Safe and Responsible Use of Digital Technologies

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Safer Teachers, students and parents are increasingly using digital technologies to teach, learn and communicate, challenging the traditional concept of a school.

While advances in technology have created opportunities to engage students in the classroom in new and exciting ways they also present an opportunity to be both intentionally and unintentionally misused.

Cybersafety education

The Department recognises that schools have a responsibility to educate children and young people and address the underlying values (ethics) and responsible behaviours expected of them online and off. Strategies and resources have been developed to support all students’ wellbeing.

It is recommended that schools take a holistic approach to cybersafety education. Cybersafety practices and issues should be included within the school’s curriculum planning and taught explicitly.

Resources

  • Bully Stoppers – supports parents, teachers and principals in working together to make sure schools are safe and supportive places
  • Classroom resources – links to downloadable classroom activities, videos, interactive learning modules and quiz, advice sheets and other useful resources to use in the classroom
  • Cyber Teach Toolkit– sequential lessons developed for Victorian classrooms
  • Safer internet day student activities – developed to support primary and secondary teachers
  • Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner – the Office provides a range of up-to-date information and resources, coupled with a complaints system to assist children who experience serious cyberbullying

Supervision and duty of care online

Principals and teachers have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect students from any harm that should have reasonably been foreseen, including those that may be encountered within the online learning environment. School based cybersafety education and conversations with adults are two major factors that influence young people's online safety strategies.

The cybersafety and cyberbullying sections within the Bully Stoppers online toolkit have been developed to support school communities to understand the behaviours and processes that will help them to act in a safe and responsible manner when using digital technologies.

For more information, see:

Responding to online incidents

The Emergency and Security Management Unit (ESMU) operates a twenty-four hour, seven days per week emergency and security communication and coordination centre. Step-by-step guides provide practical steps and actions to protect, respond to or manage an online incident of concern. See: Step by step guides

Teachers working online

As a Department employee and a professional educator, modelling smart, appropriate use of digital resources is expected. See:

Managing personal information – privacy

Schools are bound by the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) (Victorian privacy laws). Victorian privacy laws require schools to obtain fully informed, freely given, current and specific consent from the parent, guardian or carer of a student to use and disclose their personal information. This also applies to the registration and use of online learning tools and services. Schools are also required to create, manage and dispose of their public records (i.e. student records) in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic).

Services which operate online or within cloud technologies usually require certain personal details to create an account. Such services also usually provide an opportunity for personal information to be created within the space by the teacher and/or the student. Parents must give their consent knowing what information has been provided, who is able to see it and where it is stored. The intent of the space must also be understood.

The need for consent applies even when students sign themselves up for an account under teacher direction or supervision. It also applies if the personal information will not be accessible to or viewed by others, as stored data in a system.

Schools can undertake a privacy impact assessment (PIA) to identify and consider the privacy impacts of online services they would like to use.

Schools must also have parent consent before publishing, reproducing or communicating a student’s work, information or image. Schools should understand that while consent can be freely given, it can also be withdrawn at any time. If consent is withdrawn, the school must remove the content/resource or access immediately. See: Consent forms

For further information on legal issues that schools need to consider regarding consent, PIAs, cybersafety, electronic signatures, records management, and service agreements, please see: Information sheet - online services

Acceptable use agreements – staff and students

The Department has provided templates to assist school communities to develop agreements as to what constitutes acceptable use of internet, netbooks and other online and digital technologies in their communities. See:

Managing online spaces – Me, We, See



Professor Stephen Heppell discusses the importance of audience when working in online environments. He defines the notion of Me, We, See as three spaces students use in a contemporary digital world:

  • ME – a private "me" space where I am free to reflect, record my thoughts, take responsible risks and try new things. I am the only audience member. I can password protect online space or protect a device that only I have access to.
  • WE – a collaborative "we" space where I am able to share my work with a known group of peers or colleagues, the group is selected and access is almost always password protected. It relies on respect and trust and the audience is known.
  • SEE – a public space, where the whole world can "see" my ideas, creations and work.

Digital copyright

Material on the internet is protected by copyright. The material that comprises a website will be protected by copyright and various pieces of content may be owned by different people. See: Smartcopying

In general, copyright in print, musical and artistic works, sound recordings or film contained on the internet will not be infringed, where the copy or communication is done with the permission of the copyright owner. Schools can ask permission or it could be indicated on a site or provided through Creative Commons licences under the fair dealing, flexible dealing, educational and other statutory exceptions, copyright exceptions or through paid licence or agreement. For more information, see:

For information on school internet services and internet filtering, see: ICT Support, Services and Advice

For more information please contact: digital.learning@edumail.vic.gov.au