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10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers

Last week I attended a presentation by former police officer and cyber safety expert, Susan McLean. There was a lot to think about at this session and I wrote a post with 10 Internet Safety Tips for Students. 

I do have some concerns about the way some teachers conduct themselves online and promote internet safety in the classroom.

I think it’s important that internet safety is regularly discussed amongst staff in schools. Technology moves so quickly and trends can change dramatically in the space of months.

Teachers who are not regular users of the internet, and even some who do use the internet extensively, don’t know what they don’t know.

Issues such as cyber bullying, sexting and internet addiction are only going to become more prominent as children’s access to technology continues to increase. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative, and follow-up issues as they occur.

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Here are some key messages around internet safety and online conduct that I believe all teachers should be aware of.

Some of these ideas were gathered from Susan McLean’s session.

  1. Don’t allow possible problems with internet use stop you from making the most of technology both in your professional and personal life.
  2. If your employer has guidelines for internet use, be aware of them. DEECD employees should be familiar with Using Social Media: Guide for Department Employees. 
  3. Develop school internet use policies for your staff, students and families. Make sure all members of the school community are aware of your policies and guidelines.
  4. Teach your students about internet safety regularly and authentically. I have found blogging to be an excellent way to have an ongoing dialogue about these issues. Make the most of online resources such as the Australian government website, Cybersmart, and the US site, NetSmartz.
  5. Teach your students about basic internet safety tips. Students should also be taught about plagiarism, copyright, Creative Commons, search engines and effective research techniques. These are important areas for teachers and students to know about if they want to use the internet effectively and legally.
  6. Find out what your students do online when they’re outside of your classroom. If you’re not sure about the online spaces that your students and school community are using, take time to explore and find out how the various sites work.
  7. If students or parents approach you with issues regarding cyber bullying or safe internet use, it’s important to deal with them. Encourage your students to talk to you about any concerns they might be having with their internet use.
  8. Choose sensible names for your usernames, email addresses etc. Use strong passwords and change them a number of times a year. This Common Craft video provides an excellent explanation of secure passwords.
  9. Protect your digital reputation: don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your friends, family, colleagues and employers to see. Protect your personal social media or other internet accounts with privacy settings.
  10. Avoid adding students and parents as friends on personal social networks. I believe the exception would be if your account is purely professional. However, do not add children who are under 13 on social networks with age restrictions.

What other internet use tips for teachers would you add? I’m sure there are many more.

How does your school help equip teachers to deal with issues around internet safety?

10 Internet Safety Tips for Students

Last night I attended a presentation by former police officer and cyber safety expert, Susan McLean. She addressed many issues around internet safety, cyber bullying, sexting, problematic internet behaviour and digital reputation.

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Internet safety is something I try to address frequently and authentically with my students. I have found education around this issue to be so important.

When students develop internet behaviours without guidance, problems are sure to occur. My hope is that teaching students some key messages from a young age will help them navigate their way safely through the internet as they grow older.

I have found blogging to be an excellent way to teach students about being responsible digital citizens and members of online communities. I have seen other tools such as Edmodo used to promote positive internet behaviours too.

Here are some key messages around internet safety that I believe all students should be aware of.

Most of these are tips I share with my students with some ideas from Susan McLean.

  1. Always ask an adult if you’re unsure of anything when you are online.
  2. Don’t sign up for sites that are 13+ if you are not old enough (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc).
  3. Remember YAPPY (the personal information you should not share online) – Your full name, address, phone number, passwords, your plans. 
  4. Don’t add people as online friends unless you know them in real life or have parent permission. Never arrange to meet an online friend without talking to a parent.
  5. Remember that you cannot believe everything you read on the internet and you can’t trust everything online friends tell you.
  6. Choose sensible names for usernames, email addresses etc. 
  7. Talk to your parents about what you’re doing online and let them know when you’re going on the internet.
  8. Know what cyber bullying is and tell someone if you think it’s happening to you. Cyber bullying is when someone picks on you, annoys, embarrasses, or threatens you over and over again using technology, such as the internet or a phone.
  9. Protect your digital footprint: don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want all your friends, family, teachers and future employers to see.
  10. Treat others online the way you’d like to be treated.

