Teachers and school admins love how easy it is to use Google and Google Classroom to achieve outstanding educational outcomes, especially when used on Chromebooks. But any device, when connected to the internet, can tempt students to wander off task into areas that are inappropriate for learning.
The world is still reeling from the terror attacks at Christchurch last week. Needless to say, the horror is felt even more keenly by those of us who live here in New Zealand - and perhaps most of all by those of us who live here with our children.
A new survey has confirmed what many educators already suspect: that boys and girls are consuming online porn at ever-younger ages, and accepting its often brutal “messaging” at face value - with disastrous outcomes for their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Devices are turning class-time into fun-time at New Zealand’s largest secondary school - and the resulting drop in academic performance is worrying teachers and parents alike.
There is a tsunami of information about the impact of technology on Generation Z (the iGen), now labelled 'neo-digital natives' and primarily using video to communicate.
Humans have always lived in a complex world, but the Information Age has taken distraction to a whole new level. Smartphones are ubiquitous, leading many of us to 'media multitask' by using multiple devices at the same time.
'The Distracted Mind' is worth a read, as it examines the way our brains have evolved and the consequences of high-tech lifestyles. It explains why our brains aren't built for multitasking, and suggests better ways to live in a high-tech world WITHOUT giving up our modern technology.
Bullying in schools is a global issue, but New Zealand has the second highest rate of bullying in the OECD. One in two Kiwi kids are bullied at school at least once a month, and cyberbullying increasingly plays a major role in this.
There's been much discussion about the socio-economic digital divide. But, it's not what we expect. Originally about access to technology, the new digital divide is actually about limiting access to technology.
Let the Family Zone team shout breakfast while you learn about Family Zone’s Partner School Program, which provides schools with access to a powerful ecosystem of technologies that ensure no matter what network a student uses to access the internet, they’re kept as safe as possible while online.
Disturbing acts of sexualised behaviour among young children are becoming more frequent in schools as mobile devices result in children being exposed to pornography, says cyber safety expert Susan McLean.
Conferences provide a great opportunity to connect, learn and be inspired. The recent NZ Principals' Federation conference centred around the theme of creativity, including leveraging technology in productive ways, with an interesting range of speakers and EduTech vendors.
Cyberbullying can have a devastating impact on children and teenagers. Social media platforms are most often used, and in the case of Snapchat content can be posted then 'disappear' after going viral through a school community.
There's no getting away from it, social media is social currency for young people, with many of them gaining their sense of 'belonging' through a connection to online communities. While Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular social media platforms among young people, cross-platform game Fortnite offers a new type of online community that we'll be seeing a lot more of.
Fortnite's unprecedented success means as much for the future of media as it does for the gaming industry. Fans don't simply play the game; they join a supportive community where their characters can break into dance moves - and people log in to watch others play, as much as to actually play themselves. An estimated 21% of Fortnite players were previously non-gamers.
Are young people getting their sex education from pornography? The Education Review Office thinks so, and wants schools to do more to address this.
Technology provides incredible opportunities, but also increased risks for both students and schools. By secondary school years, virtually every student has access to a smartphone, and digital distraction is increasingly an issue schools need to manage. Cyberbullying most commonly occurs by a classmate, with social media the most popular cyberbullying platform.
We understand that there are considerable pressures on schools to use new and emerging internet technologies, and that often increased access to the internet causes considerable challenges with which schools must contend.
Cyberbullying is a big problem for schools, with a recent cyberbullying survey showing that the majority of this type of bullying is done by a classmate. Social media is the most common cyberbullying platform worldwide.
We recently spoke with both a High School student and a counsellor about their experiences with the fallout around cyberbullying and technology use. In the words of 15 year old Jay, "My friend got cyberbullied so much he had to leave school this year."
Parents and schools are having to deal with a range of new threats for teens, including suicide 'challenges' such as the highly disturbing Momo. This online game has quickly spread to several social media platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube.
