Safety in the Online Classroom

In my experience, users feel a false sense of security when they are on the internet. A lot of people put their trust into others blindly by either giving away personal information (such as a credit card number) or sharing personal information with others through social media (such as your full name, where you live, etc.). Even though students may be taking a class ‘behind locked doors’ (meaning a password protected website), they are still vulnerable to security risks.

Both of the mentioned vulnerabilities were cited in an article written by Jaana Juvonen and Elisheva Gross that stated “On one hand, widespread forms of electronic communication, such as e-mail or IM, are well suited for direct verbal insults (eg, name-calling) that are most frequent at school. On the otherhand, digital communication technology readily lends itself to particular forms of privacy violations, such as sharing or forwarding the contents of a private communication to others or stealing someone’s password”. The best way to prevent this is to education everyone about the risks. When a student is introduced to online learning, they should have to take a mandatory online course about the risks. This course should inform them of what information to give out and not give out (first name – yes, password – no), and it should also inform them of who to contact if they do get bullied or feel threatened online. The course could be something as simple as a CMS site that gives all of this information out. It should also be heavily encouraged that parents sit with their child through the course so that they can be informed as well and look for signs of their child being bullied.

Students should feel safe online but also be informed of the risks of sharing too much information online as well. This can lead into a talk about copyright and plagiarism, but the main point is their safety and security. The world is harsh and in the work force you are at some point going to have to deal with rude or mean people. However, a child should not have to face this and should certainly not have to face this alone.

There should be a Behaviour Policy that students and parents are to sign that states their expected behaviour throughout the online program. It may also be useful to have random polls throughout the year asking students if they have been bullied or have witnessed it happening. This would help to prevent future cyber bullying.

References

Juvonen, J., & Gross, E. F. (2008). Extending the School Grounds?—Bullying Experiences in Cyberspace. Journal of School Health, 78(9), 496-505. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00335.x

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