Cyber Safety Summit 2012

On June 12th, I attended the National Cyber Safety Summit in Canberra with two students from the school.  They were select members from the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) who took part in online forum discussions to help inform the government on cyber safety initiatives.

The purpose of the Summit was to bring students, parents and teachers together with relevant industries and government sectors to discuss “how to keep young Australians safe online”.

YAG students this year made over 5000 suggestions and comments.  Discussions were based around the following themes:

  • cyberbullying
  • privacy
  • online gambling
  • reputation
  • digital citizenship
  • marketing

The summit was hosted by Project Rockit team members and  formally opened by Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. There were also some special guests:

  • Winners of the first Cyber Defence University Challenge (from U of NSW)
  • Winners of the 2012 Stay Smart Online’s agent/ambassador competition

After all the announcements and speeches, parents and teachers split off from the students and we all attended presentation workshops.

Students attended a session on Managing Your Reputation Online led by Ruby Rose, MTV presenter and spokesperson for HeadSpace. They discussed steps they could take to protect their reputations, learned about the social and legal consequences of acts such as harassment, cyberbullying and sexting from the Federal Police and received a handout that the AFP provide to elite athletes to help them manage their reputations online. Teens also shared some opinions including the inconsistencies in dealing with bullies at school. They felt that some are dealt with less harshly than things like smoking. They also expressed that many of the resources used in schools to teach Cybersafety were not interesting, relevant or age-appropriate.

They then attended a session with ABC’s Good Game hosts, Bajo and Hex. The topic was Digital Etiquette and Gaming. The culture and nature of gaming was discussed including the bullies/trolls online and how its OK to block them. Teens shared that there is pressure to keep up with obligations to the team in online games. They also said that parents should take more of an interest in what’s going on in their kids’ gaming world.

Parents attended a separate session on Gaming with Bajo and Hex. They were surprised to hear that the average age of a gamer was 37 years old! There was much discussion about the language and bullying in games. They were urged to take interest in their children’s gaming, to keep lines of communication open, set limits and discuss online friendships. Above all the room agreed that its important to help kids understand that “its only a game!” and to not invest too much emotion in it.

Parents also attended a presentation by the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation outlining their eSmart Schools program, the framework used to achieve best practice and their eSmart School certification. The program is not free but Victoria Dept of Education funds this program for all schools in the state.

I think the afternoon panel discussion was the highlight for most participants. Some excellent questions/dicussions came out of the session.

Q.  Should teachers and students be friends on Facebook (or other social networks)?

The Facebook rep answered that there were lots of ways for schools to take advantage of social networking sites with out individual teachers friending students. Many are using the site as a resource site. Other panelists thought that this decision was really up to individual schools. Some expressed the opinion that teachers shouldn’t have to be available to students 24/7 and that Facebook should be for their private life.

Q. Should we stop under 13s from going on Facebook?

The Telstra crime investigation representative said that it was important not to demonize technology and social networking sites. The Facebook rep pointed out that they now have a new reporting dashboard and improved information on the status of reports. She also pointed out that it was important for people to include their true age as minors have added privacy/security on their accounts by default.

Q. Should kids be using technology as an emotional outlet?

Teens expressed their desire to keep journals and talk to friends about their problems online, often seeking support from friends on Facebook. Some though this was a reliable and instantaneous way to talk to someone. Ruby Rose said it was better to get in contact with a counsellor online from one of the support sites than to spill emotions onto a social network site. You can never get what you say back. Others pointed out that texting and messaging wasn’t a good way to communicate feelings, too often people misunderstand the message.

Q .What is the duty of care for teachers in cyberbullying incidents that happen outside of the school?

The Telstra rep said that cybersafety is everyone’s responsibility. Ruby Rose agreed and said if you know someone’s having trouble take personal responsibility and reach out! The representative for the DEECD stated that the Number 1 responsibility of the school is to provide cybersafety education.

