One of the major barriers to effective use of online learning spaces is fear. Fear of loss of privacy, fear of infiltration by unwanted intruders, fear of children accessing inappropriate content, images and video clips and fear of loss of real learning. Tensions, barriers and fear is written about and researched quite extensively. Murray (2008) examines in detail the ongoing debate about the question of whether online social networking sites used in schools is really of educational benefit or whether using OSN raises more issues of anxiety and fear. Murgatroyd ( 2010) explores the “Wicked Problem” found in schools which describes teachers anxiety about meeting the challenges of using online learning effectively in their learning activities. He claims that many teachers still teacher the same way they did 25 years ago and I suspect that by a quick wander around my own school and by looking at the dreary supposedly new online learning centre, with its complete lack of pizzaz, colour and action, he may have a point. Losh and Jenkins (2012) raise the question of participatory culture and its place in public education. Can they coexist?

I propose, that rather than dwell on the pessimistic view of the minority, focus on the optimistic view of the majority. Look for solutions that work!

One solution can be found in the excellent resources of an Australian website developed but the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The development of the Cybersmart website provides teachers with a vast array of tools to educate students of all ages how to be smart online. It is a brilliant resource that should provide foundation  for students to develop the skills to participate in online activities safely, effectively, creatively and WITHOUT fear!

Engaging activites to raise awareness of online safety

Engaging activites to raise awareness of online safety
(Image from http://www.cybersmart.gov.au)

References

Losh, E., & Jenkins, H. (2012). Can Public Education Coexist with Participatory Culture? Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 16-21.

Murgatroyd, S. (2010). ‘Wicked Problems and the Work of School. European Journal of Education 45(2), 259-279.

Murray, C. (2008). Schools and Social Networking: Fear or Education. Synergy, 6(1), 8-12.