Digital technology continues to provide educators with new ways to engage and educate their students. However, these same technologies often present complex challenges and dilemmas for educators. From the challenges of managing device security, to keeping private and professional lives separate – there is no doubt that technology has added complexity.
Staff user agreements or guidelines have been a significant component of an online safety programme since the first Netsafe Kit in 2001. However, today these look very different to those from 2001.
Early agreements were considered important to clarify prohibited activities. Today, staff guidelines are designed to provide clarity and support educators as they navigate a complex digital landscape. Netsafe has prepared a standard staff guideline for the safe use of digital technology. The guidelines are designed to provide clarity and protection for staff, and when necessary, support disciplinary processes.
To maximise their value, it is recommended that guidelines be developed in conjunction with staff.
Staff signatures are not required for the guidelines to be used in disciplinary processes. However, the school must be confident that all staff have been made aware of the expectations and responsibilities and what each means in practice.
Staff guidelines need to be consistent with existing legal and ethical responsibilities for educators such as those outlined in the NZ Education Council’s Our Code, Our Standards (2017), and individual employment agreements for staff.
It is strongly recommended that the staff guidelines be reviewed and updated annually.