Supporting Digital Immigrants. On-line Courses for Teachers on Internet Safety in Austria

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Author: Barbara Buchegger.

Media education is an intercurricular subject in Austrian schools, however, it is not a part of teacher’s formal education. Teachers with good digital competencies are much more willing to discuss online safety issues with their students in classes. Therefore, enhancing these skills among teachers will ultimately help to bring these topics into mainstream education. A handful of powerful e-learning tools have been introduced to help teachers familiarise with online safety basics and integrate this topic into their classes.

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Supporting Digital Immigrants. On-line Courses for Teachers on Internet Safety in Austria

  1. 1. From the field Supporting Digital Immigrants. On-line Courses for Teachers on Internet Safety in AustriaAuthor Media education is an intercurricular subject in Austrian schools, however, it is not a part of teacher’s formal education. Teachers with good digital competencies are muchBarbara BucheggerAustrian Awareness centre more willing to discuss online safety issues with their students in classes. Therefore, en-Saferinternet.at, Austria hancing these skills among teachers will ultimately help to bring these topics into main-buchegger@oiat.at stream education. A handful of powerful e-learning tools have been introduced to help teachers familiarise with online safety basics and integrate this topic into their classes.Tags We have found that reaching out to educators with quality e-learning content on on- line safety works best in collaboration with reputable providers of teacher training orteacher training, online sites that teachers go to. This ensures that the resources will match their needs assafety, media education well as guarantee the sustainability of the knowledge base. These conclusions were formulated by Saferinternet.at, the Austrian EU-funded initiative of the Safer Internet Programme for online safety that, among other activities, provides teacher trainings on this topic. 1. Introduction In their daily work, teachers are being increasingly confronted with a massive use of online media among their pupils. However, in their formal education they rarely learn how to cope with this phenomenon. Media education is an intercurricular subject in Austria, however, due to lack of training and information, it is a real challenge for many teachers to put the on- line safety forward in their classes. Furthermore, in the Austrian curriculum there is no spe- cific content and volume defined for this subject. Teachers can discuss online safety-related Figure 1: Age of teachers in Austria in 2009/10. Source: http://www.statistik.at ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eueL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012Pap www 1
  2. 2. From the fieldissues in their classes according to their own level of knowledge have not used it before, and, on the other hand, offer trainingor interest, or even not do it at all. The only reference frame- on specific issues of online media use for those who are alreadywork for media education is the very general decree issued by active ICT users and willing to pass this knowledge on to theirthe Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture in February students.20121.More than 50% of all Austrian teachers can be considered as 2. Relevant topicsdigital immigrants, since they did not gain their digital compe- Mobile phones and mobile internet is getting more and moretences in their childhood or in the formal teachers’ training. Up widespread among Austrian youngsters. Also teachers becometo now, there is no guarantee that trainee teachers and newly more sensitive to topics related to online safety or even cyber-qualified teachers are receiving information or training on me- crime. Cyber-bullying, copyright issues or password manage-dia education and online safety. Only a very few teacher col- ment are core topics among cyber-crime-related issues.leges actually offer courses on these subjectson the undergraduate level.In order to be able to teach students somespecific skills or knowledge, teachers, in thefirst place, need to have a perfect overviewof the topic. In terms of online safety, thismeans that they must be digitally literate andunderstand both the risks and opportunitiesof using online media. Experience shows thatteachers who are active computer and inter-net users are more willing to discuss onlinesafety issues in their classes. On the otherhand, teachers gradually recognize the needof improving their digital competencies, ei-ther because they see the opportunity forbringing up the content in a more attractive“wrapping”, or, to protect themselves againstteacher-bashing, which is actually a form ofcyber-bullying.These conclusions were formulated by Safer- Figure 2: Relevant topics for schools in terms of online safetyinternet.at, the Austrian EU-funded initiative for online safetythat, among other activities, provides teacher trainings on this Since Facebook is far the most popular social network amongtopic (in 2011 more than 4000 teachers countrywide). Another Austrian youth, the use and misuse thereof is a