Find more great information about internet safety on the government website, Cybersmart.

Here is a great video with tips for students from CommonSenseMedia. I found it via Jenny Luca’s wonderful post on digital footprints.

What other internet safety tips would you add?

How do you teach internet safety in your classroom?

I plan to write about tips for teachers and parents in my next posts.

Are You On Twitter Yet?

Earlier this year, Kelly Jordan and I gave a few presentations on using Twitter for educators at various events.

If you’re not yet on Twitter, read this post to find out some reasons why you should be.

Confused about the Twitter language? Hopefully this brief explanation will help.

Need more tips? Check out my post of 10 Twitter Tips.

Twitter has certainly had an impact on my grade two students. Discover one example of how Twitter has impacted a student, here.

Finally, click here if you want to learn more about hashtags, which seem to be popping up more and more in a wide range of media.

twitterfollow

The Power of Twitter

In the last few weeks Kelly Jordan and I have been speaking to teachers and school leaders at the VITTA conference, ICON conference and our own school about the power of Twitter.

In our presentation we shared how we use Twitter every day as a form of ongoing, personalised and invaluable professional development. We stressed that Twitter not only makes us better teachers but impacts on our students.

We concluded our presentation with an example of the power of Twitter; sharing how it helped to connect one of my seven year old students to the world.

Jarrod is a student in my grade two class who earnt his own blog in June of this year.

When my students write posts on their blogs, I often promote their post with a tweet using the hashtag #comments4kids. You can read more about that wonderful hashtag here.

One Friday night in July, Jarrod wrote a new blog post asking his readers to vote on his poll to help choose his next blog post. Jarrod had only been blogging for a few weeks and had a very small readership.

Jarrod's blog poll

I sent out a tweet to my PLN and the #comments4kids followers encouraging them to support Jarrod.

Jarrod tweet

The response was amazing! My single tweet was retweeted 17 times.

Jarrod retweet Two

27 people took the time to leave a comment on Jarrod’s blog post.

42 conversations Jarrod

Jarrod’s Clustrmap showed 113 visits in 24 hours.

Jarrod Clustrmap 113 visits

The poll Jarrod put in his blog post showed 117 votes.

Jarrod poll

The next morning, Jarrod’s mum emailed me: “You should have seen Jarrod’s face when he saw his post this morning, he was so excited!”

Without Twitter, Jarrod would not have had an authentic audience for his work. He would not have received validation and encouragement from a wide range of teachers, education professionals and students. Jarrod would not have received the positive reinforcement that showed him his voice counts.

Jarrod is seven years old and is now connected to the world. Many of the people who visited Jarrod’s blog on this one night in July have returned to offer Jarrod more encouragement, support and conversation.

All this from one tweet…

How have you experienced the power of Twitter?

All About Twitter Hashtags

After writing my Teacher Challenge guest post on using Twitter to build your PLN, I was asked by a number of people about hashtags.

I know when I first started using Twitter, it took me a little while to get my head around what the # symbol meant. This is a handy feature of Twitter that is worth learning about.

What is a hashtag?

The # symbol + a word/acronym in a tweet is called a hashtag. It is used to categorise a tweet into a topic or keyword. Hashtags are not created by Twitter but by Twitter users.

hashtag

Why use hashtags?

There are so many tweets flying around at any one time that they can get lost in the crowd.

If you click on a hashtagged word in any tweet, you can find a list of other tweets with that hashtag. Whether or not you’re friends with someone, you can find their hashtagged tweet (as long as their profile is public). If you add a hashtag to a tweet, your tweet can potentially reach a larger audience.

Hashtags can help you connect with people who have similar interests. For example, you might be doing the Daily 5 literacy program in your classroom but you might not know any other people on Twitter who are also using that program. You could go to the Twitter website and put #daily5 into the search box to find a list of tweets from people tweeting about this subject.

daily5 hashtag

If you use a desktop application like TweetDeck, you can add a column with all the tweets on #daily5 so you don’t miss anything.

