of whanaungatanga.

Between the dining room and whare we passed a couple of mill stones. It amazed me that the boys would likely have walked past them many times but they had never asked what they were or where they came from, but then I realised I probably would’ve done the same if Jason hadn’t pointed them out to me! Jason shared that there used to be a number of factories in the area and the marae used to be a very busy place with many more houses situated around it. There were a number of dairy factories as well as a flour mill. The mill stones came from the nearby flour mill next to Werekino stream at the end of Komene road.

Mill stones at Puniho Marae

Te Reo and technology

Before the boys had to head back to school at lunchtime, they showed me some of the work they had been doing on the iPads. This included drawing and telling the story that I shared above of Taranaki maunga’s journey to where it is today. The purpose of this was for the boys to retell the story of the maunga in their own words. One of the boys told me he didn’t like writing with a pen because his writing wasn’t very neat and he found it difficult, but was happy to type stories on the iPad. They all said it was fun but they were confident they were learning.

I was also shown some of videos they had made using rākau (Cuisenaire rods). The boys had Te Reo lessons, after which they photographed each stage of their learning and recording their voice to help with pronunciation. Using Educreations they were able to revisit the lesson to reinforce their learning.

Jason then took us through a quick lesson in Te Reo using the rākau. Although a simple lesson, I found it a little challenging having to listen carefully for the words I did recognise (numbers and colours) and pick up the correct number rākau of a certain colour. Then Jason changed the words slightly to something he had taught the boys recently and I had to listen carefully to what he was saying to the boys and what they were doing as a result. Instead of saying a particular number, he was saying “tētehi” meaning “one of” and “ētehi” meaning ”some of”. I was not familiar with these words at all and had to interpret their meaning as he was talking to the boys.

As a teacher of science in my past life, this was a good reminder that we can sometimes speak another language (in my case scientific vocabulary) that our students have to pay close attention to, in order to understand! Teachers/educators/academics often speak another language too!


After lunch, Jason took me to Parihaka – a significant site during the land wars in the latter half of the 1800s. He explained his connection to Parihaka and also the stories of the main leaders of the various marae. While I don’t remember all of the details, I really came away with a sense of community and belonging for those of the area. There is so much history and meaning for the families living there and those from the area.

Beyond the classroom—engaging the community

From a school perspective, the trip to Puniho emphasised to me the importance in making connections beyond the classroom with the local community, whānau and marae. As a school we should be aware of the history and tikanga of the community in which we are situated. Connections to this knowledge can be made through the learning that occurs in the classroom.

Schools are busy places. As a result it can be easy, sometimes, to fall into the trap of “ticking the box” in regards to community consultation and engagement. Schools are a part of the community in which they are situated. Instead of having a hui at the marae – taking school-specific business to the marae – what if you decided as a school to build partnerships with the community without a set agenda? What if you took your staff and/or students to sit amongst the koroua, kuia and others gathered at the marae and let them tell their story? This may help the school to develop an understanding of its place within the community as well as helping the wider community feel comfortable to speak into the life, goals and plans of the school.