Parents and teachers, you are (for the most part) digital immigrants, dealing with children growing up in the digital age who are experiencing a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention.
Cyberbullying or technology misuse is often the number one, non-academic issue that schools have to deal with on a daily basis.
Susan McLean, known as "Cyber Cop" is one of Family Zone's recommended cyber experts. She was recently interviewed by Radio NZ's 'Nine to Noon' on the topic of cyber safety for kids, and she has just released a revised and updated edition of her bestselling book 'Sexts, Texts, and Selfies'. You can access the full interview here.
Digital natives are entering a whole new world of opportunity, and schools are responsible for equipping students with the skills they need to be able to navigate the future of work.
There's been a high profile instance of stalking through online voice and text chat service Discord, with an NZ citizen about to face severe consequences for his actions. Troy George Skinner, 25, was shot in the neck while attempting to break into a US home. He began talking to a 14-year-old American girl using Discord earlier this year, and after the teen attempted to end their communication after three or four months, he then decided to fly to Virginia, US to meet the teen, purchasing duct tape and pepper spray when he arrived. It's every parent's worst nightmare.
How do schools balance data privacy with online safety? We spoke with lawyer Dr. Maria Pozza, who specialises in IT and cyber security.
Interface Xpo 2018, New Zealand's premiere EdTech event, provides a great opportunity to get up to speed with the latest in connected learning tools. Showcasing technology and eLearning innovation across three locations, it's also an opportunity to join the conversation about the digital curriculum and understand some of the challenges schools nationally are facing.
Cyber safety is a hot topic, and while schools do their best to keep students safe online they only have students in their care for 11% of the time. In our hyperconnected world, and with increasingly younger children having access to a range of internet-connected devices, that's a lot of time left over.
A new report has just been released by the AI Forum on Artificial Intelligence: Shaping a Future New Zealand. This is interesting for us on two levels. Firstly , as an organisation that utilises machine learning (a branch of AI) to keep students safe online. And secondly, as a provider to the education sector which is undergoing significant change.
Many social media platforms hire 'attention engineers', who use gambling principles to try and make these platforms as addictive as possible, with the goal of maximising the profit that can be extracted from your attention and data. Manipulative design tactics snatch your attention in small bites throughout the day, with dopamine driving that addiction by delivering a small "high" for each notification, message or like. Our society is effectively putting highly addictive "drugs" into the hands of increasingly younger children, and schools are picking up the pieces.
The impact on young people in particular, who are saturated with this technology, is significant for several reasons. This continual stimulation is all new for our brains from an evolutionary perspective, with potentially wide ranging cognitive consequences. Extensive device use can have a negative impact on our ability to think, remember, pay attention and regulate emotion.
It was great to speak with Kathryn Ryan from Radio New Zealand on the problem of smartphones in schools. Many of the schools we talk with are concerned about the rise of smartphone use in schools, and say that the majority of secondary school students now own a smartphone.
The main concerns involve students bypassing default internet filtering systems, and this generally occurs in one of two ways:
- By downloading a VPN (Virtual Private Network) from the app store, and connecting to school wifi but able to create a private 'tunnel' to bypass school internet filtering
- By turning up to school with 3G/4G data, and bypassing school internet filtering altogether. This data can also be used to hotspot other devices.
The annual Future Schools conference provides an opportunity to showcase the very best in education, with plenty of discussion around the 'future of work' and how to equip today's students with computational and critical thinking skills. With technology, automation, and the advancing of artificial intelligence (AI) it is estimated that 85% of jobs in 2030 haven't been invented yet. One of the exciting things about emerging technologies is that teachers have to change their pedagogy and do things differently.
The boundary of the school ground is no longer defined for our digital natives, with online and physical worlds merging. Physical behaviour is easily observable, with schools providing support as required if a student is seen to be aggressive or depressed. And now, online behaviour can in some instances provide insights or warning flags that a student may be at risk.
