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New year … new class … new computers … first day … parent information night … where to start?

To help you educate your students as well as brief parents on the benefits and dangers of the internet, you might have a look at the NetAlert website (www.netalert.gov.au/home.html). NetAlert is the Australian Government’s online safety program. It offers information on the issues, risks and dangers associated with using the internet, and advice on how to minimise risks, avoid problems and use the internet safely and responsibly.

The teacher’s guide (available at www.netalert.gov.au/advice.html ) provides information about teaching safe and responsible use of the internet in Australian schools. It suggests strategies teachers can use to minimise risks, with practical advice on how to provide your students with knowledge and skills to use the internet. Developed specifically for teachers, school librarians and leaders in primary and secondary schools, this guide is based on the view that students need to be educated about safe and responsible use of the internet, given the widespread use of the internet and internet-enabled devices by students in schools and at home.

The guide:

· provides an overview of some of the teaching and learning benefits of accessing the internet;

· describes the kinds of risks that young people may face when using the internet;

· explores issues relating to particular technologies and highlights the resources available to schools;

· advises how to establish a whole-school approach to internet safety;

· gives advice about developing links between schools and external environments;and

· provides information about where internet safety teaching fits within the curriculum.

A terrific hands-on activity for students is found at CyberQuoll (www.cyberquoll.com.au/hub.htm ) which can be used on one computer in front of the whole class or by students individually or in pairs. Not enough computers? .. why not set it for homework and then have a follow-up discussion in class. Netalert also provides wonderful advice to parents and is well worth communicating their web address to the parent community.

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