Tomorrow at TCS, a colleague and I will be giving one of the last eTech sessions for the year. Our session will be on the use of OneKey, the kidsafe search engine. This is a repeat of sessions for teachers that proved extremely popular earlier this year.
We will show a group of secondary teachers, hands on, how Boolean search criteria can be used as a tool for making resources used in student project work.
A contractor in the school, who learnt about the planned session, pointed out that, OneKey isn’t as safe as it could be. For instance, when the search criterion, ‘date’ is entered, OneKey returns a range of dating agency sites.
The implied argument is that, perhaps we should not be using OneKey as a search engine with year 9 to 13 learners who would be using their own computers at home.
I see OneKey as a safer alternative to regular Google. Used with the recommended preferences on a browser, it seems reasonably safe.
Students should be well supervised while using a computer in the home – under any circumstance. This is part of a recommendation on cyber safety I’m about to present to the school’s Board of Trustees, seeking approval for implementation in 2009.
Parents are to be made aware of the possible dangers when learners have access to the Internet. The learners are also to be made suitably aware of the possible dangers of using equipment on the Net.
With proper instruction and supervised practice, I feel that there is no reason why young learners shouldn’t be able to advance to using regular Google as they moved up through the school.
Road safety as an analogy:
Children should be introduced to road safety. They should also be well supervised, during their formative years, when walking on the walkways adjacent to road traffic. Sooner or later they should be able to use pavements by themselves.
What is the alternative to this? Prohibiting children from walking to school, as a blanket rule for road safety, is not an option in my mind. Why should there be any difference when it comes to using computers with access to the Internet? Surely the same principles apply.