Cyber safety is simple, according to John Parsons. It's not really about technology at all; it's about student wellbeing. Parsons recently gave a presentation to an enthusiastic group of school leaders in Christchurch, and shared some interesting insights.
John Parsons is highly regarded in New Zealand, with extensive experience in cyber safety crisis management. Linewize is proud to support a series of Cyber Safety breakfast presentations John will be speaking at throughout the country.
The recently announced Ministerial enquiry into mental health is well timed, with what has been labelled a 'mental health crisis' affecting increasingly younger teenagers and children throughout the country.
"Just ask Google." And we do. If we have a question, that's generally our first port of call. Student welfare is a concern for every school, and these search queries can often flag potential issues with individual students.
You can pick up a brand new smartphone for $39, and the start of the school year sees many students bringing new devices onto school grounds. When students access school networks, they can easily bypass school internet filtering by downloading a VPN proxy (virtual private network) to access blocked websites, and to surf the internet anonymously. In fact, a quick look today shows that 'VPN' is currently the top trending search in the NZ iOS App Store, and with over 200 to choose from there are plenty of options available.
The new Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko (DT & HM) curriculum in New Zealand explores how technology works, teaching how to use that knowledge to solve problems. By building digital capabilities, the goal is to create an education system that join classrooms and the world of work together in a way that is relevant for today’s young people. However, age appropriate guidelines and boundaries around internet use are essential for good digital citizenship and the overall success of the new curriculum.
Danish police have taken a hard line on inappropriate content shared on social media, charging over 1,000 young people with "distribution of child pornography" after video content of two 15 year olds was circulated online, predominantly on Facebook and Messenger. “It may sound very dramatic that we’re charging with child pornography,” said Flemming Kjaerside, a police superintendent. “Many had no intention to distribute child pornography, but objectively speaking, that’s what they’ve done.”
Emmanuel Macron's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, suggests a mobile phone ban in schools could help prevent cyberbullying, and also encourage children to play outside at lunchtime.
Gaming is big money, and wildly popular. The four games Finnish mobile game developer Supercell have on the market include ‘Clash of Clans’, with more than 100 million daily active users (DAUs). And Epic Games are on a winner; in less than a year Fortnite have more than 40 million players logging in to play each month.
Netflix has a lot to answer for. We're surprised at how widespread VPN use is now in schools, with students easily bypassing the default school internet filtering. Virtual Private Network (VPN) use hit the mainstream in early 2016 as frustrated subscribers began to circumvent geo-location restrictions in order to access their favourite shows on the full American Netflix catalogue. And now, school sudents are easily accessing unrestricted online content while using school networks.
It's Cyber Smart Week, a national awareness campaign with the message to "do one thing" to improve your online security.
Digital technologies are having a significant impact in driving changes to teaching and learning approaches in the education sector. Cloud platform resources such as Google Classroom and Microsoft Office 365, alongside access to a wide range of online educational material, have revolutionised the modern learning environment.
Schools are finding increasing numbers of students are regularly bypassing school internet filtering by using VPN’s. Schools are also finding more students using their own 3G/4G mobile devices with completely unrestricted internet access, and BYOD management is complex.
Communication sits at the heart of society, and digital communications technology (DCT) has had rapid uptake. Our kids are connected and can communicate at an unprecendented scale. Smartphones are ubiquitous, an increasing number of schools have BYOD policies, and technology enables and empowers learning in many positive ways. The challenge is to maximize the positive aspects of connection, while managing risk.
John Parsons is one of New Zealand's leading authorities on cyber-security. Highly regarded, Parsons has significant experience dealing with cyber-security crisis management. We recently had an interesting catch-up in our office, and his services are in high demand.
Over the years he's developed a toolbox of practical strategies for children and their caregivers designed to keep kids safe online and encourage good digital citizenship. He's just released his book Keeping Your Children Safe Online: A Guide for New Zealand Parents to empower children to live in the online world both safely and ethically.
