While students are learning at home, it’s important that they feel they still have a safe environment. How can teachers help create a safe workplace for online classes? Here are some ideas of how schools can maintain a safe learning environment for distance learning.
Define Online Safety
It is important to define online safety for students so they can understand what to avoid or report when doing online work for class. This knowledge gives students what they need to build responsible online behaviors for the future. It also shows them how to behave responsibly and cautiously online, which will help them stay safe on the internet even when they’re not doing classwork.
Create Assignments and Activities About Online Safety
Create space in class to make up scenarios, assignments, and activities that test students on what they know about online safety. This will allow them to see the results and effects of dangerous online behavior. If students are able to recognize the danger of these scenarios, they’ll also know how to spot and report incidents they witness or experience.
Encourage Parental Involvement
For younger children or students who don’t normally have much access to the internet, it’s wise to advise parents about what you’re trying to teach. Parents will be able to reach and monitor their students at home in a way teachers aren’t able to. This way, both parent and student learn about being a responsible digital citizen, and parents can help to answer their children’s questions.
Providing Students With Resources
Sometimes, activities, games, or videos about being safe online will hold students’ attention more than a lecture or reading assignment. Share with your students websites and videos that they’ll find enjoyable and engaging. Google’s “Be Internet Awesome” campaign includes resources for teachers, students, and parents. Also, Google developed Interland, a downloadable game that teaches students about internet safety. SafeConnects provides video resources as well as creative assignments for teaching students how to be safe online as well.
Be Available To Talk
As always, communication is still a very important asset for students. Whether by Zoom, email, or chat, have times that you are available for students to ask questions. It’s important that students have an adult to talk to about any worries online. Being their support might keep them out of a dangerous situation.
Install Monitoring Software on School-Issued Laptops
Finally, installing monitoring software on school computers is the best way to ensure a safe learning environment during distance learning. Programs like LearnSafe detect risky online behavior, including cyberbullying, pornography, and predatory grooming. LearnSafe then alerts school administrators, allowing them to intervene and stop dangerous situations before it’s too late. In this way, LearnSafe protects vulnerable students and ensures a safe, secure learning environment, even when students are learning at home.
Text by Claire Manasco