Thursday, 22 September 2016

Internet Security and Safety

At a recent staff PD session we discussed Internet security and safety. The below videos give some insight to the dangers we face should we not take the necessary electronic precautions.

Stay safe on public Wi-Fi 

1) Only join trusted networks and then be sensible about what you do while away and online

2) Make sure your Firewall is on

3) Turn off file sharing 

4) Avoid using specific websites on public Wi-Fi  ( Banking and personal (Facebook, Twitter, webmail) sites are most at risk since these are the type of websites hackers want access to )

5) Turn off Wi-Fi when you are not using it.

Some other things to remember

  • Have a proper password - at least 8 Characters long; includes numbers, capitals and symbols e.g. eX@mpl3! How safe is your password?
  • Keep your operating software and programmes up to date. These updates patch vulnerabilities within the operating system and guard your machine against exploits. 
  • Make sure your machine is adequately protected against viruses. We use FSecure at the school and can highly recommend it.

Be aware of...

Saving Credentials: You should perhaps only use auto-complete and save your credentials on your own device i.e. don’t do this on any machine that is not your own  

  • Remembering login credentials for you is convenient 
  • Absolutely safe to do for non-critical sites e.g. No banking sites 
  • Credit card numbers, email addresses, passwords and usernames can become vulnerable to attacks 
  • You're likely to forget your passwords if you never have to type them in If you leave your laptop unattended and unlocked, then anyone can retrieve your saved passwords 
  • Fake websites can fool your browser into providing stored login and form data

Ad blocking to prevent click-bait
Install Ad Block Plus plugin for your browsers – Ad block Plus blocks those annoying and maliciously deceptive advertisements found on many of the most popular websites today making browsing faster and safer.

- Adblockplus is available on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.

Common ways a PC or laptop get infected (virus/Malware/Spyware)

  • Accepting installation prompts without reading (An Internet advert or window pops-up that says your computer is infected with a virus and needs to scan or that software is required for you to install in order to download something. Or you agree to ‘free software’ that has check-boxes already checked to install additional applications bundled with your download. DON'T accept such prompts. )
  • Visiting / Downloading software/movies/music/pictures from unreliable or illegal sources (Many modern viruses can be hard-coded into the website data which is downloaded into your temporary internet files automatically just by loading the webpage.) 
  • Opening email attachments without knowing who they are from and why you have been sent them. Always double check the sender’s email address and confirm that the mail is relevant. 
  • Plugging infected USB sticks and external hard drives into your laptop without scanning them first.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Homework is wrecking our kids

Read this interesting the thought provoking article on the merits of not giving homework to primary school children written by Heather Shumaker.

Homework is wrecking our kids: The research is clear, let’s ban elementary homework