Many of the teachers we talk with are frustrated with digital distraction in the classroom
Personal mobile devices are the norm. They are also both learning devices, and potential sources of digital distraction. While technology is an enabler of education, constant connection can sometimes come at a cost and students can easily succumb to using the internet for non-class related tasks. The term "cyber-slacking" refers to the act of avoiding immediate tasks by delving into cat videos, social media, and other online entertainment, and this new digital world is highly addictive.
We're excited to announce that Linewize has been acquired by ASX-listed Family Zone following our successful partnership agreement announced earlier this year. The Linewize team is looking forward to the next step on our journey and working with Family Zone to deliver world-leading cyber safety solutions to parents and schools worldwide.
Schools aim to create a safe learning environment supporting the use of digital technology, and Netsafe in New Zealand has produced this guide for the safe and responsible use of digital technology in schools. However, a recent analysis Linewize conducted showed an increasing number of students using VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to bypass school internet filtering. We decided to investigate further, and we asked a few teenagers about their experiences.
We live in a knowledge economy, and our children are digital natives. Our students use digital devices to navigate an increasingly complex online world. The knowledge, skills and behaviour required in this environment is continually evolving. Cybersafety and digital citizenship are hot topics globally, and there’s an increasing trend towards a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture in both New Zealand and Australia. Educators spend a great deal of time on school internet policies to help students become knowledgeable digital consumers, while at the same time providing a safe learning environment.
Linewize is honoured to have been nominated again for the New Zealand Innovation Awards, in the category 'Innovation in Education, Training and Development.' The innovation ecosystem in this space continues to thrive and develop, and the student internet management solutions Linewize provide are testament to this. Linewize not only manages school networks and student internet use, but uses machine learning to empower schools to create a high trust environment and support their "duty of care" role.
If your school uses Chromebooks or is looking to adopt them it would be worth attending the Cyclone Google Roadshow.
Cyclone, in partnership with Google, is taking a special roadshow around New Zealand to help schools ensure kids are as safe as possible when online.
Inviting student devices onto your school's BYOD network also invites new ICT challenges.
A recent analysis Linewize conducted of a large Auckland High School found that 15% of students were using such software to bypass school internet filtering and gain access to any online content.
Distraction of the digital kind is on the rise in classrooms. How can you successfully oversee devices and online access? In the aptly named article ‘We have met the enemy and he is us’1 the authors rate self-produced distractions, such as playing games, checking emails and surfing the net, as the most common classroom distractions, with more than a third of students admitting to ‘multitasking’ in class time.
An ICT teacher's experience
Kate is an ICT Lead Teacher at Halswell School in Christchurch New Zealand, a Year 0-8 primary with a roll of over 650 students. Halswell School introduced BYOD in years 5 and above in 2014. The school uses Linewize, a student internet management system, to keep students safe and to foster digital citizenship. Here Kate shares how to develop a digital citizenship program with the support of a student management system that provides complete visibility over student online behaviours.
Digital Citizenship is currently a ‘hot topic’ in education circles in the United States, placed at #3 on the Tech Trends for 2017. At the core of the debate is the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) dating from 2000. This law demands that all schools that receive federal funding for Internet access install blocking software to filter materials that are ‘obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors’.
Some feel that this has been interpreted in a heavy-handed fashion at school and district level, to the extent that a ‘Banned Websites Day’ was held in September 2016. A statement issued by the American Association of School Librarians explained the reasoning behind the awareness-raising event:
In this post we look at how the U.K. is approaching 'Digital Citizenship' in schools with a particular focus on trying to prevent students from being radicalised by terrorist groups. The approach taken is particulary comprehensive with filtering and monitoring mandated in every school.
2017 is setting itself up to be a fascinating year with lots happening in the ‘Digital Citizenship’ space. Bring Your Own Device programs are building momentum globally. Educational technology research is pointing to the benefits of embracing social media and other online tools for engaging students. Children’s use of the internet is increasing year on year and calls for developing Digital Citizenship are reaching a crescendo. As a result, governments, schools and communities are acknowledging that children need to be able to participate online safely and securely. This series of 3 blogs looks at three countries who are proactively tackling these issues – some at government level and some at the ground roots.
