Archive for category Blog

Filtering and Security

How do I filter out all the ads and inappropriate content when my kids watch YouTube?

 You can try these links for more information …

How can I filter nasty websites, set time restrictions and make the internet as safe as possible?

K9 Web Protection is a free tool that will:

  • Block web sites in more than 70 categories, including pornography, gambling, drugs, violence/hate/racism, malware/spyware, phishing
  • Force SafeSearch on all major search engines
  • Set time restrictions to block web access during designated times
  • Configure custom lists for “always allow” and “always block”
  • Override a web page block with password
  • Trust the enhanced anti-tampering, even children can’t break
  • View easy reports to monitor and control web activity
  • Real-time categorization of new adult and malicious sites

The Parental Control Bar is a similar tool that controls access via a password.

Netbox Blue has a product called CyberSafeHouse that offers a paid version of this function.

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National CyberSecurity Awareness Week

CyberBullying is a fast growing epidemic that affects us all. Left unsupervised, our students can be exposed to nasty online content, as well as becoming victims of bullying and harassment. National CyberSecurity Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about protecting ourselves in this digital age.

(eSmart image)

At Coomera Anglican College, we are running an eSmart Week parallel to NCSAW 2013. Students from across the College will take part in a competition, assembly presentations, class discussions, Habits of Mind activities and a survey between the 20 May and the end of term.

Students will also delve deeper into what it means to be an eSmart school. An eSmart Schools accreditation is a formal display of rigour and accountability in the eSmart / CyberSafety space. Schools must show evidence of compliance in domains such as policy and effective school organisation. This video explains the eSmart Schools strategy.

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School Blogging

“What are you up to at school nowadays?

“Not much …”

Ever had this ‘conversation’?  Wouldn’t it be great to see and read about what happening at school?  Well, in order to develop that option at CAC, we are slowly but surely venturing down the path of blogging.

Blogging is like writing an online journal, but even better.  Bloggers can add value via embedded content like images and videos.  Blogging engages students more than the handwriting process, and allows for feedback from the target audience.  It is a recognised commercial and financial pursuit that has enabled thousands (maybe millions) of ordinary people become household names and respected writers.  Blogging can be embedded into every learning area, and could be considered of more benefit, in educational terms, than writing in a notebook which spends 80 % of its time in a desk drawer or locker.

There are many ways to use blogging to engage and empower students to reflect, provide feedback, write and communicate.  These include:

  • Year level blog
  • Class blog
  • Teacher blog
  • Group blog
  • Student blog
  • Character blogs – fact or fiction
  • Camp blog

In terms of the Australian Curriculum’s ICT General Capabilities, the process of blogging covers all the categories of:

  • Applying social and ethical protocols and practices (commenting, posting)
  • Investigating with ICT (blogging contexts – researching, reports, etc)
  • Creating with ICT (creating digital content)
  • Communicating with ICT (text, images, videos)
  • Managing and operating ICT (using the blogging platform)

At Coomera Anglican College, we are just starting our blogging journey.  We are using a platform called Kidblog, which enables total teacher control of usernames, passwords, access, moderation of content and visibility.  This is important, because safety is always at the forefront of our online pursuits.

For example, if a class has individual blogs, the blogs can only be viewed if the user has an account in that class and has a valid password.  Likewise, teachers can control the commenting process by disabling the function, allowing comments via a valid account log in or allowing open access to commenting.  If commenting is enabled, the teacher then moderates and accepts the comment before it is shown on the blog.  Widgets and features are also limited to ensure that the actual process of blogging is the main focus.

Across the College, there are year levels, classes and individuals involved in the blogging process.  In the Primary School, Year Two has just started  and 2F in particular has been trialling the software and the process under the guidance of Mr Adam Farley.  Mr Farley has really engaged his students in the process, but the most pleasing aspect has been the involvement and enthusiasm of the parents.  The students are very excited to see their parents commenting on their work, reports and videos, and the communication with parents is one of the most important reasons to engage in this process.  All of Year Two will very shortly become involved in the blogging process, so Mr Farley’s investigation and feedback will be invaluable to that year level and all other year levels in primary as they move towards their blogging solutions in Term Three.

Each year level will have different uses for their blog and different content in the posts.  The younger grades will have less text and more imagery, whilst the older year levels will show more text.  The goal is for student generated content with a focus on events occurring across the year level and examples of school work or even excursion photos.  Years Five and Six are old enough to have individual blogs, which will serve as great documents of their school work, thoughts, feelings and reflections.  Other examples of blogging at the College include:

  • Year Seven individual blogs with IT and SOSE content
  • Food and Cooking blogs in Food Technology
  • Chinese blogs written in Chinese script

There will be some trepidation amongst parents about the blogging process and privacy issues.  Parents will receive a letter with guidelines and a permission form so that they are fully aware of the blogging expectations and are able to opt out of elements of the process.  Initially, any concerns can be directed to the class teacher.  Alternately, if you have general or specific questions about blogging, please email me (mjorgensen@cac.qld.edu.au).

We have completed many hours of research in order to create safeguards and determine whether or not blogging will deliver worthwhile educational outcomes.  All indications are that the process can be safe and will engage our students, and parents, in the writing, reflection and feedback process.  There are many examples of blogs from around the world that show the students’ faces and have videos of students engaging in the learning process.  If you are not convinced, please visit these sites to see some great example:

Lastly, I have included a ‘Blogging Rules’ poster that students can refer to during their blogging journey.  You can also take a look at our teacher reference blog (http://kidblog.org/kidblogtastic/) which explains the benefits of blogging as well as tutorials showing the features of Kidblog.

