Digital learning is now the go, with teaching, learning, assessment and student communication now happening lots more online.

But this ‘cyber world’ can be dangerous for teachers and students alike. How do we make it safer for everyone?

The resource

vpnMentor has published a teachers’ guide to cyber security on its blog (and many thanks to the VDC News reader who drew this to our attention!).

Why do we need it?

The article points out that students, especially those that have grown up as ‘digital natives’, are very tech savvy. If motivated, maybe by a poor assessment, they might even try to hack systems to change their grade. They might hack for other reasons too.

While many institutions, especially larger public ones, should have very good protection, individual teachers, schools and smaller institutions might not be so well protected. Students need protection too, especially from cyber bullies.

Nobody wants to have their accounts hacked and their privacy compromised. This especially applies to online teacher portals, personal accounts, emails, and social media platforms and devices such as your personal computer and smart phone.

You need protection!

So, what do you need to be doing to protect yourself and your students? There are some simple things. For a start Google yourself. If you can find things out this way easily, others can too. And, as the blog points out:

“As their teacher, you need to be careful about what your students can find out about you online. If they know about your recent breakup, see pictures of you at a concert, or learn what you think about a controversial issue online, they might feel less comfortable in your classroom or question your authority. It’s important that you remain a trusted, respected figure in their lives.”

There are other ways of keeping you and your information secure. This includes using the privacy settings to restrict access to your online information or creating complex passwords for your accounts or devices and changing them frequently. A password manager really comes into its own in helping you to manage this process – as long as you can remember the master password! You can check the strength of your passwords, and many sites will help you do that.

An even stronger protection is to use biometric passwords like fingerprints or facial recognition, and disabling your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you are not actually using them can also help.

Students need protection too

Cyber bullying is a very real threat. One thing this blog does is talk about this form of bullying in all its forms, including: trolling, harassment, cyber stalking, fraping, outing or roasting.

It’s important to be able to recognise if your students are being bullied. Obviously, an easy thing to do is make sure that any online forums you have designed into your teaching and learning system are moderated to ensure that communications between students are constructive and respectful.

There are signs to look for with your students, though. These include looking for any changes in personality or friendship groups, or poorer than normal performance in class or assessments.

In fact, everyone needs protection!

The blog has some really helpful advice on identifying phishing and avoiding malware, so it involves everyone being aware of how vulnerable they – and their devices – can be.

Teachers have an important role to play in helping students to be aware of, and avoid, cyber dangers to themselves and others. The blog has a few hints on how to go about this. While it is schools-oriented, it has a far more general applicability given that the internet and cyberspace are now a far greater part of our lives.