Perhaps the show stopper of the day though, came from one of my own students. Her question/comment was that not enough was being done to educate young Australians about the mental health consequences of cyberbullying. She wanted to know why we don’t teach people that all the negative online behaviour (and bullying in general) leads to depression, self harm and suicide. She felt the statistics and incidents should not be taboo topics. The entire room was silent as she spoke about it.

I think all of us left the summit with much to reflect on and some excellent strategies and directions to take. I feel privileged to have been a part of the discussion and will be discussing several ideas with my Principal for new initiatives.

Toolbox: e5 iPad Apps

Next year the Year 7s at our school will be bringing their iPads to school. This is part of the plan to answer the Big Question presented to our teachers at the end of 2011 —

How does Vermont Secondary College better prepare its student and teachers to meet the challenges of the 21st Century?

The Year 7 iPad Program is also meant to significantly reduce the number of text books purchased by families as well as offer additional organisational options and creative tools to staff and students.

As a teacher librarian it is my role to evaluate and recommend resources of any sort to support high quality teaching and learning.  So I began to read blogs about apps for education, I listened to individual recommendations, I  uploaded and trialled hundreds of apps over the year but only passed on a handful to specific teachers. I began to question the quality of educational apps available (most seemed like gimicks, games or had limited use). Were we expecting too much too soon? I decided I needed to use a different approach.

I’ve followed Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano of  Langwitches Blog fame for several years and found her charts:

to be exremely clear and easy to use. It got me thinking …

The Victorian DEECD (Dept of Education and Early Childhood Development) recently introduced its e5 Instructional Model into schools and VSC has been trialling it for the past 12 months. My question became: How could I support teachers to implement the e5 Instructional Model via the iPad Program? Was it possible to create a chart that would be  easy to use and  could provide apps suitable for each of the facets of e5? I decided to take the DEECD up on their invitation to:

…  engage with the e5 Instructional Model as a framework for defining what high quality instruction looks like in the Victorian government education system.

And here is what I’ve come up with —

 As I worked through the model applying it to the apps I trialled, I had several things in mind:

  • to look for apps that were not specific to Key Learning Areas (not always possible)
  • to choose apps that could support teachers, students or both (not just students)
  • cost should be minimal
  • check the terms and conditions (especially with regard to age restrictions and ownership of uploaded work)

I found that:

  • many apps suited more than one of the facets of the e5 Model
  • there were many suitable high quality apps not listed in the educational section of  the iTunes Store
  • the apps I trialled and found suitable for the Engage facet of e5 tended to be subject specific so I sampled from different learning areas and included them

To make this chart more accessible I’ve turned it into a pdf file, you can click here to download. Any comments or constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated. I’ll blog again when I get some feedback from the teachers at the high school.

Our 21st Century Destiny

Maybe you have to be a librarian to get excited about the Library management system but I hope not! Especially when it comes to the Destiny Quest feature of Follett’s LMS that we  launched a couple of weeks ago at school. It’s so slick and user-friendly that I’m hoping the whole school will be kicking into high gear over it.

What does Destiny Quest do?

Well it will took our catalogue from this:

Regular Destiny page at log-in

To this!

 Destiny Quest Homepage

Destiny Quest Homepage

This is a little pet project I had at the end of last year that was on a back burner until our IT team had time to upgrade the system (sadly we were behind about 5 versions).

So now searching looks more appealing and much easier to read. But wait there’s more! You can also:

  • customize the look of your page
  • write reviews
  • friend people and recommend books/websites
  • place holds on books
  • check your overdues
  • make wishlists
  • make resource lists
  • check your reading history
  • see what’s new to the library collection

And to really pull the library into the 21st Century ….

  • a smart phone app that connects to your library (go to iTunes store or Android Marketplace)
  • an iPad app that connects to your library.

Our school is beginning a one-to-one iPad program next year (incoming Year 7s); this wonderful Library Management System will mean that we remain front and centre – students will be required to install the library app as part of their suite of apps and we’ll be showing them how to use it as part of their Library orientation.

