As online educators, we hold a great responsibility in teaching our students to be safe while using the internet. I created the graphic below to guide students- to ensure their safety while taking advantage of the enormous source of information that is at their very fingertips.
The most important step is Step 2 on the list- Secrets. This is important because even working on a secure site, like Georgia Virtual School, sharing personal information- passwords,
personal details such as address and phone number- can compromise online security but also physical wellbeing. To ensure that students keep digital safety at the forefront of their minds, we have to saturate their surroundings with the information. Posting a graphic on the classroom bulletin board would be one way to begin. Since we send Biweekly Newsletters, adding a new graphic to each edition would draw attention and remind students of how important it is to be safe in the online environment at all times. It would also be a good idea to begin the semester with a discussion about online safety, be it for credit or for enrichment points, so that students start the course understanding the importance of the issue.
In education, we are constantly using acronyms that those in the outside world rarely understand. Online education is even a step beyond the brick and mortar with the acronyms used that we must understand. To assist in this, let's straighten out a few...
Acronyms important to Online Education
AUP- Acceptable Use Policy
An agreement signed by students and parents expressing appropriate conditions of use of the Internet. It will also cover consequences and penalties of violations of the system.
CIPA- Children's Internet Protection Act
A law that states that all media provided by a school must comply with E-rate requirements. Educators must be careful in creating a stimulating but safe learning environment following these laws as well as providing an AUP.
CCL- Creative Commons License
A copyright license that allows others use of the product but also gives credit to the creator. There are different types of licenses that allow different types of usage. It is important to know what type of copyright each item has so that your use follows the law of what is allowed- does it allow you to distribute? Remix? Tweak?
More important terms
Anyone can use a portion of created work (a certain percentage) even if it is copyrighted, but only for specific reasons including education.
A few questions...
How can a DLC ensure that citizens within the community have access to an environment where an AUP protects members as well as the community itself, where individuals uphold laws, and a cooperative/collective venture provides robust, safe, and ethical resources and opportunities for learning?
What is the best way to establish and maintain a flourishing DLC where citizens understand, observe, and are inclined to willingly support and ultimately benefit from Digital Rights and Responsibilities?
A Specific Plan
It is important that there is a specific plan in place. With each curriculum group, it is essential that each teacher respond in the same manner. In our particular department through GAVS, we leave feedback immediately stating that the incident has occurred and that, if a grade is attached, credit will not be awarded unless it is resubmitted. A note sent via Thesis is an important response, as well, so that documentation is provided for administrators if the actions continue, but also so that other stakeholders can be award of the issue. If the issue occurs again, the issue should be handed over to the ILT and possibly to administration. Following consequences are spelled out in the AUP which can be found in our Teacher/Student Handbook.
The digital realm is a whole new world. It's not a given that students are aware of how to navigate it nor how to behave within it. One of the most important aspects that I have seen in the online course when it comes to behavior is the lack of netiquette that students have unless they are directly instructed about it. What might seem to be common sense to an adult is not so obvious to a student. I plan on using the following video that I made for this course to introduce students to the manners they should be using online at all times. Take a look, and feel free to use it!
It can be difficult to tell if sites on the internet are giving 100% correct information, or if there are errors in the knowledge they are attempting to share. The question comes time and time again: how can we know. As educators, we are charged with not only using reputable sources and providing those to our students, but also with teaching our students how to make those decisions, as well. This can be a difficult task. We learn the tricks: using information from domains that end with .mil, .gov, .edu, and .org.
I have collected some resources to demonstrate sites that provide factual information, and lessons that are safe to share with our students in the world of online learning. Many different content areas and topics are covered in the resources collected below. Take a look!