Safe Remote Learning


by David Wright, Director – UK Safer Internet Centre, SWGFL

David Wright, Director – UK Safer Internet Centre, SWGFL

@SWGfL_Official 

Link to original article where resources can be downloaded: https://swgfl.org.uk/resources/safe-remote-learning/ 

There are many online options to support remote teaching from setting homework or providing access to online resources, through video tutorials, to interactive video conferencing. The capability of your staff, together with the age of your children is going to determine your approach. Whilst there are no expectations for you to do so, if you do decide to use audio and video for real-time online teaching, here are some things you might want to consider to help safeguard staff and children: 

Policy 

  • Ensure familiarisation with the school policy and that this allows for teaching classes online 

  • Remind staff and students of Acceptable Use - this will still apply. 

  • Avoid one to one online tution to help safeguard children and staff. 

Systems 

There are a wealth of online services and systems that enable online video and audio communication. 

It’s important to consider the features you need based on the group and objectives you have. 

Passive or Interactive = teacher posts activities and student posts responses. E.g: Online tutorials via YouTube on GSuite or learning portal. 

Setting up work on Learning Platform, GSuite, Edmodo, Seesaw, Classcharts, or other app/platform. 

You may also consider Podcast/voice tutorials. 

Interactive, live or Synchronous = student and staff connected in the same service at the same time - ie live video and audio. Caution - without expertise and experience this may not be the most appropriate approach for students. Best used for staff/SLT/Governor meetings. 

Age 

Its important to consider the age of your children, both in terms of the age requirements of the service you are using, together with their ability to participate. 

Size of Group 

Larger groups of children may be more challenging to manage during an interactive online class and so more passive or broadcast approaches may be more suitable. 

Live Video 

Some may consider using Livestreaming services but would exercise caution here given requirements for accounts, personal data and privacy questions. Equally messaging services may be considered, but equal. 

Do consider the terms of service together with privacy policies and in particular if there are any minimum age requirements of the chosen service. 

Consider if the system includes online chat feature, and if this can be moderated. 

Consider Privacy settings before posting – (e.g. YouTube has a variety of settings (Public, Unlisted, Private, Comments Allowed/Not Allowed) that will determine who can see and comment on the video). 

If messaging services are used by staff, e.g. WhatsApp, be mindful of professional standards. 

Technology 

What technology and Internet connection speed will be required for everyone to participate (e.g. devices). Not all students will have access to technologies that will enable them to participate in online classes. What solutions can you provide to enable them to continue learning? Loan device? Posted assignments? Phone calls with staff? 

Consider activities carefully when planning – online access within school will have internet content filtering systems in place that are unlikely to be replicated in the home environment. 

Be careful that staff and children don’t incur surprising costs, eg mobile data access charges -  (video utilises significant amounts of data). 

Ideally the school technical teams will be on hand to provide advice and answer queries as often technical glitches can distract from the smooth running of a call. 

If interactive conference is being used, it may benefit from logistical support to help participants overcome access queries or glitches and to allow the teacher to concentrate on the objective of the online class. 

Also consider the security of devices, in particular cameras and microphones. 

We would strongly recommend that staff avoid using personal devices and should only use school provided equipment 

Location/Environment 

If live video and audio is being used, there should be careful consideration of the location that everyone uses. It is possible that children may be in their bedrooms and this may not be appropriate. You may choose to use a conferencing service that the teacher can disable users microphone and video cameras. 

Behaviour 

Be clear about the expectations of both student and staff behaviour (e.g. a ‘classroom standard’ of behaviour is expected from all participants).  

It is worth considering some ground rules; creating safe spaces and explaining these as the introduction to each session. Examples may be who can speak. If this is the first time that classes are delivered online, it may take some time in becoming familiar with the new environment. 

Recording 

Always make a note of the conference timing and who participated, including those that arrived/departed early or late. Be clear about whether it is acceptable for students to record events and expectations/restrictions about onward sharing 

If the service you use records the conference, make sure that everyone is aware of this. It’s important to know how long any recordings are kept for and how to access them. 

Personal Data 

The conference service may require the sharing of personal data, eg usernames to invite in. It is always best practice to use school-provided email addresses as Data protection laws still apply. 

Consider how to provide access to schools data systems. 


Safeguarding

Online or offline, effective Safeguarding requires a whole-school approach.  Planning for online or distance learning activities should include the school’s safeguarding team as part of the planning process. 

Ensure online tuition follows best practice (e.g. 2 members of staff involved) and is in-line with the School’s Safeguarding Policy. 

Remind staff of safeguarding obligations. Report any safeguarding incidents or potential concerns according to your school policy. 

Remind students of who they can contact within the school for help or support. 

UK Safer Internet Helpline is a source of support. 

Further Reading 

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