What more can I say except …
SQUEEEE!

 

Operation Lift Up Thine Eyes

Photo courtesy: elenahneshcuetphotography on Flickr CC

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone but I’m on a secret mission at my school. Libraries have always been a place of sanctuary for those who find the social culture overwhelming or less than friendly. I’ve decided to take that role one step further and become proactive rather than just offer a haven. My secret mission is to find ways to boost  the growth of that positive culture of support learning communities are meant to have. I want to try and shift general student culture a little from the teen gossip/judgement/exclusion/bullying that is a  growing global trend. I want to try and move kids closer to a culture of acceptance/self-confidence/assistance/inspiration. I’m convinced the library can play a central role so I have several small operations I’m launching from our corner of the school.

OPERATION: 43 THINGS

43 things is a social media site all about setting goals and supporting others to meet their goals. Participants are able to blog about their progress, give and receive ‘cheers’ for their progress, comment to encourage others and share tips on how they’ve succeeded in reaching a goal. On Thursday I introduced 43 Things to one of the classes I teach in Library. Last week I had them think about some goals for their wide reading. On Thursday they set up accounts, typed in their goals and blogged about why the goal/s they set were worthwhile to them. Being the social media savvy bunch that they are, they also quickly found each other on the site, subscribed to each other and ‘cheers’ and positive comments flew back and forth. The classroom teacher and I are ‘following’ them too to monitor appropriate online behaviour and to offer our positive encouragement. So far it’s been very successful.

OPERATION: TED Talks Thursdays

I’ve started a school account for TED Talks and am compiling a play list for TED Talks Thursdays. Starting on March 22 we will be showing a single TT on a fortnightly basis in the library on the big screen. I want to amaze, amuse and inspire the kids; I want them to think about possibilities and get a glimpse of the people out there in the real world making a difference. TED Talkers are truly passionate, often wonderfully geeky (that’s a compliment) or unique and they make our world so much better. Excellent examples of why we should value uniqueness and accept others for who they are.

OPERATION: Poster Plaster

There are a heap of great motivational posters out there that go waaaaay beyond those fuzzy waterfall photos with syrup-y sayings under them (guaranteed not to grab any kids attention never mind consideration). I’ve been busily collecting samples on my Pinterest board and am hunting up places to purchase or recreate where possible. Here’s a link for the place to purchase the Holstee Manifesto and the Cult of Done Manifesto. I want to put some of these high impact posters up around the library and around the school.

There are a couple of other plans rolling around the back of my mind but these are my current plans. I think they fit in beautifully with our school motto — “Lift Up Thine Eyes” and I’m looking forward to observing and noting any effects they may have at school. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

FYI: on Growing Personal Learning Environments

Photo courtesy Balanced Crafts on Flickr

The latest issue of FYI recently arrived in the post.  Yay! FYI is the quarterly journal of SLAV (School Library Association of Victoria). This is the issue that focussed on Learning Communities and featured the article I wrote last year about Personal Learning Environments for students. We concentrated on Year 9’s last year as part of their Pathways and Careers program but the groups delegated to me were so large (75-90 students) it was difficult to assist everyone properly and caused some lag issues with the site and our internet system at school.

I’ll be focussing this year on helping the Learning Enhancement students set up their PLEs. I think teaching one class at a time will mean that I can give much better support. PLE’s are really a two-part job: 1) Get the site set up; 2) develop the learning environment. Nothing new there – its alway learn the tool then use the tool.

Here’s the article below for those who can’t access the journal —

Growing Personal Learning Environments

At the end of 2010, I reached a cherished goal; the completion of my Masters degree in Teacher Librarianship. In 2011, I changed schools and what a change it was! After 10 years, I moved from a very small, independent primary school to a 1200+ government secondary college – all part of a plan to stretch my professional wings.

Sound scary?

