ICT & Cyber Safety

Specifically Focusing On ICT

As part of my classroom programme I take the time to help the children explore the tools and concepts behind ICT. I try to avoid "just in case" teaching, preferring to make things "just in time". Here are just some of the ways I have gone about it:
  • When exploring Report & Explanation writing we have included "The History of computing", "What is a computer?", "What is binary code?", "How does a computer work?", "What is the internet?", "How does the internet work?" and other similar topics alongside our other writing topics. We even found out what bytes, kilobytes, megabytes and megabytes were and explored how many bytes there were in different types of files. An interesting Maths investigation ensued as we tried to work out how many bytes of information we downloaded into our computer when downloading a text based email, as opposed to video, a picture file, etc. Through doing this the children also came to understand that everything you look at on your computer has to actually download off the internet and into your computer via your internet connection even if it doesn't stay saved on your computer. They also discovered that sending information uses up bytes as well. (It was a really good way to get them to think about what they were doing before they went surfing from site to site to site). We even asked our ICT administrator how many bytes of information our school computers used in a month - this was a very sobering and enlightening discovery.

  • Children need to be taught how to use the internet as a research tool. One thing they need to learn is how to create a "good search". Before I let them loose on their first lot of research we learn about tags, keywords and boolean searches. We explore why "tigers + habitat" is a better search then "Where do tigers live?" or "What is a tiger's habitat?". This website here is a great place to investigate boolean searches - Boolify. You can use mini investigations or internet scavenger hunts to help practise this skill. I also take the time to show children other search engines such as ZoeyBot, Yahooligans, KidsClick, Quintura and Ask For Kids. Often I link this to an activity where we investigate, compare and contrast the different search engines to see which is the most useful for our particular needs.
Grant!!!!!.JPG ashtonr_takahe.jpg

  • When I wanted the children to create an advertisement that included text, images and audio, the first thing I did was give them "sandpit time". I put them into their cooperative groups and gave them time to explore 3 digital tools that they could use. The children had Powerpoint, Photostory and Movie Maker to explore and investigate. They were encouraged to push buttons and find out what things did. I also encouraged them to share any neat discoveries with other groups. Only a handful of children were familiar with each tool. After sandpit time the children completed a PMI for each tool and these were shared with the class. The next step was to share the design brief for their advertisement. The children had to use their investigation to decide which of the 3 tools was going to be the most useful for them in creating their advertisement according to the criteria. The children then got to work on their adverts. Along the way some discovered that the tool they had selected wasn't the most useful for this particular task. At the end of it all the children evaluated their final products, but they also stated whether their choosen tool had been the most useful for the task and whether they'd use the same tool for a similar task or choose a different one. They had to give reasons for their opinions/decisions.

  • You could use the above sandpit time strategy for any project where more than one tool is available. I always give my class time to play and explore. I also ask them for feedback on how we could use this tool in class, and I ask them to think about "Will it help us with our learning and how?" The other advantages of sandpit time are that you can learn and explore along with the children (although I usually have a little play before hand) so you don't need to be the all knowing being at the front of the class. Furthermore, sandpit time means they can play around with all the bells, whistles and whizz bang features and get that out of their system so that they are ready to focus when it's time to use the tool for your intended purpose.

  • Teach the children about copyright, fair use and creative commons. I absolutely insist that all photos & videos used are either created by us or have a creative commons licence so we can use it with attribution to the original creator. Clipart is a not allowed, and children are encouraged to create their own graphics using a variety of drawing programmes. I personally believe this encourages creativity as well. These links here explain all about copyright and creative commons:
Copyright with Cyberbee
Copyright Kids
Join the C Team
Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright
Creative Commons
Creative Commons - Spectrum of Rights
Sharing Creative Works - An Illustrated Primer

Cyber Safety

As the online world becomes more of a feature in our daily lives it is vital that we equip our students with the necessary knowledge and skills to stay safe online. A lot of it boils down to plain old common sense, however; there is something about interacting with a computer that seems to give people (and this includes adults) a sense of safety that can lead them to do things that they wouldn't necessarily do in the real world.