New Zealand: ‘From Literacy, to Fluency to Citizenship’
SimSimi, an anonymous chat app linked to cyberbullying, has temporarily removed access to users in the Republic of Ireland following a wave of criticism from students, parents and education authorities. Police in Northern Ireland took the unusual step of issuing an official alert to parents to advise them to check their children’s phones for the App.
Cyberbullying has been a hot topic in the media since the start of the year. A recent Australian survey of 1,000 parents of teenagers aged 11-18 conducted for Telstra, a national telco, found that two in five (40 percent) of parents ranked cyberbullying and bullying among their biggest worries as their children returned to school. The research found that 36 percent of Australian teenagers had personally experienced cyberbullying, with one in five, or 20 percent, stating the bullying occurred within the last month.
For teachers there's almost an unlimited number of educational websites and applications that can help in the classroom. It can be time consuming trying to find the really good ones.
Embarking on 1:1 computing or a Bring Your Own Device program? Here are all the resources that you need to help you and your students create and maintain a respectful and considerate online environment in which to learn.
Here are seven considerations that can be overlooked as districts and schools concentrate on readying the infrastructure and making decisions about types of device and ways and means of funding the program.
- Who’s responsible for what?
Clarify the school, teacher, parent and student roles and ready the supporting documentation. What happens in the event of theft, breakages, lost chargers, devices not working? Avoid your teachers becoming IT Techies by proxy and ensure that everyone is clear on what they need to do to make the BYOD programme work.
Safer Internet Day exploded around the world demonstrating the interest in the issues of digital citizenship and cyberbullying, particularly in countries where 1:1 and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are proliferating.
Companies got involved, including Microsoft, who released a Digital Civility Index comparing online behaviour in 14 countries. They encouraged young people to take up their Digital Civility Challenge.
Computer rooms with outdated PCs are no longer relevant or practical for today’s generation. Bring Your Own Devices (BYODs) for learning in high schools, and more recently, primary schools, is a necessity for education to remain relevant with our technologically advancing society. Schools are adopting this new, ‘disruptive’ approach to learning by merging traditionally separate ICT lessons with the core curriculum. This exciting opportunity to incorporate more digital learning into the curriculum is not an endeavour that the school should take lightly.
Asking kids to share photos, selfies and status updates to raise awareness of Internet Safety.
7th February 2017 is Safe Internet Day. Various countries are using the day to raise awareness of how children can be active online participants but stay safe. The UK is running a stand out programme bringing together police, schools, youth groups and charities for UK #SID2017. Their focus is on exploring the power and influence of images in children and young people’s lives. Resources include education packs, a quiz, a photo competition and a social media campaign.
As a new generation of children have smartphones from a young age it is becoming a much discussed issue for schools. In the US, the average age a child has their first mobile phone is 10, compared to 13 in 2009. This will continue to trend downwards over coming years.
Top US education blogger Kisa Neilson has started the year by identifying filtering as one of the two big issues facing US teachers:
“When we block social networks, can we be surprised when students don’t use them responsibly? Instead we could be teaching students to use social media to develop a powerful learning network, a positive digital image, improve writing, or develop literacy.”
She points to the American Library Association (ALA)’s comments on filtering and CIPA (the Children's Internet Protection Act):
As a teacher, you'd want to know.
Successfully integrating digital devices into the classroom is challenging. For all the benefits these devices bring to blended learning environments, they also bring the potential for distraction.
Classwize resolves this digital downside by providing teachers with live visibility and control over individual student internet use across all the devices they use in class.
With Classwize, teachers are provided a simple webpage dashboard that displays all the websites and applications that each student is using. Teachers gain visibility over which students are on task and those who may be disengaged.