relevant topicsignificant source of information was the campaign Safer In- for teachers. They should have the basic information on howternet Month of Activity in 2011 where more than 50% of par- Facebook (or any other social network) works, why it is so popu-ticipating schools fall into the category of “e-learning schools”. lar among young people and should have the competencies toThese schools had a special focus on ICT in their curricula. It bring up privacy issues and data protection in classes.was most obvious in the group of primary schools – all of themnamely used ICT in their daily classroom activities. Therefore it With the increasing use of smartphones also the topic of cheat-is necessary to work on both ends of the teacher spectrum: on ing is getting more attention in schools. Teachers are looking forthe one hand, develop the basic ICT skills among teachers who information about how to design tests and exams to prevent it and also tools to discover it more easily.1 http://www.mediamanual.at/mediamanual/leitfaden/medienerziehung/ grundsatzerlass/index.php ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012 Pap www 2
  3. 3. From the fieldUsing built-in cameras on mobile phones is also a burning issue. ence shows that for the success of such handbooks it is crucialIt enables students to take pictures or film anything, including that they are available for download. It is even better if the printvarious situations at school. Teachers usually recognize it as an version can be ordered and is delivered for free too!issue only after something went wrong (e. g. teacher bashing on Beside these handbooks, Saferinternet.at developed severala social network). Otherwise not much attention is given to the tools as e-learning activities in cooperation with partners ac-question of portrait rights (copyright law). tively involved in teacher training:The biggest challenge for all educators is to stay in the loop withthe dynamically growing world of online media. New regula- Online courses for studentstions, new technical possibilities and new creative usage of thedigital media by students are challenging teachers every day. Free and ready-to-use online content for classroom activities is much appreciated by teachers. In Austria, schools use 2 major learning-management-systems: Moodle (http://www.edumoo-3. In search of the solution dle.at/) and a variation of dot-learn (https://lms.at/). Saferin-Due to the above mentioned circumstances, it is necessary to ternet.at has developed two courses for students on Moodle.support teachers with useful tools and resources. The text be- Schools can download them and embed them on their ownlow shows which have been introduced in Austria and how they Moodle site.have been accepted by the community of teachers. The one course is for pupils aged 10 – 14 and the other one for 15 – 18-year-olds. The courses are chiefly meant as contentTeacher Handbooks for replacement lessons. The teacher who substitutes anotherTeacher handbooks on specific topics have proven to be quite teacher can use this online-course instantly and provide an in-helpful. It is important that they are easy to use (i. e. avoid sci- teresting and useful classroom experience. But more and moreentific language), include classroom activities and offer state-of- teachers download this resource in order to integrate it in theirthe-art information on relevant topics. Saferinternet.at’s experi- classroom activities, such as computer-sciences.Figure 3: Saferinternet.at Moodle course for 10 – 14-year-old pupils. Source: http://moodle.saferinternet.at. ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012 Pap www 3
  4. 4. From the fieldThese courses are designed for individual use, but they work tive resentment, as opposed to other topics, such as cyber-bul-also well in groups and teams. They combine elements of col- lying or portrait rights to name just a few. Teachers are most oflaborative courses and web-based training. the time eager to learn something new that helps them “spice up” their daily routine in school.Web-based training for teachers on creativecommons and copy right Collaborative online course Since 2008 the “Virtuelle PH”, an institution for web- based teacher training, is offering a course on online safety as a collaborative learning experience. The course is designed for 10- 15 participants and lasts 4 weeks. The participants are teachers from all types of schools and of different ages which leads to an inten- sive learning environment. During the years, the focus of this course has changed from general information on online safety and risks to a more focused course on how to implement such content into classroom activities and on the use of social networks in schools. One part of the course is thus held on Facebook. This gives teach- ers a hands-on experience on coping with and working on a social network without being disturbed by their students or children. Obviously, for beginners, it is rather difficult to get used to learning with each other in a small online group. But the more online courses a teacher has visited and the more experience he or she gains, the easier it getsFigure 4: Creative Commons online course provided by e-LISA Academy. to work in online teams. Sometimes the course par-Copy right issues are one ofthose topics that are relevantfor all Austrian teachers,but only a few of them haveenough practical informationand experiences. This is whythe “e-basics” course was de-veloped. The course is offeredby a regional educational por-tal and is targeting teachers atthe outset of their digital lives,namely those ones, who arenot confident in using digitalequipment in classroom yet.Copy right and creative com-mons is an easy topic for thestart. It does not induce nega- Figure 5: Safer Internet course on the Virtuelle PH ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012 Pap www 4
