Thanks in part to technology, a time is nearing when students will learn lifetime skills at their own pace in their own style and more rapidly than ever before. The concept of “personalized learning” is within our grasp. Rich digital content, Web 2.0 tools, emerging assessment techniques, and social networking are some of the key elements for this.
As always, there is a downside or risk to the new innovations. The same tools that provide students with instant access to information and collaboration can threaten children’s privacy, expose them to inappropriate content, and subject them to bullying. In extreme cases, on-line bullying has been linked to student suicide.
The US Congress enacted requirements as early as 2000 to protect children from harmful content. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires schools to certify that they have an Internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures, or they lose eligibility for the E-rate discount program. This past year, the requirements were strengthened with FCC 11-125 requiring schools to monitor the online activities of minors and provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting on social networking websites, and cyberbullying awareness and response. Schools must be in compliance (the deadline was July 1, 2012) or risk losing access to the e-Rate funds.
To address the education aspect of compliance, schools are adding programs on Digital Literacy and Citizenship, such as the Digital Driver’s License (DDL) project of the Digital Learning Design Lab at the University of Kentucky. The Digital Citizenship concept incorporates nine themes to set norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to student technology use
Monitoring and enforcing proper on-line behavior requires a network infrastructure with special capabilities. With Enterasys Mobile IAM, Woodford County School District matches individual students’ access privileges to their level within their iDrive program. The more advanced students are granted more network resources and greater Internet access. If a student abuses their access, they can be issued a “speeding ticket” and find themselves at a temporarily-reduced level. The Enterasys network can also be tied into firewall systems such as Lightspeed, iBoss, and Palo Alto Networks, to filter specific Internet site access based on the student’s level within a Digital Citizenship program.
To participate in discussions and stay up to date on new resources for cyber safety, follow us on Twitter (@EnterasysK12) and search on Twitter hashtags #digcit, #digitalcitizenship, #edtech, #cybersafety, #edchat, and #K12.