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 Cybersafety Guide

Establishing a Cybersafety Team

Each school board has an obligation to provide a safe physical and emotional learning environment for its students. This obligation underpins the need for a school cybersafety program.

Creating a cybersafe learning environment is a relatively straightforward process that can be managed by the school’s cybersafety team.

The principal has a central role to play. The interest that a principal takes in cybersafety will help to ensure a cybersafe learning environment is established and maintained. This does not mean that the principal has to personally take on the extra responsibilities involved. Instead, they could delegate the task of setting up the cybersafety team to a member of the school’s senior management team. This person would take on the role of cybersafety manager.

NetSafe Cybersafety Professional Learning Modules

The NetSafe professional learning modules are a range of cybersafety workshops designed to support schools as they develop and maintain a cybersafe school learning environment. Each module complements this NetSafe Kit for Schools and offers specialized training for key school personnel, covering legislative requirements related to school cybersafety and professional, educational and technological issues.

The modules are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure their content remains topical with regard to technology, issues and incidents.

NetSafe has developed the modules through an extensive process of trial and development. Consultation groups include electronic forensic specialists, law enforcement and the Ministry of Education’s technology team, as well as technology specialists and organizations working in, and associated with, schools. Georgia customization was developed by the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, school district, technology, and educational partners.

The workshops will help your school to more confidently embrace safety issues associated with technology. In combination with the use of this NetSafe Kit for Schools, they will help schools improve their knowledge and capability in this area, and assist in their provision of a cybersafety learning environment.

The training modules that NetSafe currently offer are:

  • Foundations for Cybersafety - recommended for all members of the cybersafety team
  • Inspiring Cybercitizenship – recommended for principals and school trustees
  • Delivering Cybersafety – recommended for technology specialists
  • Managing Cybersafety – recommended for cybersafety administrators
  • Library /Media Center Cybersafety – recommended for librarians/media center staff
  • Supporting Cybersafety – recommended for guidance, special needs staff, and school resource officers

Conducting a Cybersafety Inventory Checklist

Before implementing any cybersafety initiatives within your school, it is important to carry out an inventory to assess your current level of cybersafety. This inventory should be conducted by the cybersafety team under the direction of the cybersafety administrator and principal.

The cybersafety inventory should assess the policies and procedures that currently promote the safe and responsible use of technology within your school. It should also assess the practices that you are currently engaging in to educate your school community (including staff, students and parents) about the school’s cybersafety initiatives.

Implementing Technical Safety and Security Systems

All schools should have in place a firewall and virus protection. Schools can also employ a range of technological tools such as monitoring (keeping track of who downloaded what, when they downloaded it, and using which computer) and filtering or content control (which minimizes inappropriate online content).

There are various single products and services that offer more than one of the items above. Each school has different needs depending on type, size, in-house technical expertise available, budget, and so on.

Creating a Cybersafety Policy For Your School

Cybersafety is part of the board of education's responsibility.

Schools can adapt GaDOE’s school cybersafety policy template to best suit their needs. Schools may elect to develop the policy further to safely manage the use of specific equipment or learning environments.

NetSafe consulted widely on the development of the school cybersafety policy template.

It is necessary to review and update this policy regularly because of changing circumstances, including use of communication technologies across the school, technological advances, curriculum changes and upgraded or new buildings.

Other associated policies (such as bullying/harassment policies) should also refer to the misuse of communication technologies. Examples of such misuse include text bullying using mobile phones, or bullying/harassing others on social networking websites.

Creating Cybersafety Use Agreements

Comprehensive acceptable use agreements (referred to in the kit as use agreements) play a vital role in developing and maintaining an effective school cybersafety program. By providing information on the cybersafety initiatives taken by the school, as well as the school’s expectations of staff, students and their parents, use agreements emphasize the role played by the whole school community in the maintenance of a cybersafety school environment.

There are four use agreement templates that schools can download and personalize, all of which were updated in 2007 from earlier versions:

Individual districts are encouraged to decide which use agreement will best meet the needs of their students. However, NetSafe envisages that most students in elementary school would be issued with the primary – junior agreement and middle school students with the primary – middle/intermediate agreement. The secondary students’ agreement is intended for high school students.

Adopting a Cybersafety Policy Within Your School

Once the school distrtechnology has drafted a school cybersafety policy and student and staff use agreements, all of these documents need to be made available to schools.

Presenting the Cybersafety Policy and Use Agreements to School Staff

The cybersafety policy adopted by your Board will have links with other policies your school has (for example, the bullying/harassment policy). In order for the staff at your school to fully understand and accept the policy and use agreements, NetSafe suggests that they are presented and discussed at a staff meeting. 


Suggested procedure:

Distribute the policy and use agreements prior to a staff meeting so that staff have the opportunity to read through documents and formulate any questions.

At the staff meeting, it is important that staff are able to raise any queries, discuss any issues and have matters clarified.

After the cybersafety team have customized the use agreements for your school, it is suggested that staff are given the opportunity to seek clarification on any matters contained in the agreements. It is likely that staff may have more questions regarding the use agreements than the policy document. It may be important to note to the staff that all the documents have been through a thorough and wide consultation process with key sector representatives.

Staff will need to have a return date by which the use agreement is signed and collected at a designated collection point. Signed return of the use agreement may be tied to the receipt of a unique user account (that you use to log onto the school computers) received by each staff member from the school technology specialist.

