How does a school educate and support parents and the whole school community with online safety?
Below are some suggestions on how schools can work with parents to raise e-safety awareness and ideas on how to engage parents and make opportunities to promote this topic.
How can schools help improve parents e-safety awareness?
- Effectively communicate with parents regarding ICT use in school, including the distribution of the acceptable use policy to reinforce the safety messages taught in school.
- Provide advice and practical tips to parents on how to promote internet safety at home.
- Promote the positives of using technology whilst raising awareness of the risks.
- Educate parents about the safe use of a wide range of devices – some devices such as games consoles may be unique to the home environment.
- Provide parents with technological knowledge so they can discuss issues with their children.
- Encourage parents to stay involved in and aware of their children’s online/virtual activities.
- Ensure parents know who to contact if they have concerns about e-safety issues.
Ideas to engage parents in e-Safety awareness:
- A programme of workshops on specific topics, such as using Facebook or Helping your child do research on the Internet.
- Incorporate relevant e-safety awareness into any parents meetings/briefing you have – these might be on homework, curriculum, after-school clubs, school trips etc.
- Include presentations at parent’s evenings.
- Invite parents to be involved in the production and review of school e-safety policies.
- Run training courses for parents.
- Hold an Internet safety event, possibly organised alongside the PTA – invite experts, police, e-Safety organisations, expert parents etc to give presentations or provide displays.
- Issue newsletters to promote e-safety awareness.
- Circulate ‘top tips’ for the safe use of different devices and platforms.
- Use the school website – include links to organisations who provide information and support to parents eg Childnet, ThinkUKnow
- Have displays and posters at events attended by parents, or in reception areas where parents will see them.
- Use social networks such as the schools facebook page to deliver e-safety messages.
- Send home a quiz for parents to assess their own awareness and knowledge.
- Set homework which involves children discussing e-safety issues at home.
- Be creative!
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Social media can be used effectively and safely in schools once appropriate e-safety and social media policies are implemented. Below are ten ways Facebook can be used to enhance the learning experience in the classroom:
- Research: Students can conduct all types of research on Facebook including doing online polls, finding out about their family tree and canvassing opinions from others. The data from research can then be used in projects or simply as mathematical data to bring interest to statistics.
- Current affairs: Students can follow news feeds, journalists and politicians to gather real time news and commentary on world events as they happen. This can be useful for many subjects including: Citizenship, PHSE, Philosophy and Ethics, and English.
- Teaching e-Safety skills: Using Facebook in the classroom provides an excellent opportunity for teaching students how to be safe online and to promote good digital citizenship. The guidelines for using Facebook can be reinforced through the use of a class Facebook page. Students can learn the skills to watch out for themselves, and each other, and discuss what is and isn’t appropriate online behaviour.
- Show and Tell: The use of Facebook can extend the concept of “show and tell” enabling students to share photographs and videos of things that they wouldn’t be able to bring into school.
- Foreign Language: By connecting with schools around the world students can practise foreign language skills. If your school has an exchange programme with a school abroad language skills can be practised whilst the students get to know about each other and their respective cultures.
- Study Groups: By setting up dedicated Facebook groups for your students they can work on group projects, have discussions and share ideas. Encouraging collaboration in this way builds important life and study skills for your students.
- Educational Resources: Teachers can post links to online resources – websites, videos, online presentations, publications etc. These could be for current projects or for more general subject information or to help with revision. Students can then comment on, discuss and share ideas about these resources via the class Facebook pages.
- History: The Facebook Timeline feature can be used to enhance history projects, students can chronologically document events, linking posts and other media to the timeline.
- Class news: Class news and achievements can be shared with other classes and parents via a class Facebook page. Students can add the content themselves developing their journalism and reporting skills. Parents following the postings can use this information to engage with their child about their school work.
- Events: Facebook events can be created and shared with your class. This can be a useful way to remind students and parents of a wide variety of dates: when homework is due, class trips, exams, school productions, after school activities, fundraising events etc.