Wednesday 13 January 2016

Safety, Ethics and Communication with VLE Technology

Teaching with technology can be a frightening prospect. All the possibilities of a lesson gone wrong, teaching materials lost if your browser malfunctions, the prospect of the student outdoing the master with their IT knowledge.

We, who are in the business of developing VLEs for practical use, know only too well the roadblocks teachers face. Our training manager, Stephanie, often meets teachers who, prior to receiving her special care, point blank despair at IT in the classroom.

We think VLE could be the solution and not the problem.

Students need to learn early the risks of being online. A VLE can provide a safe environment for that. The platform is an online learning experience, however in a far more controlled environment. out the added pressure of the students actually being on the web. 

Designing and publishing their own profile on a VLE at an early age is a great reminder that information shared is information exposed. Whether it’s a Facebook update or an Instagram photo, children need to know that there are consequences. VLEs allow teachers to provide a guiding hand in this complex and ever expanding social arena.

In this month’s “Teach Primary” Miles Berry, Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader at the University of Roehampton, argued the importance of “ethics in computing”. Berry wrote “schools are required to promote pupil’s spiritual, moral and cultural development, and a greater focus on ethics in computing could do much to support this.” (p.109)

We agree, the further a student travels in education the greater the emphasis on ethical practices using IT. Referencing is a good example of this expectation. If a student is introducing information from the internet into their work, start encouraging referencing early on. Using a VLE means that any information downloaded to the platform can be easily referenced and any teachers using content such as YouTube videos can set an example in their own lessons. 

Plagiarism is stealing, so make sure students understand that when applying their computing skills to their lessons and they’ll never face the unfriendly plagiarism committee!

Professor Robert Winston, also in “Teach Primary”, argued “Technology must aid communication” (p.114). A VLE focuses on the school as a community. It allows for school wide blog distribution from a single sign on location. It also provides a safe space for students to share their work, teacher’s to shout about what they’re proud of this term and parents to engage with school activities. 

Communicating digitally is one of the main ways we communicate today, so let’s encourage safe and friendly practices in young people early on.

VLEs put communication in school back in the control of educators. The internet can be a large, imposing and scary place. It is also a fantastic embodiment of humanity at its most creative, experimental, communicative and intelligent. Learning needs to embrace the growing cyber world. A VLE can do this for you.