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.

Get eSmart-vsc — 2011 in Review

One of the projects I initiated and worked on for the year was our school’s digital citizenship website. At the end of the year WordPress sent out a very neat stats review presented in a very user-friendly way. You can see the report by clicking on the image above or the link:

It was not only fun to watch and informative but got me thinking about ways to improve the readership in 2012.

During Term 4, I worked out that we could insert an RSS feed into the school’s Moodle site that would run in the sidebar and have clickable links to the posts. That made it more visible to the in-school community, but as we tweaked the feed on the Moodle site just before holidays I have yet to see if it will boost readership.

Our subscription rate is low and that is what I really hope to boost. Not only is the rate low but half of the subscribers are from outside the school community. So next year I plan to:

  • post a bulletin on our school eWorkspace each time a new post comes out, using a one sentence hook or question as well as inviting people to subscribe to it.
  • have the library team introduce the site to all the new year 7 groups and encourage them to subscribe during their orientation.
  • email the H of D’s and Principals each time a post comes out inviting them to read it and subscribe. They had been invited to subscribe last year but none took up the invite. Advertise, advertise!
  • use more tagging of keywords in my blog posts for better search results. I’ve been slack about doing this.
  • share the posts out to my PLN to increase interest in that area too.

Gee, these almost look like New Years resolutions, but we won’t call them that, we’ll call them goals.




Get eSmart VSC Promotion Plans

Our high school’s digital citizenship website is now up and running! Please check out Get eSmart VSC

We were meant to have a launch on the Cybersafety information evening and so we did of sorts. Unfortunately it was ‘a dark and stormy night” on June 21st — it bucketed down and there were rumours of snow up on the mountain so we were pleased that even 25 – 30 people made the effort to come out. The speakers from ‘Think U Know” were good but as often is the case things ran overtime so we were only able to show our site at the end to a crowd who wanted to be on their way home. So not exactly how I’d envisaged it but it got me thinking that like having a baby or planning a wedding, it’s not all over on the ‘big day’. There is much to do afterwards if you want your site/child/marriage to be a success.

So now we’ve been putting our heads together in the Library to continue our plans for promoting the website to the community.

  • One of the early plans I made was to choose a blog site that allowed us to collect statistics. Its really important to be able to see if /what people are looking at on the site and how often they are visiting.
  • I also got my talented son to tweak the header of the page as I wasn’t 100% happy with it. We’ve had a lot of compliments on the new lean, clean look.


  • We had a quick print place run off a batch of postcards (500) with the same pic/wording on the front as the site’s header with the URL. We’ve been giving them out to the teachers at school, talking to them one-by-one, highlighting the benefits for them and asking for suggestions for additions.
  • We’ll be promoting the site to the students as well. We want to have student input on the site and I’ve just set up Poll Daddy so we can have short polls running in the sidebar. Interaction is something we really want to build upon.
  • The primary schools in the area have also been notified of the site (several of the people at the Cybersafety site were from the primary school). We’ve created a page for them and have let them know that we’re  happy to include items from them too. Our Head of Library will take more promotional cards with her to the cluster meetings and continue to promote the site.
  • We’ve had links to the webpage added to the newsletter, the school’s website and the school’s Moodle page.

We’ll continue to add items and tips to the front page, and I am currently thinking about the optimal frequency at which this should happen. Too often and it can overwhelm people, not often enough and they will forget about the site.

The Ups and Downs of Getting eSmart

_Get_eSmart_vsc_headingSince my last post I’ve been working away on the College’s Digital Citizenship site – now called Get eSmart-vsc — in readiness for the proposed launch date of June 21st. Plans for a cybersafety information evening were already in the works so launching it at the same time makes perfect sense. I’m still adding content  and am pleased with the direction it is taking. After further reflecting on the idea of empowerment, the student section now has a page for students to contribute content. I’ve already had one student review a novel with cyberbullying as one of its theme. She discusssed her higher awareness of the issue since reading the book. I hoping to add video of students discussing their opinion of the upcoming Cyberdetectives sessions.

In the meantime this week had its ups and downs in the promotional arena.

As part of CyberSecurity Week, our principal was approached by ABC to talk about the latest Facebook issue – local school goss sites springing up. He was one of a group of principals who was alerted to them and took action. He agreed to the interview and also said it would be useful to talk to our Head of library as the Library team were the Cybersafety/Education specialists at the school. ABC came out and interviewed our Head TL at length and she showed them around our Digital Citizenship site and talked about our program at school. Hooray!! we were all thinking – some much needed publicity on the importance of TLs in schools and what we can do. Sadly, when the segment was aired, the story’s focus was firmly on ‘baddies preying on our young people’ and pretty much skimmed over the measures schools take to educate their students – TLs, websites or otherwise.

The upside is our website efforts have been noticed and shared on the “Digital Citizenship in Schools” page on Facebook, managed by Judy O’Connell one of the lecturers at CSU for the School of Information Studies, Faculty of Education.

Getting the word out about what 21st Century TLs do is a constant part of our profession. And while we didn’t make it to national current affairs this time, I am satisfied that one journalist/presenter spent 30 minutes talking with our Head TL and learned something of what we do. The information has been passed on and you never know — it may come to fruition somewhere down the track.