Learning involves a three-way partnership between the learner, their whānau, and the school or kura. Starting with the aspirations of the learner and their whānau, each partner has a part to play to ensure that learning with digital technologies is effective and safe for ākonga. Habits and techniques learned at school and home can set the tone for future use of digital technologies once students leave school.
Community engagement is one of the principles of NZC. The "school community" is a term variously used to mean staff, students, parents/whānau, other people connected with the school, people living in the area, or any combination of these.
Digital citizenship is an aspect of digital fluency. Involving whānau in developing your digital fluency strategy means you have the support at home to reinforce what is happening at school. Engagement with your community about learning with digital technologies should be underpinned by the following:
When we use digital technologies and online spaces it’s important that we learn ways to keep ourselves safe, and that we make positive choices in ways we behave when we are online. At our school we call this being a "digital citizen" and good digital citizens help to make our school a safe and positive place for everyone.
Resources for schools about digital citizenship. Schools can join to become 'Netsafe Schools' – a free programme designed to help New Zealand schools and kura establish, develop and promote online safety, citizenship and wellbeing in their school community.
There are many ways to initiate dialogue with parents and whānau about online safety and digital citizenship, including:
What’s important, is to turn that initial contact into a three-way dialogue involving the school, whānau, and the students.
A student user agreement should not be used as a "set and forget" safety tool. Schools are encouraged to promote and reinforce responsibilities and expectations through regular student and community communications.
Your school will already have policy in place, and alongside talking to ākonga, needs to:
Digital citizenship evening/afternoon
Include a way for parents who are unable to physically attend the meeting to catch up. One possibility is to use video conferencing software so people can join from anywhere, and to record the meeting and make it available afterwards. Also include a way for parents who couldn’t attend to have their questions answered.
Check-in with parents at 3-way conferences
A benefit of using 3-way conferences is that their child is also present. It’s a good opportunity for discussion about expectations and behaviour online. Some important aspects are:
Send tips home via newsletter, website, Facebook
Provide an opportunity for parents to ask questions. Seek permission to publish the most pertinent questions and answers for everyone in the school community, perhaps in a regular section of the school newsletter.
Community meetings are one way to communicate with whānau and the community, as part of an ongoing dialogue.
The dialogue process may require multiple events. Consider holding events at different times of day and in different locations such as your local marae or church hall, depending on the needs of your community.
Netsafe have provided a presentation for parents that can be adapted to your needs.
A key purpose of this meeting is to help whānau to understand the "why" of learning with digital technologies. It is important that there are continued positive partnerships for the benefit of all learners.
Prior to the meeting, gather information from parents to find out their understanding, concerns, priorities. Use a survey/questionnaire, providing both online and paper-based options, or set up a question/comment box at school
An initial meeting may comprise:
Explain or negotiate the channels for feedback and communication, and how queries will be responded to, for example via:
Cover practicalities, for example:
Seek feedback from kaiako/teachers, whānau, and students on a shared understanding of digital citizenship practices. Provide various means to gather questions and feedback during the meeting, for example through a digital tool such as Padlet, on sticky notes, or via email.
An open forum for questions could potentially lead to a few voices or themes dominating so may not be as helpful. Gathering questions and recording them for a later response might be an alternative, but draw on your knowledge of your community and its context.
One of the purposes of this meeting may be to showcase how learning at your school or kura has been transformed through access to digital technologies.
A follow-up meeting may comprise:
Other options for followup meetings are to provide practical, topic based information evenings for parents. These could include invited speakers, or prepared presentations by school staff. Schools in Aotearoa have run parent evenings on many topics including:
Community meetings, such as those suggested here, should not be one-off events. They are part of a strategy of ongoing engagement through a variety of formats and channels. When considering the need to build and maintain support from your community, consider these opportunities for ongoing communication:
This self-paced module can be used as a series of workshops, facilitated by a teacher, to educate parents about digital citizenship and cybersafety or used as a basis for providing information to parents.
Netsafe is an independent, non-profit online safety organisation. They take a technology-positive approach, and help people safely take advantage of the opportunities available through digital technology.
Developed by an Otago high school student in partnership with the Sticks and Stones organisation. It supports young people to resolve online issues and seek help from trusted sources.
A website containing a computer security plan to aid with common issues and risks faced when going online, which is supported by video clips.
A site run by the UK National Crime Agency with lots of resources and information sorted by age group. They have developed an online game to teach children about online safety.
A site run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and funded by the US Dept of Justice. It has a range of online safety resources, including videos suitable for showing students.