A Truly Digital Classroom Needs To Address E-Safety Concerns

According to a recent survey of 1,325 school ICT leaders by the National Education Research Panel (NERP), UK pupils at both primary and secondary school levels now spend more than 50% of their time engaging with ICT in the classroom. I’m surely not alone in finding that statistic staggering – certainly when I was at primary school back in the 1980s the only engagement I had was an hour a week playing “Maths Swim” on a Commodore PET.

Now, however, the average primary school pupil spends 54% of their time engaging with ICT in the classroom, rising to 56% at secondary school. Increasingly ICT, or EdTech, permeates every aspect of a school in the UK – assuming that sufficient levels of broadband exist – from the school’s management information system to digital seating plans and parental engagement. Schools are increasingly using virtual reality in the classroom and even holograms, as we saw with Microsoft’s HoloLens that was showcased at last month’s Bett Show, the world’s largest EdTech exhibition, in London.

But these massive levels of engagement with digital devices are bringing with them new challenges and concerns. Indeed the same research found that 51% of primary school teachers and 49% of secondary school teachers are seen to require training in e-Safety issues.

These concerns are present in a recent report from the Children’s Commissioner, Growing up Digital, which advises that children are not currently being “equipped with adequate skills to negotiate their lives online”. The report recommends that children must be taught “from an early age to engage safely and resiliently with the Internet”.

E-Safety is a very broad topic that spans all Key Stages and issues ranging from data security and online reputation management, to addressing concerns about online grooming and cyber-bullying. It’s a constantly changing field, with new jargon emerging all the time as this list by Impero, a leading provider of Internet safety technology in the UK, makes clear. It’s extraordinarily hard to keep abreast of…

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