Porirua’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme is moving from trial phase to cross-college with no concerns regarding student safety thanks to Linewize. The college’s IT support provider, recommended using Linewize to protect students whilst online. Linewize has alleviated the security concerns of staff and the community, and simultaneously improved levels of classroom engagement.
BYOD and Student Safety
John Topp, Deputy Principal at Porirua College explained the issues that needed to be resolved prior to rolling out BYOD, “With our existing system we could not see what students were doing, we couldn’t easily monitor traffic on the network and we had instances of students using staff log ins on their own devices and we needed to put a stop to that.”
In addition, Porirua College felt that it had a responsibility to the community to ensure that students were using the Internet safely on campus and at home. John explains, “Our parents’ biggest concern about the proposed Chromebook roll out was that they would not know what their children were doing on the Internet at home.”
Recently the news came out that the servers of 36 NZ schools have been compromised and their access credentials been put up for sale on a Russian marketplace. The full article can be read here:
The main modus operandi used to compromise these systems was through a brute force attack on Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access. The marketplace is already back up and running on the Dark Web.
The majority of New Zealand school networks are underpinned by Microsoft networking technologies.
These networks run Windows Server domain controllers to manage host access to network resources and store user and group information in an Active Directory (AD) database.
Linewize integrates directly with these Microsoft networking technologies to allow schools to understand student Internet use and manage website and application access from our cloud management interface.
“We see Linewize as a tool for keeping reactive discussions about inappropriate usage to a minimum, preferring instead proactive discussion on how to use the internet before a situation develops. Our openness reflects real life in the digital world and prepares students instead of shielding them.” – Alex Daroux, Head of IT Operations, Te Aroha College.
Edgewize: transforming a firewall from blocker to enabler
Disillusioned with the school’s existing firewall, Head of IT Operations Alex Daroux began to search for an alternative solution better suited to a college environment. Their current firewall was designed for small businesses and struggled with the demands of a medium-sized school. With staff and students facing repeated requests to login to access the network, Alex knew that it should be easier.
Linewize integrates directly with Google to enable schools to understand student Internet use and manage website and application access from our cloud interface.
Using Linewize to identify the student by their Google account on any given device allows Internet access to be tailored by Google group membership and time of day. Schools can thereby ensure that content accessed during class-time is lesson related.
Network login using Google accounts
Linewize allows students to log on to the school network using their existing Google username and password on any device they may use during the school day.
When a student logs into a Chromebook, the Linewize Chrome extension notifies Linewize to apply Internet filtering according to the Google Groups that student belongs to. This allows schools to easily apply filtering rules such as ‘Block Facebook access for students during lesson time.’
The Ministry of Education recently published a number of video case studies on Halswell School and St Hilda's Collegiate School. Both Halswell and St Hilda's use Linewize services to not only manage network and content access but also use the visibility Linewize provides to enable conversations with students around good digital citizenship.
“Linewize has given us a really good tool to talk to students about digital citizenship especially if filtering hits come up.” – Fraser Malins, ICT Leader, Halswell School.
Halswell School was seriously affected by the Christchurch earthquakes and required a full rebuild on the existing site. After three years of disruption they now are enjoying a fully custom built MLE environment to support their learning. In the above video Fraser Malins talks about the educational benefits of using Linewize to maintain an open network network environment and address inappropriate use with individuals as it occurs.
“Linewize offers a granular solution, not a one-size fits all like other services. We can monitor web usage by class and by individual student. Teachers can reward and report on levels of engagement in a meaningful way with each and every child.” – Russell Burt, Principal, Point England School.
Point England School solve visibility issue for BYOD and 1:1
Point England School in Auckland is known across New Zealand and internationally for its successful integration of technology into teaching and learning. Point England School was the convening school in the Maniakalani Cluster founded in 2007 to provide 1:1 digital learning for students from seven schools initially, many of whom came from lower decile homes. Point England School students have had 1:1 digital learning in classrooms since 2010 supporting a focus on achieving high levels of engagement and independently driven learning.
