Mandatory Disclosure

E- Literacy and E- Safety….. Need of the Hour

Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of education dramatically all across the world. With ‘safe to stay home’ lockdowns, online learning is helping schools fixing a routine for their students and teachers while staying homes the entire day.

With this evolving education scenario, students are exposed to increased ‘Online time’. Earlier they used to spend 1 hour per day on digital platforms during school hours, now they are spending increased online time. Along with e- learning which is happening through online classes there are other tools students are exposed to (social media, online games, websites and apps) which ultimately adds on to their online activities. All of these can be easily accessed
by mobiles, laptops, I pads etc. and contribute to child’s online world.

When internet and online technology has become an integral part of our children’s learning and growth, they need to be prepared to the digital world. Every opportunity comes with its own challenges. Children are exposed to new types of risks while using internet because not all, what is present online is good for them and they need to know about this.

Our children are confident in using technology because they are born into this digital world and are growing up surrounded by technology. But their awareness about the challenges and risks involved with technology is low. So e- literacy education is essential for them to raise awareness of risks and to provide measures for dealing with such situations. It’s collective responsibility of schools and parents to give children age appropriate understanding of use of technology, so that even their education and fun is also not taken away at the same time.

A single session or lecture on e- safety would not be enough, it must be an ongoing process. It should not be taught only in ICT class, rather lessons in all other subjects also should build e- safety into their plannings wherever the use of technology occurs.

Parents should play their part by taking feedback from children about their online activities. They need to have control where they can restrict them from using certain content online by locking or blocking. Issues like bullying, privacy and dealing with strangers online, should be discussed with kids on a regular basis.

When a child starts his online activities, he should be taught not to share his personal information online; that all the content which is available online is not always reliable; and that he can always inform his parents, teachers or any elderly person if he does not feel comfortable with any person or activity online. The devices which are being used should have reputed antivirus solution installed. The passwords which they are using should be strong and there are so many other ways of keeping oneself secured online. While keeping themselves safe they should also be taught about the netiquettes they need to follow while online.

Schools have crucial roles to play here. They have to keep school’s online process safe, so that staff and students remain secured during online teaching and learning.

As e- literacy is expanding its arms so fast, schools have to develop their own e- safety policies and procedures to adjust to new normal. Now it’s time when schools should appoint e- safety coordinators who take the responsibility of e- safety of the school, its staff and students. Log of all online incidences which need immediate attention and resolution should be maintained by e- safety coordinator. Schools should create an environment where children can be motivated to have discussions about the pros and cons of online world. Parents to be made partners in this process. Schools can conduct workshops for parents in the beginning for the process to be more effective.

The new normal in education has set a new targets in front of educators to meet all prerequisites before diving deep into online way of teaching and learning, e- safety being at the top, along with other technological skills and infrastructure requirements. This cannot be achieved by schools alone, teachers and parents needs to collaborate to address the challenging issues of e- literacy so that education does not stop at any point of time during this pandemic.

Iqbal Kaur Rana
C M International School