Monday, 19 March 2012

Robyn Treyvaud Visits Dover Campus


Our school is fortunate to attract some world leading presenters. Recently Micheal Carr-Gregg presented about parenting challenges. This week, as part of ThinkB4U week, Robyn Treyvaud, the Director of Education & Global Initiatives for the Internet Keep Safe Coalition ran a series of workshops with Dover Campus students, centered around the theme of Digital Citizenship.

Robyn worked with a range of students, teachers and parents during a very busy two days. She met with students from Grades 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11. Her sessions with the Primary and Middle School students consolidated their week’s focus on themes around safe and responsible online behaviour.

The enduring themes of her discussions were around the concept of the Digital Footprint, the rapid growth of Social Networking and Gaming.

Digital Footprint

The Digital Footprint is the idea that every action on the internet leaves a legacy, a kin to the idea of a Digital Tattoo that cannot be removed. For our students, living and participating in a world of online Social Networking Tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler their activities leave a long digital trail.

Robyn’s message for our older Grade 9 and 11 students, was to actively manage their online footprint by being very selective in how they share photos or make comments on blogs, or on other Social Networking Sites. Students were also encouraged to do an audit of their Digital Footprint by “googling” their own name and to set up an alert when information is published about them. Massaging an online presence is something that businesses do, but the concept is also very important for students as they move onto further study and the prospect of applying for jobs. A simple process of untagging themselves from photos and encouraging their friends to act in a similar way is a good first step.

Social Networking
Robyn also encouraged our students to think deeply about the responsible ways that they use online tools to socalise with their friends. At several meetings including our Monday night parents workshop, Robyn shared a powerful metaphor of the “Where do you stand?” and “The Line”. This was explained through a video created by a student, which explained how students portray the pluses and minuses of their online activity. The positives for most students are so clear, but the temptation to be drawn into negative uses such as social pressure groups, bullying or inappropriate use is a constant concern. The video provided a point for deep reflection for students as they discussed their online presence.


Social Networking was also the main discussion point for our Grade 6 focus group that discussed the ways that students use Skype. Skype is a powerful tool for communication, but it is also becoming a compulsive tool for many Grade 6 students. Students use it to share news and to recap on the school day just like we used a phone long ago. The outcome of the focus group was the development of some practical hints on how they can use Skype responsibly. These ideas are being shared back with the wider grade as a guide for online behavior. 

Gaming
With the plethora of online tools and applications available, gaming is perhaps the one element that parents find most perplexing. Parents have exposure to books, movies and television and therefore use their past experience as a guide to what is appropriate to their children's media consumption.

Games are equally, if not more, engaging for our students as books, or movies are. Games continue to developed in such as way to draw them back, time and time again and they are now available on more platforms such as Console Games (XBox, Wi), iPad or iTouch games or games available on laptops. The motives to explore new levels, gain badges or high scores, or to develop a online avatar or character are powerful, for both younger and older students.

Robyn’s recommendation was to start a discussion with our children about their gaming experience.  What are the games they are playing, what is the motivation of using the game? For parents it is essential to discuss the age restrictions of games. Some games have excellent educational benefits, but others are more graphic and are therefore appropriate to different age groups. For more information about Game Ratings, we recommend you look at the Common Sense Media reviews. They have a simple rating system, which grades games according to age appropriateness and then uses a simple traffic light system to highlight concerning content. Many of the games that our Middle Schools students mentioned (such Call of Duty) are highly inappropriate for their age group.

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