Making Sure The Digital Classroom Remains a Safe Space
Digital technology is here and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But, is the digital ‘Wild West’ really someplace we want our children to be. Beyond the obvious threats of inappropriate material and digital predators, there are a growing number of studies exposing the negative mental health impacts of social media and online bullying.
The reality we need to face, however, is that young people are going to use the internet. Their future jobs will require them to use digital tools and we need to prepare them for what is out there. Digital technology also delivers valuable options for teachers, creating more interactive learning environments and avenues of communications between teachers, parents and students.
The online world can be a dangerous place for a young, vulnerable person who isn't sure how to conduct themselves, and a big part of classroom education should be how to avoid using networks to abuse each other.
It is the responsibility of schools and teachers to build environments in which digital tools can be deployed by teachers, and students can learn the intricacies on online behaviour without being directly exposed to danger.
This can be a daunting task for schools that have been, to this point, relatively inexperienced with building and maintaining complex IT ecosystems. Managed IT service partners are a critical asset that schools should investigate to create the safe digital environment that their students need and deserve. But, to do that, school administrators need to first know the basics of what they are trying to build.
This is our guide to the basics of building a digital classroom that both improves learning and remains a safe space for students — delivering the best of both worlds that students, parents, teachers and schools desire.
Get The Technical Aspects Right From The Start
There is a lot of nuance to a ‘culture’ of security and zero tolerance policies toward bullying. But, you need to get the technical aspects of cybersecurity right to have a solid foundation on which to build everything else.
Building secure networks for students of all ages to use and learn about should include firewalls, tracking, access control, changeable passwords and good visibility on what students can access online. The right technology partner can help you to build and even maintain a safe space for a digital classroom. Students should not feel threatened online, and getting those technical aspects correct from the beginning can support that.
Cybersecurity should include data protection, with your school understanding how to store and handle personal and sensitive data of students. You need cyber-defences that ensure that you can digitally protect the information in front of you. This means looking for outside help and finding the right partners that have the same goals as you do for online exposure. You do not want your new program to leave you exposed to data loss and malicious behaviour online.
You can use tracking software inside the network to see how students are using your school Wi-Fi services, and you can post as many possible blocks across unsafe websites and systems to prevent student access.
Build a Culture of Safety and Pay Attention to Cyberbullying
When it comes down to it, you can put in as many safety measures as possible, but the way that students conduct themselves online is going to matter. Responsibility is essential, and students should understand and be taught how to act when they're surfing the internet, interacting with others and generally spending time in a digital arena. Students need to take responsibility for the way that they treat others, and education is vital.
You need to be able to track down cyber bullies with the right technology, and you need to have the policies in place that tell you how to deal with them. Building a culture of safety should start while students are young so that they know how to conduct themselves and manage their own expectations online.
Schools have to work to put student safety first in every aspect, and the digital classroom should not be neglected. The access that we now have in schools to digital technology is going to support and transcend their learning, but it comes with unexpected vulnerabilities. Students can handle themselves online and take responsibility for their actions, but mitigating the dangers as much as possible with the right technology partners is crucial.
Students need 100% clarity on the consequences of their actions if they are found to be bullying online or abusing their access to the digital space.
Speak With Parents
Parents may not have grown up being online and having everything digital, but their children are. Their education and support are just as important as the education you are giving your students. Parental support means that there is a reliable system in place to back your teaching up, and they can reinforce the lessons about being safe online from home, too. Students love their freedom when it comes to their privacy online, but there needs to be an agreed upon balance.
As the internet is a vast space, there is only so much education that can be afforded in a classroom environment. Parental support is going to be a big part of teaching students to be safe on the internet, so whether you host an educational class for parents or you simply keep them updated with what their students are learning, get them as involved as possible.
Parents will have a different take on online education than you do, but if everyone from all angles - the school, the parents and the IT partners - are working together, you have the best chance to keep your school safe and your students safe and aware of the dangers. There are many ways to raise this awareness, and parents are the first port of call for their children and their education
Make Sure Students Understand the ‘Digital Footprint’
Students often think first and act later, so consequences are never a consideration until after an incident. If there is are photographs, blogs and opinions going online, students need to be aware of their digital footprint. A digital footprint is a mark that every post, every photograph, every search sticks to - even search engine hits can be traced back.
So, if a student negatively engaged someone else online and it was reported to the police for harassment, they would be vulnerable to a criminal record. Everything in the world is recorded online today, which means that a simple search can bring up potentially negative information. Students may remember why Kim Kardashian became famous in the first place, and no matter how much she tidies up her image or tries to move on in a business arena, "that" tape will always be circulated over and over again. This is a classic example of how what you say and what you do online matters, and it's important to include this in your education about a digital footprint.
Partners Can Help You Deliver Safe Outcomes
By investing in the right IT partners, you can ensure optimum cybersecurity of your digital classroom. They can help you to choose the technology that you need for your classroom environment, and partners can also help you to manage it correctly.
Well-managed IT is just as important as the education that you are imparting to your students, so it's worth looking into the programs and software that will be of maximum support to the lesson you are teaching. There are IT partners that can deliver this advice, helping you to educate your students on the best practices online.
They can also help you to make sure that your chosen technology is delivering the positive outcomes that you are aiming for, rather than investing in things that you don't need for the sake of it.
You have to consider the benefits to your school, your ability to deliver a safe and balanced education and your ability to provide the safest possible digital classroom for your students to learn within. The last thing you want to do is enable any students to slip past the cybersecurity measures in place.