NetSafe has been supporting schools to develop a safe online environment for their students and teachers since it’s formation in 1998. It was not longer after that in 2000 that it produced its very first Kit for Schools, or “The Internet Safety Kit” as it was described then.
The version of the kit you are now using is the fourth major redevelopment in more than a decade. A lot has changed since that first kit, both in terms of the environment, and the advice that it provides. The text below will give you a snap-shot of how the kit has developed in that time.
“Computer literate children and young people surf the internet every day as part of their education and recreation. It has quickly become one of the most important ways we communicate with each other”
The first version of the kit was launched in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Department of Youth and Family services, The Department of Internal affairs and the New Zealand Police. In an environment when the internet was still very new, it was already obvious to those in education what a large impact that it would have on students teachers and the school community as a whole.
While the internet was still largely a form of broadcast media, the concerns were quite focussed around access to illegal and inappropriate material, and the possibility of the predation of young people online.
The advice in the kit was around formed around establishing expert groups within school to form cybersafety committee's, using policy and use agreements to convey what was and wasn’t acceptable use of the technology and closely monitoring the use of those who may be at risk.
“Communications technologies have many wonderful benefits and are now part of every New Zealander’s life. Schools have led the rapid uptake of Internet technology and have guided children and young people in how to use the Internet as a powerful tool”
With the increasing use of Internet technologies in school, the NetSafe kit evolved to take a broader look at what schools neededs. It defined the key components of a cybersafe learning environment as;
It went on to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of the “Cybersafety Team“, outline what a cybersafety teaching programme should look like and discuss the importance of engaging with parents and caregivers.
This third iteration of the kit was the first online version, and built upon the cybersafe learning environment model, providing a flow chart style process for school to follow and they audited their approach to cybersafety, and developed their infrastructure, their electronic security measures and their education programmes. The online format was designed to encourage more people within the school to access the resources, recognising that online safety was not solely the domain of school management, but was now firmly rooted in the classroom too.
The current version of the kit has been re-written from the ground up to reflect the huge change in the online landscape, and to reflect the needs of schools as they strive to support the development of succesful digital citizens.
The kit has a seven step framework and includes new Digital Citizenship policy, and Responsible Use Agreements, tools to survey students, teachers and the school community and self-assement frameworks to guide schools in the steps they need to take to build an environment that helps their digital citizens flourish