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Cybersecurity and school libraries.

Not long ago Teacher Librarian had an article from a noted cybersecurity expert regarding the hazards of using the Internet and its tentacles ("Seeking a Balance" Online Safety for Our Children" by Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, December, 2009). This article went into techniques about having a "symbiotic relationship" between the Internet and the classroom. There were sobering statistics in this article; ones that cause you to pause and think about the issue of having students do online research at school. The bibliography was extremely helpful to teachers and school librarians. More recently (August 2010) it was announced that one of the browsers commonly used by students sets up a personal profile information for each person using it for "shopping" concerns--whether one is shopping or not at that time.

So much is being written about how to effectively use technology, including Internet access, in K-12 education. Just recently ( bridging-agriculture.html) a LeGrand, California teacher was recognized and awarded by Google for marrying the subject of agriculture with technology in his school. He and other educators are effectively integrating various social network tools and electronic information sources into their work while advancing learning in their areas. Students are using various electronic technologies to visit and talk with other students from around the world; blogging has become a pervasive avenue for professional development as well as global education connections. The economics of information have dramatically changed--more library research is being conducted in the United States than ever before, but it is being done with less and less hard copy print materials accessed only through a brick-and-mortar library. Digital literacy is not a luxury. It is vital for all students today.

The cyberworld can be a scary place, but one that isn't going away. Last fall an article came out (www.eschoolnews. com/2010/10/13/new-campaign-targets-online-privacy-for- children-and-teens/) chat about various tracking tools now on most social network sites that teens use. Common Sense Media ran a poll that showed a whopping 75 percent of parents rate the job that social networks are doing for children's online privacy as poor. There are reasons to worry-but why not worry less about access restrictions and develop more teachable components about why it can or can't be scary for students? Why not provide aid for its use that can be carried along into other uses which ultimately lead to a lifelong learning opportunity about how to effectively and ethically and safely use technology? Mentioned in the article by Endicott-Popovsky was the idea of a cyber ethics and safety curriculum. She even mentioned the site "" as a potential source for information about how to develop programs that guide students in their use of the Internet.

Then there is Net Cetera, a small handbook that helps a teacher chat with students about being online (free copies can be asked for at It goes into areas beyond the online research world, including things like cell phone safe use and computer use monitoring. This small booklet offers some ideas about chatting with students regarding online actions. It suggests that you not only start early with these conversations, but that you also initiate them and use them to communicate values and understandings. But most of all, it calls for us to repeat these conversations, making them integral to their work and their behaviors. Immediately I am struck by the teaching role here that will afford opportunities for empowering the student's actions. Geek squad here we come! We can ask them to develop a set of online resources that will help students with their online work. Here are a few that might get them started: is a governmental tool that helps students develop an understanding of what is Internet fraud and issues around the privacy of personal information. Sponsored by both the FTC and the Department of Education (plus many others) it has created a site that will allow students to explore and learn in many ways what is best for their situations. It also covers social networking sites well. is an Internet safety coalition with parent and teacher resources as well as kid resources. Sponsored by a coalition of concerned professionals, it attempts to offer information and tools that will help students be safe online as well as learn how to productively and safely use technology and the Internet. It has fun YouTube examples of digital literacy too! is sponsored by the various Internet related corporations and organizations to help students be safe and constructive when going online. A project of the Internet Education Foundation ( its goals are to support safe opportunities for quick and credible information that students can access. Included in its website are tools for families--things that could be addressed at home as well as at school.

Cyberbullying411org is one of the best sites to learn about cyberbullying. It was created by the people who also bring us Internet Solutions for Kids, and it tries to give students resources that will help them gain answers about cyberbullying. This site provides support for those that have already experienced online harassment. is one that l really like. It is interactive as well as educational. A part of two organizations that do great work (National Center for Missing Et Exploited Children and Boys Et Girls Clubs of America) this site has both age-appropriate and multimedia activities that help students work more safely online.

There are so many others in addition to these that support helping students safely navigate and effectively use online resources. There is so much to learn, including the fact that all is constantly changing. But there are a few basic tenets that need to be asked each time:

* How can I, the teacher-librarian, best facilitate productive and safe use of online resources?

* How can I, the teacher-librarian, contribute to the preparation of students for the global information environment they are in?

* Do my recommendations to my students reflect careful consideration of not only their safety but also their needs?

* How can I best acknowledge and reinforce online opportunities for learning?

* Who needs to be involved with this particular learning resource and why?

* How can these learning resources be maximized to reflect deep understanding of content and capacity?

The school has traditionally been seen as a respected and safe learning environment: a place rich with information and understandings that benefit student learning. The school library has often been seen as the hub of much of this information. Now there are serious challenges to these concepts--safety and understandings offered in a school are not always assumed as complete or perfect. Trust of the parent or guardian for their child in an educational setting has eroded and questions about a school reflecting the iconic assurances of competence and safety no longer exist.

The American Association of School Libraries Learning for Life (L4L) created an implementation resource guide (and more resources about L4L can be found at www. that has several resources related to Standard 3--"share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society." Some that this brochure suggests are Ning for Educators (, Digital Copyright Slider (, and K. Schrock's Guide for Educators (http://school.discoveryeducation. com/schrockguide/).

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills ( talks about the issues of information and media literacy, critical thinking, and collaborative problem solving using information and communication technology skills as being essential skills for students today. Those, aligned with cyberworld guidance, can best be learned as fundamental and lifelong learning habits in your school library. Make it your role and responsibility to know your school district's online policies. Develop resources and pathfinders that are appropriate to the cybersecurity needs of both the students and the school. Learn to cooperate and network with other information specialists/ sites, thus maximizing access to information for your students. Understand copyright, fair use, licensing, filtering, spamming, phishing, and so forth, and guide students in their online work so that they develop habits that will best equip them for where they wish to go and use information in their futures! Make it your world to know what is new, how to use what when, and where to go for what information. Be a continuous learner and develop ways where input as well as output of information is embraced.
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Author:Marcoux, Elizabeth "Betty"
Publication:Teacher Librarian
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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