Homework does have an impact on young students — but it’s not a good one

Homework is wrecking our kids: The research is clear, let's ban elementary homework(Credit: KatarinaGondova via iStock)
“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.”
This statement, by homework research guru Harris Cooper, of Duke University, is startling to hear, no matter which side of the homework debate you’re on. Can it be true that the hours of lost playtime, power struggles and tears are all for naught? That millions of families go through a nightly ritual that doesn’t help? Homework is such an accepted practice, it’s hard for most adults to even question its value.
When you look at the facts, however, here’s what you find: Homework has benefits, but its benefits are age dependent.
For elementary-aged children, research suggests that studying in class gets superior learning results, while extra schoolwork at home is just . . . extra work. Even in middle school, the relationship between homework and academic success is minimal at best. By the time kids reach high school, homework provides academic benefit, but only in moderation. More than two hours per night is the limit. After that amount, the benefits taper off. “The research is very clear,” agrees Etta Kralovec, education professor at the University of Arizona. “There’s no benefit at the elementary school level.”
Before going further, let’s dispel the myth that these research results are due to a handful of poorly constructed studies. In fact, it’s the opposite. Cooper compiled 120 studies in 1989 and another 60 studies in 2006. This comprehensive analysis of multiple research studies found no evidence of academic benefit at the elementary level. It did, however, find a negative impact on children’s attitudes toward school.
This is what’s worrying. Homework does have an impact on young students, but it’s not a good one. A child just beginning school deserves the chance to develop a love of learning. Instead, homework at a young age causes many kids to turn against school, future homework and academic learning. And it’s a long road. A child in kindergarten is facing 13 years of homework ahead of her.
Then there’s the damage to personal relationships. In thousands of homes across the country, families battle over homework nightly. Parents nag and cajole. Overtired children protest and cry. Instead of connecting and supporting each other at the end of the day, too many families find themselves locked in the “did you do your homework?” cycle.
When homework comes prematurely, it’s hard for children to cope with assignments independently—they need adult help to remember assignments and figure out how to do the work. Kids slide into the habit of relying on adults to help with homework or, in many cases, do their homework. Parents often assume the role of Homework Patrol Cop. Being chief nag is a nasty, unwanted job, but this role frequently lingers through the high school years. Besides the constant conflict, having a Homework Patrol Cop in the house undermines one of the purported purposes of homework: responsibility.
Homework supporters say homework teaches responsibility, reinforces lessons taught in school, and creates a home-school link with parents. However, involved parents can see what’s coming home in a child’s backpack and initiate sharing about school work–they don’t need to monitor their child’s progress with assigned homework. Responsibility is taught daily in multiple ways; that’s what pets and chores are for. It takes responsibility for a 6-year-old to remember to bring her hat and lunchbox home. It takes responsibility for an 8-year-old to get dressed, make his bed and get out the door every morning. As for reinforcement, that’s an important factor, but it’s only one factor in learning. Non-academic priorities (good sleep, family relationships and active playtime) are vital for balance and well-being. They also directly impact a child’s memory, focus, behavior and learning potential. Elementary lessons are reinforced every day in school. After-school time is precious for the rest of the child.
What works better than traditional homework at the elementary level is simply reading at home. This can mean parents reading aloud to children as well as children reading. The key is to make sure it’s joyous. If a child doesn’t want to practice her reading skills after a long school day, let her listen instead. Any other projects that come home should be optional and occasional. If the assignment does not promote greater love of school and interest in learning, then it has no place in an elementary school-aged child’s day.
Elementary school kids deserve a ban on homework. This can be achieved at the family, classroom or school level. Families can opt out, teachers can set a culture of no homework (or rare, optional homework), and schools can take time to read the research and rekindle joy in learning.
Homework has no place in a young child’s life. With no academic benefit, there are simply better uses for after-school hours.
Heather Shumaker’s new book It’s OK to Go Up the Slide (Tarcher/Penguin Random House) will be published March 8, 2016.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Digital Addiction

Digital Addiction

Digital addiction can loosely be described as the need to spend time in front of a screen - TV, Computer, Laptop, Tablet, Cell Phone – so that the allow can play computer games (online or not), watch TV, surf the internet or use Social Media.

Technology is a poor substitute for personal interaction. Personal interaction develops social and emotional intelligence, necessary life skills.
Parents / teachers concerned about possible digital addiction in their charges should consider the following symptoms:
  1. An inability to be without their phone due to fear of missing out (FOMO)
  2. Excessive engaging in digital behaviours  i.e. over a longer period than originally agreed 
  3. Unsuccessful efforts to stop, curb or control those behaviours  
  4. Irrational behaviour when access to or engagement with technology is denied 
  5. Uncontrolled depression
  6. Frequently engaging in digital activities at the expense of academic, domestic or social obligations 
  7. Impact on social or recreational activities because of the digital behaviour

Are you suffering from cell phone addiction?

  1. Are you on your phone during social situations?
  2. Do you carry your smartphone everywhere, even to the bathroom?
  3. Do you go to sleep and wake up looking at your phone?

Try these simple steps to break the habit!
1.     Create Boundaries
a.     Put your phone on silent
b.     Stop alert notifications
2.     Designate a time to check in
a.     Stick to that time
b.     During social time put your cell phone someplace where you won't hear or see it
3.     DON'T sleep with your phone
4.     Try a full detox for a few days and then implement the above

How do you, as a parent guide your children on internet access, especially with younger children?

How you choose to handle internet access will depend on your personal circumstances. Our recommendation is that young children are not given access without parental supervision / permission.
Some suggestions include:
  • have an open door policy i.e. no internet behind closed doors
  • install a ‘Kid Safe’ browser and only allow internet access via this browser
  • password protect your home WiFi
  • lock access to the App store with a pin code