For the most part the online environment is an ok place to be, but, like most aspects of life, there are the few that spoil it for the many and so it is important to teach your students (and teachers, parents, etc) how to keep themselves safe from the spoilers.

I always talk to my class about their "digital footprint". This is essentially the things you do online. Everything you place online stays online. I have even managed to find a web page I created 9 years ago that I haven't updated for 6 and thought the web hosting company would have long since got rid of it. They hadn't! This was useful, because I needed to find a picture I'd taken that I no longer had a copy of, but, it does illustrate my point. Are you able to Google yourself? If you participate in online forums (not even necessarily teaching related) your comments can turn up in search engines. None of this is a bad thing providing you make some sensible choices about your online presence, and this is something I focus on with my class very early on.

How to stay cyber safe.
  • Use your initials, use only your first name or create a special user name (If you Google "Keamac" you can find me, my own name doesn't turn up much at all).
  • Do not share your password with anyone (except your parents/teacher in the case of minors).
  • Remember - What you say online stays online. Don't put it on line if you don't want others to know about it. Don't say things to or about others that you wouldn't say to them face to face.
  • Think before you hit send/post.
  • Create an avatar to represent your online self.
  • Never share personal details online - address, school, phone numbers, full name.
  • Don't arrange to met someone you've only ever met online.
  • Never download anything without your parents consent.
  • Never sign up for websites, web competitions and other web offers unless your parents have checked it out first.
  • If you see something that makes you feel scared or uncomfortable, let an adult know right away.

Schools have all sorts of filters and firewalls to keep the kids safe. Homes don't always have these things.

These videos are useful for discussing some of these ideas with older children (say about Year 5 up).

These next two are probably best for Year 7 upwards.

With things like blogs, wikis, VoiceThread, etc you can do things such as:
  • Have the children create their own avatars.
  • Children use initials, nicknames, or first names only when posting.
  • Use photos without kids in or only group shots that don't identify individuals ( all this depends on your school's policy).
  • Enable comment moderation so that comments on VoiceThreads or Blog posts have to be approved by you before they appear online. ( I use this feature on my personal blogs too).
  • Set up your classroom blogs and wikis so that anything the children post has to be moderated by you first - it doesn't automatically appear online.
  • You can set blogs to be password access only. However, from personal experience, this can be quite frustrating if you are trying to build an authentic audience for your class. As long as you are moderating comments and are using initials, nicknames, etc, then your blog is probably quite safe, whilst still allowing you to build an audience for your class. That being said you need to keep your school's policies regarding internet use and online safety in mind.
  • Use educator accounts where ever they are available as these will often give you extra safety features not available in the public versions. Glogster, VoiceThread and Wikispaces all offer educator accounts. Edublogs are designed specifically for use with children/schools so they are a good choice for your classroom blog.

Hector's World

I always use this website with my class at the start of the year and it is permanently posted on my SchoolZone page as well for the children to refer back to. Designed in New Zealand by Netsafe, Hector's World provides cartoon clips, teachers' notes and follow up activities relating to online safety. The resources are continuing to grow on this site. Parents can also download "Hector the Protector" a special piece of desktop software that allows children to have Hector sitting on the desktop as they surf the net. If they come across something that makes them uncomfortable they simply click on Hector and the screen is filled with a kid friendly picture while the child can go and get their parents to deal with the unpleasant website.
Click on the picture to go to the site.

Links to Other Cyber Safety Websites and Resources for Kids.

Internet safety Teacher Tube video for young children.
Stories From the Web - Internet Safety
Kids Against Bullying
Cyber Smart
Disney - Surf Swell
Stop Bullying Now - Cyber Bullying
Netsmartz Kids