Digital devices provide new opportunities to greatly enhance learning, however they also introduce new classroom management challenges for teachers transitioning to online learning based practices.
Student’s are likewise being challenged by having to build the self-discipline required to focus on learning related activities over the distraction of electronic entertainment.
Without proper support tools BYOD can easily mean Bring Your Own Distraction!
Linewize is focussed on building tools that help both teachers and students to thrive in these modern learning environments and succeed with digital learning practices.
Gain control over the virtual classroom
Linewize enables teachers to gain control and visibility over internet use in the classroom, ensuring student attention remains focused on educational outcomes over entertainment.
Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is rapidly gaining prominence in the classroom with over 20% of U.S. schools opting for Chromebooks as their student device of choice.
IDC market research shows that in the first half of 2015, Chromebooks actually outsold Windows PCs in the U.S. education market.
If you are a New Zealand school chances are you're on the N4L managed network and enjoying the high speed Internet access that is so critical to support connected learning.
You may have also heard of Linewize and how we're helping schools succeed with digital learning by providing managed network and content access services.
When talking to principals, often the first question raised is 'Isn't that already provided by N4L as part of the managed network?'. The short answer is 'No its not.'
The purpose of this post is to outline the differences between Linewize and N4L and explain how Linewize services complement and extend the managed network.
Linewize vs N4L Cisco ScansafeN4L provides a 'Web Safety' filter as part of the managed network using Cisco Scansafe, a product primarily designed to restrict employee Internet access in the workplace.
In contrast, Linewize services 'Educate Digital Citizenship' by providing schools, teachers and parents complete visibility and control over network and Internet content access.
Over the past 2 years Linewize has collaborated directly with teachers, school IT staff and resellers to develop a product specifically tailored to the needs of New Zealand schools.
Are we teachers or jailers?
Ensuring appropriate Internet access and use within a school environment is no easy task. Existing network and content access management solutions are developed to suit corporate environments and do a great job of blocking access but provide limited functionality to help schools understand student Internet use or educate good digital citizenship.
The Ministry of Education's 'Digital Technology Safe and responsible use in school' guide published in Feb 2015 states that:
prevention approaches that rely on technical protections, such as content filtering or activity logging, simply do not work.
Clearly there is a disconnect between the 'blind blocking' approach of traditional corporate focused solutions and the very different requirements that schools have.
In educational environments the desired outcome is to teach students to be good digital citizens and make them aware of the dangers of inappropriate Internet use.
Set and forget doesn't work
The recent news articles around Yik Yak, the anonymous geo-located social media app highlights how quickly new applications gain popularity and the harmful impact they cause when used inappropriately.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) can greatly enhance learning, but it also presents new challenges for those responsible for maintaining their school's duty of care towards students, teachers and parents.
When planning a BYOD rollout there are a number of considerations to keep in mind to ensure your BYOD program is a success.
Student safety comes first
Being responsible for what children can access online is no easy task. Balancing access with safety for each student year is a decision that each school must make individually. Make sure that your BYOD management solution allows students to be treated individually and that shared and fixed classroom devices can be managed properly. Given that even TV's and DVD players have in-built browsers, make sure your solution covers all devices, personal and school owned, wired and wireless.
You may be aware of the Future Focused Learning Report May 2014 released by the 21st Century Learning Reference group. This report contains recommendations that will require a significant change in school IT infrastructure and pedagody,
The report recommends that the Ministry of Education provide guidelines on introducing and effectively using digital devices for learning, with the expectation that by 2017:
- all early childhood learners and school-age students will have access to digital devices
- every student from Year 4 will have access to a personal digital device
In meeting these recommendations, schools are faced with numerous IT challenges to ensure appropriate network and web-content access for all students and the devices they use.
To help schools meet these challenges Smart Computer Systems Ltd has partnered with Linewize Ltd to provide SmartNet schools the ability to self-manage a students’ network and web-content access across both school and personal devices (BYOD).