In TweetDeck just click on the + sign at the top of your screen and then put #daily5 (or your favourite hashtag) into the search box. Alternatively, you can click on a hashtag in any tweet in TweetDeck and a column with all the tweets with that hashtag will be added.

Hashtag etiquette

Most Twitter guides suggest one, two or three hashtags is a good amount to use. Any more than three hashtags can take away from the content of your tweet.

Where do you put hashtags?

Hashtags can replace a word in a tweet or be tacked on to the end of a tweet. Sometimes people put a hashtag at the start of their tweet to preface their message with the subject.

where to put the hashtag

Who makes up hashtags?

Hashtags are community driven. You can create any hashtag you like as long as members of your community or professional learning network (PLN) know about it and agree to use that hashtag.

To avoid using a hashtag that is already being used, it is advisable to search for that hashtag first. Things can get confusing if your hashtag is being used by another group! http://hashtags.org/ is a useful website to find out about hashtags being used.

The lighter side of hashtags

More and more people seem to use one-off random hashtags to add a humourous element to their tweet. You definitely don’t want to overdo this but they can add a little fun to your interactions with others.

hashtag humour

Conference backchannelling

Most conferences these days have a hashtag. This will generally be advertised prior to the event and allows people to connect their tweets about the conference before, during and after the event.

A hashtag can be used for a conference backchannel. Backchannelling allows conference participants to engage in an online discussion about what they are seeing, hearing and learning. It allows passive audience members to become active. Sometimes, people who can’t make a conference will also get involved in a backchannel by following the hashtag.

If you’re on Twitter you might have seen many tweets flying around with the #ISTE11 hashtag recently. This hashtag allowed participants at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia to connect while also giving a running commentary to non-participants.

hashtag iste

Tweet chats

Usually, conversations on Twitter are interspersed with gaps of time while people come online and offline. Some people plan times when everyone is online to engage in a live chat about a certain topic. These are often called “tweet chats” and are defined with a hashtag.

One of the most well known tweet chats in the ed tech world is #edchat. Each week there is a different topic and up to 2000 people from around the world get together and have a focussed conversation.

You can use a client like TweetChat to converse in real time or you can simply add a column with the hashtag search to TweetDeck or whatever Twitter application you prefer.

Anyone can organise their own live tweet chat. Just come up with a hashtag, a time and a topic, and get your PLN on board!

Archiving conversations

If you want to keep an archive of hashtagged conversations from a conference or tweet chats, there are some websites that make it easy to do this. Try Keepstream or Twapper Keeper.

Trending topics

You may be aware that Twitter is often the first place to break news as it happens. Twitter has an algorithm to work out which topics or hashtags are the hottest topics or trends right now.

If you go to the Twitter homepage, you can see a list of trending topics or trends. There might be hashtags there that you want to follow! These aren’t all hashtags but if you click on any of the trends, it will take you to search results of tweets about the topic.

These trends can change by the minute.

hashtag trends

Some education hashtags to try

Now you know all about hashtags, why not try adding some to your tweets?

#vicpln – for teachers in Victoria, Australia

#Ultranet – discussion about the online portal for teachers in Victoria, Australia

#edtech – anyone interested in educational technology

#comments4kids – a way for students and teachers to find blogs to comment on and to get their own posts commented on (find more here).

#elearning – anyone interested in elearning

#elemchat – this is a live chat for elementary (primary) teachers but is also used for general discussions (find out more here).

#RSCON3 – this is the hashtag for the upcoming online PD that I discussed in this post.

Find more popular education hashtags here.

What hashtags do you use?

Do you have any other tips about using hashtags?

Guest Post about Twitter on PLN Challenge

As I have blogged about before, Edublogs supports a Student Blogging Challenge and Teacher Blogging Challenge which are two excellent forms of free professional development.

The current Teacher Blogging Challenge is called “30 Days to a Whole New PLN”.

There will be two or three posts each week about setting up, enhancing, and participating in your very own personal learning network.

