Monday, 7 May 2012

Digital Citizenship in the Primary School

Below is a summary of the main points from our parent workshop on Digital Citizenship in the Primary School. You will also find links to some of the tools/sites we recommended in the session.

Our approach to Digital Citizenship

UWCSEA is one of the pilot schools for the Generation Safe 360 Assessment. This rigorous approach ensures all stakeholders in the school community are committed to Digital Citizenship, and have a solid structure in place to support students, teachers and parents. We achieved Bronze status recently, and we are working towards accreditation of Silver and Gold status.

Every student/parent has signed a Learning Technologies Agreement, which aims to get students/parents to begin the conversation around responsible use with technology at school and at home.

We are adapting resources from Common Sense Media as a basis for our Digital Citizenship Curriculum. Lessons are based around three broad strands: Safety and Security, Learning with Technology, and Digital Citizenship.
Sample Infant Unit - Going Places Safely
Sample Junior Unit - Rating Websites

We promote balanced use of technology. We advocate physical activity, face-to-face contact with peers and encourage students to use the best tool for the task at hand. If that is a pencil and paper, no problem! We're not forcing kids to use technology. Instead, we see it as one of many tools they can use for learning.

The school has a very useful Parent iLearn Information website you might like to bookmark. It has links to school policies, advice, and guides to sites such as Facebook.

How can Parents help?

( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by sean dreilinger:

Embrace their world
Involving yourself in the activities your child enjoys through technology can go a long way towards mutual respect and understanding. Why not try that game your son/daughter has been hooked on lately? Find out why it is so engaging.

As them to teach you some of the things they know - they may well have discovered many shortcuts you could benefit from!

Encourage Balanced Use
Help them understand the importance of outdoor play, varied interests and face-to-face interactions with friends.

The Common Sense Media Agreement is an excellent starting point for beginning the conversation. Maintaining an open line of communication with your child is crucial for your parent/child relationship in the years ahead.

Set Boundaries
Parents sometimes hesitate in setting boundaries for technology use because technology can be used as a tool for learning as well as for entertainment and social activity. Setting terms of use guidelines, such as no laptops in bedrooms, time limits or keeping mobile phones in a central place at bedtime are suggestions you may wish to consider as a starting point. This resource provides some good suggestions for time limits, and this site provides some great tips for reducing screen time.

Role Model
You are your child's most important role model with technology. It is unfair to ask them to switch off devices if you won't do the same. Show them how you maintain balance in your life and ask them to help monitor your technology use as well.

No Bullying
Let them know that bullying is not to be tolerated, whether in person or online. We frequently say, "If you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it online." Reinforcing this message helps students see how serious it is.

Help your child understand that in today's cut-and-paste world, they need to be especially careful about what they 'say' online.

Navigating and setting up appropriate privacy settings on any social networking site they may be using is important, as is having strong passwords and keeping them private.

Resources to support parents

View Pure is a tool to help eliminate comments/related videos from YouTube when showing them to kids. This does require pre-screening videos, however is a much more pleasing interface to view from than YouTube itself.

Have you set up strict filtering as the default option when doing a Google search? This link to a quick video tutorial will walk you through the process.

For younger students, you may find exploring the parental controls available on a Mac to be useful. Parental Controls allow you to limit specific apps, or block access to certain websites, set time limits for usage and/or restrict access at certain times of the day. While these controls can be useful, we do encourage you to talk with your child about any concerns you may have as well.

For older students with whom you think distraction may be an issue, there are a range of tools to help track time and/or manage distractions when using computers. You may like to explore:
Self Control (for Mac)
Self Restraint (for Windows/Linux)
Rescue Time

Here is a blog post from the Digital Literacy team about Safety Online in the Early Years which has some useful strategies including a list of kid-friendly search engines.

Next Year

We are planning more parent workshops for next year, and as always, are keen to get feedback so we can best meet your needs. Please complete this brief survey to help us in our planning.

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