Security in a Web 2.0-Based Educational Environment: Issues and Answers-Part 2

Article excerpt

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In Part 1 of this article, which appeared in the May/June issue, we looked at a range of safety and security issues affecting educators as we all strive to attain the vision enunciated at the beginning of that feature. That vision laid out a framework for security in a Web 2.0-based educational environment comprising three parts:

* 21st-century learning environments: Schools are safely and effectively using Web 2.0 technologies to prepare students for their future education and careers, civic responsibilities, and personal life in the 21st century. This was our main focus in Part 1. (See "Security in a Web 2.0-Based Educational Environment: Issues and Answers--Part 1," May/June 2010 Multimedia & Internet@Schools.)

* Universal digital media safety, citizenship, and literacy competencies.

* Targeted youth risk online prevention and intervention.

In Part 2, we'll address universal digital media safety and literacy education as well as targeted youth risk online prevention.

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UNIVERSAL DIGITAL MEDIA SAFETY AND LITERACY EDUCATION

All young people must gain competencies in the safe and responsible use of digital media technologies and resources. This includes understanding risks and effective protective strategies, understanding the standards for responsible behavior, and taking responsibility for the well-being of others.

Schools are mobilizing to address digital media safety and literacy. One key factor fueling this is the new internet safety education requirements associated with the Children's Internet Protection Act. We all recognize that students' misuse of digital media while on or off campus is having an impact not only on their well-being and learning but also on the quality of the school community.

Unfortunately, some internet safety curriculum and professional development materials currently available, especially those developed or funded by law enforcement, present concerns. These materials support the authoritarian delivery of inaccurate, fear-based messages and simplistic rules against normative online behavior. Fear-based risk prevention approaches have never been demonstrated to be effective in preventing risk behavior. This approach may cause young people not to report negative situations because they fear adults will overreact, blame them, and restrict their online actions.

To ensure the delivery of accurate and effective instruction, schools need to develop a broad-based plan utilizing the expertise of library/digital media specialists, educational technology specialists, counselors, health teachers, school resource officers ... and even older students. This multidisciplinary coordination holds excellent promise. Educational technology professionals do not want to deliver fear-based messages about these technologies, and safe school personnel know that the scare tactics approach to risk prevention is entirely ineffective.

It is necessary to closely review curriculum and professional development resources to ensure that they are grounded in the research literature and incorporate effective risk prevention. Because the majority of young people are generally making good choices online, social norms risk-prevention educational strategies can be used. The social norms approach has been shown to be highly effective for risk prevention. Ensure that the materials correct the misperception that many teens are engaging in risky online behavior, and identify, model, and promote healthy, protective behaviors. Strongly encourage peer leadership and helping behavior by stressing the importance of helping others who are at risk online: Make sure students fully understand the potential harmful consequences to others, and provide practice in helping skills. Especially in the older grades, use peer discussion approaches with the teacher asking questions that will lead to a deeper level of understanding. …