This week, I was invited to write a guest post on using Twitter to build your PLN.

Click here to find the post

In this post I answer

  • What is Twitter
  • Why you should be interested in Twitter
  • What you will get out of being on Twitter
  • How to get started with Twitter to build your PLN

Guest post Twitter PLN

Head over to the Teacher Challenge site and check it out!

Are you on LinkedIN?

Recently I read on the oz-teachers mailing list a warning for teachers about using social networking sites unprofessionally. This UK article, suggests that teachers should be cautious of what they post online and check what information is available about them. Teachers are warned that schools are scouring social networking sites and googling potential candidates for school positions.

This warning is not of concern to me. I am very wary about thinking before posting. I use Facebook in a limited way, while using Twitter for entirely professional reasons.

Unfortunately, I do know a number of teachers who need to take heed of the warning, who use social networking in a less than professional way. As a sidenote, this recent post on the Edublogger blog is a great resource for teachers wanting to use Facebook safely.

Roland Gesthuizen responded to the warning on the oz-teachers mailing list by pointing to an article in the New York Times. It concurs with the UK article that professionals do need to be careful of their online presence but offered a handy piece of advice.  As Roland puts it:

If you create for yourself a LinkedIN account and keep it purely professional, sharing only what public information is already out there about you as this gets pushed up to the top of any search request. Much better to do this than trying to hide under a rock after burying all your Facebook and Twitter references.

The New York times article also points out that:

Adding such entries can also help people who have little or no presence online, as that can be viewed with suspicion these days.

After reading this advice, I set up my LinkedIN account. This diagram summarises what LinkedIN is all about (click on the image to enlarge it).

LinkedIN

While I am not sure how much I will get out of using LinkedIN (I’m still figuring it all out), I know it can’t hurt to strengthen my digital footprint. The fact that many inspiring educators are also on LinkedIN makes me think that it is a good idea to be involved!

If you’re on LinkedIN already, add me to your network. This is the link to my profile.

What are your tips for maintaining a positive digital footprint?

Are you on LinkedIN? How do you use it? Share your tips!

Top 10 Ways to Engage in Professional Development

Not so long ago, professional development for teachers meant a one of excursion to an off-site location. Teachers were the passive recipients of professional development.

Times have changed.

A teacher no longer has to be the expert in the classroom and a teacher no longer needs an expert  to develop their skills.

Professional development for teachers can now be a self-motivated, anywhere, anytime event.

Change in education systems can be slow but the change from being a passive consumer of professional development to being an active seeker could determine how well teachers and students can perform at their best in a 21st century classroom.

My own personal professional development happens at any time of the day or night on any day of the week. The amount I learn each day often astounds me and exhausts me!

It is true that the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know!

Here are my top 10 ways to engage in Professional Development

1. Twitter - create a professional learning network (PLN) with other teachers. Share ideas. Give and receive advice. Find out more here.

2. Read blogs by educators. Use Google Reader to subscribe to blogs of interest. Find out more about keeping track of educational blogs here.

3. Subscribe to my Tech Tools for Teachers Newsletter!

4. Listen to podcasts. I like the Ed Tech Crew, EdPod and The Virtual Staffroom. You can find all of these in iTunes.

5. Talk to like minded teachers at your school or teachers around the world via Skype. Skype in Education is a great place to start.

6. Join a wiki or a Ning. Try English Companion for a great Ning for English teachers.

7. Watch a video on a topic you’re interested in. Try YouTube or TES Videos for Teachers.

8. Engage in webinars. Have you seen the Victorian Educators’ Guide to Innovation Ning for weekly PD via Elluminate? Classroom 2.0 is also an excellent place for personlised PD at your fingertips.

9. Write a blog – there is nothing like self-reflective writing to help you learn.

10. Lurk, explore search the web. Don’t be afraid!

    Consider…

    “If our teachers are still learning in traditional ways, they will continue to teach in traditional ways” Jeff Utecht

    Are you a true lifelong learner?

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    Leave a comment. How do you learn?