Distance Learning Safety

What is Distance Learning?

A method of learning which doesn't  facilitate face-to-face contact with the teacher in a physical location. children can learn away from the classroom and often employs online methods such as webinars, e-learning, live-streaming or the ability to download resources and materials.

Passwords

What is a safe password?

  • Passwords should be unique for each platform you have.
  • Passwords should never be shared with friends or anyone over the internet.
  • Passwords should never contain birthdays, anniversaries, social security numbers, account numbers, or any personal information.
  • Passwords should contain a mixture of upper and lowercase letters along with numbers and special characters.
  • Passwords should be changed routinely.

Safe Searching

Schools have content filters to make sure students can search the internet safely, and so should homeschool parents. Content filters can help keep students safe from harmful content and allow parents some peace of mind. However, content filters aren’t enough. Plus, kids can get past them. Teaching children about why certain online interactions are dangerous works along with content filters.

Cyberbullying

While distance learners may not necessarily experience bullying in person, online bullying can become a huge problem for an eLearning student. Parents should teach students about cyberbullying and how to effectively handle those situations. Make sure children understand to come to you when they see online bullying. Teach older children how to report or block those who treat them badly. Many websites have ways to do this that will help students keep their time online safe and productive.

Safe Learning Space

Virtual Learning Environments

Schools should not expect your child to sign up to anything with a personal email address. They should either be provided with a school email address or a username and password.

Ensure your child always keeps their login to this facility private and that they don’t share their account with anyone.

Many VLEs include a chat function or message boards, etc. It is important to monitor the use of these facilities and that your child understands what is appropriate to write online. Perhaps remind them that these messages will be visible to the school staff and they shouldn’t put anything in a message, that they wouldn’t want anyone else to see.

It’s important to remind children of their conduct online. As a member of the VLE, they share a digital environment and their behavior impacts the success of the online school community.

If it gets to the point of issuing online assessments, it is important for parents to reinforce the fact that this should be carried out independently and do what they can to reinforce the school guidelines.

Many VLE providers will also create an app that parents can use. These are a simpler format and could help you to become more familiar with the service your child is using.

Video Conferencing Software

Schools may decide to deliver online learning using video-conferencing programs such as Skype or Zoom. These programs enable students to talk to each other, and potentially their teacher, when they need some verbal face-to-face communication. Whilst they are a great way to keep in touch, to safeguard both students and staff, one-to-one tuition is not generally advised.

Don’t put unnecessary personal information in the user profile of these apps. For example, try to keep location, phone number and dates of birth private.

To ensure that there are no security flaws in these applications, make sure they are also kept up to date and install any patches as soon as they become available.

Always check the terms and conditions of the programs, especially those around age. For example, by default, Skype restricts the privacy settings of users under 16 years old. However, this won’t be effective if they are registered with parental information.

Help to educate your child on how to use these programs to ensure they are safe. Careless use of Skype can lead to a breach of personal security, downloading viruses or malware or even contact from people they don’t know.

Remind your child to never accept instant messages, phone calls, screen sharing or files from someone they don’t know.

Talking About Privacy

Talk to your children about what privacy means to them.

It’s important for parents to have conversations with their children about what feels private to them and what doesn’t That’s not a one-time conversation.
Everyone has a general understanding of what privacy is: a lack of intrusion into one’s private life. But not everybody considers the same things to be an intrusion, and people’s definition of privacy can change depending upon where they are and whom they are interacting with, in person or online.

Parents play an important role in validating their children’s worries about privacy, and can help their kids practice speaking up about their concerns. Students should be instructed to tell their teachers or parents if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe in the online learning environment.

Take time to discuss any anxieties your children might have about online privacy: Are they worried that the teacher may record their class and, if so, are they concerned about how securely that recording will be stored and for how long? Are they anxious about being seen on camera or whether a video platform is safe? Are they scared that other students might take snapshots of the class or that their classmates will judge their home?

Students who appear on video may also fear that their teachers will judge their appearance. That’s why teachers should check in privately with their students to make sure that they are interpreting their students’ facial expressions and body language correctly. A student who giggles, for example, might be doing so out of discomfort and not because he finds something funny.

Online Predation

Online predators and how to handle them.

The internet isn’t always the safest place for children. The Department of Justice states that 76% of internet-initiated sex crimes start in a chatroom. Remind young children not to talk to any strangers, including online strangers. Encourage older children to be wary of who they’re talking to online. Also, remind them to be careful of the information they give out online. Be upfront with older children about the threat so they can keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and signs of grooming. This can include a person who pays them special attention online and attempts to give them things in real life.

Being a Digital Citizen

What is a Digital Citizen?

Schools and school districts are also encouraged to teach students what it means to be a responsible digital citizen as part of a broader strategy of promoting a positive school climate. A digital citizenship curriculum can include topics such as privacy and security, relationships and communication, cyberbullying and digital drama, digital footprints and reputation, self-image and identity, information literacy, and creative credit and copyright.

Online Relationships

Online Relationships carry the same risk.

Depending on the site you use, there are different ways you can make friends online. While a lot of websites aimed at younger people allow minimal communication, some video games allow for voice and type chat. This could lead to children making friends online. While this can be fine on some level, make sure your children understand what information shouldn’t be given out online. Children should also understand how to be respectful in online play situations. If someone isn’t treating them respectfully, they should remember they don’t have to stay friends with them.