It could have been but it wasn’t really. That’s because I didn’t do it alone; I had my ‘net’ with me. Or should I say my Personal Learning Network. The resources (human and literature-based) I’d been cultivating to support my learning helped me to swiftly engage with my new school community. As I found myself drawing on my PLN to help me in my new role, it set me to wondering about the students’ networks. How well do they use theirs? Are they even aware they have one? What can I do to help them make better use of their learning community and grow their learning networks? One day (via a blog I subscribe to) I came across a video of a Year 7 student in America demonstrating how her PLE works. After researching to learn more, I knew I’d found an avenue.

What is a PLE?

We all have favourite tools, websites, and people we trust to help us learn. We may access videos and podcasts as we carry out research; write blogs or reply to posts as we get involved in pursuing our passions. But bookmarking everything can become unruly and jumping from Facebook to forums to keep up with topics and groups can result in ‘info-whelm’. A Personal Learning Environment or PLE is a way for students to grow, curate and organize their learning. PLEs are online environments; they are individualised, learner-created and learner-directed. The platforms most widely used to create PLEs are social dashboard sites such as iGoogle, Netvibes and Symbaloo.

How are we using PLEs?

After reading more about PLEs, I evaluated a few dashboard sites. I chose Netvibes based on user-friendliness, visual appeal, physical layout, flexibility of features, and the fact that it has an active help forum. When I approached our Head of Library about introducing PLEs to students, I’d already set up a sample PLE to demonstrate (http://www.netvibes.com/bottomdrawer/). She saw the value in it and took the idea to the school administration. The idea was approved and time provided in the schedule to introduce PLEs to the students and teachers. We originally envisaged working with students at the end of Year 10 so they would have a PLE for their VCE studies, but the school’s Pathways & Transitions team became interested in the project. We now introduce PLEs to the Year 9’s at the end of Term 4 and help them incorporate their Pathways Planning into the PLE as well as their regular learning areas and subjects. We built a Wikispaces site (http://vsc-ple.wikispaces.com/) to introduce learners to the concept and purpose of a PLE and to guide them through the set-up process on Netvibes. We were given a session with each of the Year 9 groups so students had time to work through the wiki, ask questions and receive guidance from the TLs. Teachers contributed website suggestions for different subjects to get the PLEs started and we demonstrated RSS feeds and Twitter #topic searches during the session. We encouraged teachers to set up Netvibe sites too so students could follow them (as well as each other) in order to connect, collaborate and share resources. We are looking forward to evaluating the success of the PLEs at the end of the year with a short user survey.

What are the benefits?

A PLE is not an assignment or something teachers need to check up on or assess. A PLE is a way of putting control, choice and responsibility back into the hands of the learner, helping them to become more independent. PLEs are set up according to each student’s learning needs, styles and preferences. The social aspect of PLEs can offer a way to create and/or strengthen connections within the school community. They offer a consistent connection to resources from home, from school and via mobile access. They encourage collaboration and sharing of resources as well as reaching out to the wider community with possibilities such as Twitter and Skype. Research is also suggesting that such learning environments encourage the integration of formal and informal learning (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009). This in turn promotes a positive attitude toward learning and develops lifelong skills.

Conclusion

I am excited with this new opportunity to support our learning community, but I’ve tried to imagine the pitfalls too. A student might set a PLE up then choose not to use it. However, they will have increased their awareness of new resources and possibilities available to help them learn in the future. I can also imagine students adding sites to their PLE that are not relevant to their studies: games, chat and other distractions. Filters will block most of them at school but stepping back, these are study skills topics ripe for discussion: myths of multi-tasking, effective time management strategies and goal setting. Problems can be opportunities! The giving and getting of support for everyone is the essence of learning communities. Demands on students and teachers are increasing so we all end up time-poor and overwhelmed by information possibilities. A PLE can offer students a Web 2.0 way to control and organize their learning lives just like they do their social lives. It can help build skills, connections and habits that will last a life-time. Win-win!

Reference Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2009). 21st Century learning environments. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/tools-and-resources/publications/600