  5. 5. From the fieldticipants even launch online cooperation between theirschools which neatly breaks school and school type bar-riers. Most of the time, the participating teachers havenever met before in real life, but sometimes they knoweach each other from other collaborative learning set-tings.EPICT: European Pedagogical ICT-licence:Module on Safer InternetIn order to train teachers on ICT skills that can be usedin classroom activities, EPICT (www.epict.at) was imple-mented in Austria in 2009. Since then hundreds of teach-er teams have taken part in this training initiative. Theidea behind EPICT is to strengthen teamwork in schoolsand motivate teachers to learn from each other. There-fore it is not offered to individuals, but rather to teacherteams. Also for this teacher training, Saferinternet.at de-veloped a specific module on online safety and good useof digital media in education. A set of classroom activitiesis included in the module so as to offer teachers ideas Figure 7: Saferinternet.at on Facebook. Source: www.their EPICT papers. facebook.com/saferinternetatIn addition to this, Saferinternet.at compiled a catalogue of by schools all over Austria in the framework of the Safer Inter-classroom activities related to the topic of safe use of online net Month of Action in 2011. In this campaign more than 200technologies. These activities were drawn up and carried out schools participated and 70 best practice examples were pub- lished. All activities in the catalogue are described so that they can be easily copied in other schools; the resource is available for download under the link: http://www.saferinternet.at/up- loads/tx_simaterials/Safer_Internet_Aktions_Monat_Beispiel- sammlung_Mai2011.pdf Social Networks as training ground More and more teachers are using social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+ as their pool for informal online learning. It is an easy way to share and distribute valid content on internet use and news. The unique feature of social networks is the fact that they are used by young people and teachers equally therefore they have a strong potential to be successfully integrated in classroom activities.Figure 6: Catalogue of best classroom activities ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012 Pap www 5
  6. 6. From the field 4. Conclusions Reaching out to educators with quality e-learning con- tent on online safety works best in collaboration with reputable providers of teacher training or sites that teachers go to. This ensures that the resources will match their needs as well as guarantee the sustainabil- ity of the knowledge base. Publishing quality content under the Creative Commons license enables all rel- evant players to exploit, enhance and adapt it accord- ing to their own needs and experience. In this way the message can spread among educators very fast. To win educators for the idea of online safety, it is good to start with topics that are rather neutral and useful for their daily work. Copy right is one of such topics. It is advisable to avoid topics that might be perceived as too negative or threatening (e.g. cyber-bullying).Figure 8: Saferinternet.at on Google+. Source: https://plus. Teachers with good digital competencies are much google.com/b/113122011105349794428/ more willing to discuss online safety issues with their students in classes. Therefore enhancing of these skills among teachers will ultimately help to bring these topics into the mainstream education. On the other hand, educators are also more willing to acquire such digital skills when they realize that students are more attentive and perform better in classes where online media are used as a teaching tool. Good knowledge of online media among teachers also reduces the risk that they become victims of teacher bashing on the internet. Edition and production Name of the publication: eLearning Papers Copyrights ISSN: 1887-1542 The texts published in this journal, unless otherwise indicated, are subject Publisher: elearningeuropa.info to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivativeWorks Edited by: P.A.U. Education, S.L. 3.0 Unported licence. They may be copied, distributed and broadcast pro- Postal address: c/Muntaner 262, 3r, 08021 Barcelona (Spain) vided that the author and the e-journal that publishes them, eLearning Phone: +34 933 670 400 Papers, are cited. Commercial use and derivative works are not permitted. Email: editorial@elearningeuropa.info The full licence can be consulted on http://creativecommons.org/licens- Internet: www.elearningpapers.eu es/by-nc-nd/3.0/ ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012 Pap www 6

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