Online Educator

Title: How do we develop our student’s digital skills and stay safe online?
The digital world is growing rapidly, and countries are considering how to best prepare students for this open educational environment. JISC 2014, identified seven elements of digital literacy important to future success in a technology rich environment. Betham and Sharpe’s (2010) framework suggests a development process from functional skills to higher level capabilities, however, can we reach these higher capabilities and still keep students under the age of 18 safe online? Priscilla Idele (UNICEF) noted that ‘We often hear so much about the risks associated with children using the internet, but less about how we can build their online resilience and digital skills,’. Professor Sonia Livingstone (LSE) at a (December 2019) recent Westminster eforum policy conference on key issues and emerging trends in protecting children online, suggested the media is creating a narrative that it is dangerous for children online but the cases are few in comparison to the numbers using it.
The workshop will consider the views of students and parents expressed in a survey from an online school as well as information from studies from EU Kids online and Global Kids online, to review how we develop the digital skills needed yet keep those under the age of 18 safe online.
The workshop draws on research from Professor Sonia Livingstone, who has advised the UK government, European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe and other national and international organisations on children’s rights, risks and safety in the digital age. In following her Twitter feed, I was also presented with many opportunities to review the latest research in this field by those studying at the LSE and follow others such as UNICEF and Enurture (promoting mental health outcomes for children in a digital world). It will also use research from parents and students who have chosen to learn entirely in an online environment in the form of ‘InterHigh’ an online school. This research draws comparisons with that undertaken by ‘Global Kids online’ and noted that children want increasing access to the online world but that a number of parents restrict these opportunities or wish to restrict them in order to keep them safe.
The workshop will consider ways of increasing student access to the web 2.0 and what models and actions could ensure this is done in a safe environment rather than choosing the option to restrict access and therefore hinder the development of digital skills. Research (Global Kids online 2019) has shown children access the internet more at home than at school and particularly for those between 9-11 years is this now the time to redress the balance and move learning into the 21st century?
Keywords- digital literacies, safeguarding online, digital world, open education
Council of Europe- Children’s rights in the digital environment (2018).
Global Kids online- Children’s rights in the digital age
GOV.UK Teaching online safety in schools 26th June 2019.
GOV.UK Online Harms White Paper 26th June 2019.
LSE EU Kids online. LSE Department of Media and Communications
Westminster eForum- Protecting Children online: content, age verification and latest thinking on industry responsibility. 10th December 2019

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