Wellington High School DP, Dominic Killalea explains their Digital Citizenship programme, which begins at Year 9. Dominic also discusses some of the challenges they have faced opening up the network to students and how they have dealt with these challenges.
I think we all felt, as the staff, really strongly about opening up the network. And then, if we’re going to put students in that position where they’ve got a device in their hands potentially all day, then we need to explicitly teach them about the responsibility that goes with that.
We put in place a digital citizenship programme at year nine, so that when they come to the school, they learn about being safe in an online environment. It’s all very well to explicitly talk to them about keeping safe, the reality is that those tools can be a distraction. Facebook can be a fantastic tool to use, it can also be a massive distraction. And we would have parents emailing us and ringing us up and saying, “Why is my daughter on Facebook at the moment?”. They’re putting up posts that weren’t related to school at all. So we had to look at that problem. We talked about it as the staff and we decided that we should block it and then review the decision at a later time.
So we have blocked Facebook and we haven’t changed that at the moment. It’s pretty much the only thing we block. The approach we previously had was when students were getting really distracted, we’d put them on sort of a list where they couldn’t access Facebook, or they couldn’t access YouTube, if those things were too distracting for them. The difficulty with that of course is that then you have in your class, five kids that can’t access the YouTube video that you want them all to access. So that’s not equity.