Iqbal Rana, Principal, CM International School
Self-disciplined, teaching with heart since ten years backed by meritorious academic in Zoology and M. Phil Entomology, firmly believes – “Work hard towards excellence, better things will fall into place automatically”.
Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of education dramatically all across the world. With 'Stay Home to Stay Safe' lockdowns, online learning is helping schools fixing a routine for their students and teachers while staying homes the entire day.
In this evolving education scenario, students are exposed to increased 'online time'. Earlier they spent one hour per day on digital platforms with regular school routines, now they are spending increased online time. Along with e-learning which is happening through online classes there are other tools students are exposed to (social media, online games, websites, and apps) which ultimately adds in their online activities. All of these can be easily accessed by mobiles, laptops, Ipads, etc. and contribute to a child's online world.
Due to the compelling situation internet and online technology have become an integral part of our children's learning and growth, they need to be prepared for the digital world. Every opportunity comes with its own challenges. Children are exposed to new types of risks while using the internet because not all, what is present online is good for them and they need to know about this.
Our children are confident in using technology because they are born into this digital world and are growing up surrounded by technology. But their awareness about the challenges and risks involved with technology are low. So e-literacy education is essential for them to raise awareness of risks and to provide measures for dealing with such situations. It's the collective responsibility of schools and parents to give children an age-appropriate understanding of the use of technology so that their medium for education and fun are not taken away at the same time.
A single session or lecture on e-safety would not be enough, it must be an ongoing process. It should not be taught only in an ICT class, rather lessons in all other subjects also should build e-safety into their plannings wherever the use of technology occurs.
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Parents should play their part by taking feedback from children about their online activities. They need to have control where they can restrict them from using certain content online by locking or blocking. Issues like bullying, privacy and dealing with strangers online, should be discussed with kids regularly.
When a child starts his online activities, he should be taught not to share his personal information online; that all the content which is available online is not always reliable; and that he can always inform his parents, teachers or an elderly person if he does not feel comfortable with any person or activity online. The devices which are being used should have a reputed antivirus solution installed. The passwords which they are using should be strong and there are so many other ways of keeping oneself secured online. While keeping themselves safe they should also be taught about the netiquettes they need to follow while online.
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Schools have crucial roles to play here. They have to keep the school's online process safe, so that staff and students remain secured during online teaching and learning.
As e-literacy is expanding its arms so fast, schools have to develop their own e-safety policies and procedures to adjust to new normal. Now it's time when schools should appoint e-safety coordinators who take the responsibility of e-safety of the school, its staff and students. Log of all online incidences which need immediate attention and resolution should be maintained by e-safety coordinator. Schools should create an environment where children can be motivated to have discussions about the pros and cons of the online world. Parents to be made partners in this process. Schools can conduct workshops for parents in the beginning for the process to be more effective.
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The new normal in education has set new targets in front of educators to meet all prerequisites before diving deep into the online way of teaching and learning, e-safety being at the top, along with other technical skills and infrastructure requirements. This cannot be achieved by schools alone, teachers and parents need to collaborate to address the challenging issues of e-literacy so that education does not stop at any point in time during this pandemic.