e-Safety in TEYL

Contributed by Jen Dobson

To develop an acceptable use policy for English learning and teaching online, focus on the following areas:    

1. Avoid disclosing personal information
  • Be aware of the risks and implications of making, sharing and saving images of children or teenagers, even for language education. Posting their images may reveal their specific location, lead to datafication, facial recognition and identity theft. You can read more in this YLTSIG blog post.
  • Avoid collecting telephone numbers or email addresses of minors. You can do this by using educational platforms, particularly those which generate codes.
  • Use your school’s / institution’s account to communicate with children and teenagers rather than personal ones.
2. Provide a safe space for online learning

a)   Asynchronous learning

  • There are numerous asynchronous tools available that are designed specifically for children and allow families to access everything they need for English lessons in a secure and private environment. They enable ease of uploading, storing and sharing.

b)   Synchronous learning

  • Synchronous tools are not particularly child-friendly by design. As social networking sites are used by adults, they necessarily have legal age restrictions. Video conferencing tools were also designed for adults.
  • Ensure your chosen tool is as safe as possible by disabling or enabling features of the advanced settings. Keep up to date with upgrades.
  • To protect learners from potentially harmful contact, add password protection to the virtual classroom, lock the virtual room on entry, insist on identification with full names and that web cams are enabled.
  • Establish procedures with the learners and parents / caregivers to ensure there is no recording or taking screenshots of others and that online lesson rules are followed.
    3. Use safe e-learning materials
    • Check that websites, tools and materials are age-appropriate and child-safe before your online lessons.
    • Use the educational versions of all online tools.
    • Watch all videos the whole way through before deciding to use them for online English learning.
    • If something happens in class which makes the learners / you uncomfortable, take screenshots, keep a record and report.
    4. Maintain an educational atmosphere for live online lessons
    • Avoid having anything on display in the background that unnecessarily discloses personal information.
    • Choose a neutral background such as in front of a wall or use a blurred background tool.
    • Avoid having children and teenagers participate in online lessons from bedrooms. Other rooms of the house where families have access and oversight are much safer.
    • Dress professionally, as you would in the face-to-face classroom.
      5. Give orientations to online learning for stakeholders
      • Clearly communicate the rationales behind safeguarding decisions to establish trust in the school’s and teachers’ abilities to make informed decisions about e safety.
      • Use controls on devices to block or filter upsetting or inappropriate online content.
      • Ensure learners are aware that they should inform an adult if they see anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
      6. Steps we can all take as educators
      • Design lessons that explore online safety issues and teach digital literacies to raise awareness.
      • Create engaging materials with your learners such as digital posters, flyers and web banners to highlight e safety.
      • Take personal responsibility by reevaluating your online professional presence, your privacy settings, passwords, social media profiles, and postings of personal photos and those of your family. Be better informed and remain up to date.
      • Publicise your institution’s commitment to safeguarding children and teenagers online.

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