Blogging Guidelines

Blogging Guidelines

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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  Three of the big social media platforms that allow people of all ages from all over the world to view images, videos and information about each other.  These tools are great for keeping in touch, sharing your thoughts and being creative.  Unfortunately, they can also be used to cause harm.

These three networking tools, like the majority of online resources, have a 13 plus registration policy, and for good reasons.  Children under this age are not equipped with the necessary skills to use these tools safely.  If your son or daughter has a social networking account with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or similar sites like Snapchat, and they are under 13, they are breaking the policy guidelines of the sites.  You may have given them your blessing, or you may not even know that this is the case.  Here are some ways to allow your children to safely use social networking, and still uphold your ethical responsibility to monitor their behaviour and ensure that they are interacting in an acceptable manner online:

  • If your child is under 13, disable their social media accounts.  Today.
  • Ensure that you have control of the passwords that allow for downloading apps on all household devices
  • To allow for social networking and to observe what is going on, create family accounts that your children can use to add content
  • Closely monitor the content being added and viewed by your children
  • Enforce a curfew of 7:00 for all devices to be in a central location like the kitchen charging area
  • Block those users who are acting inappropriately
  • I repeat, closely monitor your child’s use of social networking tools
  • If you can’t closely monitor the use of these tools, don’t allow them until your children are 13.  Or 16.  Or 18.

One way that you can get more ibformation about social networking sites is to visit The Easy Guide to Socialising Online (http://www.dbcde.gov.au/easyguide/social_networking).

Parents and teachers can provide valuable input to decision makers by joining the Teachers and Parents Advisory Group on Cybersafety.  This initiative allows adults who have children or work in education to guide policy and inform change at the highest levels of government.  If you are interested, visit http://www.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/161125/TAP-Membership-form.pdf for a registration form.  More information about the DBCDE’s efforts in the CyberSafety field can be seen at http://www.dbcde.gov.au/funding_and_programs/cybersafety_plan.

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QSITE Presentation – A Whole School Strategic Approach to CyberSafety

Click on the image to view presentation

Click on the image to view presentation

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Blogging Tips

I found an article about 3 tips for blogging that I will summarise here.

Tip 1:  Create ONE Topic-Focused Blog

START classroom blogging projects with ONE classroom blog that EVERY student can make contributions to.  Doing so takes the pressure of generating content off of individual students simply because there are dozens of potential writers who are adding content at any given time.

(This is what we are trying to do in primary.  In Secondary, it means one blog for all subjects, as we are doing in Year 7.)

Tip 2: Train Student Editors to Lead Your Blogging Project

YOU don’t need to be the one that does all of the drafting and coaching and revising and posting!

Instead, work to train a small handful of student editors.  Give them the username and password to your classroom blog and turn them loose.  You’ll find that they are JUST as capable as you are — and probably MORE motivated!

(In Kidblog, you can make students into moderators who check and approve posts, whilst not having access to the admin side of it.)

Tip 3: Recruit Readers and Commenters to Your Blog

For any blogger, the ultimate reward is crafting a piece that actually gets READ.  Every page view and comment left on a classroom blog is proof positive to your students that they DO have an audience and that they ARE being heard.  To address this challenge, I always recruits volunteer readers and commenters when my students are working on a blogging project.  Most of the time these volunteers are parents or PTA members who want to help at school but can’t find the time to get away from work during the day.  I ask them to monitor the blog for a month at a time and to leave two or three comments a week that are designed to challenge students.

(Parents, Senior students, PAFA, Parents volunteers, etc could do this role.  Or, your students may have to comment on 3 posts a week.)

[Source: Bill Ferriter, Three Classroom Blogging Tips for Teachers, http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/2013/03/three-classroom-blogging-tips-for-teachers.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+the_tempered_radical+%28The+Tempered+Radical%29]

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The eSmart Schools Strategy

Coomera Anglican College has started the journey towards becoming an eSmart school.  ‘Developed for Australian schools, eSmart is an easy-to-use, evidence-based and tested system to help schools manage cybersafety and deal with cyberbullying and bullying.  The eSmart system provides a framework for schools to implement whole-school culture and behaviour change relevant to the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies.  The Alannah and Madeline Foundation developed the initiative with RMIT School of Education and many cybersafety and education experts.  Registration provides schools and their communities with assurance that they are accessing evidence-informed practice, policies and activities.’ (Source: https://www.esmartschools.org.au/eSmartHome/Pages/Awhole-schoolsystem.aspx)

The process involves recognising the completion of stages in the eSmart Schools Framework, under the umbrella of six domains.  The domains are:

  • Effective school organisation
  • School plans, policies and procedures
  • A respectful and caring school community
  • Effective teacher practices
  • An eSmart curriculum
  • Partnerships with parents and the local community

This journey is a whole school priority and requires the support of all College community members.  How can you help?  Here are some easy ways to assist:

Parents – empower your children with the knowledge that if they make a mistake or feel unsafe on online, they can tell you and expect support and positive action

Teachers – keep CyberSafety on the formal and informal agenda of your pastoral care responsibilities

Students – make sure, before you click, that your content is respectful, accurate, responsible, safe and appropriate

We all need to use our eSmartz and respect ourselves and others online.

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