There are a few things you should be considering when it comes to online safety and privacy. VLE’s are great, and we know that when students use them effectively, they can achieve remarkable results (read about the correlation between VLE use and performance here). However, when yo’re thinking of using virtual learning environment software and services, you need to ensure your students’ safety. Think about the following when discovering and making full use of digital content and consider making your students aware of the issues.
There are three facets to digital citizenship; safety, literacy and responsibility.
However, this is not the case with all learning platforms. You need to know what you’re signing up to when you register your information on sites and apps. Look at the agreement you’re making and what they’re going to require from you. Read through the agreement rather than blindly clicking on the agree button. You might realise these platforms are after more of your personal information than first thought. Students need to take overall responsibility for their online safety, but to do so, they need to understand what this means, and that’s where digital citizenship in schools comes in. As their teacher, inviting them to use a particular platform they would not have known about without you also puts the onus on you to make the right choices on their behalf.
Keeping your information secure is important. Passwords come into their own when it comes to keeping information safe. Vary your passwords; don’t use the same one to access everything, as once someone gets hold of that password, they can access all of your information. Uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters should all feature in a strong password. Digital privacy in education is more important now than it ever has been, and solid passwords are an essential first step.
Don’t trust everything you see online. Be sensible and learn to recognise when you are consuming false information, or heading to an unsecure site. Be wary and vigilant when navigating through the online world. Not every site is a good site, and if you think something isn’t quite right, then it probably isn’t. Know what you’re looking for from a service and feel safe using it. But, does that mean we should only use services we have already heard of? Not necessarily – as you could be missing out on great learning opportunities. Check out our take on Considering Non-Google Education Platforms to see what we mean.
Tips on evaluating an online service in terms of student protection:
As a teacher selecting an online service for your students to use, you have the responsibility of keeping them as safe as you can. But how do you select Virtual learning environment platforms with safety in mind? Ask these questions when considering Virtual Learning Environments for schools – they’ll help you make an informed decision. If you are answering “yes” to most of these questions; you might want to consider an alternative service.
- Does it collect information that could personally identify a student?
- Does it share information with 3rd parties?
- If you discontinue use, will student information be retained?
- Are targeted advertisements served to users?
- Are they unclear about data security processes?
- Are there any reviews online that raise red flags about the service?