Online teaching can offer countless opportunities for engaging students, but it also comes with risks. These risks include inappropriate content, cyberbullying and online predators. Teaching online safety has therefore become increasingly important in today’s educational environment.
Tips for Teaching Online Safety
In a world where more and more students are taking online lessons, the topic of teaching online safety needs to be considered and is only going to be discussed more over time. So, whether you believe in a hands off approach or you want to tackle the issue head on, it’s something that you’ll likely need to address at some point.
With an ever increasing amount of teaching being done online, teachers of today need to understand the potential risks online teaching and learning, and develop strategies for addressing these challenges. We’ve highlighted a few things to look out for below.
Setting Boundaries and Expectations
As a teacher, you must ensure that your students stay safe online. For young learners especially, this includes making them aware of what they can and cannot do on the Internet, as well as setting boundaries around their use of digital tools.
- Create a digital safety policy that will outline what your school expects of students’ internet use, and what you can do as a teacher to protect them. Make sure the policy is easy to read and understand, and share it with your students so they know what they can and can’t do on the Internet.
- Teachers should also be educated about professional boundaries and codes of conduct. This is a crucial aspect of maintaining student safety. Breaches of professional boundaries can lead to disciplinary action or even criminal sanctions, so you must uphold these standards when you work with your students.
- If appropriate, teach your students about cyberbullying and sexting, as these are issues that many teens struggle with. It’s important to teach your students about how to report such incidents.
Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
An inclusive learning environment is a classroom where students feel that their contributions and perspectives are equally valued. It is an approach that promotes a safe and supportive learning environment for students from diverse backgrounds, learning styles, and physical and cognitive abilities.
Teachers should be careful to ensure that all classroom materials are crafted in a way that reflects the experiences of students who may not be as readily represented. These include students of low-income families, students with disabilities, and others.
For example, posters, pictures, books, music, toys, dolls, and other materials should ideally have varied representations of gender, race, age, family situation, disabilities, and so on. This can help make students feel included and teach them about the world beyond their classrooms.
Educators may also need to educate themselves about the ways in which they are prone to bias. This includes learning about issues that affect different people. By working to reduce their biases, teachers can make better decisions and be more effective at fostering an inclusive learning environment.
There is good reason for doing this too. Inclusive teaching approaches can improve student achievement (Florian, 2015; Spratt & Florian, 2015). Faculty who incorporate inclusive pedagogy into their courses can make significant improvements to student learning outcomes.
Prevent Bad Body Posture
While most of us tend to overlook the health effects of prolonged sitting, studies have established a close correlation between prolonged sitting and postural misalignment, leading to serious health consequences. Given that both teachers and students alike are sitting down for long periods during online learning, it’s something we all need to be aware of.
The Effects of Prolonged Sitting on Body Posture
When sitting for long periods, our body releases chemicals that are linked with inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Prolonged sitting also strains our spine, which can cause poor posture. This can lead to several painful conditions such as sciatica and spondylosis. Sitting with poor posture also strains the back, shoulders, and neck muscles, which can cause headaches, impaired mobility, and breathing difficulties.
Research Supporting the Negative Impact of Prolonged Sitting
Research suggests that sitting for more than eight hours a day increases the risk of premature death from health complications such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by up to 50%*.
A study conducted in 2019 revealed that employees who sat for more than six hours per day had a 66% increased risk of neck and shoulder pain. These statistics are a testament to the detrimental impact of prolonged sitting on our body posture.
Tips on Improving Posture
While prolonged sitting may seem unavoidable, there are ways to combat it through mindful adjustments in daily practices. Tell your students to:
- Stand and stretch for a few minutes every hour to reduce strain on muscles and regulate blood flow.
- Use ergonomic chairs with adjustable lumbar support to maintain a natural curve in the spine.
- Elevate the computer screen to eye level to reduce neck and shoulder strain.
- Maintain an active lifestyle and engage in regular exercise such as walking, dancing, or yoga.
Sitting for extended periods can have serious health repercussions, leading to postural misalignment and chronic pain. Implementing minor changes within our daily routines, such as posture-improving exercise, standing and stretching for a few minutes throughout the day, and active lifestyle choices, are key in mitigating these adverse health effects. By making a few small changes we can improve posture, reduce pain, boost stamina, and improve overall health and well-being.
When it comes to online teaching safety, one of the most important things you can do is maintain your professionalism. This means staying up to date on the laws and policies that apply to teachers, demonstrating professional behavior in your classroom, and keeping students safe.
- Maintaining a strong relationship with your colleagues is crucial to your success in the classroom. Be sure to respect their boundaries, especially if you’re working remotely or have a collaborative office.
- Be transparent and honest, and exhibit professional integrity. This means doing the right thing by your students and their parents. It also means ensuring that you are always making a concerted effort to keep up with current best practices in education.
- Be mindful of social media and other digital tools that you use to connect with your students and their parents. Using the proper privacy settings and monitoring your activity will help you ensure that you’re not doing anything inappropriate. Archiving or purging old content can make a big difference in your digital footprint.
Securing Personal Information and Student Data
While a variety of different apps and websites may be available to teachers, it’s important to remember that not all of them are safe for students and their privacy. In fact, some have been known to sell children’s personal information to third-party marketers without consent from schools.
Educators can help students secure their personal information by reading the privacy policies of websites and apps before giving them access to students’ personal information. They can also ask the school or district to review the site or app before they allow it into the classroom. If in doubt, it’s always best to seek out extra information and make sure you have covered yourself first.
Conclusion: Teaching Online Safety
Teaching online safety has become increasingly important in today’s digital age. With the widespread use of the internet and social media, children and adults alike need to be aware of the potential dangers of sharing personal information online, interacting with strangers, and being exposed to inappropriate content.
Educators and parents can play a crucial role in teaching online safety by providing resources, guidelines, and practical tips to help students protect their online identity and navigate the digital world safely. Students should be encouraged to be respectful and kind to others, avoid cyberbullying, and promote positive online interactions.
There is no doubt that teaching online safety is an ongoing process that requires continuous education and awareness. As technology continues to evolve, it is important to stay up to date with the latest trends and risks in order to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved in online learning.
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