Obtaining Signed Use Agreements from All School Staff

Use agreements should be returned by all staff by a determined date, and retained by the school.

Note needs to be made of staff requesting professional development. This should be followed up with appropriate professional learning.

Presenting the Cybersafety Policy and Use Agreements to Students and Their Families

Parents are to be given the use agreement preferably with the relevant background information, and told a date by which to return the signed form.

The school’s cybersafety policy needs to be available for parents to read on the school website and/or in print form, and/or made available in the enrolment pack for each family.

If the school is undertaking meetings with parents, these are also an opportunity to discuss the school’s cybersafety initiatives, policy and use agreements. It is useful for parents to have an understanding of some of the online risks and what the school is doing to manage those risks. The policy and use agreements are part of that management.

Parents should be encouraged to regularly discuss with their children the benefits and risks of cyberspace. Parents can expand their own knowledge of cybersafety issues by visiting the NetSafe website (www.netsafe.org.nz), purchasing/reading the publication NetGuide for Parents or visiting other cybersafety sites. 


Presenting the Cybersafety Policy and Use Agreements to Students and Their Families


Parents are to be given the use agreement preferably with the relevant background information, and told a date by which to return the signed form.

The school’s cybersafety policy needs to be available for parents to read on the school website and/or in print form, and/or made available in the enrolment pack for each family.

If the school is undertaking meetings with parents, these are also an opportunity to discuss the school’s cybersafety initiatives, policy and use agreements. It is useful for parents to have an understanding of some of the online risks and what the school is doing to manage those risks. The policy and use agreements are part of that management.

Parents should be encouraged to regularly discuss with their children the benefits and risks of cyberspace. Parents can expand their own knowledge of cybersafety issues by visiting the NetSafe website (www.netsafe.org.nz), purchasing/reading the publication NetGuide for Parents or visiting other cybersafety sites.


Obtaining Signed Student Use Agreements

Once the student use agreement has been signed and returned to school by the due date, students will be able to make use of school technology.

The cybersafety team will need to put in place a process to follow up any non-returned use agreements.

Your School Now Has a Basic Cybersafety Framework in Place

At this point, a rudimentary cybersafety framework is in place. The steps taken to establish this framework promote a certain level of cybersafety within the school. However, all members of the school community should be continuously encouraged to extend their cybersafety further by:

  • Participating in relevant Professional Learning
  • Incorporating cybersafety education into the school’s curriculum
  • Regularly reviewing the school’s cybersafety initiatives and programs
  • Explaining the school’s cybersafety program to new staff and students/parents as they join the school.

In this way, the school can stay abreast of the rapid developments frequently made to technology, ensuring they are better prepared to manage and respond to any risks such changes pose to staff and student safety. The cybersafety team’s familiarization with Net Safe's School Incident Response Flowchart will also aid this process.

Ongoing Cybersafety Professional Learning for School Staff

Ongoing professional development ensures that school staff are kept up-to-date with the latest advances in technology and the possible repercussions of technological developments on the school community. NetSafe offers a range of specialist professional learning modules for every member of the cybersafety team. Other interested members of staff are welcome to attend the introductory training, Foundations for Cybersafety.

Each module is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure their content remains topical with regards to technology, issues and incidents. By annually re-training its members, the cybersafety team can be assured that they will be at the forefront of best practice.

Integrating Cybersafety into your School’s Curriculum

Schools have an important responsibility to integrate education about the safe and responsible use of technology into every curriculum area at all levels. This can range from reiterating key messages from the students’ use agreement before using a computer lab, to incorporating cybersafety themed lessons into each subject taught at your school.

Educating students about cybersafety and how to be an effective cybercitizen aligns closely with each of the key competencies identified in the Georgia Performance Standards is crucial for young students to master. As well, the values outlined in the curriculum align well with the concep of cybercitizenship, particularly those of integrity, inquiry, community and participation. The importance of incorporating such education is increasingly paramount as the sophistication of young people’s cyber-literacy continues to develop.

The Cybercitizenship Pathway provides teachers with a practical guide to integrating cybercitizenship into their learning programs. Cybercitizenship is best developed when it is embodied and modeled in every interaction with cyberspace, and in every learning area. As technology becomes increasingly integrated into the curriculum so too must the principles of cybercitizenship.

Resources for

  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
  • High School

Reviewing Your School’s Cybersafety Policy and Use Agreements

The school’s cybersafety policy and use agreements will need to be reviewed and updated regularly (where appropriate) in accordance with your school’s normal review schedule. This ensures that the policy and agreements stay up-to-date with technological advances, curriculum changes and additions to the school’s technology equipment.

The cybersafety team would have significant input into this review.

Explaining Cybersafety Use Agreements to Newly Appointed Staff

Cyber

safety use agreements can be discussed as part of the induction process for newly appointed staff, regardless of when in the school year they are appointed. These staff should have the opportunity to read the agreement and ask questions/seek clarification before signing.

Explaining Cybersafety Use Agreements to New Students

Cybe

rsafety use agreements can be distributed and completed as new students are enrolled at school, regardless of what point in the school year or year level they enroll.

Once a completed and signed use agreement is in place for a student it remains in force as long as the student is enrolled at the school.