Back in the day: becoming smart online

In the lead up to Safer Internet Day one educator looks back at starting out.

Child uses smart board

At first I didn’t think we needed outside experts’ Alana, a former teacher, told Digichild recently about the beginnings of her journey with technology and education at a suburban girls school in New South Wales.

Alana (a pseudonym) was talking in the lead-up to Safer Internet Day (10 February) about early attempts to bring technology and education together. Now working on technology education programs for schools, back then Alana found that despite a technology‑rich environment and a supportive principal, problems kept arising through inexperience and lack of expertise.

As a result, ‘we were punishing the girls for doing the wrong thing’ Alana says. At the time there was no easy way to find or exchange technology information between educators and schools and no ‘atmosphere of sharing’.

Safety on the internet seemed to be a particular concern among parents and educators. Alana started looking at cybersmart policies and also set up a community of practice among local educators. She soon found outside expertise was essential. But there did not seem to be anybody who could meet the need where education and technology converge.

‘I had to become my own expert’ Alana says, laughing.

Australia has come a long way since those early efforts mostly with older school children. For one thing interactive devices are in the hands of younger and younger children. And a growing number of professional resources, conferences and networks are available to help educators and families respond to the place of technology in children’s lives. Factsheets, tipsheets for educators about social media policies and going online as well as tips on managing risk are available from Early Childhood Australia’s Digital Business Kit.

To start preparing for Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 10 February 2015 parents and educators can:

  • go to www.cybersmart.gov.au to find a swag of resources and activities including a virtual classroom, videos for children of all ages, interactive games and lesson plans. Poster downloads and parent discussions are also available from the Cybersmart website. To follow activities and latest updates throughout the day, follow #SID2015 on Twitter, and like Cybersmart’s Facebook; and
  • find free resources, videos, blogs and information about using technology well in Early Childhood Australia’s Digital Business Business Kit.

Clare McHugh

Clare McHugh is Early Childhood Australia's (ECA) Strategic Communications Executive, working on projects that support ECA’s reputation as a trusted voice for young children, their families, educators and carers. Clare has been part of ECA's Learning Hub Team, managed ECA's Start Early. Respectful relationships for life project and ECA digital initiatives including the federally funded Digital Business Kit and Live Wires. Clare has been thinking and writing about children, family and social policy for a number of years, including for the Commonwealth Child Care Advisory Council and the Australian government.

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