Author: Beverley McCormick – Education Specialist, 3P Learning Ltd
On reflection, we were teetering on the edge of this precipice for quite some time – never really wanting to fully take the plunge. Many people could already navigate the internet to do their home shopping or book holidays. Others used the internet to learn new skills or gain certificates in education, including degrees such as Masters through completely remote courses.
But the new world of ‘social distancing’ in 2020 accelerated this to a pace we never knew before. Remote learning was now not just for higher levels of ‘adult learners’. Even our little ones now became recognised remote learners – able to join zoom calls, complete their work online and connect virtually with their teachers and peers.
But what does this mean for us in all levels of education? One thing for sure is that online learning is not going away…
So, how can we sustain good practices online? How can we stay safe whilst online? How can we become more digitally literate without haemorrhaging our personal data with every click and sign-up for resources which might help to reduce our workload? How can we protect our online reputation?
What is Online Safety, and why is it important?
We are now constantly digitally connected in our modern lives. From smart TVs and smart phones, to fridges and washing machines that can order when supplies are low. From smart watches that help to keep us fit, to cars that track our every journey. Internet of Things (IoT) permeates every element of our lives. With every click search and post, we leave a trail of digital information. Aa digital footprint, that can be harvested by companies to better target advertisements to our needs. But it can also be used by those who have more nefarious intent.
We are told that the British public loses millions of pounds every year in the form of stolen personal data. So, it’s never been more important for us to have the knowledge to identify risks, to be conscious of our personal security while online, and to ensure that our students also behave responsibly online.
The danger of ignorance to potential online risks and inadequate safeguarding can be devastating, and few are immune. These include cyber-bullying, viewing inappropriate content, online extortion and exploitation, identity theft, plagiarism and copyright issues and the risk of downloading viruses or malware.
What can we do?
There are some simple steps that we can take to ensure that we keep ourselves safe whilst online.
- Limit the amount of personal information that you share -Only give what is absolutely necessary.
- Think before posting – Once online, it is very difficult if not impossible to remove content. Be mindful of your online reputation.
- Begin conversations with your students – Open a dialogue about safe practices and coping strategies with your students.
If you are interested in finding out more about keeping your students safe in a digital world, there are a number of organisations offering information. A good place to start is the UK Council for Internet Safety’s (UKCIS) framework – “Education for a Connected World”.