Thursday, May 25, 2006

Draft unit specification is now available for comment

A draft unit specification [DOC] is now available for comment. The writing team would appreciate comments via this blog.

First meeting of the Steering Group

The Steering Group for this project met for the first time yesterday. Representatives of the BBC, Learning & Teaching Scotland, Scottish libraries, Strathclyde Police attended along with school and college representatives. It was a very positive meeting with support for developments to date and an endorsement of the planned future action.

There was a strong consensus around the general approach that should be embodied within the qualification and associated materials -- education not prohibition. It was noted that many centres often banned access to many Internet resources but it was felt that this simply transferred the problem to outside of school - where pupils often had unrestricted access at home or Internet cafes or (increasingly) on mobile devices. So the qualification should seek to educate users to use the Internet responsibly rather than attempting to control access.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Survey results are now available

Over 500 people completed the online survey - which means that we can have a lot of confidence in the results. The main points of interest are:
  • 95% of respondents were "somewhat" or "very" concerned about Internet safety
  • 80% of centres had an Internet safety policy but...
  • one third of those centres "sometimes" or "never" enforced it
  • 40% of centres provided some form of Internet safety training but...
  • this was "informal" in 80% of those centres.
The main areas of concern among respondents were:
  • downloading inappropriate material
  • accessing inappropriate material
  • making inappropriate friendships.
I was very pleased that over 90% of respondents were interested in a qualification in this area - and most respondents wanted it at SCQF level 4 for lower school (S1-S3) pupils.

The proposed qualification will be revised to reflect these findings. A draft version of the unit specification will be available later this week.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Social networks

Techweb reports that almost half of Internet users visited a social networking site last month. Websites such as MySpace and Faceparty have become incredibly popular among young adults. Some concerns have been expressed about the use of such sites although social networking looks like it will continue to grow.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Teachers lack knowledge on internet safety, report reveals

Teachers feel uneducated about protecting children from inappropriate websites and do not know who they should to turn to for advice, new research reveals. More.

I was surprised at the report's claim that "the largest group of viewers of internet pornography was children aged 12 to 17".

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Online resources

One of the more interesting parts of this project is the opportunity to review online resources relating to Internet safety. I've come across a large number of websites, some based in the UK and some international.

The BBC has a large number of online resources such as ChatGuide, organisations such as BT and Microsoft sponsor more technical information such as Get Safe Online, some sites provide specific advice to particular users such as Yahoo's Parents' Guide, and the Children's Charity provides a useful Internet safety FAQ.

International sites of note include the Australian government's NetAlert service and the Oklahoma Police Department's comprehensive guide to identity theft.

Let me know (by posting a comment here or sending me an e-mail) if you know of any other useful online resources.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Large response to survey

This is the second week of the Internet safety survey and so far almost 500 people have completed the questionnaire. The interim results make interesting reading with 96% of respondents being "somewhat" or "very" worried about Internet safety. A particularly gratifying statistic for me was that 91% of people were interested in offering a qualification in this area.

The survey closes on Friday. I'll share the results once the survey is closed.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Steering Group is complete

I've spent the last couple of weeks assembling a Steering Group to guide this project and the membership is now complete. I'm delighted with the quality of the Group with representatives of schools and colleges, and individuals representing national organisations such as the BBC, British Telecom, Learning & Teaching Scotland, Microsoft, Scottish Libraries Information Council and Strathclyde Police. I am particularly pleased to have a representative of Children's Charities for Internet Safety on-board.

The first meeting of the Steering Group will take place in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Letter sent to all centres

A letter has been sent to all centres today. The letter explains what this project is about and also outlines the expected timescales. It was sent to all schools, colleges, libraries and some other SQA centres.