We hear more about Internet safety as we continue to use and be exposed to different technologies, particularly when it comes to publishing our ideas, opinions, and feedback. The availability of tools and resources in our hands make it absolutely easier to share and communicate what we want to say, think, and feel. Despite the continued growth on modernization in technology, we have experienced forgetting certain protocols and guidelines when communicating openly to the public. In doing so, we have opened ourselves to Internet harm, abuse, and danger. As an educator, it is one of our primary responsibilities to address, act, and support Internet safety among our students. According to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), "The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. (FCC Consumer Facts)" For this reason, there is a significant need to investigate and understand existing policies in our respective school districts, and develop better regulations in Internet usage to protecting students from possible harm.
My district identified the following standard to addressing the need of Internet safety among its students:
Educate students on (a) cyberbullying awareness, (b) social networking, and (c) appropriate online behavior.
The Instructional Technology (IT) department of my district has been an active partner, through the leadership of Ms. Irasema Padilla, in collaborating with campus counselors to support the need in educating students on Internet safety. Ms. Padilla's lead on this special project brought the creation of my district's Internet safety website, which served as an inspiration and guide in creating this blog entry.
The state of Texas, where my public school district resides, Internet safety is connected with the Technology Applications Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for Kinder to Twelveth Grade, as indicated below:
The Technology Applications Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) found in 19 TAC Chapter 126 describe what students should know and be able to do using technology. These TEKS are to be used when providing instruction in Technology Applications. The goal of the Technology Applications TEKS is for students to gain technology-based knowledge and skills and to apply them to all curriculum areas at all grade levels. These TEKS are organized by grade clusters for K-2, 3-5, 6-8 with benchmarks at Grades 2, 5, and 8 and organized by courses at Grades 9-12. There are four common strands for Grades K-12: Foundations, Information Acquisition, Work in Solving Problems, and Communication.
On the national level, Internet safety is connected with the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•T)and Performance Indicators for Teacher, as indicated below:
Effective teachers model and apply the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S) as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; enrich professional practice; and provide positive models for students, colleagues, and the community. All teachers should meet the following standards and performance indicators.
I think that Internet safety is not yet fully supported and promoted equitably statewide, nor nationwide. I am awaiting for written policies that would truly discuss and address the different aspects of Internet safety, such as the protection of children (and even adults) in social networking sites (i.e Facebook, Google+, Twitter), online chats, online information (i.e. web 2.0 technology), and the like. Bullying does not happen only face-to-face in schools anymore. This continue to exist, even more rampantly, in the cyber world where parents are not fully aware of.
Teachers are directly connected with students. In doing so, they can serve as immediate practioners and guardians of Internet safety. In teaching Internet safety, teachers can use CyberSmart that is a free curriculum and has sixty-five (65) cyber safety lesson plans and student activity sheets. Cybersmart lesson plans have been aligned with the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•T). Another resource that teachers can use is NetSmartz, which offers free, multimedia Internet safety presentations. Other useful teacher resources for Internet safety can be found here as well.
There are some Internet safety tips that have been shared by Ms. Padilla (2011) in my district's Internet safety website. The following are additional brochures or fliers that are available for distribution in your schools:
Parents play a crucial role in being practioners and guardians of Interent safety. Ms. Padilla (2011) shared some great ideas in becoming a responsible and effective cyber safety parent. We can no longer ignore the existence of harm, abuse, and danger on the Internet. Netsmartz.org has real-life videos that demonstrate the importance of addressing and supporting Internet safety among children. Ms. Padilla (2011) collected other resources for students that I recommend you to visit, which caters to elementary students and secondary students.
Educational Leader. Advocate of Equality and Equity in Education. Photographer. Graphic Designer. Web Developer. Digital Artist. Technology is my medium for creative and artistic expression.