- Read and reference your school district Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). First, make sure you are familiar with your school and district’s guidelines for proper internet use. You can either download your school district’s AUP online, or get it from a school administrator. Besides informing you of what activity on the school computers is acceptable and what is not, the AUP will have great information you can use in your lessons on internet and computer use.
- Teach students about legal issues surrounding internet use. The internet is a massive tool and with that comes a lot of legal issues if it is not handled properly. Nowadays, every student knows what Facebook is. Most of them probably know how to unlock a smartphone or tablet, and many of them can open a webpage and play online games. But very few know about key legal issues related to their internet use. As a teacher, be sure your students are not just learning about how to use the internet, but also about plagiarism and copyright issues, Creative Commons, and how to effectively use the internet to perform research.
- Have a lesson on internet safety. Actually, have several lessons on internet safety. In this day and age, your students are not just accessing the internet from school under your ever-watchful eye. They may be accessing it at home or with friends, and they may or may not be supervised while they’re doing it. Make sure students are aware of internet safety issues and that you talk about it in each of your lessons. Websites such as the Federal Trade Commission and NetSmartz are good resources for additional tips and lesson ideas.
- Know what they’re up to when you’re not around. To speak to the previous point, students are not just using the internet at school. Keep informed of what students are doing online when you aren’t watching them. You can be more aware of issues your students are facing if you know what they’re doing when their internet use is unsupervised.
- Protect your online identity. As a teacher, you have a responsibility to be a role model to your students, offline as well as online. Make sure that you have strong passwords in place, and don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your students or their parents to see. Never add students or their parents as friends or followers on your social media profiles.
- Have an open-door policy about cyber bullying and internet safety. Ultimately, you need to be a resource for students and their parents if questions arise. A shocking 52% of young people in the United States report that they have experienced cyber bullying, and one-third of those kids said they had received online threats. If a student or their parents come to you with cyber bullying or internet safety concerns, make sure to address them. Get administration involved if possible. Encourage your students and their parents to talk to you if there is a concern about internet safety.
On this blog over the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about technology in the classroom. We talked to Mark Nance, STEM coordinator at Westridge Elementary about some of the technology he has used in his elementary school classrooms. He has used 3D printers, infrared thermometers, and even robots to teach his students with amazing results. (If you missed our interview with Mr. Nance, you can read it here.) While most teachers do not have access to the same tools and resources that Nance and his team are using, an increasing number of elementary schools across the country do have access to the internet. We live in a digital age and students need to learn about this valued tool early. As a teacher, your role is an important one: How do you teach kids about the valuable tool and resource that the internet is while leaving out all the bad stuff it can bring? Here are a few ideas.