Digital Sandbox

This Blog is designed to provide the reader with information on how to adopt technology into the classroom by relooking at traditional classroom tools and transitioning into new ways of teaching and learning. The Digital Sandbox explores the future of learning through the recreation of 21st Century learning environments.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tips for Sharing Information with Parents on Cyber Safety

There are many different methods that schools can employ to share information about cyber safety.   Some information sharing ideas for communicating cyber safety in the home include providing tips in the school’s newsletter, providing a parent page on the school’s website, hosting an Internet safety seminar or designing an Internet safety brochure. Research shows that schools yield better results when they involve parents in issues of safety. When parents and educators are involved in collaborative endeavors to protect their children, they can develop a clear understanding of appropriate behavior for using the Internet at school and at home. For  resource information on developing school policy for Cyberbullying go to Wired Safety

Internet Safety Newsletter
By far the most effective method for communicating information is the school newsletter. In addition to providing needed information to parents about cyber safety, it also boosts the school’s reputation as a public information resource for the community. Professionals have found that of all the printed materials school officials send home, the school newsletter is most often read by parents. In most cases, it is the only regular source of contact that parents have with the school; therefore, they consider it to be an important resource. The newsletter also communicates to the parents that the principal and staff are committed to providing valuable information that can benefit their family’s safety at home. (See Internet Safety Newsletter) news-letter.pdf

Parent Internet Safety Webpage
Another way educators can establish ongoing communication with the public is to create a parent page on the school’s website. (See Design of Parent Webpage) The parent page should be designed in a way that allows parents to access links on cyber safety and safe surfing.  As with the links provided on the author’s webpage, these links should be checked and updated regularly to ensure they continue to be active. Since cyber safety is a concern, parents may not know where to seek information on the subject. Parents may feel their children are their only resource for cyber advice, but this source is not always accurate. The parent webpage is a reliable source of information that parents can assess. Several methods the school can use to promote the use of the school’s website including school newsletters, radio announcements and local media sources. web-page.pdf

Internet Safety Seminar
A parent seminar night is an efficient and effective method for providing clear, pertinent information on cyber safety and Internet use. It gives parents the opportunity to communicate their concerns and questions directly to the teachers and administrators and to receive immediate feedback regarding these issues. School officials can use Internet safety seminars to provide information about Internet-related goals and learning outcomes, as well as to provide online learning policies such as the school’s Acceptable Use and Copyright Policy. (See Parent Internet Safety Seminar Agenda) Many resources are available to help provide cyber safety information for the seminar. Brochures may be distributed to the audience, or local law enforcement officers may be invited to discuss cyber crimes or predators. The authors caution, however, school officials from only acknowledging the dangers of the Internet. School personnel should tell both sides of the story, mentioning specific details of how the Internet can be used in a positive and appropriate manner, both at school and at home.  parent-agenda.pdf

A brochure about cyber safety is an appropriate way to educate parents, as well as gain their support for future online learning projects. The brochure should include information that will familiarize parents with the Internet, as well as terms their children may be using to describe its features and services. The brochure should offer guidelines for parents and students designed to minimize risks when venturing online. Finally, it should list online resources parents can use to find further information or to report problems or risks their children have encountered while using the Internet.  An example of an Internet safety brochure has been included in, while a checklist for brochure design can be reviewed in (Internet Safety Brochure). The brochures can be distributed during open house nights, parent organization meetings or parent Internet safety seminars. Additionally, principals can send brochures home with students or leave them in accessible place within the school or community for members of the public. They can also be mailed to parents and patrons, if individual requests are made.brochure-checklist.pdf

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